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Socks added to Trailspace Gear Guide

Today I added about a dozen brands of outdoor socks to our Gear Guide. We've got all the major players -- Wigwam, Smartwool, Thorlo, Fox River, Darn Tough Vermont and more -- and we couldn't possible leave out Injinji's line of toe socks.  These are the categories:

  • Liner Socks -- Conventional wisdom once held that liner socks protected your feet from the scratchiness of wool socks. Now they're more likely to be a wicking base layer or stand-alone ultra-light foot protection.
  • Backpacking and Hiking Socks -- Thicker with more insulation, these socks are built for the peculiar conditions of walking continuously for hours on end. The options are mind-boggling: cushion vs. non-cushion; Merino wool vs. Coolmax; crew height vs. over-the-calf.
  • Running Socks -- Lightweight and typically ankle-height; runners typically don't have a lot of cushion -- it's assumed if your feet can handle the abuse of running, they don't need much padding (which adds heat and friction, leading to blisters).
  • Snowsport Socks -- Most of these are over-the-calf socks for skiing; many aren't as heavy as you might expect, since ski boots often have a fair amount of insulation already.
  • Waterproof Socks -- These have impermeable liners beneath their fabric. SealSkins is the best-known brand.

These represent the first phase of socks added to the Gear Guide; I'll be adding many more in the weeks to come.

Hikers talk up a storm about shoes, but I find that socks are equally essential to the health of my feet. As long as I don't need the insulation, my feet get along best in thin socks; more padding just makes my feet hotter and leads to blisters and hot spots that cushioning is supposed to prevent (who says there's no irony in the wilderness?). 

What are your thoughts on socks? Have you joined the Merino wool generation? How do you fight gunk and funk? Around here, we're always in the mood for sock talk.


I wore silk liners with a ragg sock. Now I wear a synthetic liner(rei) with a ragg sock. Picked up a pair of llbean ragg socks green, the reason I bought them. I was looking for red as well. Noticed you didn't have llbean socks in your list but I am sure their socks come from Wigwam or Fox.

LL Bean isn't among the retailers that provide links to our gear price-comparison engine.

I'm interested in the Darn Tough Vermont socks (though maybe I'm just swayed by the title of the company.)

Thorlo has some intriguing socks coming out called "Experia." Here's a video about the socks' design.

Just an update to note I've added a bunch more brands to the Gear Guide.

We now have over 470 varieties of socks.

Hey Tom, looks like you're settling in pretty well and that makes me feel better about losing you to the East.

As to hiking socks, I found some really good ones at Wally World a few months ago, in the "hunting and fishing department". More merino wool content than the Thorlo Heavy Duty, softer, they don't make "balls" over time, rise higher on the calf, just a better sock than anything else I've found to be perfectly candid about it. And for $7 a pair plus tax. Seems to me that the rest of the manufacturers out there should reconsider their prices, especially given the economic situation. They don't have to meet the $7 level but they do need to come down at least 25% to recover my business.

Anyway, good job Tom. By the way, I'm spending more time on this site because you're here and that's a fact.

Take care.


I buy most of my socks at Costco for Something like $1.50 a pair. I can buy nice merino woll socks at Bi-Mart for $4.50. The outdoor manufacturers are a rip off. When a coated nylon jacket costs $19 at Bi-Mart and another for $300 from REI, or winter vibram soles insulated boots for $24 at B-Mart and $129 at REI, theres a bit of credability gap. My long underwear is $14 a piece at Bi-Mart, not $39 for a long sleeved cotton shirt.

Jim S

The Wigwams I bought for 12 bucks five years ago are still going strong... I had sticker shock then too, but they wear like iron.

Given that use of the feet is the default choice for those who still have use of their lower extremities, and that choice of sock can make a huge difference in the health of your feet while afoot, and that some of these models last a very long time, anything under $30 is really not that big a deal to me.

The time I spent looking for a better deal would be just as well spent doing something I enjoy (however if you enjoy scanning for the best price and the satisfaction of knowing you're getting a better deal than everybody else, then it's worth your time, but the money you save is incidental -- at least where socks are concerned)

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