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Best Hiking Socks for Hiking & Backpacking 2021

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Best Hiking Socks

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This is a hiking gear review of the best hiking socks in 2021.

I’ve hiked well over 10000 miles in the last couple of years and know more than most people about what makes a good pair of hiking socks. Let me share that knowledge with you.

I’m going to cover the best socks for hiking, the best socks for thru hiking, and the best socks for backpacking. All the hiking socks in the list below are for both men and women.


Best Hiking Socks for Backpacking 2021

The Best Hiking Socks for Backpacking in 2021 are:


Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Midweight Sock

Best Overall Hiking Socks

Pros:
> Excellent customer ratings
> Great for keeping feet warm
> Moisture-wicking merino wool
> Knitted for mid-level cushioning
> Made in USA
Cons:
> There have been mixed reviews regarding whether they’re true to size

I have hiked 1000s of miles in these socks including the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide Trail. These socks are the real deal and are the best hiking socks in the market right now.

These ones are micro crew height, which means that they peak just above the height of a traditional standard hiking boot. 

They’re made of a composite material, mostly merino wool at 59%, and also 39% nylon, and 2% Lycra spandex to give it a little bit of stretch. 

And because it’s got so much merino wool, it will wick your sweat away.

And, moreover, this merino wool is thermo-regulating, which means that it will keep your feet at a comfortable temperature no matter what the weather is doing come summer or winter.

But what really makes it such good socks for hiking, thru hiking and backpacking is the mid-level cushion density along the sole of the sock, thanks to its fine gauge knitting.

It will keep your feet warm and comfortable for the entire duration of your hike, no matter how far you’re going. 

It also features an undetectable seam at the toes – it’s almost seamless. And this way your socks won’t rub against the insides of your hiking boot and cause discomfort. 

It’s available in a choice of 8 different colors. And I suspect that the plain black onyx option and the denim look option will be among the most popular.

It’s also available in 3 different sizes. Namely small, which in women’s sizes is 4.5 to 7, medium which is sizes 7.5 to 9.5, and large, which is sizes 10 to 11.5. And, provided you get the right fit, there will be no slipping, no bunching, and no blisters. 

Darn Tough hiker socks are made right here in the good old US of A. Specifically in Northfield, Vermont, where it is both designed and knitted. 

The other thing that impressed me about these socks is how they come backed by a lifetime guarantee. I don’t know about you, but that was the first time I’ve ever heard of an item of clothing coming with a lifetime guarantee!


Smartwool Performance Hike Light Cushion Crew Socks

Pros:
> Merino wool is  ZQ-certified
> Light cushion along bottom
> Breathable & moisture wicking
> Areas reinforced where needed
> Uses 28% recycled nylon
Cons:
> Although it contains recycled materials, it’s not made up of 100% recycled materials

What I love about these socks is how the merino wool is sourced. The merino wool is  ZQ-certified in order to promote environmental, and economic sustainability and at the same time helping to safeguard animal welfare.

Better yet, most of the nylon used to add a little stretch among the merino wool is actually recycled, making it a more sustainable sock.

It has a light cushioning along the bottom, which is just what you need for long hikes. The merino wool is moisture wicking to deal with your sweat, and there are mesh panels for the ultimate in breathability. 

The socks reach 8 inches in height, which means that your hiking boots don’t have the chance to rub the skin on your ankles. 

And they’re really designed to last, with strategically placed extended durability zones right where you need them most. The toe area is virtually seamless, and the socks stay right in place throughout the hike.

There are 3 different sizes available, namely medium, large and extra large. If you’re not sure what size is right for you, simply click on “Check price” to be taken to the product page, where there is a size chart available.

There are two color options available, namely charcoal and medium grey.


Macpac Merino Hiker Socks 

Pros:
> Prevents sock riding down
> Moisture wicking properties
> Thermo-regulating wool
> Breathable mesh panelling
> Full loop pile cushioning
Cons:
> Very limited color options

What I love about these socks is that they feature an elasticated foot arch to prevent the sock from riding down.

And again it’s made with merino wool for those all important thermo-regulation and moisture wicking properties. And it also features mesh paneling through the top of the foot for breathability.

It also features full loop pile cushioning along the base of the sock, which is just what you need for long hikes and thru hiking. And it has a very smooth toe seam that won’t rub as you walk.

The sock is a nice height, one that will stop your hiking boots from rubbing the skin on your  ankles.

It’s available in 2 colors, namely black, and dark grey. It’s also available in 3 different sizes, namely small, medium, and large.

