Have you ever wondered: should you wear two pairs of socks when hiking?
Two heads are better than one, and so are two pairs of socks for several reasons, especially to prevent blisters.
Blisters lengthen your hiking time and will turn your hike in to an unpleasant experience ! 🙁 (I remember wanting to strangle my hiking companions because I felt so grumpy from the pain)
However, if you are a hiking beginner, you may think that it seems unnecessary to layer your feet with two pairs of socks. It makes your feet sweat and stink more, and adds to the extra weight.
Do you want to know in detail whether you should wear double-layered socks when hiking? Do not worry! Look no further.
Read through this article to understand more about the pros and cons of wearing double-layered hiking socks, the types of best buy socks that I recommend, and many more important points to take note of before you begin your hiking journey.
This article will cover:
- Reasons To Wear Two Pairs Of Socks When Hiking
- Why Are Two Pairs Of Socks Bad For Hiking?
- Factors To Consider When Choosing Hiking Socks
- 11 Best Socks Recommended For Hiking
- Are Hiking Socks Different Than Standard Socks?
- Should Hiking Socks Be Thick Or Thin?
- How Many Pairs Of Hiking Socks Should I Bring?
- How To Wear Two Pairs Of Socks Correctly For Your Next Hike
- How To Extend The Life Of Your Hiking Socks
- How To Care For Your Feet While Hiking
- Frequently Asked Questions
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Reasons To Wear Two Pairs Of Socks When Hiking
1. Prevents Blisters
Bubbles on the skin with clear serum caused by skin friction are called blisters.
Usually, these painful blisters appear when you wear ill-fitting shoes or when your feet are damp. Heat, friction, and moisture are blistering best friends.
Wearing two pairs of socks on top of each pair or from the right material that snug your feel well can help to prevent blisters.
When your socks are wet, you must immediately replace them with dry hiking socks. You are prone to get blisters and chafing on your feet when your socks are damp.
2. Moisture-wicking During Winter
During cold and snowy winters, socks made from moisture-wicking fabric make sweat from your skin evaporate through the socks. Therefore, your feet remain dry and comfortable.
This is made possible due to the blend of 60% hydrophobic and 40% hydrophilic fibers of moisture-wicking fabric.
Hydrophobic fiber is water-hating, so it pushes away moisture including sweat from your feet. Hydrophilic fiber has water-loving characteristics, thus, it absorbs moisture including sweat from the feet.
3. Limits Chafing For Wrong Shoe Fit
Chafing is caused by rubbing friction against the skin of your feet with the shoes.
A double layer of socks draws out sweat and moisture from your feet and reduces the movement of your feet against the inner sides of your shoes.
If your feet are relatively dry, it can cause less friction and chafing would be less likely to happen.
4. Additional Cushioning
The importance of socks when hiking is that it ensures that you can complete your hiking. Not only does a double layer of socks protect your feet, but it also gives additional cushioning and comfort from harsh impacts during hiking.
Having a cushion on your soles is crucial during vigorous activities like hiking and sports like running. The padding allows you to perform longer by relieving the stress from gravity pressure when your feet touch the ground.
5. Extra Protection From Leeches, Critters, And Bugs
Socks give extra protection to drive away the leeches, critters, and bugs from biting your precious feet. Hikers who are worried about getting stung by insects usually opt for light color socks.
Unfortunately, light colors make dirty stains appear more visible.
Why Are Two Pairs Of Socks Bad For Hiking?
1. Shoe Discomfort
Wearing two pairs of socks would make your shoes feel tighter. Thus, causing shoe discomfort.
2. Uncomfortable Warm Feet
Your feet would sweat so much resulting in moisture, bacteria, and heat entrapped inside the shoes.
Your uncomfortable warm feet become a perfect host for fungus to live in, which is why you must change into clean, dry socks as often as possible in between hikes.
3. Sufficient One Pair Of High-Performance Socks
Double-layered socks when hiking make your feet stinkier since there would be less air contact. So, it is sufficient to wear only one pair of high-performance socks.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Hiking Socks
1. Hiking Sock Materials And Breathability
It is best to choose hiking socks that are appropriate for both cold and warm weather. You should find waterproof socks if you intend to hike during the rainy season.
