Best Hiking Socks: My Top Picks

Best Hiking Socks My Top Picks Featured Image

It’s essential to put a solid foundation in place before you start building up. This goes for construction as well as when preparing for day hikes or backpacking trips. If you don’t take the time to take care of your feet, it simply doesn’t matter how nice the gear is on your back. I learned this lesson the hard way in the form of a close encounter with the early stages of trench foot (see my article on Tips for Hiking the John Muir Trail). As such, it’s important to me to help others avoid the hard way by providing my top picks for the best hiking socks.

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!

Swiftwick

best hiking socks my top picks - swiftwick
Swiftwick Hiking Socks

Back in 2016 I was hired as the RV driver and medic for a ‘Run Across America‘ expedition. The goal was for our runner to complete the 3,000+ mile journey on foot from San Diego, California to the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. As his crew, it was our job to do whatever was necessary to keep him going. While I could tell a great number of stories from those 5.5 months on the road, there’s one important takeaway relevant to why you’re reading this today: our runner swore by Swiftwick Socks. In fact, it’s the only brand he wore.

Being a very casual trail runner myself, I’ve found their socks to be everything that’s advertised and more. My current pair (American Flag design), is my sock of choice for my Tuesday evening pickup basketball games here in Uvita, Costa Rica. That being said, Swiftwick specifically manufactures a number of socks for hikers and backpackers. A couple of their best hiking socks include the Pursuit Hike Six Medium Cushion and the Pursuit Seven.



Point6

best hiking socks my top picks - point6
Point6 Hiking Socks

When I hiked the John Muir Trail back in 2014, I had an uncomfortable case of trench foot coming on after the first week. The bottoms of my feet were so sensitive that I was seriously questioning whether I would continue on after our first resupply stop in Mammoth. While there, I found a sporting goods store and inquired about sock recommendations. I told them my story, briefly, and they pointed me towards the Point6 brand. At the time, I think the brand we relatively new, but the guy I spoke to in Mammoth highly recommended the socks coming out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Believe it or not, those Point6 socks are still with me today! They were an instrumental part of getting my trench foot under control and finishing the John Muir Trail in comfort, and they’ve kept my feet happy on countless hikes since then. In fact, I’ve worn them so much that it’s about time for me to get myself a new pair of Point6 socks. If I was making a purchase today, I’d go for one of their newer hiking models, such as the 37.5 Hiking Block Light Stripe Crew or the Hiking Essential Medium Mini Crew.

Smartwool

best hiking socks my top picks - smartwool
Smartwool Hiking Socks

At the same time I purchased my first pair of Point6 hiking socks in Mammoth, I also bought an extra pair of Smartwool hiking socks. The recipe for making my feet comfortable was simple. Change your socks at least once a day and apply a liberal amount of Gold Bond every time you make a change, as well as before you go to bed. With an extra couple pairs of socks, my feet were much happier. Anyone that has experienced their comfort knows it’s tough to beat Smartwool.

Their standard hiking socks are extremely comfortable and also breathe enough to keep your feet dry throughout a long day on the trail. 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 this summer, I know I’d be just fine with two pairs of Smartwool socks. In fact, maybe I’ll go get myself a pair of their PhD Outdoor Light Mid Crew socks right now!

Darn Tough

best hiking socks my top picks - darn tough
Darn Tough Hiking Socks

This brand out of Vermont has caught my eye recently. Their socks have come highly recommended from a number of trusted reviewers (Gear Patrol and Outdoor Gear Lab), which is why I, in turn, had to include them in my top picks for best hiking socks. One of the things I like most about this brand is what you find when you visit the ‘About Us’ page on the Darn Tough website.

The first thing you see is this quote: “Nobody ever outsourced anything for quality.” I think that speaks to their company values and their commitment to making their products in their home state of Vermont. If I were to pick myself out a new pair of their socks today, I’d be most intrigued by the Via Ferrata Micro Crew Cushion or the Coolmax® Micro Crew Cushion.



REI Co-Op

best hiking socks my top picks - rei co-op
REI Co-Op Hiking Socks

REI Co-Op still has some of the best hiking socks available, despite the fact that so many new brands are popping up around the Internet. It’s just hard to beat the guys and gals that have been doing it for more than 80 years now. I know they’re widely recognized for much more than hiking socks, but they still haven’t forgotten that the best adventures start from the ground up.

Whether you’re looking for short, crew, or knee-length socks, they’ve got you covered. They also offer a variety of socks with varying designs and types of wool, and their selection includes a few stylish designs to boot! Some of the offerings that caught my eye were the Wallace Lake Merino Wool Crew Socks and the Merino Ultralight Hiker Crew Socks.



A Couple Other Brands To Keep Your Eye On

best hiking socks my top picks - injinji
Injinji Hiking Socks

In addition to my top five picks, my research turned up a few additional brands that deserve an Honorable Mention. Injinji is unique in the bunch because they make “Performance Toesocks.” I’ve personally never actually given toesocks a try, but if you’re like me, you should still visit their site, as they do have a number of hiking socks that fit the more “traditional” mold.

best hiking socks my top picks - FITS
FITS Hiking Socks

FITS also produces some of the best hiking socks you’ll find. Using U.S. engineering and manufacturing, this brand’s technological approach sets it apart from the competition. Many of their socks include gradient compression, which helps to improve blood flow from your toes up through your legs, ultimately making your day-long hiking adventure much more comfortable.

best hiking socks my top picks - farm to feet
Farm to Feet Hiking Socks

The last brand I’ll mention is Farm to Feet. To be honest, I haven’t given any of their socks a try (yet!), but I do love their name. Another brand that offers a 100% American-made product, their name is inspired by the completely domestic supply chain. All the wool, nylon, and spandex used in their socks comes from farms right here in the United States.

Find YOUR Best Hiking Socks!

As 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.

Do you have experience with any of these hiking socks? If so, I’d love to know which you’ve used, what your favorites are, and what you’d do differently if you manufactured your own hiking socks. If you’ve compared any of these socks to others that I didn’t mention in this post, I’d love to hear about them!

Also, if you decide to make a purchase from any of these brands with the best hiking socks after reading this review, I’d love to know how you like whichever socks you acquire after you’ve had a chance to put them to use for a few trips or travel excursions!

Feel free to reach out to me directly (email below), or share your latest adventure or backpack by tagging @thebackpackguide on Instagram!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this review and I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below. I’ll be quick to reply to any questions, comments, or concerns you feel like sharing!

Take Care of your Feet!

The Backpack Guide

tucker@thebackpackguide.com

Comments

  1. Louise

    Hello,

    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

    Louise

    1. Post
      Author
      Tucker Ballister

      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! 

  2. Kari

    Hello Tucker

    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.

    1. Post
      Author
      Tucker Ballister

      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. 

  3. Robert Trevor

    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.

    1. Post
      Author
      Tucker Ballister

      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!

  4. Ilaisaane Tuakalau

    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?

    1. Post
      Author
      Tucker Ballister

      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!

  5. Wayne

    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?

    Happy Trails,

    Wayne

    1. Post
      Author
      Tucker Ballister

      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! 

  6. Mary

    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!

    1. Post
      Author
      Tucker Ballister

      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. 

  7. Juliet

    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. 

    1. Post
      Author
      Tucker Ballister

      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!

  8. arnaiemhasan

    Hi,

    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 .

    1. Post
      Author
      Tucker Ballister

      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! 

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