3 Best High-Performance Hiking Socks for Cold Weather


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While hikers obsess over every detail of their gear, for a strange reason, they often overlook the socks.

Sure, having perfectly-designed shoes for harsh terrains and unforgiving weather is a priority. However, as any avid hiker will tell you, the right pair of hiking socks can be a game-changer for your stride in cold weather. Wearing the wrong socks will only expose your feet to chafing and blistering.

In case the weather got harsher, your clothes can make or break your peace of mind during your hike. Hence, we picked our favorite high-performance hiking socks for winter that won’t make you ditch a hike even in the coldest weather.

At a Glance:

Fox River Outdoor Explorer – Best Overall
Darn Tough Boot Cushion – Best Design
Danish Endurance Merino Wool – Most Versatile

The 3 Best Hiking Socks for Cold Weather in 2020

Time to review our top picks for the softest socks that’ll hug your feet like a warm and cozy blanket on a chilling winter night.

1. Fox River Outdoor Explorer – Best Overall

Every inch of this heavy-duty model is designed with hikers and mountain climbers in mind. Fox River uses a blend of acrylic, worsted wool, and stretchy nylon to protect you from cold and frostbite even if you hike in truly brutal conditions.

The materials are antimicrobial, meaning they’ll keep your feet odorless and healthy on long trekking trips. Featuring sweat-wicking yarn and generous padding at the heel and forefoot, these socks will soothe and comfort your feet. Besides, they’ll help absorb shocks when walking on rough trails.

The whole design is cushiony and stretchy to provide you with the best fit. However, bear in mind that it’s a bit bulky, which means it’ll not be your best option if your boots are already overly tight.

Pros:

  • Fantastic durability
  • On-point temperature regulation
  • Antimicrobial fabric
  • Comfortable fit

Cons:

  • A bit bulky
  • Thick toe seams

2. Darn Tough Boot Cushion – Best Design

Darn Tough socks do live up for their name, but that’s not the only area where they stand out. Made of merino wool and nylon, these socks will keep your feet warm and toasty in extremely cold conditions.

You no longer have to trade design for functionality as these socks are both fashionable and built to last. They come in an array of adorable colors so that you can hit the road with confidence.

Softness and flexibility are their hallmarks, and they fit like a glove without feeling tight or restrictive. The seamless toe makes you feel like you’re stepping on silk. With the right amount of padding, you won’t ever experience nasty blistering or chaffing after long backpacking adventures. And the good news is it’s not as bulky as Fox River socks.

The model is mid-calf height and features a fast-action wicking system that pulls moisture away from your skin, keeping your feet dry even if you wade through cold lakes. The breathable top allows for a combination of warmth and cushioning without the undesirable sweating.

Although they come at a hefty price compared to the other models on our list, it’s tough to resist these priceless beauties.

Pros:

  • Beautiful and comfortable design
  • Durable construction
  • Seamless technology
  • Impeccable wicking system
  • Great fit

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Sizes run small

3. Danish Endurance Merino Wool – Most Versatile

Whether you’re hiking, backpacking, traveling, or going for a long outdoor adventure, these merino wool socks have got your back.

They’re versatile and smart enough to wear anywhere and in any weather condition, owing to their brilliant thermoregulatory system. The ventilation mesh keeps your feet fresh while the merino wool keeps them warm.

As far as comfort goes, the socks are adequately padded, and the elastic material renders them supportive without being annoyingly tight or boggy in your boots.

Knowing how healthy merino wool is, your feet will be in safe hands and free from any unpleasant odors, so there is no way to go wrong with this pair. However, if you’re still on the fence, know that these unisex models come in bright and attractive colors, but not as attractive as the price.

Pros:

  • Reasonable price
  • Naturally heating merino wool
  • Generous cushioning
  • Smart fit keeps the blood circulating in your feet

Cons:

  • Longevity issues

How to Pick Hiking Socks for Cold Weather?

You need to know that you’ll be walking miles up and down a hiking trail in the snow or the freezing rain, so there are several factors you should keep in mind.

First, consider the socks’ height. Usually, hikers wear high boots in winter to protect their lower leg and feet from the freezing water and chilling air. Your socks shouldn’t be shorter than your footwear to protect your feet from rubbing against the shoes’ cuffs. Hence, look for mid-calf or knee-high socks to provide the most coverage.

Next, make sure to choose a fabric that’s warm, comfortable, and doesn’t retain water in case it gets wet. Cotton is out of the question, so you better look for wool, especially merino wool, as it offers generous cushioning, keeps your feet warm, and dries fast.

On top of that, it doesn’t retain smell and is entirely itch-free, so you won’t have to worry about changing it in the middle of your trip.

Finally, the best hiking socks should fit snugly without being overly tight and provide sufficient padding around the toe and under the heel to relieve the stress from standing all day long on rough terrains.

Decision Time

At the end of the day, your pair of socks can either be why your hike is a day from your dreams or a nightmare. From what we’ve seen on the market, Fox River is the best high-performance hiking socks for winter.

They’ve got everything you need starting from sturdy materials and warm experience and ending with a comfortable fit and smart wicking system. In short, they’ll be your loyal companion on your hikes, keeping your feet and lower leg happy while you’re logging through a storm.

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