- Wool: Wool socks are temperature-regulating, quick-drying, moisture-wicking, and antimicrobial. Wool is an ideal insulator as it traps the air and absorbs 30% of moisture weight before dampness starts forming so feet remain drier. These socks are great for hiking.
- Cotton: Cotton socks are chafing-prone and blister-prone as they absorb moisture, so you will end up with sweaty feet. These socks are breathable. Usually, cotton is blended with nylon to drive away moisture from your feet.
- Nylon: Nylon socks are thin and highly elastic yet strong. It is often blended with other materials for more durability and extra stretch.
- Polyester: Polyester socks are quick-drying, moisture-wicking, insulating, durable, breathable, and hydrophobic (water-repelling). Polyester is often blended with wool, nylon, cotton, or elastane.
- Elastane/Lycra/Spandex: Elastane, Lycra, and Spandex socks are made from polyurethane. Spandex is a common term used in the United States, and it is marketed under the brand name Lycra.
As this material provides elasticity, tight fit, and comfort, it helps in the ankle and arch support.
Hikers have to replace merino wool socks once per year if they are used regularly as these socks are less durable. So, to increase durability and for certain merino wool socks that come with a lifetime guarantee, wool-synthetic blends are used.
2. Hiking Sock Height
Hiking socks come in various heights such as ankle-height, no-show, knee-high, and crew socks. Ankle-height socks or its other name micro-crew socks are suitable for low or mid-hiking shoes. This sock height will protect you from ankle chafing.
Knee-high socks are perfect for a winter hike and protect your legs from abrasion, whereas crew socks that are several inches above your ankles are recommended for hiking boots and low or mid shoes.
3. Hiking Sock Weight
Thick knee-high wool hiking socks weigh 4.0 oz, thick mid-calf wool hiking socks weigh 2.1 oz, thin mid-calf wool hiking socks weigh 1.9 oz, thick ankle-high wool hiking socks weigh 1.7 oz, and very thin mid-calf synthetic weighs 1.5 oz.
You can know the thickness of any socks by their weight.
So, if you wear two pairs of socks when hiking and bring along another pair of socks, the weight of the total number of hiking socks is estimated to be more or less the weight of only one or one and a quarter lemons.
4. Hiking Sock Cushioning
Different types of socks have diverse cushioning levels. So, your need is dependent on the climate condition and the length of your hike.
If you want to hike in the summer, it is best to use ultralight socks. Full cushion socks absorb the impact the most, so these socks are good for a multi-day hike. You should choose hiking socks that could provide a balance between breathability and warmth.
5. Hiking Sock Fit
You must ensure that you wear socks that are the right fit for your feet. Comfortable and long-lasting socks are not too small and not too big.
Socks that are too small and too big can cause blisters and can easily make your toes poke into the socks, resulting in holes in your socks.
The importance of finding the right size and fit for your hiking socks are for better cushioning. Buy pairs of socks that are your correct shoe size, not the ones below your shoe size. Avoid buying the ‘one size fits all’ socks.
Socks that are snuggly foot-hugging fit without getting loose or easily slipping away are the perfect hiking socks.
That will leave little to no room for the socks to stretch out. The heels of the socks must sit exactly on your ankles and the seams of your toes must lay flat.
11 Best Socks Recommended For Hiking
- Materials and breathability: Danish Endurance Cushion Wool hiking socks are made from temperature-regulating and sweat-wicking mesh merino wool. These socks are blended with 36% nylon, 33% acrylic, 30% merino wool, and 1% elastane.
- Weight: 3.04 oz
- What I like: These socks are padded from toe to heel, which prevents blisters during hiking, helps to alleviate soreness, and tight fit, and are comfortable to wear. They keep their feet dry despite sweating profusely and do not bunch inside the hiking shoes and boots.