And luckily, the price doesn’t go up with size. To see the size chart, simply click on “check price” to be taken to the product page. 


Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion

Weight:
Pros:

> Excellent customer ratings
> Great for keeping feet warm
> Moisture-wicking merino wool
> Knitted for mid-level cushioning
> Made in good ol’ USA
Cons:
> There aren’t many color options available, and they are all a little dull

The Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion socks are seriously good. I’ve used these socks for 1000s of miles of hiking along with the Darn Tough Micro Crew Midweight.

The Darn Tough Light Hiker micro crew are crew length socks, which means that they peak just above the height of a traditional standard hiking boot. 

They’re made of a composite material, mostly lightweight merino wool at 59%, and also 39% nylon, and 2% Lycra spandex to give it a little bit of stretch. 

And because it’s got so much merino wool, it will wick your sweat away.

The Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew sock is a merino wool hiking sock which is thermo-regulating, which means that it will keep your feet at a comfortable temperature no matter what the weather is doing come summer or winter.

It’s a lightweight sock with a thin layer of cushioning going all along the base – just what you need for a long hike in the countryside.

The Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew socks have been redesigned from previous socks, with better breathability thanks to the mesh panels on the top of the foot. And there’s also extended cushioning over the Achilles.

And better yet, the Darn Tough socks will stay right in place throughout your hike, with no slouching or bunching to worry about. 

It also features an undetectable seam at the toes – it’s almost seamless. And this way your socks won’t rub against the insides of your hiking boot and cause discomfort. 

It’s available in a choice of 8 different colors, namely black, grey, taupe, and denim.

All of which look very masculine. It’s also available in 5 different sizes, namely small, medium, large, X-large, and XX-large.

And luckily the price doesn’t go up by much for the bigger sizes. To see the size chart, simply click on “check price” to be taken to the product page. 

And, provided you get the right fit, there will be no slipping, no bunching, and no blisters. 

The Darn Tough Light Hiker Merino Crew Light Cushion hiker socks are made right here in the good old US of A. Specifically in Northfield, Vermont, where it is both designed and knitted. 

The other thing that impressed me about these socks is how they come backed by a lifetime guarantee. I don’t know about you, but that was the first time I’ve ever heard of an item of clothing coming with a lifetime guarantee. Get a hole and return them, yep, it is that simple.

The Darn Tough Light Hiker Socks are one of the best socks for thru hiking and I’ve used them on every thru hike I have done.



Farm To Feet Damascus Lightweight Crew Merino Wool Socks

Pros:
> 100% US grown merino wool
> Thermo-regulating properties
> Targeted high density cushioning 
> Reinforced for added durability
> Won’t cause any discomfort
Cons:
> Although it’s made with merino wool, there’s no mention of moisture wicking properties in the product description

The Farm to Feet Damascus Lightweight Crew hiking sock is made in the USA, and are made with 100% US grown merino wool. This merino wool has excellent thermo-regulating properties (more on that in our buying guide later).

But what I really love about these socks is their targeted high density cushioning, which is perfect for long hikes in the countryside. It also features a reinforced construction for added durability.

It’s a nice height that stretches beyond the upper lip of your hiking boots, so you know they won’t rub. And there’s a seamless toe closure, so it won’t rub there either. 

It’s available in a choice of 7 colors and is available in 4 different sizes, namely small, medium, large, and X-large. To see the size chart, simply click on “check price” to be taken to the product page.



REI Co-Op Merino Wool Lightweight Hiking Crew Socks

Pros:
> Certified to Responsible Wool Standard
> Plenty of strategically placed reinforcement
> Light cushioning for long-wearing comfort
> Sweat wicking properties
> Machine washable
Cons:
> They are described as summer-weight which suggests they aren’t suited for use in winter

What I love about these unisex socks is how much merino wool they use, 79% no less. This way they really make the most of the wool’s properties, such as the sweat wicking, quick drying, and odor resistance.

And there’s also a little nylon and Lycra spandex to give it a little stretch where needed.

I also love that the wool is certified to the Responsible Wool Standard, very reassuring.

There’s also light cushioning and plenty of reinforcement at the heels, toes, footbeds and Achilles for that all important long-wearing comfort. And they’re machine washable to boot.

It’s available in a choice of three colors. I like the indigo strip. And it’s available in 4 sizes, small, medium, large and extra large. To see the size chart, simply click on “check price” to be taken to the product page.

