While walking in the woods, the best socks for cold weather hiking can make your legs and feet comfortable. They can help protect your soles and keep you warm in freezing temperatures. Fortunately, many warm socks for hiking are available. Here are our top selections for the best socks for winter hiking.
Proper footwear is essential for success in any outdoor activity. But it’s especially critical for hiking and backpacking. As hikers, your feet are the workhorses that carry the load and take the most abuse on the trail. It’s normal to experience foot aches and pains after long days on the trail. But, a good pair of hiking socks make a big difference in how long you can keep your feet healthy and happy.
Our Top Picks
What Are the Best Socks for Winter Hiking?
Merino wool tops our list as the best socks for winter hiking. It has become the standard-bearer in socks and performance outdoor wear in general. Good hiking socks are expensive. They typically cost around $20 per pair. But the options below are all strong enough for trail duty and built to last.
Darn Tough Hiker Boot Full-Cushion
- Midweight with Full Cushion - A Midweight sock with high density cushioning throughout the entire sock for full on comfort and performance. True Seamless technology allows for an undetectable seam...
- Boot Sock Height - Sits mid-calf for added protection and warmth. A sturdy companion.
- Composition - Knit with 66% Merino Wool 32% Nylon 2% Lycra Spandex. The fast action wicking pulls moisture away from skin, so no more sweaty, stinky socks. The soft, breathable merino wool has fast...
- Guaranteed for Life - Darn Tough's famous guarantee - if these socks wear, tear, or develop holes, Darn Tough will replace them no questions asked. No strings. No conditions.
Material: 69% Merino Wool, 27% Nylon, 4% Lycra® Spandex
In the frigid winter months, you’ll need hiking socks that go above and beyond to keep your toes warm. It usually means a heavier-weight sock and, in some cases, a liner to go with it. If the layers bunch move around, all that extra padding might add weight and discomfort. Finding a sock that is warm enough to wear without a liner while trekking is a huge hiking win. So, these merino wool Darn Tough socks are such a great find. This merino wool, heavyweight, fully cushioned socks are surprisingly non-bulky. They also drain sweat and water away from your foot efficiently.
Smartwool Medium Hiking Crew
- Sock Height: Crew
- Knit in USA of Imported Yarn: 68% Merino Wool, 31% Nylon, 1% Elastane
- Elasticized arch brace
- Flat knit toe seam
Material: 66% Merino Wool, 33% Nylon, 1% Elastane
The Smartwool Medium Hiking Crew socks are warm and comfy, making them ideal for winter use. You can use them in other seasons because of their excellent temperature regulation. The socks consist of a Merino wool, nylon, and elastane blend. It provides excellent breathability, moisture-wicking, and anti-odor qualities. Mesh ventilation zones strategically placed throughout the garment add to the breathability. They have the 4 Degree Elite Fit System. It provides excellent stretch and recovery. ReliaWool, which is in high-impact locations, increases the socks’ durability. Hikers who want to keep their feet comfy will love the Smartwool Medium Hiking Crew socks.
Danish Endurance Merino Wool Hiking Socks
- MERINO WOOL FOR COMFORTABLE & DRY FEET: The natural thermoregulation of the merino wool blend ensures that your feet will be fresh in the summer and warm in the winter due to moisture wicking...
- IDEAL FOR HIKING & OUTDOOR: Our unisex socks are great for hiking, trekking, outdoor adventures, walking, travelling or everyday wear. The cushioning of the socks also provides comfort in work boots....
- DESIGNED IN DENMARK - MADE IN EUROPE: Our Danish Endurance design team develops these socks in Copenhagen, Denmark. The production facilities are located in Portugal, where we ensure fair working...
- RECOMMENDED BY EVEREST CLIMBER AND ELITE ATHETE: These hiking socks are developed with mountaineer Rasmus Kragh, the first Dane to climb Mount Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen in May...
Material: 30% Merino Wool, 36% Nylon, 33% Acrylic, 1% Elastane
Denmark may get rather cold, so you can bet that the Danes know how to keep warm. These hiking socks from Denmark are one of Amazon’s best-selling items for a reason. Danish Endurance Merino Hiking socks are medium weight, and you can wear them all year. Rasmus Kragh approved these socks. He was the first to summit Mount Everest without using supplementary oxygen. It’s safe to say that if these socks can get him up Everest, they can handle whatever challenge you throw at them.
Icebreaker Hike Heavy Crew
- Material: 66% Merino wool, 32% nylon, 2% Lycra
- Height: crew
- Weight: heavyweight
- Cushion: heavy
Material: 66% Merino wool, 32% nylon, 2% Lycra
The Icebreaker Hike Heavy Crew socks are great because of their Merino wool content. They are moisture-wicking and breathable. They’re also great at maintaining a consistent temperature. The Icebreaker socks include anatomical fit and stretch sections in the ankle area. The Icebreaker socks are ideal for those who go on long and strenuous hiking expeditions. They provide excellent comfort and odor control.
Alvada Merino Wool Hiking Socks
- MAKE HIKING A COMFORTABLE EXPERIENCE These Merino wool hiking socks are built to provide you with total support and comfort during your hiking trips, no matter the weather. Each pair of these hiking...
- ITCH FREE MATERIAL These wool hiking socks come blended with nylon to promote a comfortable, itch free experience. Ultra comfortable, these women and mens hiking socks won't cause you to pause in your...