- What I do not like: The seams at the toes are poorly stitched, resulting in the hole and split after 5 miles of hiking. The merino wool is only 30% whereas the highest percentage of fiber is 36% nylon.
- Materials and breathability: Time May Tell Men hiking socks are blended with 80% merino wool, 14% nylon, 5% polyester, and 1% spandex. These crew socks have warmth retention and fall below the base of your calf. Hikers would love these socks.
- Weight: 2.88 oz
- What I like: These socks provide comfort and warmth. The wool keeps feet dry. They are great for mild and warmer temperatures. Despite multiple washes and repeated use, they do not stretch out.
- What I do not like: After a long walk, these socks rub raw on the soles. They are just a little bit thicker than normal socks. After two months of use, holes are formed.
- Materials and breathability: Darn Tough Men boot socks are blended with 66% merino wool, 32% nylon, and 2% lycra/spandex. These boot socks have a full cushion on the feet.
- Weight: 3.84 oz
- What I like: These socks are warm for two below zero temperatures and cool in 90 Fahrenheit summer. They have snug-fitted heels, aid in dissipating the moisture, and are soft despite not being made of wool. For several hundred miles of hiking, they are extremely durable.
- What I do not like: People who have wide feet or thick legs could not fit into these socks. These socks feel like borderline compression socks and the fuzzy material in between the toenails and cuticles.
- Materials and breathability: Alvada 80% Merino Wool thermal hiking socks are blended of 80% merino wool, 15% polyester, 4% nylon, and 1% spandex. These temperature-regulating hiking socks have a cushion in the footbed and are designed for winter.
- Weight: 8.01 oz
- What I like: These snug-fit socks are very durable as they survive multiple washes without signs of wear and tear, no bunching at the ankles, no shrinking, and no stretching.
They are adaptogenic because your feet remain moderately hot and moderately cool. Even when the socks are wet, they are still able to keep your feet warm.
- What I do not like: These socks are slippery on carpeted steps. Gaping holes exist on the soles after less than two months of use because of the bad seam work and poor elasticity. They are small despite the correct foot size.
- Materials and breathability: Cozia 80% Merino Wool Men and Women thermal boot socks are blended of 80% merino wool, 15% polyester, 4% nylon, and 15% spandex. These compression socks have a full cushion footbed.
- Weight: Nil
- What I like: Frequent hikers feel that these socks are medium-heavy weight as they are warmer than most socks. The feet are pleasantly dry without blisters after 12 hours daily of hiking at 10,000 feet altitude in the snow at 19 degrees Fahrenheit.
All through that hike, the socks remain completely warm and comfortable.
- What I do not like: Holes appear on the top side of toes, balls of feet, and heels after a few washes. The socks also shrink.
- Materials and breathability: EnerWear Women and Men hiking socks are blended of 42% wool, 34% acrylic, 20% polyester, 3% nylon, and 1% spandex. These socks are designed for extreme weather conditions.
- Weight: 1.94 oz
- What I like: These socks dry quickly and keep feet warm in 3 to 8 degrees Celcius moderately cold weather. The feet are toasty warm when hiking in 40-degree weather, sweat but do not feel cold. They neither stretch out nor sag around the ankles.
- What I do not like: These socks are a little thinner, and not padded. They were great until the holes started to form after three months of use. The calf is too small. They are slick and slippery on most surfaces.
- Materials and breathability: Solax 72% Merino Wool Men And Women quarter hiking socks are blended of 72% merino wool, 16% polyester, 10% nylon, and 2% lycra spandex. These socks have thick cushion soles for shock absorption to reduce the impact on your joints.
- Weight: Nil
- What I like: Even while wet, these ankle-height socks provide great comfort. They are not too thick, and fabulous for moisture-wicking, so the feet do not sweat on the hiking trail.
After hiking for more than 17 miles a day, there is no blister. Despite having been washed a few times, they still fit great.
- What I do not like: These socks are expensive. They are thin and feel flimsy after taking the shoes off. They become a fuzzy, and fraying mess after three washes. Holes appear after less than a month.
