The best hiking socks we’ve tested

Sock it to them: We tell you which hiking socks are best for you.

The humble hiking sock can be one of the most overlooked items in your walking wardrobe – but a good pair is essential.

They’re designed to make your feet as comfortable as possible in your hiking shoes or boots. The best hiking socks should wick away moisture, keep your feet warm in winter and cool in summer, and help prevent rubs or blisters.

Unlike a normal thin cotton sock, hiking socks are made of a combination of materials, such as wool and nylon. Most have additional cushioning in areas such as the heel and ball of the foot, and other comfort features such as flat seams to help prevent rubbing.

a purple pair of hiking socks
Editors Choice

Best hiking socks in test

Bridgedale Midweight Merino Comfort Boot Socks


RRP: £23
Who’s this for?
Anyone who wants a soft comfortable sock which is great in all weathers for day or multi-day hikes.
A blue Darn Tough hiking sock
Editors Choice

Best lightweight hiking socks

Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Socks


RRP: £27
Who’s this for?
A great lightweight sock for hot weather that pairs perfectly with softer boots and shoes
Two different colour 1000 Mile hiking socks
Recommended

Best budget hiking socks

1000 Mile Walk Repreve Single Layer Socks (2-pack)


RRP: £21
Who’s this for?
Budget and eco-conscious hikers looking for an all-purpose comfortable hiking sock.
A blue and pink Darn Tough sock
Recommended

Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Midweight Socks


RRP: £25.95
Who’s this for?
Anyone after a great all-round hiking sock for day-to-day use.
A pair of blue Smartwool socks
Recommended

Smartwool Hike Light Cushion Crew Socks


RRP: £25
Who’s this for?
Hikers after a lightweight hiking sock in a choice of designs.
Three black Danish Endurance hiking socks

Danish Endurance Outdoor Walking Socks (three-pack)


RRP: £41
Who’s this for?
Budget-conscious hikers looking to bulk-buy socks with a natural fibre mix.
A single blue five-toed sock by Uyn

Uyn Trekking Five Merino Socks


RRP: £34.90
Who’s this for?
Hikers who suffer from toe-rubs or those wanting to try something a bit different.

If you’re wondering ‘do hiking socks make a difference, really?’ compared to regular socks, I’m here to confirm that yes – they do.

With more and more of us enjoying the benefits of hiking, making the right choice when it comes to our socks can mean the difference between a great day out and a painful hobble home.

There’s a huge choice available, made from different materials, at different prices and with different promises. We’ve walked in them, washed them and even sniffed them to help you find the best ones for you.

A pile of different coloured hiking socksCredit: Saga Exceptional

Testing criteria

How we tested the best hiking socks

We’ve tested the most popular hiking mid-cut socks on sale in the UK. We’ve worn them in lightweight boots and heavier leather boots on shorter flat walks and all-day mountain walks.

The socks were all washed at the recommended temperatures and also on a standard 40-degree machine wash to see if they can survive a hotter cycle.

So far our test has been conducted only in the summer months, however this guide will be updated once we’ve tried them all during the winter, in cold, wet and muddy conditions.

What our testers looked for

How did the socks feel to the touch? Were they comfortable to wear? Did the seams rub? Did they bunch up around the toes? Did the socks slip down the ankles or did the cuff dig into the calves?

Were the socks breathable? In hot weather did they wick away moisture or did the feet get sweaty? And if they got wet, were they quick to dry?

Did the socks protect and cushion the feet against rubs and heavier-weight boots? Did the tester get any blisters during use?

Were the socks easy to wash and care for? Did they stiffen up after washing or did the yarn bobble after a few wears?

Ultimately, our best in test was the Bridgedale Midweight Merino Comfort Boot sock (RRP £23). It’s a great all-round, soft and comfortable sock for any length of hike and type of boot.

