It may be a surprise to think that the wrong pair of socks can result in even the best pair of footwear you have ever worn become uncomfortable, but long days on a hike or trek will put every item of clothing and gear you have through the paces. Having this in mind here at Walking.org we have looked at our Top 5 Walking Socks for 2016.
Regular socks can slip down your ankle, hold onto moisture and a lot have seams that you can feel at every step, whereas technical walking socks have been engineered to support the feet while helping to maintain a comfortable environment inside any footwear they are worn with, and some pairs even provide certain levels of protection as well. These characteristics of walking and hiking socks are due to the use of both breathable and insulating fabrics and weaves, thicker constructions to achieve abrasion zones and padding, plus full arch support. Most types of walking socks have secure fits that prevent them from moving around inside footwear, yet allow for full flex of the foot and splay of the toes so work with boots and shoes for a greater overall comfort experience.
To find our Best 5 Walking Socks for 2016 as per our other walking gear and clothing guides we have looked at as many pairs as possible to determine which of them we felt performed best overall, one each from five key sock-making brands.
Our Favourite 5 Walking Socks in 2016
Sealskinz Thin Mid Length Walking Socks
Ideal for most treks and trails and outdoor activities along the way, the Sealskinz Thin mid-Length socks are lightweight and low-bulk. A stretch fabric construction that includes Merino wool, nylon, elastane and more lets these Sealskinz walking socks flex and retain their shape while staying comfortably in place. The ankle and insteps are fully elasticised so are able to provide support as well. A hydrophilic membrane combined with a Merino wool lining means these socks are waterproof and windproof while being breathable for total moisture control for constant, dry, cool comfort as you walk. The only drawback to these Sealskinz socks are that they offer little insulation so would likely not be suitable during colder climates or winter months.
Smartwool Mountaineering Extra Heavy Crew Walking Socks
During the cold seasons of the year the Smartwool Mountaineering Extra Heavy Crew walking socks are great for a lot of added insulation and cushioning. Similar to our previous pair of Best Five walking socks, these Smartwool Mountaineering socks are made with Merino wool due to its natural ability to retain warmth, be fully breathable and actually inhibit the growth of odour-causing microbes. These Smartwool crew hiking socks do provide a snug fit that feels comfy and supportive, plus cushion in key areas as well. They are ideal for multi-day hikes as well.
Bridgedale Merino Fusion Trail Walking Socks
Alternate to our previous top 5 pair, the Bridgedale Merino Fusion Trail walking socks are made for warm climate conditions. Making use of the ever popular Merino wool due to the inherent properties it has which normally takes a number of synthetic alternatives combined together to achieve means you have breathability, odour control, next to skin comfort and durability all in one weave. This particular weave has been woven with Coolmax so these Bridgedale Merino Fusion socks do provide noticeable insulation when the temperature cools, but primarily these socks are highly breathable and excellent at moisture control so keeping cool and dry is all but guaranteed regardless of the outdoor activity.
Thorlos Light Hiking Crew Walking Socks
Similar to the last pair of walking socks the Thorlos Light Hiking Crew socks are best suited to warm weather but have been designed specially for those prone to blisters or foot pain while out on the trail. Thorlon with Thor-Wick Cool fabric weaves do feel very soft against the skin and are able to wick moisture away and dry quite quickly all why being a lot more durable than your average walking sock. As these are intended for light hiking, the Thorlos Crew socks have moderate cushioning at the arch and instep so the feet have much less pressure on them while fitting nicely so as to reduce the chance of getting blisters, moisture and pain.
Meindl Magic Walking Socks
The Meindl Magic walking sock is a great all-rounder and while it has been optimised for use with Meindl’s own footwear range they can be effectively worn with any type of boot or shoe. You can expect a secure and comfortable fit with these Meindl Magic socks as around the ankle zone is an extra-wide elasticised collar. Key padding has been placed in the heel, toe and ankle areas for extra protection as they are likely to receive impacts from footstrikes on hard and rocky terrain which even with the best technical footwear can still be an issue, especially if you already feel the strain from previous walks. Air channel cooling has also been included with these Meindl Magic Walking Socks so similar to the rest of our Top 5, they keep you cool and dry throughout wear.
Our Top 5 Walking and Hiking Socks for 2016 will have you covered for adding extra comfort, support and protection for your feet on any hike or trail. Obviously there are ones specific for hot or cold conditions, but all have the crucial moisture systems, secure fits and padding where you need it most.