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Hiking/Backpacking Socks

Top Picks

How we choose: The best hiking/backpacking socks highlighted here were selected based on 252 reviews of 82 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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Darn Tough Merino Micro Crew Sock Cushion

user rating: 5 of 5 (4 reviews)

The best day-hiking socks. Durable, good cushion, good wicking.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight, yet good cushion
  • Great for summer hikes in mountains
  • Great for walking around town

Reasons to Avoid

  • May not be best on very hot days

Summary - These are a very durable sock that have lasted through many day hikes, around town and in winter. It's my "go-to" sock for any day hikes or walking around town when the temp is 25 - 75 degrees. Function - Merino wool is great, warm when it's a bit chilly, but not too hot when it is warm out. On long car camping trips, I have rinsed these socks out and used them a second day, no problem. The merino wool blend easily cleans up with a good rinsing and they dry quickly too. The cushion is just right for day hikes, not excessive and not too thin.

Read more: Darn Tough Merino Micro Crew Sock Cushion reviews (4)

Smartwool Hike Light Cushion Crew Socks

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Hikers know Smartwool as one of the best-known Merino wool brands on the market. I have owned several Smartwool products over the years, and I have never been disappointed with any of them. The Hike Light Cushion Crew Sock is no exception. As a lighter cushioned sock, it is perfect for day hiking or backpacking with an ultralight setup. With Smartwool’s improved warranty and a commitment to sustainability, these are definitely hiking socks worth considering when making your next purchase.

Reasons to Buy

  • Comfortable
  • Hold their shape
  • Breathable
  • Odor resistant
  • Dry quickly/wicks moisture
  • Responsibly sourced wool
  • Recycled materials (used in both socks and packaging)
  • Made in USA
  • Warranty

Reasons to Avoid

  • I really couldn't come up with any.

The packaging on the Smartwool Hike Light Cushion Crew Socks (or “Hike LC” for short) reads, “go far. feel good.” I find that slogan to be the ideal description of these socks. After 100 miles of hiking, they still feel good on my feet.   OUT OF THE PACKAGE (which is both minimal and made from recycled materials), the Hike LC look and feel like what you would expect from quality Merino wool socks. They are soft, comfortable, and regulate temperature well. Going by the packaging, the Hike LC are comprised of 56% Wool, 28% Recycled Nylon, 13% Non-recycled Nylon, and 3% Elastane (Lycra/Spandex).

Read more: Smartwool Hike Light Cushion Crew Socks review (1)

Top Running Sock / Hiking/Backpacking

Swiftwick Pursuit Four Sock

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Swiftwick is as good as it gets for scent-free, blister-free comfort, wicking, and durability. Updated!!

Reasons to Buy

  • They wear like iron
  • Blister-free guarantee
  • Snug fit
  • Do not stretch out
  • Low odor
  • Blister free after four months
  • Merino!

Reasons to Avoid

  • They seem pricey till you see their durability

I have owned Swiftwick socks of one variety or another for five or so years now. I've worn them up and down several Cascades Volcanoes and they are now my go-to light hiking and running socks. Test Conditions: I received two almost identical sets of Swiftwick socks about four months ago and I have included them in all my fitness, trail runs, gym workouts and hikes in the hills. It's been long-pants season so I don't have a ton of action shots in them (socks are tough to review) because you'd just see me in pants and shoes.

Read more: Swiftwick Pursuit Four Sock review (1)

Darn Tough Merino Hiker Boot Sock Full Cushion

user rating: 5 of 5 (7 reviews)

Socks that are comfortable, durable, and odor resistant. ’Guaranteed For Life’ is quite a statement from a sock manufacturer. No strings. No conditions. For life.

Reasons to Buy

  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Odor resistant
  • Made in Vt., USA

Reasons to Avoid

  • Slower dry time

I have been wearing brand name socks for years, and this product is the only one in its category that has not become thinner, thread-bare, or developed holes. It should be noted that I never put my socks in the dryer, and either hand wash in the field (without soap), or use the gentle cycle in the washing machine, inside out as directed. Darn Tough recommends tumble-drying on low, I have always air-dried my socks after washing.  Specs: 69% Merino Wool, 27% Nylon, 4% Lycra Spandex True Seamless’ technology- Ultra light, yet extremely dense socks, with an undetectable toe seam Made in Vermont, USA The nylon and lycra in these socks makes them very easy to get on and off, even when one’s foot has moisture/sweat.

Read more: Darn Tough Merino Hiker Boot Sock Full Cushion reviews (7)

Darn Tough Light Hiker No Show Lightweight Hiking Sock

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

A cushioned Merino wool sock that works as well for running as hiking, long on comfort and by all accounts as tough as they come. Superb.

