The best hiking socks you can buy from brands like Smartwool, Darn Tough, and others

  • Hiking socks are a critical part of your outdoor apparel and should be chosen with the same level of care dedicated to other gear like base layers or a rain shell.
  • The best hiking socks offer enough support and comfort for long days on the trail, keep you warm when temperatures drop, and are built for durability
  • The Darn Tough Merino Wool Hiker Boot Socks are our top choice because they’re comfortable the first time you slip them on and tough enough to last for hundreds of miles of trekking.

When I was sixteen years old, I spent three weeks trekking across much of northern Spain. It was a formative experience that cemented a lifelong love for hiking and the outdoors. Among the wisdom I gained during that long-ago journey was a gem I keep with me today: Don’t be cheap when it comes to buying hiking socks.

Within the first few days of my trek, my feet had multiple blisters caused by the abrasion of my roots rubbing through thin socks. Within a week, my feet were covered in open sores and every step was agonizing – it was difficult to push on. It was then that I learned (the absolute hardest way) of the immense benefit of a reliable hiking sock.

In the nearly two decades since that trek, I’ve logged hundreds of miles over mountains, across trails, on roadsides, and elsewhere – and I’ve bought and tested many pairs of hiking socks. Finding the right pair of hiking socks not only means choosing a pair that fits properly and is comfortable. You’ll also want to consider the materials, construction, and conditions beyond your feet.

Here are a few general notes about materials to keep in mind while shopping. First, avoid 100% cotton socks whenever possible. Stick to blended options containing some combination of wool or acrylic. I also recommend avoiding socks made of any one single material. Though people swear by wool or acrylic, blends were created for a reason.

In cold weather, wool helps keep you warm. In wetter conditions, a good percentage of acrylic keeps you drier and many artificial fibers, such as PrimaLoft, keep you warm even when wet. In any condition, you want something with stretch material to keep the sock fitting snugly.

To help narrow down which pair of hiking socks is right for you, we’ve compiled the following list of our favorites currently available from brands like Darn Tough, Columbia Sportswear, and Bombas.

Here are the best hiking socks you can buy:


The best hiking socks overall

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Darn Tough

The Darn Tough Merino Wool Hiker Boot Socks offer unmatched support and cushioning to increase comfort and prevent soreness and injury during long treks.

The Darn Tough Merino Wool Hiker Boot Socks for men and for women were specifically designed to stabilize, cushion, and hug all parts of your foot, ankle, and shin. The idea is to provide ample support against stresses and strains caused by repetitive, heavy footfalls that come with a good hike.

Taut elastic wraps under your arches provide support for this sensitive, critical part of the foot. Extra cushioning pads your heels and toes, helping reduce the impact during each part of a step. There’s also generous ribbing above the ankle providing compression to your shins, reducing the likelihood of shin splints.

Made with a blend of wool, nylon, and spandex, these socks are warm and wicking. As the brand name promises, they are indeed darn tough, lasting for many miles more than most competitors – which is good, because they cost a bit more, too.

Buy the women’s version here.

Pros: Excellent support, durable construction, warm and wicking

Cons: Expensive


The best hiking socks for cold weather

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Fox River

The Fox River Cold Weather Explorer Socks are designed to keep your feet warm when the temperature drops.

With the Fox River Cold Weather Explorer Socks, cold feet can be a thing of the past. These socks keep your feet warm thanks to a blend of acrylic, wool, nylon, and spandex fabrics. Fox River used a generous amount of fabric in its construction, too, making the socks extremely thick. They also feature a “thermalined wool” design that keeps this naturally warm fiber close to your skin.

The lining and the exterior fabric blend work in concert to draw moisture away from your foot, keeping you drier and therefore warmer – this also makes it less likely you’ll develop blisters.

These can be a bit bulky for some hikers’ preference, so keep this in mind when shopping for these. If your preferred hiking boots are already snug, these might not be the most comfortable option.

Pros: Great for cold weather, wool lining provides comfort, affordable price point

Cons: Too bulky for comfort in some boots


The best stylish hiking socks

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Bombas

A pair of Bombas Hiking Socks keep your feet supported and cool during hours on the trail, and look great when you put your feet up back at the lodge.

When it comes to form versus function, the merits of a pair of hiking socks should be judged entirely by the latter. Frankly, the looks of your hiking socks shouldn’t matter so long as they keep your feet warm when it’s cold, cool when it’s hot, and dry and protected at all times. But if you find a pair of hiking socks that cover the basics while also looking good, why not indulge?

Each pair of Bombas Hiking Socks use a pleasing blend of colors woven into a natural-looking pattern that’s subtle enough not to draw attention yet fashionable enough for admiration when noticed. But of course, these socks wouldn’t be on the list if they didn’t also perform. The Insider Picks team tested a few pairs out and, by and large, liked them.

Bombas Hiking Socks have a reinforced heel and toe and use a system of honeycomb stitching to add arch support. They allow for decent breathability and wick away sweat. Do note that due to the 62% cotton used in the blend, they’ll lose much of their thermal properties if soaked through. They may even slightly shrink after washing but do stretch out again after you work them onto your foot.

Buy the women’s version here.

Pros: Stylish appearance, good arch support, Bombas makes a charitable donation with each sale

Cons: Cotton fibers reduce insulation properties when wet


The best hiking socks for warm weather

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Smartwool

Smartwool’s PhD Outdoor Light Hiking Crew socks feature a mesh ventilating system designed to keep your feet cool during warm weather hikes.

Though wool is synonymous with warmth, it also excels at keeping you cool by absorbing and repelling moisture (i.e. sweat). Smartwool’s PhD (which stands for Performance in the Highest Degree) line of hiking socks goes a step further by offering a ventilation system that makes the sock ultra-breathable. This helps keep your feet dry and comfortable no matter how hot it gets outside.

The socks also feature the brand’s performance-specific fit which produces a snug fit and helps them avoid creeping down while hiking. Padding in the heel and the ball of the foot provide support in high-use areas, and work to prevent blisters or hot spots.

Hiking socks often take a beating but Smartwool’s PhDs are built for durability, and are capable of standing up to everything from 15-mile day hikes to multi-day backpacking trips without showing significant signs of wear. The fact its wool features a natural odor blocker is much appreciated, too.

Pros: Breathable, mesh design keeps feet cool in hot weather, wool helps block odors, features a snug fit that won’t fall down

Cons: Tend to run smaller, so sizing up is recommended


The best odor blocking hiking sock

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Scentlok

You know that stink coming off your feet after you kick off your hiking boots following a ten-mile trek? You won’t smell it if you’re wearing the ScentLok Elite Sport Crew socks.

I’d recommend the ScentLok Elite Sport Crew socks for hikers even if it weren’t for the unique silver alloy infused into the fibers. Silver particles prevent bacterial growth, which therefore prevents the development of stinky feet – a must-have for anyone trekking multiple miles.

Even beyond the odor-blocking, these are an excellent pair of activewear socks. They have a supportive bridge and arch compression zone, a cushioned sole and heel, and they wick moisture as well as any decent hiking sock. There is also a seamless toe pocket which reduces the chance of irritation and blisters.

I own two pairs of ScentLok sports socks and both have held up well during regular use. I also happen to have several pairs of the brand’s more casual, everyday socks, and these have also proven comfortable and durable when worn around town or just around the house.

If you consistently battle foot funk, you’ll want to add a pair of ScentLok’s Elite Sport Crew socks to your hiking kit immediately.

Pros: Help prevent food odor, good mid-foot support, durable construction

Cons: Rise too high for some hikers’ preference