If you are looking for a budget sock then the REI Co-Op socks are the best hiking socks for budget backpackers.



Icebreaker Merino Hike+ Light Cushion Merino Wool Crew Socks

Pros:
> Made with 70% merino wool
> Thermo-regulating
> Moisture wicking
Machine washable
Cons:
> Price goes up with size

The Icebreaker Hike Light Crew are a great pair of hiking socks, and again with a substantial proportion of merino wool, 70% in fact. This gives it excellent thermo-regulating and sweat wicking properties.

It has been specially sculptured to provide light cushioning and extra durability where needed.

It’s available in 2 color options, jet black and red, or heather and silver. It’s also available in 4 sizes, small, medium, large, and extra large.

Unfortunately, the price does go up with size. To see the size chart, simply click on “check price” to be taken to the product page.

Overall, these are great Merino Wool Hiking Socks.



Macpac Merino Crew Socks

Pros:
> High content of merino wool
> Loop pile cushioning
> Moisture wicking
> Full crew height
Cons:
> Color options are a little dull

Like the other Macpac socks I showed you earlier, again there’s a very high content of merino wool. This is what gives it both it’s thermo-regulating and its moisture wicking properties.

But that’s not all. There’s also luxury loop pile cushioning along the base of the sock, which is great for long hikes. I also love that it has a very smooth toe seam that will not chaf.

The Macpac Merino Crew Hiking Socks come in 3 color options, black, navy and light grey. And there are 3 sizes available,  small, medium, and large.

To see the size chart, simply click on “check price” to be taken to the product page.

The are the one of the best hiking socks for Australian and New Zealand hikers due to the company Macpac being so huge in both these countries.


Other Quality Hiking Socks

Here are a couple more high quality merino wool hiking socks that have not made the list:

  • Injinji Toe Socks : The Injinji Toe Socks have a cult like following with many hikers swearing they prevent blisters and feel super comfortable but the truth is they are not for everyone.

Buying Guide

As promised, here’s your buying guide.

Size

It’s important that you get the right size hiking sock for your size of feet. A stretched out hiking sock will be uncomfortable to wear, as will one where the fabric gets bunched up in your hiking shoes.

When you see a pair of socks that you like the look and sound of, I strongly recommend that you check if your sock size is available and to also check whether the socks are true to size, because they can sometimes be larger or smaller.

Wherever possible, you should look on the product pages for a size chart, so you can see whether your shoe size is classed by the manufacturer, as small, medium, or large and so on.

You can get to the product page of the socks you want to check out by clicking on “Check price”.

Crew Height Socks are best for most people
Crew Height Socks are best for most people, so is clean feet!

Height of the Sock

We recommend that you go for socks that are at least as tall as your hiking boots, that way the boots won’t rub the skin on your ankles. For most people that means buying Crew Hiking socks. Crew refers to the height of the sock.


Material

One of the more popular materials used in hiking socks is merino wool. And for good reason, too. Merino wool socks are moisture wicking, which means that they will disperse any sweat on your ankles and feet through the sock and out the other side.

That way, no matter how much hiking you do, your feet will remain dry.

Hiking Socks made with Merino wool is also thermo-regulating, which means it will retain the same temperature and not become too hot.

It’s also flame resistant, so if you were to take your hiking shoes off at the campfire, you don’t have to worry about your socks getting burned.


Cushioning

Cushioning along the base of the hiking sock is a very nice feature to have during a long hike, but this doesn’t have to be excessive. Light cushioning will be sufficient for most people and most situations.

I’ve used both the light cushioning hiking sock and Mid weight cushioning hiking sock. I prefer a light sock for trail runners and shoes and mid weight cushioning on the hiker sock for boots. That is my preference and recommendation.


Brand

As with many other types of products, there are some brands of hiking socks that outperform others. And these brands formed my starting point as I put together my shortlist of top 8 picks. 

These brands include the likes of Darn Tough, Smartwool, REI Co-op, Icebreaker, and Macpac.

The Best Hiking Socks
The Best Hiking Socks from the best brands

Value for Money

Ok, I’m going to level with you here. Good, proper hiking socks can often cost way more than standard regular socks. In fact, you can often get a pack of 10 regular socks for less than the cost of one pair of good quality hiking socks.

My advice to you is to check the prices as you go along, so that you know what to generally expect, and decide on your budget accordingly. All the best hiking socks of 2021 are high quality and will last for 100s of days backpacking on the trails

Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.

Best Hiking Socks for Backpacking

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Sydney, Australia.

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