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Sock philosophy - synthetic or wool? Solution for wet feet?
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David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
Sock philosophy - synthetic or wool? Solution for wet feet? on 07/06/2013 10:39:23 MDT Print View

I currently use Smartwool lightweight cushion Adrenaline (no longer made?) or PhD socks. But I've been thinking about switching to something a bit faster drying.

The current system: Wear one pair of wool socks. Keep other in pack. When feet get wet (e.g., stream crossing), switch socks. Hang other pair on back of pack to dry.

The downside to this system is that (i) if your shoes are wet you are introducing a dry sock into a wet shoe. (ii) it's not good to wear wet socks to bed. (iii) wool takes a while to dry (although it does insulate while wet).

Should I have a dedicated pair for sleeping? Should I bring plastic bags to go over my socks if I need to walk around in wet shoes?

I should mention temps are typical summer mountain temps, say, between 30-80 F.

Here There
(cowexnihilo) - MLife
Re: Sock philosophy - synthetic or wool? Solution for wet feet? on 07/06/2013 10:46:18 MDT Print View

Why switch socks after your feet get wet? The socks will dry faster on your feet. I've used synthetic and wool socks, and while the synthetics dry a little faster, most light wool hiker socks like the PhD's dry fast enough and stink a little less.

I carry dry socks for sleeping to allow my feet to recover at night, and then I don't have to fuss with my footwear while I'm walking. I do use trail runners with lots of mesh, so everything dries out quickly on trail, unless the conditions are really wet, in which case switching to dry socks would be pointless anyway.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Sock philosophy - synthetic or wool? Solution for wet feet? on 07/06/2013 11:01:05 MDT Print View

I agree with Here.

David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
Re: Re: Sock philosophy - synthetic or wool? Solution for wet feet? on 07/06/2013 11:06:17 MDT Print View

So one pair for hiking, one for sleeping? This is what I was thinking, too.

What do you do with your wet socks from day 1 on day 2? Do you just hike with them damp on day 2 and let them dry as you walk? Hydropel on your feet in the morning (perhaps before you get wet on day 1)?

Edited by dgposton on 07/06/2013 11:07:07 MDT.

Kevin Schneringer
(Slammer) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma Flat Lands
FWIW on 07/06/2013 11:09:40 MDT Print View

FWIW-

I found that in spring/summer a close fitting trail runner with a thin liner sock in coolmax or wool is a comfy fast drying set up. Smartwool makes a nice mid-height liner.

If you have problem areas on your feet liners my not be right. But a good fitting shoe and liners drys extremely fast and once I get to camp I peel them off hang them and slip my shoes back on for camp.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Sock philosophy - synthetic or wool? Solution for wet feet? on 07/06/2013 11:13:52 MDT Print View

Embrace the dampness, you'll be fine.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Sock philosophy - synthetic or wool? Solution for wet feet? on 07/06/2013 11:15:16 MDT Print View

One pair for hiking and one pair for sleeping to keep my sleeping bag clean.

Both pair are all nylon dress socks from Walmart.

josh jordan
(jjchgo) - M
Re: Re: Sock philosophy - synthetic or wool? Solution for wet feet? on 07/06/2013 11:27:29 MDT Print View

i hike w/synthetic champion socks from target and la sportiva wildcats. the shoes, drain and dry very quickly and the sock dry shortly there after. like others, i carry an extra pair for sleeping. the next day i will put my "hiking socks" back on and put my nice clean ones back in my pack for the next night.

hth

Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
Re: Re: Re: Sock philosophy - synthetic or wool? Solution for wet feet? on 07/06/2013 11:41:46 MDT Print View

I wear Pearl Izumi Elite Socks for hiking with my trail running shoes. I've had some durability issues with Smartwool in the past and haven't gone back to them since switching to a thin synthetic sock. The Peal Izumi's dry quicker and in my experience don't stink nearly as bad despite being 69% polyester.

http://shop.pearlizumi.com/product.php?&mode=view&pc_id=74&product_id=1785537

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Sock philosophy - synthetic or wool? Solution for wet feet? on 07/06/2013 12:06:33 MDT Print View

I like three pair. One I'm wearing, one I have just washed and is drying on the outside of my pack, and one is dry and stashed inside. I have found that I need to rinse out or at the very least thoroughly air out my socks every day or I end up with trouble. The third pair ensures that even if it's a rainy day and the washed pair doesn't have a chance to dry, I have dry socks for the night.

With thin socks wet doesn't mean much, but with thicker socks wet socks have caused issues for me in the past, and dry socks in wet shoes same thing. I've had the best luck with thin to medium all synthetic in situations where shoes may get wet.

