Buying guide: hiking socks

When you’ve got the right socks you’ll hardly notice them, but when you’ve got the wrong ones they’ll ruin your walk. Here’s how to find the perfect pair.

Man putting on walking socks in the mountains wearing a red puffer jacket

by Trail magazine |
Updated on

The humble walking sock is a criminally overlooked piece of kit. While we tend to focus on the exciting pieces of kit - like waterproof jackets, boots and rucksacks - socks are more often than not an afterthought.

This is a mistake, as having the right pair of socks between your feet and your boots can make all the difference to your comfort and therefore the enjoyment of any walk.

Didn't know there was so much to think about with socks? You're not alone, which is why we've put together this essential guide to help you get exactly the socks your feet deserve.

Start with the thickness

This is important for a number of reasons. Thicker socks generally provide more cushioning and warmth, but they’ll also increase the volume of your foot and potentially make your boots feel tight. Thinner socks are usually better for walking in warmer weather, while liner socks can be added to help improve fit.

Pair your socks with your boots

The boots you wear will have an impact on the performance of your socks. Heavy-duty mountain boots are often built to accommodate walking socks, whereas more lightweight footwear may not be. It’s good practice to try on your socks with your mountain footwear before you buy them.

Choose the right length

The most popular style of hillwalking sock is mid-length, which usually sits just below the calf. There are often multiple length options, ranging from knee-length for extra warmth to a shorter ankle fit that’s ideal for walking in hotter conditions.

Materials matter

The main choice is between synthetic fabric or natural merino wool. Synthetic materials are great at transporting moisture away from the skin. Merino wool is soft, lightweight, durable, insulating, moisture-wicking, and very good at managing odour. The best socks are those which combine the two.

Waterproof or not?

The simple answer is that most socks aren’t waterproof, but there are waterproof options available if that’s what you’re looking for. They often have a waterproof membrane, plus a wool liner for comfort and warmth.

socks on feet on grass in the sunshine in the evening on a mountain

LFTO's top hiking socks:


A classic year-round walking sock made with Merino wool, they are a capable choice for long days


The ideal sock for the hardest conditions, they keep your feet warm and frostbite free. You can

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