It’s essential to put a solid foundation in place before you start building. When hiking or backpacking, your feet are your foundation, and that’s why I’ll spend more on the best hiking socks than I will on most of my other camping gear.
If you don’t take care of your feet, it simply doesn’t matter how nice the gear is on your back. I learned the hard way by dealing with trench foot when hiking the John Muir Trail in 2014. Get yourself a pair of excellent hiking socks so you don’t repeat my mistake!
My Picks for the Best Hiking Socks
Swiftwick Hiking Socks
In 2016, I was the RV driver and medic for a ‘Run Across America‘ expedition. Our runner completed the 3,000+ mile journey on foot from San Diego, California to the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.
While I have many stories from those 5.5 months on the road, there’s one important takeaway for today’s topic: our runner swore by Swiftwick Socks. In fact, it’s the only brand he wore.
Being a very casual trail runner myself, I’ve personally found their socks to be everything that’s advertised and more. But they also make excellent socks for hikers and backpackers. A couple of their best hiking socks include the Pursuit Hike Six Medium Cushion and the Pursuit Seven.
Point6 Hiking Socks
In the midst of that 2014 trench foot predicament, I found a sporting goods store on a resupply day in Mammoth and inquired about sock recommendations. They pointed me toward the Point6 brand out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Those Point6 socks not only got me back on the trail, but they lasted for years! They played an instrumental in helping me finish the JMT comfortably and they’ve kept my feet happy on countless hikes since.
If I was upgrading to a new pair of Point6 socks today, I’d go for one of their newer hiking models, such as the 37.5 Mixed Stripe Light Crew or the Hiking Essential Medium Mini Crew.
Smartwool Hiking Socks
When I purchased those Point6 hiking socks in Mammoth, I also bought pair of Smartwool hiking socks. The recipe for making my feet comfortable was simple. Change socks at least once a day and apply Gold Bond at every change, as well as before bed.
While it increased my pack weight, carrying those extra socks was worth it. My feet were much happier, and anyone that has experienced their comfort knows it’s tough to beat Smartwool. Their hiking socks are extremely comfortable and breathe well to keep your feet dry on long trail days.
They also have a remarkable ability NOT to retain the odors from your previous day’s excursions. If I hiked the John Muir Trail again, I’d be fine with two pairs of Smartwool socks. In fact, maybe I’ll grab myself a pair of their Performance Hike Light Cushion Crew socks right now!
Darn Tough Hiking Socks
Darn Tough socks come highly recommended from a number of trusted reviewers, and I couldn’t agree more. They undoubtedly deserve a spot on my list of the best hiking socks because of their comfort and durability.
But one of the things I like most about Darn Tough is this quote from their President and CEO: “Nobody ever outsourced anything for quality.” That speaks to their values and commitment to making their products in their home state of Vermont.
If I were to pick a new pair of their socks today, I’d be most intrigued by the Number 2 Micro Crew Midweight or the Light Hiker No Show.
REI Co-Op Hiking Socks
It’s hard to beat the team at REI Co-Op that has been doing it for more than 80 years. They’re recognized for much more than hiking socks, but they haven’t forgotten that the best adventures
Whether you’re looking for short, crew, or knee-length socks, they’ve got you covered. They offer varying designs and different types of wool. Some of the offerings that caught my eye were the COOLMAX EcoMade Midweight Crew Socks and the Merino Ultralight Hiker Crew Socks.
Runner Ups For The Best Hiking Socks
In addition to my top five, my research turned up a few additional runner-ups for the best hiking socks:
Injinji Hiking Socks
Injinji is unique in the bunch because they make “Performance Toesocks.” But they also have a number of hiking socks that fit the more “traditional” mold.
FITS Hiking Socks
Using U.S. engineering and manufacturing, FITS’ technological approach sets it apart from the competition. Many of their best hiking socks include gradient compression, which improves blood flow from your toes through your legs, ultimately reducing fatigue on long hiking adventures.
Farm to Feet Hiking Socks
Farm to Feet offers a 100% American-made product and its name is inspired by a completely domestic supply chain. All the wool, nylon, and spandex used in their socks come from farms right here in the United States.
Find YOUR Best Hiking Socks!
Do you have experience with any of these hiking socks? I’d love to know which you’ve used, what your favorites are, and what you look for in a pair of the best hiking socks. If you have suggestions that I didn’t mention, I’d love to hear about them!
Also, if you decide to purchase a pair of the best hiking socks after reading this review, I’d love to know how you like them once you’ve put them to use for a few hiking trips!
About The Backpack Guide
I’m always looking for new trails and wildernesses to explore and I’m also interested in the experiences of others in the wild. If there is one thing I am sure of it’s that we can all spend more time enjoying and connecting with Nature.
Feel free to reach out directly (email below) or share your latest adventure by tagging @thebackpackguide on Instagram!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this review and I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below. I’ll be quick to reply to any questions, comments, or concerns you feel like sharing!
Side note: If you’ve got your foundation in place and you’re interested in other product reviews, be sure to check out my Outdoor Gear and Backpack Reviews pages for reviews on water filters, tents, hiking shoes, trekking poles, and backpacks from brands like Kelty, REI, Gregory, and more. Also, check out my Tips and Trails page for more hiking tips and trail recommendations!
Take Care of your Feet!
