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How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Carry?
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Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Carry? on 02/18/2014 17:51:29 MST Print View

How many pairs of socks do you carry?
One pair is all you need?
Two pair, and trade them off?
Three, reserving one clean pair just for your bag/quilt?

Edited by Bolster on 02/18/2014 17:51:59 MST.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Carry? on 02/18/2014 17:58:23 MST Print View

When I did the JMT in 2011 over 15 days I only carried two pairs.

I would wash one pair and tied them to the exterior of my Jam2 to dry in the sun.

Then wear the other one.

I admit that there were times where I wore the same pair for three days at a time before swapping them out and washing them.

In my case, I wore and continue to wear Injinji socks.

By the end of the trip, one pair had a hole in it, but nothing that caused me problems.

Had I rotated daily, I am sure that a hole would not have been made in one of my pairs of socks.

For sleeping, I would wear dirty socks to be in my quilt or slip on my Goose Feet down booties for sleeping.

Either way, I did not consider my socks as part of my sleeping gear for keeping warm.

I am a cold sleeper, so Goose Feet are a great thing!

Hope this helps.


Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Carry? on 02/18/2014 18:05:38 MST Print View

One pair of hiking socks.

One pair of thick sleeping socks.

Two pairs of hiking socks are good if you are dealing with cold and snow, you can switch to a dry pair if your feet get cold.

I really don't care about nasty socks and don't feel the need to carry extras, just wash and hang to dry overnight.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Re: How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Carry? on 02/18/2014 18:10:46 MST Print View

I wear one pair and bring one spare.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Socks on 02/18/2014 18:20:17 MST Print View

I'm complicated:

I bring two pairs of Smartwool PHD toe socks. So small, so thin, it's less weight than a single pair of most other socks. These are next to skin and washed/swapped often.

One pair of Darn Tough hiking ankle socks. For hiking. I wear these on top of the toe socks.

One pair of Darn Tough thick boot socks, for sleeping. Keeps my piggies warm down to 0ยบ.

Edited by mdilthey on 02/18/2014 18:21:11 MST.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Carry? on 02/18/2014 18:21:36 MST Print View

I'm a wuss. On any trip lasting more than 3 days, I carry two pair, as I have one just for sleeping.

Richard Cullip
(RichardCullip) - M

Locale: San Diego County
Re: How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Carry? on 02/18/2014 18:41:14 MST Print View

I wear one pair and rotate it daily with another pair of V5.0 Hyperthin DryMax socks. For sleeping I carry a pair of PossumDown socks.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Carry? on 02/18/2014 18:52:01 MST Print View

Socks are a part of my sleeping system, so I carry one pair restricted to use in my sleeping bag.

I also usually carry two pairs of hiking socks, which I rotate every 2 hours if going mostly uphill, or hourly if going mostly downhill. One pair is always drying on my pack. Rinsing occurs whenever the possibility presents itself. Washing (with soap and water) is done at least every 3rd day, preferably every other day.

If I know of, or strongly suspect, extended wet trail conditions or weather (cool and overcast or continuous rain) where it is unlikely that my wet items can be air dried, I'll toss in a 3rd or even a 4th pair. Hiking with bread bags on my feet as a moisture barrier doesn't work for me.

For multi-week treks, I'll put one new pair of hiking socks in every 3rd resupply box. Socks are cheap and my feet are my sole means of transport.

Edited by wandering_bob on 02/18/2014 18:59:40 MST.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Three on 02/18/2014 19:31:36 MST Print View

I got into a great routine on the PCT. I rotated three pairs of socks because I found cleaner socks made happy feet. I had one on, one drying and one dry and ready at any time. Since my sock are super light, Wrightsocks it really didn't matter from a weight perspective. Every 500-600 miles I swapped out shoes and included two new pairs of socks. I kept the best two socks from the previous six to get back to three pairs. Others I hiked with wore the same socks day after day. You could smell them miles before they arrived. My feet smelled like flowers and sunshine. :)

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Carry? on 02/18/2014 19:39:05 MST Print View

I use three pairs. One pair for sleeping. One pair to be wearing, and one pair drying. Whichever of the pairs are not in use are stored in pockets in my beanie shell ( ! ). That acts like extra insulation for my head, if it is cold. Or, it acts like an extra tall drying rack, if it is sunny.


Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
One pair more than I need on 02/18/2014 19:58:49 MST Print View

One pair of socks is dedicated for sleeping. One pair is dedicated to two trail days. So for a four-night trek, three pair - one for days 1 and 2, one for days 3 and 4, and one for sleeping. On odd-numbered day out, the sleep socks are often worn on the last day of hiking. Socks weigh very little and I consider it worth the few extra ounces to have clean socks if possible.

