How to Choose the Right Socks

  • Date:Wed, Jan 13, 16

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

Attributed to Muhammad Ali

Choosing the Right Socks

If you spend time in the backcountry, than you know the value of good footwear. Experienced outdoorsmen know there is one thing that you never scrimp on-socks. Well-made, well-designed socks will keep you on your feet longer and with considerably more comfort than the discount specials that tempt some. Good, high quality socks will likely be a relatively small investment compared to your other gear, yet can have the largest impact on the success of the trip.

The Magic of Merino…

There are many attributes of a well engineered sock and foremost among them is the fabric. Merino wool has become the defacto material for most all performance hiking, backpacking, tactical and everyday socks. Merino wool is soft, itch-free, breathable, flame resistant, and has the very desirable quality of being thermostatic. That is, temperature regulating, which will keep your feet comfortable in a wide range of temperatures. The natural crimp inherent in Merino fibers creates loft that traps dead air, which acts as an insulator in cooler weather. In warmer weather, Merino wool cools your feet. The fibers absorb moisture from your foot, and then release it outside which creates an evaporative cooling effect. This effect increases as your foot heats up. Merino fibers can absorb and retain up to 30% of their weight in moisture and still feel dry to the touch.

Merino is also breathable and wicking. The fibers absorb and release moisture into the outside environment, not only does this keep your feet dry and prevent blisters, it also keeps bacteria from setting up shop and creating odor. In plain talk, Merino wool keeps your feet from stinking. Finally, Merino wool fibers are quite durable, able to be bent, stretched and twisted numerous times without damage. This accounts for that inner “springiness” that you feel when wearing Merino socks.

Fit and finish…

Socks need to fit well to perform well. Make sure to buy the right size so that the seams and padding and other features align to your foot. Most socks will have an arch band which keeps the sock in place and prevents material from balling up under your arch. Some socks are vented on top to help your feet stay cool and most will have a seamless toe box to prevent blistering of the toes. The height of the socks is mostly a matter of preference, although it makes sense to have socks at least as high as your boots. Well-made socks have a dense weave that provides durability and comfort, setting them apart from the lesser socks.

Make life better…

Throw away your old cotton tube socks and immerse yourself in the luxury that goods socks provide. Your feet will thank you for the comfort, your mates will thank you for the reduced odor, you’ll hike further and will arrive happier.

Upgrade To Better Socks

Darn Tough

The Darn Tough 1501 Tactical Boot Sock was developed with MARCORSYSCOM to provide the Marines with an all season, versatile boot sock. Key features include slightly taller than mid-calf height, resilient terry loop cushioning surrounding calf and foot bottom, mesh knitting on top of foot for enhanced breathability, an elastic support at the arch and reinforced heel and toe for increased durability. Take a closer look here.


The Swiftwick Pursuit is a wicking, technical sock that's engineered for comfort, durability and performance. This material's natural thermostatic properties will keep your feet warmer on cold days and cooler on hot days. The Pursuit's gentle compression helps reduce swelling, improve circulation and increase endurance.


SmartWool Men's Hike Light Crew Socks' arch brace holds the sock in place and adds additional support while a flat-knit toe seam keeps you comfortable throughout the day. Perfect for moderate hiking or aggressive walking.