Most people start out hiking with the socks they own and a pair of running shoes. When I started hiking I wore the socks I owned and beat-up basketball shoes and was able to hike plenty of trails. Hiking in normal socks is fine, but do you really need hiking socks?
You do not need hiking socks, however switching to hiking socks provide many benefits such as keeping your feet dry by wicking away moisture from your sweat, help insulate your feet much better during cold weather, provide better breathability, and offer more padding for increased comfort.
As I started my hiking journey I thought it wouldn’t make a big difference if I wore my regular socks, but If I could go back in time I would buy a pair of hiking socks as they felt way better. After switching I didn’t have to think so much about my sweaty feet as I hiked. Below we’ll go over why you shouldn’t wear regular socks, why hiking socks are important, and offer some suggestions for you to get started.
Can You Wear Any Socks for Hiking?
Lets say you only own regular cotton socks from the six or twelve pack socks. Why do most hikers prefer spending the extra money to get hiking socks to avoid wearing regular socks?
The biggest issue with regular cotton socks is that they do not wick moisture. As you hike your feet start to warm up and sweat. Your regular cotton socks will completely absorb all the moisture which will keep your feet feeling wet. This can lead to you getting blisters on your feet as your feet are being softened by the moisture and being rubbed with each step you take. Hiking socks will help with wicking moisture away as you hike. This will help keep your feet much drier.
The next issue cotton socks have is that they are not breathable. Your cotton socks will not allow ample airflow which traps the moisture and keeps your feet wet. This becomes circular where the heat of your feet is trapped which causes them to sweat more which then leads to poor breathability.
If you remember all of the socks you have tossed out once they had holes in the heels or the toe area, then you will quickly run out of regular socks if you continue to hike in them. The constant friction for each step you take on the trail will slowly wear away the threads and cause holes. If you buy hiking socks they will be thicker and built to last the wear and tear hiking causes.
How important are Hiking Socks?
Now that we went over the cons of wearing regular hiking socks, let’s now go over the importance of hiking socks and why they make a big difference. Once you buy hiking socks you will wonder why you will wish you bought them much sooner!
The main difference you will experience when using hiking socks is the dramatic increase in comfort. It is night and day after you make the switch. The moisture wicking will help keep your feet dry, the extra padding will make it feel like you are walking on clouds, the breathability will help keep your feet feeling more fresh throughout the day, and lastly the antimicrobial elements of hiking socks will prevent them from getting too funky!
Another big difference you will experience from hiking socks will be increased protection from the weather as you can opt for thicker hiking socks to keep your feet nice and warm. The extra padding on hiking socks will help keep your feet stable and lower the chances of getting blisters. Hiking socks will also protect your wallet as they are more durable and will last much longer than regular socks.
Are Wool Socks Necessary for Hiking?
Now that you’ve learned about all the advantages of hiking socks over regular socks, you might have seen wool socks recommended online or by friends. Wool hiking socks are definitely not cheap, so are they even necessary or can you get other hiking socks?
Wool socks are not necessary for hiking, but they provide a ton of great benefits such as being the best material for moisture-wicking, increased insulation for warmth, added breathability, and are antimicrobial to keep your feet fresh.
I’ve been wearing wool socks for years to hike in the mountains, deserts, rain, snow, you name it. Wool socks have been a fantastic purchase for me and many of my hiking friends. The higher price of wool socks is completely justified. I am still wearing the wool hiking socks I bought over ten years ago.
What Are Good Hiking Socks to start with?
You now are a hiking sock expert, but some things you want to consider before buying hiking socks are brand, durability, breathability, material, and thickness. I have found socks that meet all these criteria and will help you have a great time out on the trails without ever having to think about your feet again! After many years of hiking and trying out various different hiking sock brands, here are two pairs of socks that I can rely on for any hiking trip:
Everyone is usually thinking about getting the best gear possible from a better hiking pack, the best hiking pants, or best tent, but one of the most important gear items to get is the right hiking socks.
Your feet are the things that carry you from the start of the trailhead to the summit or viewpoint, so its a good idea to protect them with proper hiking socks!
Different brands provide their own socks with various materials and cuts. Try out many different pairs on different terrain and trails to find the best hiking socks for you.