Our best lightweight was the Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew sock (RRP £23.95), as it paired brilliantly with lightweight boots. Our best budget buy was the 1000 Mile Walk Repreve Single Layer sock (RRP £21 for a pack of two), which was also the most eco-friendly.

Read more about these and the other products that made the cut for our best hiking socks guide below.

Bridgedale Midweight Merino Comfort Boot Socks Overview

Best hiking socks in test

Bridgedale Midweight Merino Comfort Boot Socks

a purple pair of hiking socks
Editors Choice
Competitive

A great hiking sock with a well-deserved reputation. Soft, cushioned and comfortable for almost all weathers and lengths of walk. Our top choice.

Comfort

Breathability

Protection

Wear and care


Who’s this for?

Anyone who wants a soft comfortable sock which is great in all weathers for day or multi-day hikes.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Soft & comfortable
  • Kind to your calves
  • Moisture wicking
  • Lifetime guarantee

Expect to pay

RRP: £23 If you shop around you could find these socks on offer at up to 20% discount.

The Northern Irish brand has been making socks since World War I and is committed to animal welfare in its wool supply. These socks, with a lifetime guarantee, are designed for all-day comfort, year-round. The flat seams at the toes mean less chance of rubs and there are thinner sections for venting in warmer weather.

Specs:

  • Women’s sizes: UK 3-4.5, 5-6.5, 7-8.5
  • Men’s sizes: UK 6-8.5, 9-11.5, 12+
  • Materials: 27% merino, 50% Coolmax polyester, 22% nylon/polyamide, 1% Lycra/elastane
  • Care: 40° wool cycle.
  • Weight: Size 7-8.5 70g (two and a half ounces)

We liked

These socks feel soft and have thick padding on the heels and toes. I love the extra stretch cuff on these that keeps the sock in place, but they don’t dig into your calves unlike some other brands we tested. I already have several pairs of these socks and they were my sock of choice for a recent 100-mile multi-day hike – they kept my feet comfortable and blister-free.

This new pair performed just as well. The socks dry fast and wash well on the recommended wool cycle. They survived a standard wash with no damage or shrinkage.

These socks are thicker than some others tested but weren’t sweaty in hot weather. They were comfortable and remained pong free after several wears.

We didn’t like

Not a lot. These are thicker socks so may not be the best choice for very hot weather. The recommended wool wash means you can’t chuck them in with the rest of your clothes.

We say

A great sock with a mix of natural and synthetic yarns that performs well year-round and doesn’t cut into your calves. My sock of choice, especially for longer walks.


Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Socks Overview

Best lightweight hiking socks

Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Socks

A blue Darn Tough hiking sock
Editors Choice
Competitive

A great choice for hot weather hikes, with a shorter cut than traditional boot socks that works as well with shoes as mid cut boots.

Comfort

Breathability

Protection

Wear & care


Who’s this for?

A great lightweight sock for hot weather that pairs perfectly with softer boots and shoes

Our likes and dislikes

  • Comfortable
  • Guaranteed for life
  • Great for hot weather hiking
  • May not suit heavier boots

Expect to pay

RRP: £27 If you shop around you should find these socks for as little as £18.95 on UK online stores.

US company Darn Tough is so proud of its socks, it offers a lifetime guarantee. I use the brand’s socks regularly but hadn’t tried these lighter ones before. This micro crew length is compatible with low or mid-cut hiking boots or shoes. The socks have a high concentration of nylon to allow wicking and also have mesh panels on the tops of the feet.

Specs:

  • Women’s sizes: S (UK 2.5-5), M (5-7), L (7.5-9)
  • Men’s sizes: S (UK 5-7), M (7.5-9), L (9.5-11.5), X-L (12+)
  • Weight: 52g (2oz) (M)
  • Materials: 54% nylon, 43% merino wool, 3% Lycra
  • Care: Machine wash in warm water on gentle cycle, inside out

We liked

A great lightweight hiking sock for warmer weather. They felt soft but sturdy, didn’t slip or bunch around the toes, and the yarn wicked away sweat well. They dried fast and washed well. There were also no bad smells after a few wears.

