The REAL hiking socks thread

12:45 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Just curious if anyone has found a better hiking sock than the Darn Tough hiking socks?

I've tried a lot of different brands and found some socks that I think are good or very good, but the one that I own the most of, and find the best, are the Darn Tough brand.

Point 6 socks seem to be in the category of good socks, but I find that in the toe box area of the sock I notice some slippage. Cabela's IN-GENIUS (synthetic/wool blend) are very good and probably close to the Darn Tough in long walk comfort. The one pair of Cabela's all wool socks I tried ended up in the garbage can after a couple of outings that ended in foot pain. SmartWool never really felt good for me, ditto Woolrich.

I've not tried the Thorlos but have had those recommended to me. As my drawer has a half dozen pairs of Darn Tough and a some of the Cabela's IN-GENIUS and Point 6 socks there is really no need for me to go buy any more at this time, but as of now I'm pretty much sold on Darn Tough as my 'go to' brand.

Anyone else have 2-cents to add?

12:56 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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DARN TOUGH FULL CUSHION


SW133-010-1-p?$SWPDP1$

SMARTWOOL FULL CUSHION.

The Smartwool has been my backpacking boot sock-of-choice for the last 10 years and it looks about the same as the Darn Tough sock.

1:07 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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I'll second the Smartwool.  I'm packing my Keens with their Trekking socks over their Sport somethings as an inner.  Even my crankiest toes have come though this year's trips w/o issues.

1:12 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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I use Thorlo and am happy with them, even all day long. I have also been pretty happy with REI hikers over silk liners. I learned a lot of lessons about socks, liners, insoles and tape over the last few years!

2:28 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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The company that made Smartwool and several other major brands parted ways with Smartwool a couple years ago. But they still make the same socks, just with their own label, FITS. They are somewhat hard to find in stores, but you can mail order from their website.

I would suggest looking at the wool used in the socks. Merino wool tends to last longer and just plain feel better on the feet. Some merino socks have a small amount of synthetic fiber in them to help maintain their shape better.

As Karen (Gifto) mentioned, silk or Coolmax wicking liners help a lot toward preventing blisters, although I have been using Injinji merino and Coolmax toe socks for the last few years and find they not only help prevent blisters, but they also reduce the callous buildup on the foot sole and between the toes.

2:33 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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I second the Thorlo's.  Great socks.  I also use Lorpen & Bridgedale. They are all quality hiking socks IMO.  I tested some Injinji sock liners last weekend.  I put about 12 miles on them in very vertical conditions and no blisters.  I found a solution to my blister problem finally.  I will post a review of the sock liners after a couple more uses.  

4:05 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Wigwam is my brand to avoid after my experience with them. http://www.trailspace.com/gear/wigwam/rebel-fusion-quarter-sock/#review29660

5:21 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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I use Darn tough as well as Defeet and for My boots I use REI Med Hikers..I find with my trail runners the Darn tough are smaller and work better and the Defeet also..

5:39 p.m. on October 9, 2013 (EDT)
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That's interesting about the WigWam socks. I have three pair of the WigWam Cool Lite Hiker Pro. One pair is for backup and has never been worn, but the other two pair have been worn extensively for almost two years and have held up extremely well -- and no indication they won't go another few years. And no blisters when worn inside my Lowa Renegade GTX mid-hikers.

However, can't say the same for the WigWam Merino Comfort Hiker. The heels on those will wear out in less than one season. Now I just use them to keep my feet warm at night.

And I agree with wearing a silk liner.

2:51 a.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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"The company that made Smartwool and several other major brands parted ways with Smartwool a couple years ago. But they still make the same socks, just with their own label, FITS. They are somewhat hard to find in stores, but you can mail order from their website." - Bill S

Thats right Bill. But a quick background to that. Smartwool was bought out several years ago by Timberland, and had a five year non-competition clause with the original founders. After that time the original founders of Smartwool started up Point6, which in my opinion is a better product. I am assuming the company Timberland had outsourced the majority of their smartwool production was to Crescent Hosiery, which also made socks for such companies as Columbia. 

Also the best socks ever were those made by Crescent for Columbia, just a plain heavy wool knit sock that I am still romping around in eight years later. 

Also if any are up Vermont way, Cabot and Sons have their name on some pretty good socks, though I don't know the exact manufacturer.

 

8:07 a.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill S said:

...I have been using Injinji merino and Coolmax toe socks for the last few years and find they not only help prevent blisters, but they also reduce the callous buildup on the foot sole and between the toes.

 Bill, I'm curious, are you wearing these toe socks as a liner under a regular hiking sock, or just these as your primary sock? The toes on my left foot are the first place I get hot spots. I always treat them before they become full blisters, but I would love to have a preemptive option.

