Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Backpacking socks?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Colton Gardner
(outdoorhighadventure) - F

Locale: Utah
Backpacking socks? on 01/11/2008 20:23:41 MST Print View

I haven't yet found a real good pair of backpacking socks. What kinds of materials am I looking for and what are the different characteristics that I am looking for in a great pair of socks? Also, does anyone have any data of tests preformed on different types of socks and fabrics? Thanks!

Outdoor High Adventure

Edited by outdoorhighadventure on 01/11/2008 20:24:27 MST.

John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
Re: Backpacking socks? on 01/12/2008 06:16:28 MST Print View

There are a few previous threads on this subject. My favorites, by far, are Smartwoot Adrenaline LT socks. Very comfortable, good wicking, and fast drying. I've even worn them wet during heavy rains for several days with no blistering or problems.

Steve McQueen
(cpholley) - F

Locale: Minnesota Transplant
Two Words on 01/12/2008 07:54:09 MST Print View

Darn Tough

Paul Rancuret
(viking8388) - F

Locale: North Texas
RE: Socks on 01/12/2008 13:48:59 MST Print View

Just out of curiosity, I picked up a pair of these Injinji "toe-ed" socks , and found that I really like them. Even though I've never had problems with blisters between my toes, my toes would rub and feel irritated; but not with these socks.

Even with a light pack, I prefer a sturdy boot, so I use these Injinji's as liners inside a pair of Smartwool expedition socks . They are a little thicker than I would prefer (for a liner), but never the less, I don't go hiking without them.


Edited by viking8388 on 01/12/2008 13:57:07 MST.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Backpacking socks? on 01/12/2008 20:12:34 MST Print View

Pasted from my recommended clothing page

Conventional wisdom for people wearing hiking boots is to wear a heavy wool sock, with an very light weight inner liner. Dr. Murray Hamlet of the Army Cold Weather Research Center confirmed this basic idea with an extensive testing of a variety of sock systems. A thin liner sock made of CoolMax, and a thicker sock made of wool&polypro (fuzzy side out) reduced the likelihood of blisters by a factor of three! This is because the slipping is happening between the socks rather than between the foot and the sock. TechSpun sells the socks designed by Hamlet. Besides TechSpun there are a variety of companies which sell high quality wool or wool blend backpacking socks including Bridgeport, Dahlgren, Darn Tough Socks, Fox River, SmartWool, Thorlo, Wigwam.

People carrying lighter loads and using trail runners or walking shoes often prefer socks that have less bulk. Since lighter shoes tend to flex with the foot, an inner / outer sock combination isn't as critical as when using boots. Some people find double socks are helpful with trail runners. Some low bulk ways to get double socks include using two pairs of nylon dress socks, or my favorite, WrightSocks double socks. WrightSocks can be found with both layers made from coolmax (best for hot weather), or coolmax with a wool outer (more durable and a bit warmer).

Single socks I would recommend for trail runners include Smartwool Adrenaline (wool), Inov-8 Mudsoc (coolmax), and the Bridgedale X-Hale Multisport Socks (multi-fabric blend).

People who have problems with blisters between their toes (like me) often use Injinji toe socks.

X-Socks look interesting but expensive, but I have no experience with them. See later sections on dealing with water and cold for additional options. Keep in mind that there needs to be enough room in your shoe for your feet and the socks you select. Socks which are too thick for your shoes will crowd your feet and result in blisters just as quickly as your feet sliding around. I would strongly recommend trying a variety of different socks and figure out what works best for you. Socks are cheap and will often mean the difference between a miserable blister plagued trip, and one with comfortable feet.

Colton Gardner
(outdoorhighadventure) - F

Locale: Utah
Backpacking Socks on 01/13/2008 19:09:36 MST Print View

Thanks Mark for the great information. I have tried two layers of socks and it works fine, the only problem is that it's bulky. I haven't heard of the Injinji socks, but I will look into them. I currently use the Smartwool socks and they work okay.

Outdoor High Adventure

Margaret Snyder
(jetcash) - F

Locale: Southern Arizona
Corn Socks? on 01/13/2008 19:34:17 MST Print View

I got a pair of Fox River Ingeo hiking socks last weekend since they were on sale and piqued my curiosity. They are made of a nylon/spandex/corn fiber blend. I used them today for an easy 5 mile hike at Cochise Stronghold in SE AZ.
They're pretty comfy and quite warm. I wouldn't wear them in the summertime down here. They provided excellent cushioning over the rocks and inside my worn-out trail runners. Each sock weighs 0.95 oz. According to Fox River these socks are recyclable.

"Ingeo™ fiber is the first man-made fiber derived from 100% natural, annually renewable resources like corn. It has low odor retention, offering the wearer optimum comfort, confidence and freshness. It is soft to the hand and feels natural against the skin. Ingeo’s excellent wicking properties transport moisture away from the foot. It dries very quickly, has superior low pilling performance, does not cause allergic reaction in third-party testing, and does not support bacterial proliferation. When products made of Ingeo™ come to the end of their useful life they can be returned to the earth without any negative impact on the environment unlike the problematic petroleum based products."