We didn’t like

The thin mesh panels on the top of the foot meant they weren’t as comfortable with heavier-weight boots, as I could ‘feel’ the boot through them.

We say

In lightweight boots and shoes, on a hot day, they were a match made in heaven. A great sock with a deserved reputation.


1000 Mile Walk Repreve Single Layer Socks (2-pack) Overview

Best budget hiking socks

1000 Mile Walk Repreve Single Layer Socks (2-pack)

Two different colour 1000 Mile hiking socks
Recommended
Budget

A great value synthetic walking sock made from recycled materials. It performed better than expected and a good choice for three-season day walks.

Comfort

Breathability

Protection

Wear & care


Who’s this for?

Budget and eco-conscious hikers looking for an all-purpose comfortable hiking sock.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Eco friendly
  • Comfortable
  • Good budget buy
  • No natural yarns

Expect to pay

RRP: £21 for a two-pack. You should be able to save a bit on these by shopping around. We found them at £19.99 at Sock Shop, with a £3.49 delivery charge.

Manufacturer 1000 Mile is known for its two-layer socks. However, these are a departure for the brand, as they have only a single layer. The socks are part of its recycled range, which uses recycled Repreve nylon.

The socks are designed to offer comfort across the seasons apart from extreme winter, with ventilation holes, loop stitching for added protection, a padded heel, flat toe seams and arch bracing for support.

Specs:

  • Women’s sizes: S (UK 3-5.5), M (6-8.5)
  • Men’s sizes: M (UK 6-8.5), L (9-11), XL (12-14)
  • Materials: 78% Repreve, 20% polyamide, 2% elastane
  • Care:30° machine wash, do not tumble dry
  • Weight: M (6-8.5) 66g (2oz)

We liked

I wasn’t sure if I would like these as they have no wool content and they feel different to the other socks tested. However, they were very comfortable to wear and even though they are thicker than some of the other socks in the test, my feet didn’t sweat and the socks wicked well.

Out on the trail they didn’t slip, and they were comfortable in lightweight and heavier weight boots, but I felt they were too much for a walking shoe.

The socks washed well at the recommended temperature and standard cycle and remained soft.

We didn’t like

These are 100% synthetic so may not suit wool fans. As you’d expect, they weren’t as good on the sniff test after a few wears, and smelt distinctly ‘socky’, which you may expect with a 100% synthetic sock. I also felt these were too warm to wear on very hot days.

We say

A great budget buy for those after an eco-friendly sock. Thicker than some pairs tested, they should perform well as a three-season sock in most boots.


Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Midweight Socks Overview

Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Midweight Socks

A blue and pink Darn Tough sock
Recommended
Competitive

A great all-round sock that will suit most footwear and most times of the year. Comfortable and durable but the snug fit may not suit all.

Comfort

Breathability

Protection

Wear & care


Who’s this for?

Anyone after a great all-round hiking sock for day-to-day use.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Comfortable
  • Suits a variety of footwear
  • Guaranteed for life
  • Snug fit

Expect to pay

RRP: £25.95 Shop around to get money off these socks. We’ve seen them for £19.95 on Wildbounds and £18.20 on Trekitt.

These socks are the mid-weight version of the Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew. These are a thicker sock with a higher concentration of merino wool (63%) to improve warmth. The socks are cushioned, antimicrobial and moisture wicking.

Specs:

  • Women’s sizes: S (UK 2.5-4.5), M (5-7), L (7.5-9)
  • Men’s sizes: S (UK 5-7), M (7.5-9), L (9.5-11.5), XL (12-14)
  • Materials: 63% merino, 35% nylon, 2% Lycra
  • Care: Machine wash in warm water on gentle cycle inside out
  • Weight: L (9.5-11.5) 78g (3oz)

We liked

It was nice to see a decent percentage of merino wool in a budget sock. They washed well at 30° and were quick to dry. My other half wears these socks and likes them, saying they keep his feet warm in the winter months.