- Materials and breathability: Cerebro mid-calf wicking socks are blended with merino wool, warm acrylic, polyester, and spandex. These thermoregulated socks have a cushion on the toes and heels.
- Weight: Nil
- What I like: These medium-weight thick socks are comfortable as they insulate feet warmly and absorb moisture. They are suitable for people with big calves and wide feet. They dry nicely during hiking and are itch-free.
- What I do not like: For people with average feet and calf size, these socks feel great, and look great, but are too large. So, they end up bunching up and sliding down. They also rip at the seam.
- Materials and breathability: Smartwool Men cushion socks are made of 100% merino wool. These socks are designed for hunting and help in resisting foot odor.
- Weight: 4.8 oz
- What I like: These heavy wool socks pill over time as they are heavy and are heavily padded. Even when the socks are slightly damp, the feet stay warm. They wick sweat in summer, yet feel a little warm in winter. The fit and comfort stay the best after years.
- What I do not like: It is noticeable that the quality of these expensive socks decreases as the fabric gets a little thinner each year. These socks do not stay up over the calves, and holes appear on the top side of the toes.
- Materials and breathability: Injinji 2.0 Midweight NuWool crew socks are blended of 43% NuWool, 43% acrylic, 12% nylon, and 2% lycra. These are toe socks that are designed to prevent skin friction between the toes.
- Weight: 3.04 oz
- What I like: The toes are spread apart in restrictive shoes so these socks are suitable for long-distance rough hiking as there are no friction, blister, and hot spot. They are more comfortable than regular socks. The heat is retained in soft wicking wool and feet are dry all day long.
- What I do not like: These socks are a little difficult to wear. There are concerns over their durability over holes forming. The quality has gone downhill over the past recent years. The wool is itchy and does not stretch at the toes.
- Materials and breathability: NineToFive Women Outdoor wool socks are blended of 80% wool, 13% cotton, and 7% polyester. These socks have excellent breathability and air ventilation.
- Weight: 5.44 oz
- What I like: These thick sweat-wicking socks are suitable for people with larger than average feet. The cushioning can be felt and comfortable to wear as they regulate temperature. The socks stay up and do not slip. There is no itchiness and skin irritation.
- What I do not like: With an expensive price tag, these socks feel like synthetic wool. They do not keep the feet warm during fall. The elastic at the cuff is too tight and there are holes.
Are Hiking Socks Different Than Standard Socks?
Should you wear two pairs of socks when hiking? Knee-high compression socks for hiking improve the blood flow out of your legs back to your heart after compressing your legs.
The design of these socks is to snugly fit your feet. Hikers who hike for long distances wear compression socks for hiking to decrease the strain and stress on their leg muscles.
These socks promote blood flow and help to stop swelling of the feet. Endurance activities like hiking or exercises usually increase blood flow to your heart, lungs, and working muscles.
Compression socks for hiking help in easing muscle soreness and hasten recovery time.
When this occurs, it would reduce the blood flow to your hands and feet, which in turn would make your limbs colder.
So, the blood vessels react by opening wider, hence causing the swelling of your limbs during hiking. That is why hiking compression socks are highly recommended for hiking and in-flight.
Hiking socks regulate your body temperature. The design of moisture-wicking socks permits moisture to evaporate after travelling along with the sock fabric. Certain fabrics have better moisture-wicking capability.
Hikers should use hiking socks that are made from wicking material. Full-cushion socks like mountaineering socks are thick and can easily make your feet sweat.
Despite that, its cushioning can reduce pressure from your feet that has hiked over a long distance. Medium-cushion socks are perfect for hikes in mild weather.
Should you wear two pairs of socks when hiking? Yes, you should as a double layer of socks entrap the heat from escaping and keep your feet insulated during colder climate. Therefore, you can continue to enjoy your hiking for a longer duration.
Hiking socks from good quality brands usually outlast cheap hiking socks made from a cotton blend. These hiking socks are more durable and have a lifetime warranty.
Should Hiking Socks Be Thick Or Thin?