Reasons to Buy

  • That Merino feel
  • Terry loop cushioning where it counts
  • Warm enough for wet trails and cold rain
  • Darn Tough Guarantee

Reasons to Avoid

  • Men's don't come in purple
  • I don't want to take them off!

Sometimes, in my sartorial existence, there are articles of clothing that are just so comfortable, so right, that I kind of don’t want to wear anything else. Blue jeans in general, for sure, but then there are certain pairs of blue jeans that I just reach for day after day. Or my NRS river runner’s lightweight hoodie, which is so light and comfortable I wear it more around the house than for its intended purpose. And over the years I have had and worn out numerous pairs of socks that fill that role.

Read more: Darn Tough Light Hiker No Show Lightweight Hiking Sock review (1)

FITS Sock Medium Hiker Crew

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

A really comfortable merino wool hiking sock. Very smooth, soft socks with a good amount of stretch. Relatively low volume for a medium weight sock. They fit well, whether or not their interesting heel design has anything to do with that or not. Bottom line—a really nice (but rather expensive) and supremely comfortable hiking sock.

Reasons to Buy

  • They feel awesome
  • They fit really well
  • Durable
  • Moisture handling
  • Warmth

Reasons to Avoid

  • They are on the expensive side

UPDATE 10/2022: Revisiting this review after nine years. FITS have become the only thicker crew sock I wear for hiking; I actually managed to wear out the first three pair. They didn't get holes, but the wool had thinned and hardened in the heel area. They are the most comfortable and best-fitting merino wool socks I have worn.  The medium hiker crew now retails for $24 per pair. The material is still 70% merino wool, plus 22% nylon, 6% polyester, 2% lycra.  I just purchased a six-pack of FITS Light Hiker Crew socks to replace the old lighter-weight socks I wear, which don't have enough room for medium-weight socks.

Read more: FITS Sock Medium Hiker Crew reviews (2)

Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Mini Socks

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9 reviews)

Smartwool makes some comfortable, cushioned, and breathable merino wool socks that people rave about, but in my opinion, may not be the best merino socks out there.

Reasons to Buy

  • Brand name
  • Comfort
  • Breathability

Reasons to Avoid

  • Less durable than other brands
  • Initial Piling

Smartwool makes some comfortable, cushioned, and breathable merino wool socks that people rave about, but in my opinion, may not be the best merino socks out there. I'm evaluating these socks against five other pairs of socks that I've worn over the last few years. These socks look great and fit great—no excess, no bulging, no binding, just a great fit. The are comfortable right out of the packaging.   The socks have a decent amount of elastic and weaving to create a supportive feel. There is extra padding in the toe and heal, cushioning along the arch, and adequate elastic around the ankle.  They are not water resistant, but one of the benefits of these socks is that they are wicking and dry quickly.

Read more: Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Mini Socks reviews (9)

WrightSock Coolmesh II Crew Sock

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

A blister-free guarantee that I have tested and found to be true.

Reasons to Buy

  • Inner layer slides, eliminating hot spots
  • Does what usually takes two pairs of socks to do

Reasons to Avoid

  • I didn't have these before
  • Ten dollars per pair

It seems like the minute I let my guard down and forget to wear decent socks or stop to dry my feet I will earn a stern reminder from my heel in the form of a blister. In the same way that each new summer earns me that first sunburn each hiking season gets me, if I am not careful, a new blister. After my gentle reminder I usually resort back to wearing a light liner sock under my normal hiking socks and this works but Wrightsock has made a two-layer sock which performs the same task. Wrightsock has an inner liner that allows the outer sock to slide past reducing the risk of blisters.

Read more: WrightSock Coolmesh II Crew Sock review (1)

Thorlo Trekking Sock - Thick Cushion Crew

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Best sock for summer backpacking — great cushion without heat of wool.

Reasons to Buy

  • Best cushion sock
  • Feet less fatigued after many miles
  • Great for multi-day backpacks

Reasons to Avoid

  • Thick, needs to fit in your boot
  • May be too hot for some

Pair on right is inside out — shows cushion under heel and ball of foot. This is my go-to sock for backpacking, no questions about it. The thick sock provides added cushion that greatly reduces feet fatigue, especially when there are long descents or rocky terrain. Before using these socks, my feet were always fatigued by mid-day, after just 5-10 miles through mountain or desert terrain with a 35-55 lb. pack. I use a liner sock also, so it is critical to get the right size boot for these socks to work (or any socks for that matter). They are thicker than others, which provides the cushion.

Read more: Thorlo Trekking Sock - Thick Cushion Crew review (1)

More Reviews of Hiking/Backpacking Socks

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Other Types of Socks

Find more socks reviewed in these related categories:

Liner Socks

Compression Socks

Running Socks

+3 more types

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