They were comfortable in light and heavier weight boots, dried quickly and protected my feet well during all-day hikes. They also didn’t smell after a few wears.

We didn’t like

Our tester found them a snugger fit than he is used to, even though the sizing was correct. This may take a bit of getting used to.

We say

A great all-round sock that will suit most footwear and most times of year. They wick well, are comfortable and guaranteed for life. Their snug fit needs to be factored in.


Smartwool Hike Light Cushion Crew Socks Overview

Smartwool Hike Light Cushion Crew Socks

A pair of blue Smartwool socks
Recommended
Competitive

A great lightweight wool-rich hiking sock which work well with lighter footwear. But our tester found the ankle cuff tight.

Comfort

Breathability

Protection

Wear & care


Who’s this for?

Hikers after a lightweight hiking sock in a choice of designs.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Lovely soft feel
  • Lightweight for hot days
  • Choice of designs
  • Tight ankle cuff

Expect to pay

RRP: £25 Manufacturer Smartwool regularly holds sales so keep an eye out and you could save up to 30% on listed price.

This is one of Smartwool’s most popular socks and comes in a choice of designs. These socks have a high wool content, there is cushioning on the toe and ball of the feet and a mesh knit across the top of the foot.

Specs:

  • Sizes (unisex): S (2-4.5), M (UK 5-7.5), L (8-10.5), XL (11-13.5)
  • Materials: 55% merino, 12% nylon, 30% recycled nylon, 3% elastane
  • Care: Inside out, cold or warm. Tumble dry on low.
  • Weight: M (5-7.5) 62g (2oz)

We like

These socks had a lovely soft feel. They didn’t slip during testing and the cut of the sock worked well with mid-cut boots and shoes. We found them quick to dry when they got wet and there were no nasty niffs after a couple of wears. They washed well on a gentle cycle.

We didn’t like

The cuff was on the tight side so cut into my calves and I kept readjusting them. When we washed them at a higher standard temperature, they came out a bit stiff.

Like the Darn Tough lightweight sock, the thin mesh on top of the foot meant they weren’t as comfortable in heavier weight boots as the thicker socks.

We say

A great summer hiking sock. Just remember to wash on a gentle cycle.


Danish Endurance Outdoor Walking Socks (three-pack) Overview

Danish Endurance Outdoor Walking Socks (three-pack)

Three black Danish Endurance hiking socks
Budget

Cost-per-pair makes this a good value pack of hiking socks, but we found they weren’t as comfortable as other brands.

Comfort

Breathability

Protection

Wear & care


Who’s this for?

Budget-conscious hikers looking to bulk-buy socks with a natural fibre mix.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Great value
  • Warm but breathable
  • Fabric can bunch at toes
  • Not as soft as other brands

Expect to pay

RRP: £41 for a pack of three (£13.66 each). Individual pairs are £21, so multipacks offer great savings. We’ve regularly seen the three-pack on offer at Amazon, sometimes for as little as £23 – making for even better value.

Danish Endurance is an outdoor brand based in Denmark. Most of its sales in the UK are through Amazon and this three-pack is a popular buy and often reduced.

The socks are a blend of merino and synthetic materials, with stitched vents for warm weather walks. There is additional cushioning at the heel and underfoot to help prevent blisters and for cushioning. The socks are crew cut, which makes them ideal for mid-cut boots.

  • Sizes (unisex): UK 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
  • Material: 38% merino, 30% acrylic, 30% polyamide, 2% elastane
  • Care: Machine wash, max 40°. Do not tumble dry.
  • Weight: (Size 6-8) 70g (two and a half ounces)

We liked

It was nice to see a decent percentage of merino wool in a budget sock. They washed well at 30° and were quick to dry. My other half wears these socks and likes them, saying they keep his feet warm in the winter months.