The Backpack Guide
I can really relate to this article, not because I go hiking for miles and miles but because I garden so much, gardening is my job , I am on my feet pretty much all day so I need a firm foundation by way of footwear. Comfortable, sturdy boots and warm, comfortable socks. If my feet are cold in winter fo4 example then I am cold all over, if they’re warm then the rest of me is warm.
I don’t think a lot of people realise the impact and wear and tear we put on our whole body through our feet, they should be protected as much as possible.
I am sure some of the socks you mention would be ideal for people who are working outdoors, or on their feet for long periods of time, not just for hard core hikers.
All the Best
You’re absolutely spot on Louise! My brother actually just got himself a pair of the Injinji toe socks. He’s a mechanic and a musician, which means he’s on his feet for very long days and his feet are often shoved into cowboy boots. He has found that the Injinji socks wick away moisture and keep his feet much drier throughout the day. He swears by them now!
I love to hike and I am diabetic so my feet are of the utmost importance to me. I too have found that Smartwool are great socks. They really do keep my feet nice and dry. I have tried Farm to Feet. They are great for the circulation, which is one of the things that I need to make sure I have in a sock. Thank you for your great review. It has been helpful for me.
I’m happy to hear that you have experience with a couple of these brands. Have you ever given the toe socks from Injinji a try? I’ve never personally tried toe socks, but I have a pair waiting for me back in the states to test out when we return at the end of March.
Having spent 4 years in the army, part-time and having taken part in route marches, and spent up to a week in the bush, here in South Africa, I can heartily endorse the need for the best socks and equipment.
Especially at night in the freezing cold and when ice covers the ground you need warm socks.
I found that if your feet are warm, all of you stays warm in the winter weather
In my day we didn’t have the fancy socks that are available today, but we found that wearing a good pair of linen socks inside, and heavy duty woolen socks outside, solved most of our problems.
I think your suggestion is still a valid one today, even with the engineering innovations that have occurred. A good sock liner goes a long way, especially in extreme conditions!
I do not hike but I do a lot of walking as part of a friendly competition between myself and work colleagues who are addicted to our Fitbits. The furthest I had walked in a day was 75,000 steps and I believe that I had experienced what you call “trench feet”, I could barely walk back home.
Your article has given me some new information, because I had thought it was always to do only with wearing the most comfortable shoes, and socks was not really an issue.
The Point6 Hiking Socks seems to be the one you wear most – now from a female perspective are these in female sizes also? And my husband has very large feet and he would be like a size 15…so they go to that size? I think he would do well with the Darn Toughs (so I don’t have to keep an eye on holes also lol)…
One more question, I am in New Zealand and you had mentioned adding lots of “Gold bond” I am curious, what is it? some type of feet ointment?
Ah, I see. Gold Bond is essentially the same as baby powder. It’ll also help with rashes and skin irritations. But it’s mainly just a moisture absorbing powder. As for your questions about sizes, Point6 offers a whole line of socks designed specifically for women. And for your husband, Darn Tough does offer some of their socks in sizes up to a US 17. You can check out their Sizing Chart to double check!
Hi, Tucker and, yes, I did enjoy reading your article. In fact, It couldn’t have been better timing since I am planning to do a hike up one of our local mountains in June to celebrate my 70th Birthday.
Now, I haven’t done any hiking in a few years and I’m definitely not an expert on socks but, I do understand the need to have comfy feet that stay dry and cool. Nothing is worse than a long hike with hot sweaty feet.
I also understand that a good quality sock is going to give the comfort needed. I for one, like a cushioned feel when I’m wearing my work boots all day long even to the point of adding an additional thin layer of memory foam under the insert provided.
The added comfort of a cushioned sock would make the trip even better, in my mind.
The socks you have profiled in your post all seem to be reasonably priced as well. I mean, $25 doesn’t seem to be too much for something that is going to offer that kind of comfort.
I know it’s only a day hike, but I think I am going to check out these socks. I’m willing to bet that these socks could help ward off serious blistering as well?
Hi Wayne! Warding off blisters is indeed the goal of these socks, especially the toe socks from Injinji. But I identify with your need for cushioned socks. I feel the same way, which is why I always have an extra pair of Smartwool socks in my pack!
I think that anymore has hiked has had a bad experience with their hiking socks, whether they have gotten wet to the point of being uncomfortable or they dried in a way that made them annoying to wear. A bad sock can lead to bad blisters, which will eventually end your trip. Nothing like high quality socks!Thank you!
It’s my pleasure! Do you have any experience with toe socks? They’re supposed to be great for eliminating blisters in between your toes.
Thank you Tucker, for this review on hiking socks. You would hear about hiking boots all the time. This is the first time I am hearing of hiking socks, I have some skiing socks. But I am on my feet a lot of the time, I go for walks to keep healthy and to make my step count goal for every day. I would definitely be considering some hiking socks.
I’m glad you enjoyed the article! I neglected hiking socks until I had my experience with trench foot on the John Muir Trail. I will never underestimate the importance of always having quality hiking socks again!
This is a great article . Personally I think , Smartwool is comfortable and absorbent , which makes it great for soaking up the sweat from the skin . However , cotton does not allow wetness to evaporate quickly . Smartwool socks are excellent for short bouts of intense activity . I like this . Thanks for sharing this informative information with us .
You’re very welcome! Just to clarify, Smartwool socks are made with merino wool, not cotton. They’re great for anything from short bouts of activity to full days on the trail!