Robert Perkins

Locale: The Sierras
How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Carry? on 02/18/2014 20:40:15 MST Print View

3. Two for hiking, rotating after washing the worn one daily. One pair dedicated for sleeping until the final day or two. I like to keep my feet as clean as possible and will rinse and air dry them often throughout the day. I find if I keep the freshly washed sock outside of my pack all day long it gets plenty dry and ready to rock for the next morning.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Three on 02/18/2014 20:55:52 MST Print View

One pair for sleeping, helps overnight recovery and keeps my sleeping bag much cleaner. Will upgrade soon to extra-large sleeping socks, so my feet aren't constricted at night.

Two pairs for hiking. Swap at each rest stop, if the other pair is drier. Dry, cool feet are happy feet.

Currently using REI CoolMax EcoMade Quarter Socks, because they have a little cushioning, nice for feet which are not trail hardened. I get Gray so the dirt doesn't show as much.

-- Rex
REI CoolMax EcoMade Quarter Socks

socks on 02/18/2014 21:16:06 MST Print View

I wear one pair. I might not take them off for a week or more. If I do, it is usually just to wipe the dirt off my feet. If they are damp in evening, i will take them off for my feet to dry up overnight.

I might carry one spare pair of hiking socks. Not really needed though, and I have never had to rotate socks. If socks are dirty, rinse out, put back on. Ive never had a sock "failure" either, and I cant conceive of a failure that would sideline me.

The only time you actually need spare socks is possibly in cold wet conditions. You can develop trenchfoot from extended cold wet feet.

Sleep socks are like camp shoes. Not needed. Most are ridiculously heavy and offer virtually no warmth. For half the wt you can have down booties that really work. Better yet, put 1 oz more down into your down bag or quilt, thats where it belongs anyway, and do without totally.

Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
socks on 02/18/2014 22:43:39 MST Print View

For hikes of more then three days I will carry three pairs. Two are for hiking and one is dedicated to sleeping only. Nothing beats having a dry pair of socks for sleeping every night no matter the weather. One pair is usually drying on the outside of my pack and each of my packs has a place to lash them for drying.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Carry? on 02/18/2014 23:31:21 MST Print View

>"I also usually carry two pairs of hiking socks, which I rotate every 2 hours"


On non-backpacking death marches, I change socks every 10 hours (3 hours). I turned them inside out, beat them on a rock, and hang to dry out on the side of my pack. My feet do a lot better in that mode than a single pair for 40 miles.

Changing every 1-2 hours like Bob does is probably better.

All of which makes me wonder, I'm so good about avoiding sweating from my upper body - peeling layers to avoid sweating for reasons of comfort, avoiding laundry, not wetting my insulating layers, and it's just less tiring to not be overly warm; what if I dialed my foot insulation up and down with the conditions, so my feet sweated less? It seems like that would help on many fronts.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
2-3 on 02/18/2014 23:35:05 MST Print View

I usually go with 2 or 3 depending on the trip. I like a very thin liner sock to sleep in (or hiking if needed) a thin pair of toe socks & either darn tough ultralight ski socks or compression socks. Thin socks dry quicker, are more comfortable & lighter.

ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North
Re: How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Carry? on 02/19/2014 01:50:49 MST Print View

Usually 2, one pair for tent - wear these on the day I am heading for a resupply/washing machine.

I don't change mine but take my shoes and socks off as often as I can in the daytime. I'm quite lucky with my feet (having one at the end of each leg).

A single pair of Darn Tough showed only slight wear in one place after the CT last summer; impressive.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Carry? on 02/19/2014 03:20:22 MST Print View

Depends on the conditions. When it's really cold I carry two pair to hike (thick wool and thin synthetic under) in to keep warm, and one extra pair of sleep socks (alpaca). For general 3 season use, it's the same but lighter wool hiking socks because it's not as cold, or two pair of synthetic socks. Generally during 3 season I will wear both pair of hiking socks if it's cooler out, usually in the morning, and then switch them out--wash one pair and hang them on pack, wear the other one, etc. Summer/warm conditions I will only take two pair, a hiking pair and a sleeping pair, and one or both pair will be lightweight cotton.

Sometimes if it is just a quick overnight trip in warmer conditions I will just take one pair, though.

Duane Hall
(PKH) - M

Locale: Nova Scotia
Pairs of socks on 02/19/2014 03:30:32 MST Print View

Three, for all of the sensible reasons offered above.