For luxury, a pair of warmer camp/sleep socks are very nice if the evenings/mornings are cool or chilly.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Sock philosophy - synthetic or wool? Solution for wet feet? on 07/06/2013 12:20:45 MDT Print View

On most 3 season trips I bring one pair of socks. If wet at the end of the day I don't wear them to bed. I don't wear socks to bed at home. The past few years socks have been primarily Smart Wool, with a sprinkling of trips using Wright socks. I have not been happy with the longevity of the Smart Wool socks and a few months ago I bought several pair of Darn Tough wool socks. I have been wearing those exclusively for the past couple of months. I'll need to use these for about a year to judge the quality.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Thin nylon socks for summer. on 07/06/2013 13:18:42 MDT Print View

I was liking Smartwool or some poly-pro blends for years and I still do for winter. But I tried out Ray Jardine's concept of cheap, thin, nylon socks - and now that is what I use in the summer. I never hit the trail in shoes that aren't a great fit and I use low-cut hikers that are basically running shoes with a bit more stiffness in the sole. So the thin sock is all the padding / friction protection I need. They wash and dry really quick and also dry fast as you wear them if you walk through a stream. And, of course, they weigh less (on your feet, in your pack) than anything but going sock less.

For a UL thru hike, I'd have 1 pair of thin nylon and include one more pair in a drop box every month (they're cheap). Plus a Smartwool pair with some thickness to it. I'd use the wool socks if I got into spring snow, for whatever reason I needed a little more warmth, and for buggy areas. Mosquitos can get through thin socks easily and I HATE bites on my ankles. Also, the thicker socks would be used for sleeping on cooler nights.

Multiple-purposing: A cold morning start or cold hands in a cold wind can be addressed by using those wool socks as gloves. Looks goofy, but it works and it adds no more weight.

Edited to add: I've had durability issues with the Smartwool socks like Tim mentions. I wouldn't plan on doing hundreds of miles in them without backup. The thin nylon socks actually last longer, and I'd use the Smartwool for relatively few miles.

Edited by DavidinKenai on 07/06/2013 13:24:04 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Sock philosophy - synthetic or wool? Solution for wet feet? on 07/06/2013 13:27:15 MDT Print View

in the summer with well ventilated shoes ... simply use thinner synth socks

you can try em easily overnight with a hawt nalgene or body heat if you desire ... and if its hot and dry, they can dry on your feet while walking

synth dries faster than wool generally. all other things being equal

;)

Richard May
(richardmay)

Locale: Swamplands.
Re: Sock philosophy - synthetic or wool? Solution for wet feet? on 07/06/2013 14:50:45 MDT Print View

+1 uber-thin Synthetic running socks

Combined with light, fast-drying trail runners I don't worry about getting wet feet... but then I do live in the tropics :)

Dowser Tom
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
3 pairs on 07/06/2013 15:34:06 MDT Print View

I'm with Paul and the others who cycle three pairs. Two for hiking, one dedicated for sleeping but could be used as a backup. The two hiking pairs are alternated. Wash the pair I just hiked in and hang them on my pack to dry through the night and next day.

As far as stream crossings, I had always just worn the wet socks until that evening, then changed them out as usual.

I use the Darn Tough Merino Wool blend, mainly because they are the most comfortable and durable socks I've ever used.

Here There
(cowexnihilo) - MLife
Socks on 07/06/2013 15:44:06 MDT Print View

If you want a tougher wool blend, Point6 is a brand I haven't seen tossed out there for a while. Definitely tougher than smartwool, and they used to be a lot cheaper (I think the prices have been slowly creeping up though).

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
socks on 07/06/2013 16:21:55 MDT Print View

I dont mind wet feet. In warm weather, I look forward to it.
It cools the body, and washes the dirt out of trail runners with mesh. Saves me from having to dump them and wipe my feet down.

I dont bring extra socks, just a useless 2 oz really. When they get dirty, wash them out and put them on.

I dont wear socks to sleep, I let my feet breathe. Just like at home.

2oz of additional down in sleeping bag, will keep your feet FAR warmer than 4 oz of "sleeping socks". Foolishness accepted by the masses

I dont have foot or blister issues either.

Either cheap synthetic or wool work fine. I have never been able to tell a bit of difference between them. I like my defeet and darn tough wool socks, but walmart starter polyester works fine too.

I think the really important issue is the thickness of the sock. Socks need to be THIN with a tight weave and minimal padding. This allows them to hug your foot, and slip against the shoe, like a liner is intended to. Thick pile loops dont do that, especially when wet.

Edited by livingontheroad on 07/06/2013 16:26:05 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Sock philosophy - synthetic or wool? Solution for wet feet? on 07/06/2013 16:22:22 MDT Print View

> When feet get wet (e.g., stream crossing), switch socks. Hang other pair on back of
> pack to dry.

Simpler solution: when feet get wet (eg stream crossing), just keep walking. That will dry them out the fastest way possible. This does NO harm to your feet - many of us do this all the time.

Cheers

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
socks on 07/06/2013 18:29:55 MDT Print View

I carry one pair synthetic socks and one pair of thick wool socks. The wool socks are mostly to change into at night but if i get caught in cold rain or snow their ability to insulate while wet can really save my feet in an emergency. In that case i would try to dry them before i sleep or just go sockless if i have to.