Home / Articles / Gear Guides

2018 guide to outdoor socks

Image of the July 2018 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more articles from the
July 2018 Issue

Most people will sweat one cup of water a day through their feet, which makes a good pair of socks vital for on-trail comfort.

Moisture management
Dry feet are less likely to blister or overheat, and a good sock will complement a boot’s lining by creating a gap which allows moisture to be drawn away from your foot, through the boot lining, to be released into the air.

Seams
Chafe-free seams lay flat against the skin to reduce pressure points. 

Materials
All socks have different blends of synthetic and natural fibres. The exact mix will determine the quality, durability and comfort of the sock. Here’s what the various fibres do:

Wool: insulates the foot and helps control moisture. Merino is naturally anti-bacterial and odour-resistant

Lycra, spandex, elastane: keep socks up

Nylon: adds durability

Synthetic materials like Endurofil or CoolMax: wick moisture

Construction
Socks should fit snugly and stay put when they’re on. An elasticised arch and ankle prevents the sock sliding forward and bunching around the toes. The weave – in various thicknesses and knits – creates airspace against your skin to help keep feet dry and move moisture into the boot lining. 

Comfort
Padding is provided in key areas to absorb pressure from your boots. Areas that are frequently padded are the heel, arch, toes and the shin.

Ventilation
Ventilation panels enhance comfort by helping feet remain cool and more efficiently wick moisture.

Fit
Try different pairs to make sure the fit is spot on – excess material can lead to rubbing which could cause blisters. If you’re unsure, the length of your forearm from inside elbow to wrist should be the same length as your foot. Lay a sock along your arm to determine the size you need. 

Get unlimited access

Browse all articles, trips, gear reviews and buyer’s guides for as little as $6.50/month.

Subscribe now

Already a subscriber? Login Now

All sock photography by Dennis Radermacher

Bridgedale Hike Midweight Merino Endurance $42.99
Three-season sock with Fusion Tech – a combination of natural and synthetic fibres to provide insulation, moisture wicking and durability. Moisture Management System, a performance fit and advanced zonal padding keep feet warm, dry and blister-free. Men’s and women’s sizing. Composition 26% new wool, 18% merino wool, 38% nylon, 17% Endurofil, 1% Lycra. www.ampro.co.nz 

 Point6 Block Stripe Medium Crew $43.95
Naturally antimicrobial crew sock with cushioning around entire foot and leg, compact spun yarns, deep heel pocket, seamless toe, ventilation panels. Composition 67% merino wool, 30% nylon, 3% spandex. www.point6.co.nz 

 Bridgedale Hike Lightweight T2 Merino Endurance $44.99
Hybrid construction provides protection and ventilation, T2 anti-compression technology compliments lightweight boots, mesh side and underfoot panels aid breathability, Fusion Tech wicks moisture. Men’s and women’s sizing. Composition 31% merino wool, 37% nylon, 31% Endurofil, 1% Lycra. www.ampro.co.nz 

 Macpac Merino Hiker $34.95
With loop pile cushioning, elasticated arch to prevent ride-down, smooth toe seam, nylon reinforcing for durability and the natural odour-resistance of merino. Composition 82% merino, 12% nylon, 6% elastane. www.macpac.co.nz 

 Bridgedale Explorer Heavyweight Merino Endurance $49.99
Expedition sock for extended use and with dense cushioning throughout providing warmth, impact resistance and comfort. Fusion Tech combination of natural and synthetic yarns for insulation, moisture wicking and durability. Men’s and women’s sizing. Composition 28% merino wool, 19% new wool, 34% nylon, 18% Endurofil, 1% Lycra. www.ampro.co.nz