The thickness of your hiking socks should be dependent on the climate and shapes of the terrains. Thin socks are best for short and easy hiking trails whereas thick socks are for cold climates and difficult terrain.
How Many Pairs Of Hiking Socks Should I Bring?
Experienced hikers wear two pairs of socks and they bring along another pair of clean and dry socks that they can change into. However, the number of socks that you bring depends on the length of your hike. Bring an additional pair of socks on top of the total number of your hiking days.
How To Wear Two Pairs Of Socks Correctly For Your Next Hike
By layering two pairs of socks, it maintains dryness and protection. The first pair of socks must fit snugly onto your feet. The second pair is worn on top of the first pair, acting as a cushion between your shoe and outer socks.
How To Extend The Life Of Your Hiking Socks
1. Wear Hiking Socks Only During Hiking
You should wear your hiking socks only during hiking to make them last longer. Most socks can last between two to six years if you take good care of them.
2. Never Wash Socks In The Dryer
Dry cleaning is bad for your socks as the high heat in the dryer would cause the elasticity of your socks to break down and the unfortunate socks would stretch out hideously. Even low heat from the dryer can shorten the life span of your socks.
3. Wash Socks In Cold Water
Your socks must be washed in cold water in gentle or delicate mode using the washing machine. You may also hand-wash it in cold water. Remember not to wring out the wet socks.
4. Never Share Socks
Never share your socks with anyone as different people have different feet and leg muscle sizes. Sharing socks will ruin its shape and stretch it out even more.
5. Lay Socks Flat To Dry
Socks must be laid flat to dry as hanging will make socks lose their elasticity.
How To Care For Your Feet While Hiking
Sometimes, hikes are less pleasurable when you have blisters and aches on your feet. Hence, taking good care of your feet is essential when hiking.
Remember to take frequent breaks, remove your shoes during your resting period, and elevate your feet to ease the pain.
To avoid foot pain, you should wear appropriate footwear. This can make or break your hiking experience and performance.
Having the right shoes is crucial, but you also should know how to lace up your shoes to accommodate enough space for your feet to breathe.
Keep your toenails short to prevent blisters and dull the sharp edges of your toenails that may cut through your socks. You should replace your cheap foam insoles with high-quality insoles that could provide enough arch support and shock absorption.
The items that you can bring to alleviate foot pain are extra pairs of socks, alcohol wipes, blister patches, moleskin, a first aid kit, ibuprofen, duct tapes, and nail clippers.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Pairs Of Socks Should You Wear When Hiking?
You should wear two pairs of socks when hiking the difficult and undiscovered terrain or in a hot climate as it makes your feet get sweaty faster but it will give extra protection.
To prevent blisters, you must take a frequent stop during your hike to change into dry pairs as soon as possible.
Do You Need Hiking Socks?
Yes, you do need hiking socks! Hiking socks are necessary as it is important to prevent blisters so that you can hike in the most comfortable condition.
Hiking socks make your feet remain dry, absorb less impact as it is designed to provide additional cushion to your ball of the feet, and heel, and are less sweaty because of their moisture-wicking ability.
Should You Wear Thick Socks With Hiking Boots?
Yes, you should wear thick socks with hiking boots! Thick socks provide additional cushioning to your feet than your regular socks. These socks are usually made of moisture-wicking material that wicks sweat away and keeps your feet dry. You can match the thickness of your socks to find the right fit for the hiking boots that you use or intend to purchase.
Should you wear two pairs of socks when hiking? Wearing two pairs of socks when hiking has its pros and cons. It is not necessary for everyone, but it can help to protect your feet from frostbite, keep out moisture, and prevent blisters.
You must think through your options carefully before making your decision. Do not buy just any socks to go with your hiking boots. Dry and warm feet make your day feel comfortable throughout the mountainous hiking process.
So, should you wear two pairs of socks when hiking? Due to the nature of hiking, whether or not you should wear one or two pairs of socks when hiking is for you to decide yourselves depending on your preference, comfort, health, and cost.
Make the right valuable choice now to enjoy hiking better!