They were comfortable in light and heavier weight boots, dried quickly and protected my feet well during all-day hikes. They also didn’t smell after a few wears.

We didn’t like

These are budget socks and weren’t as soft and comfortable as the other brands. I found that even though they stayed up, they bunched a bit around the toes. They coped with a standard wash but felt a bit stiff when dry.

We say

A good budget option but not as comfortable as other socks on test. However, these are regularly on offer at approximately £22, which means you can pick up three pairs for the same price as a single pair of some hiking sock brands.


Uyn Trekking Five Merino Socks Overview

Uyn Trekking Five Merino Socks

A single blue five-toed sock by Uyn
Competitive

These five-toed socks are a great idea but we are still scratching our heads about whether they work or not.

Comfort

Breathability

Protection

Care & wear


Who’s this for?

Hikers who suffer from toe-rubs or those wanting to try something a bit different.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Eco-friendly
  • Soft & comfortable
  • Individual toe design is divisive
  • Fine knit won’t suit all footwear

Expect to pay

RRP: £34.90 These are undoubtedly expensive, but are a niche product with a lot of detailing. You will struggle to find these cheaper than the manufacturer’s website.

Italian manufacturer Uyn has created an absolute Marmite of a sock with the Trekking Five. Made of a combination of merino wool and a 100% bio-based nylon, these socks have five individual toes. This style is more common in the running world, but rare in the hiking community.

The socks are lightweight, with reinforcements at the heel and have venting panels. They are suitable for mid-cut boots and shoes.

  • Sizes (unisex): UK 3-5, 6-7.5, 8=9.5, 10-12.
  • Materials: 50% polyamide, 20% acrylic, 18% merino, 7% polypropylene, 5% elastane.
  • Care: Machine wash 30°
  • Weight: (Size 7-8) 58g (2oz)

We liked

Uyn has tried to tackle the issue of too much fabric between the toes by weaving each toe individually. On testing, it meant they were less bulky than others, but they still may not work well with a tapered toe box. As a lightweight sock they performed very well overall. They were soft after a delicate wash, dried quickly and were smell-free after several wears.

We didn’t like

I found them very strange to wear and although they performed well on short and day walks in lightweight boots, I’m still not sure whether I like them or not. They are thin socks, so like the other lightweight models, they don’t perform as well in heavier weight boots. The weave between the toes was stretching after one wear so I fear it may not last long before bigger holes start to appear.

We say

A new experience for me and one I am still not sure about. However, anyone who has issues with rubbing between their toes may want to try these. One to report back on after a few more months of use.

Hiking sock FAQs

What to consider when buying hiking socks

What are hiking socks made from?

Most socks are made from a combination of materials. Merino wool is popular because it is extra fine and good for wicking sweat. It is also less itchy than traditional wools. Synthetic materials are also common. They strengthen the socks and help them last longer.

Can I wear the same hiking socks year-round?

The seasons play a big part in a choice of sock. For winter trekking you’ll want thicker socks with insulating fabrics. In the summer, look for lightweight socks with mesh panels to help vent sweat. An everyday thin sock won’t keep your feet warm in the winter, while a winter sock will make your feet sweat in the summer.

What length hiking sock do I need?

Hiking socks come in different lengths to fit shoes, mid-cut boots and higher cut mountain boots. Some of the winter socks are knee-length to provide extra warmth. Look at the footwear you’ve got and choose your sock length to fit.

Phillipa Cherryson

Written by Phillipa Cherryson she/her

Updated:

Phillipa Cherryson is a senior digital editor for Saga Exceptional. Phillipa has been a journalist for 30 years, writing for local and national newspapers, UK magazines and reporting onscreen for ITV. In her spare time she loves the outdoors and is a trainee mountain leader and Ordnance Survey Champion.

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