fb-pixel

Choosing the best socks for thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail or any major hike is something that deserves careful consideration. I’ve talked about my go-to hiking shoes, but never what socks I use. So, in this post, I’m going to go over what I look for in a good hiking sock and give you a breakdown of what I think are 5 of the best socks for Thru-Hiking.

Some people swear by using thin liner socks inside of a medium weight hiking sock to prevent blisters but I’ve never found this necessary. Because with the right socks and proper foot care I’ve suffered from very few blisters on the trail.

 

What Makes for a Good Hiking Sock?

 

Material

 

Good materials is the most important attribute of a sock. It affects the comfort, durability, and functionality of the socks. The best socks for thru-hiking are usually a three-way blend of Merino Wool, Nylon and Lycra.

Man wearing Balega Socks


Merino Wool – Merino wool is soft, keeps the stink at bay and drys fairly quickly. It’s the biggest benefit is that wool is still warm when wet. Believe me, your feet WILL get wet on a thru-hike.

Nylon – A purely Merino wool sock won’t have the best durability. Nylon is blended with Merino to increase durability. Being a synthetic material means Nylon drys quickly but can retain some foot funk.

Lycra – A very small percentage of Lycra is often used in the best socks. This allows for good stretch in the sock and helps to keep it snug to the foot.

 

Fit and Comfort

You can have a sock with the best blend of materials but if the sock is ill-fitted and doesn’t suit your foot then you’re asking for blisters. A hiking sock should be snug fitting but not too tight. You don’t want to have excess bunched up material in the toe region. I find that a sock that sits just above the ankle is perfect for use with running shoes, any taller is unnecessary. 

socks sitting just above the ankle
The Perfect Sock Height

 

Ability to Dry Quickly

It’s important that a sock can dry creatively quickly as hiking in wet socks for hours on end is not good for your feet. A sock using the materials above will be sufficiently quick drying but don’t go for a sock that’s too thick as it will take longer to dry. A medium thickness sock is what we’re looking for. This strikes the right balance between being padded enough for thru-hiking and thin enough to dry fast.

 

Durability

Durability is a factor to consider but the least important of the ones listed here. It’s more important that a sock works well for you and doesn’t give you blisters. You’ll be going through multiple pairs of socks on a thru-hike anyway but a durable sock is an added bonus.


 

Five of the Best Socks for Thru-Hiking


Darn Tough – Hiker 1/4 Cushion Sock


Darn Tough make some of the best socks for thru-hiking because they deliver a quality product and have a lifetime warranty. The “Hiker 1/4 Cushion Sock ” provides coverage for the ankle and nothing more. The 1/4 sock is snug fitting with zero excess material. It has extra padding where you need it and venting on the sides to let out heat and moisture. Darn Tough socks are made with an optimal ratio of 61% Merino, 37% Nylon and 2% Lycra.

 

Defeet – Wooleator


Defeet have been making a wide range of socks aimed at runners and cyclists since 1992. The Wooleator is their original wool sock that’s been upgraded over the years to be a bomber option for a long distance hike. It strikes a good balance of Wool (63%), Nylon (26%), Cordura (10%) and Lycra (1%) to keep your feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It retains good durability whilst also being thin enough to breathe inside your trail runners.


IO Merino – Crew Sock


You may not have heard of this Australian company but IO Merino make a huge range of high quality Merino products, including the excellent “Crew Sock”. They have a whopping 80% Australian Merino makeup with the remaining 20% of the sock being Nylon for stretch and durability. They’re fitted just above the ankle and have padding and venting in all the right places. 

 

Balega – Blister Resist Quarter Running Socks


Balega does something a little different with it’s materials. They use a mixture of Mohair (Goat Hair) and Drynamix (Polyester). Mohair has similar characteristics to Merino Wool and mixing it with Polyester provides durability and elasticity to the sock. Customers praise Balega for their elasticated arch support band and a deep heel pocket that holds the sock in place.

 

Injinji – Outdoor Original Weight Micro NuWool

 

If you want to look like a Ninja and give your hiking partners a chuckle then pick up some Injinji’s. Joking aside, people that are prone to blisters between their toes should seriously consider a pair of toe socks. The extra material between the toes takes a little getting used to but can be a great solution for blister prone feet. The “Outdoor Original Weight Micro NuWool” (long name) has the right mix of materials. It has excellent ventilation on the top of the sock but some say it may not be as durable for long-distance hiking.

 

Figure out the Best Hiking Socks for YOU!

 

As you can see from our list above there are a lot of good hiking socks on the market. It’s hard to pinpoint one brand as the best socks for thru-hiking. Use our list above and pick up a couple of different models to test out before you head out on a long trip in the woods. If you have thoughts on any of the socks above or you think we missed off a good one then leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you. 🤘🏻

Check out the video that accompanies this post

 

Disclaimer – This post contains affiliate links. By clicking through and purchasing something from Amazon you help support the work I do with pieonthetrail and it costs you nothing extra. Cheers

 

 

Facebook Comments

Enjoying the Content? Subscribe to My Newsletter

 

You’ll receive articles about Ultralight Backpacking and Awesome Gear Guides & Reviews.

I’ll also send you my FREE ebook - 50 Ultralight Backpacking Tips.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Subscribe To My Newsletter

 

Join today to receive articles about Ultralight Backpacking and in-depth Gear Guides and Reviews delivered straight to your inbox.

 

You’ll also get access to my FREE 15+ page ebook - 50 Ultralight Backpacking Tips.

 

I hate junk mail and I won’t send you any. Just awesome articles about backpacking.

You have Successfully Subscribed!