10:58 a.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Wool is the word you need to know. For winter conditions I like two pairs of socks.

11:18 a.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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I discovered Injinji toe socks a few years ago, and they make a great liner sock. They prevent rubbing between the toes (the only place I've got a blister in the past ten years) and they add a bit of insulation. They are a tight fit, though, so they can be too constricting in cold weather. 

I haven't tried the merino version, though, but I have heard Injnjis touted as a good base layer for mountaineering boots. 

My best anti-blister system is Injinjis and double layer Wright running socks over top. 

2:20 p.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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I have had good luck with socks from smartwool, darn tough, bridgedale, and point6.  all merino wool blends of various kinds. 

the smartwool hiking socks i tend to use for hiking with boots, the 'trekking heavy crew,' are different today than they were several years ago.  they 'felt' more quickly, shrink more (i line dry all merino wool socks, so not from a heated clothes dryer) and the internal 'loops' don't wear nearly as well on the newer socks.  i'm hoping that trend eventually reverses; right now, my only 'new' (2-3 year old) pair of smartwool socks is less comfortable and servicable than other pairs several years older. 

i still like smartwool, but i have had better luck with heavier bridgedale ('woolfusion trekker') and darn tough ('boot sock full cushion') socks lately.  note that i haven't purchased a new pair of either in quite a while.  i usually buy 2 or 3 pair of each and rotate them.  the names i put in parentheses are what the manufacturers call them today.  i like the ankle-high point6 merino socks ('hiking medium mini-crew' or 'running extra light mini-crew') with trail runners and running shoes.  for running in hot weather, Balega's enduro socks are outstanding. 

for winter/mountaineering, i have some older pairs of smartwool 'mountaineering extra heavy crew' that are my favorites.  mostly merino wool with some nylon and a little elastic.  to me, these are the gold standard super cold weather sock.  my second choice is bridgedale's 'endurance summit,' now called the 'woolfusion summit' i think, though the bridgedale socks only have about 45% wool - the rest is coolmax, nylon, or polypro blend.   

6:51 p.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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G00SE said:

Bill, I'm curious, are you wearing these toe socks as a liner under a regular hiking sock, or just these as your primary sock? The toes on my left foot are the first place I get hot spots. I always treat them before they become full blisters, but I would love to have a preemptive option.

 I am using them as liners under the merino wool socks with mountaineering boots, especially the double (and triple) plastics and ski boots. Injinji made some intended as liners for a while at full boot height, but dropped that line. But I have no problem with the ankle height inside boot liners on double (like Invernos and ski boots) and triple boots (like my Olympus Mons or Baffin Intrepids), nor even with my full-leather Lowas. I also use my merino Injinjis in my rock shoes, rather than go barefoot in them. Just more comfortable for me, with no slippage problem.

7:34 p.m. on October 10, 2013 (EDT)
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I wear the smartwools primarily, although I do have some thorlos that I like. all the hiking socks I have are several years old, so I can't comment on any of the current lines.

7:23 a.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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I love darn tough socks, and. cabot and sons is a close 2nd. I believe they are made at the same location because when searching both they have the same address in Vermont.

8:37 p.m. on October 11, 2013 (EDT)
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keen PCT lite crew

7:05 p.m. on October 15, 2013 (EDT)
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I've had some bad experiences with the SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light sock.  Here's my review:

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/smartwool/phd-outdoor-light-crew-sock/#review29028

I've also had the SmartWool Double Insignia socks.  They've worked out alot better than the PhD Outdoor Lights with minimal pilling.

I've used Lorpen Light Hiker socks previously and I'd definitely recommend those.  Alot less money than comparable SmartWool versions (probably because they contain a lower percentage of Merino), but very comfy.  I got 2 pairs from steepandcheap.com for 10 bucks (5 bucks a pair).  

10:18 a.m. on October 17, 2013 (EDT)
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for the heck of it, i procured a pair of FITS medium-weight hiking socks and have worn them constantly the last couple of days.  a very nice sock.  interesting heel construction in particular - very 'deep,' not something i have seen before, but they feel good.  manufactured in Tennessee by the Crescent Sock Co, which their literature says has been in the business of knitting socks since 1902.  70% merino, 22% nylon, 6% polyester, 2% lycra/spandex.   the manufacturer says to tumble dry them; i generally line-dry anything with a decent amount of wool.   

1:22 p.m. on October 17, 2013 (EDT)
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As I mentioned in another thread, I tried to buy a pair of Insignia toe socks yesterday. They didn't not have them in my very common shoe size (10).

August 30, 2014
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