Check out the site:

Colton Gardner
(outdoorhighadventure) - F

Locale: Utah
Summer backpacking socks on 01/17/2008 18:57:42 MST Print View

Those sound great, and .95 oz each sock! I do have some cool weather backpacking socks, but can anyone recommend summer backpacking socks? All the ones I've worn, my feet just sweat from the heat. Thanks.

Outdoor High Adventure

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: Summer backpacking socks on 01/20/2008 08:13:59 MST Print View


For spring/summer/fall and all but the coldest winter, I use the Smartwool Adrenaline's recommended by John Haley. I find they are the perfect blend for features for me. Smartwool makes a large array of socks and all are not the same. If you're using some of the regular 'hiker' models you might want to try the Adrenalines. On hot summer days they can be a bit warm, though.

The 'coolest' socks I've tried are made by Wrightsock; specifically their Coolmesh versions. If you're feet sweat in those you better just go barefoot. They're super-thin. They have a unique dual layer construction that supposedly acts like wearing a liner sock and a normal sock but I can't attest to their effectiveness here as I almost never have any blister problems. Check them out at

Colton Gardner
(outdoorhighadventure) - F

Locale: Utah
Thanks on 01/30/2008 19:54:50 MST Print View

Thanks Russell, I'll look into those!

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
socks on 01/31/2008 08:58:02 MST Print View

I've had great results with the darn tough line, both the crew and 1/4 sock. Socks need a little bit of other materials to handle wear, wicking, and keeping their shape beyond wool and other natural fiber blends. The other sock that is appearing to have real promise is the possum down active wear sock [not the dress sock], but I only have 1 month on these.

Steve B
(geokite) - F

Locale: Southern California
Backpacking socks? on 01/31/2008 09:08:54 MST Print View

Injinji socks keep you feet cooler. Just like gloves are not as warm as mittens, toe socks are cooler than regular socks. More surface area.

I get blisters between my toes and since wearing Injinji socks, never have.


Robert McGaughey
(havoc) - F

Locale: North Texas
Socks on 01/31/2008 17:25:26 MST Print View

I used Thorlo Light Hikers this past 2 summers climbing 14ers in Colorado with Montrail Hardrocks and Vitesse. So far, so good. Very comfortable and no noticeable wear. Good luck.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
YEP! Thor-Los on 02/02/2008 01:30:45 MST Print View

I totally agree with Robert. My Thor-Lo socks wear like iron and are very comfortable. Check out the writeup on them in the recent Backpacker Magazine Gear Guide.


Dylan Skola
(phageghost) - F

Locale: Southern California
Another vote for darn tough on 02/02/2008 02:39:40 MST Print View

After going through a myriad of sock systems, I've settled on the Darn Tough merino mesh 1/4 sock for my trail runners. I actually bit the bullet and bought a pair of the x-socks, but I prefer the Darn Tough. They just feel right, no blisters (finding the Innov8 Flyrocs was a big part of that, I used to get heel blisters constantly), they stay cool, and wear extremely well. The x-socks don't seem that durable, and I found that I prefer merino wool over synthetics in socks. The intra-fiber moisture absorption works great for keeping your feet dry and warm, or dry and cool as the situation warrants. Synthetics always end up feeling clammy. My Smartwool Adrenalines were simply too thick for 3-season (my feet run hot) and developed holes at the ankle after not too many uses. My Wrightsocks felt weird to me -- prone to bunching up between the layers, and again, I prefer the feel of wool.

Of course, everyone's feet are different, but I know what mine like. YMMV.

Edited by phageghost on 02/02/2008 02:45:42 MST.

Christopher Chupka

Locale: NTX
Smartwool Adrenaline on 02/02/2008 07:01:56 MST Print View

My vote is for the SmartWool Adrenalines. Mine looked pretty rough after use but still were effective in keeping my feet comfy. Quick drying inside my shoe or out.

I like Thorlo socks for comfort but something in them, or in me, starts to stinkin' awful quick.

Andrew King
(drewboy) - F

Locale: Arizona
Smartwool Adrenaline on 02/02/2008 09:05:41 MST Print View

Another vote for Smartwool Adrenaline. With the smartwool socks my feet always stay warm and dry when hiking, no matter how wet things get out there. Pretty remarkable actually.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
I like Smartwool... but dislike the Adrenalines... on 02/02/2008 13:55:07 MST Print View

The adrenalines actually have more padding than I like. I much prefer the smartwool ultralights.

I plan on trying darn tough merino's as well.

I also luv the feel / fit of my injinji coolmax and am planning on trying the merino ones...

Paul Tree
(Paul_Tree) - F

Locale: Wowwww
Lorpen brand on 02/02/2008 17:22:15 MST Print View

I got some extreemo Lorpen cool-max socks for both padding and warmth. Nice socks! not prone to bag out like my woolies, nor too tight on the calf.
Liked them enough to order 4 more pairs.
Brush took a toll on a couple, but that could have been the case with any socks.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Backpacking Socks on 02/03/2008 23:58:06 MST Print View

When I discovered the Smartwool lighthiker I gave up the two sock system. The ample pile is enough to reduce blister causing friction, although in the summer they do tend to seem hot. I've worn them winter hiking and they kept my feet plenty warm. And I just can't seem to wear them out!