- KEEP YOUR FEET WARM DURING COLD WINTER HIKES With these hiking socks, women and men alike can enjoy the comfortable warmth that these cozy socks provide. Especially good for the colder months, each...
- SUPERIOR CUSHIONING IN THE FOOTBED These mens and womens hiking socks offer a shaped cushioning in their footbed to promise a more comfortable trek up the mountain. Through the use of these mens wool...
Material: 80% Merino Wool, 15% Polyester, 4% Nylon, 1% Spandex
The Alvada 80% Merino Wool Hiking Socks are a great deal. These Merino wool hiking socks are designed to provide total support and comfort on your hikes, regardless of the weather. Each pair of hiking boot socks is designed for difficult terrain, making them suitable for both men and women.
SealSkinz Trekking Thick Mid
- Waterproof - three layer construction for warmth, durability and waterproofing
- Comfort - Merino wool lining for moisture control, insulation and comfort
- Support - zonal elastication for added support
- Close fit - four way stretch for comfort and stretch fit
Material: Inner layer: 41% Merino Wool, 41% Acrylic, 14% Polyester, 2% Nylon, 2% Elastane
Outer layer: 90% Nylon, 10% Elastane
The SealSkinz Trekking Thick Mid socks will keep your feet dry. Its waterproof quality sets them apart from the other socks in this review. A fast-drying hiking sock is essential if you’re hiking near water. Wet feet are not only unpleasant and smelly. But they are also more prone to blisters, which are every hiker’s worst enemy. SealSkinz’s unisex socks are waterproof and windproof while remaining breathable.
The SealSkinz Trekking Thick Mid socks are ideal for hikers who are often in damp and chilly weather.
Smartwool Trekking Heavy Crew
- Material: 70% merino, 29% nylon, 1% elastane
- Height: crew
- Weight: heavyweight
- Cushion: heavy
Material: 70% merino wool, 29% nylon, 1% elastane
If you like Smartwool’s hiking designs, you’ll enjoy the Trekking Heavy Crew as well. These full socks are consist of 70% merino wool (4% more than the Darn Tough Hiker Boot Full-Cushion above). They have the same traditional appearance and feel as the brand’s famous Light Crew. But with a notable improvement in warmth and cushion. The trade-off is a reduction in breathability. Still, the extra padding and insulation are ideal for winter outdoor activities. They are suitable for those who want the best support and impact protection. Again, be sure to take your boot size into account, as these socks add considerable bulk.
Swiftwick PURSUIT HIKE Two Ultra Light
- LASTING DURABILITY: Reinforced heel and toe to maximize durability in abrasion prone areas.
- MOISTURE WICKING, FAST DRYING: Soft, natural Merino Wool throughout the sock wicks moisture to keep you dry and comfortable year-round
- CONTOURED COMPRESSION FIT: Designed to support the contours of your foot. No voids, bunching, or blisters.
- BREATHABLE: Built in channels along the top of the sock release heat and moisture to improve breathability.
Material: 55% merino wool, 23% nylon, 17% olefin, 5% spandex
There is a bewildering amount of winter hiking socks on the market. Swiftwick has entered the fray with its Pursuit Hike line. This pair of socks are light and midweight thicknesses. It has a snug fit around the heel and arch, a seamless toe, and a robust feel. The use of moisture-wicking Olefin fabric accounts for 13% of the structure. It works well for high-output activities like trail running and hiking. We guess that is their key selling point.
Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushion
- Coolmax Engineered to move moisture away from your skin and dry fast in warm conditions.
- Cushioned foot base provides comfort and fit with the perfect bounce that hikers and trail runners love
- Performance fit; no slipping. No bunching. No blisters
- Still made in Vermont, USA
Material: 61% merino wool, 36% nylon, 3% spandex
Smartwool was formerly synonymous with hiking socks. But Darn Tough has taken over in recent years. Darn Tough socks are the best. They are great for their comfy seamless design and high-quality merino wool. They also have a lifetime guarantee to back them up. The Micro Crew Cushion is our favorite model for hiking and backpacking. For nearly any 3-season outdoor activity, high-density knitting provides exceptional cushioning and breathability. The fit is exceptionally comfortable. It has no excessive elastic around the arch or forefoot and no bunching or pressure areas.
Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew
- WARM INSULATION: Experience durability at its peak with the Smartwool Men’s PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks.
- COMFORTABLE FIT: The Men's PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks feature a 4 Degree Elite Fit System for a dialed, performance-oriented fit with a flex zone at the ankle and a Virtually Seamless toe for...
- DURABLE YET BREATHABLE: The Men’s PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks are designed with Indestructawool technology for exceptional durability and comfort.
- LIGHT CUSHION: The lightly cushioned bottom on the Men’s PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks allows you to wear these performance socks on various trails and road terrains without discomfort.
Material: 56% merino wool, 41% nylon, 3% elastane
In general, you should always use wool or synthetic material for hiking socks. The materials indicated above assist wick moisture away from feet. It keeps them dry and comfortable on the trail regardless of the weather. Smartwool socks have soft, comfy wool and good performance on long journeys. These high-quality socks, made of 56 percent merino wool, are no exception. The Smartwool crews‘ medium height ensures that this sock remains put. It would not strain but protect your ankles from trail brush.
How to Choose the Best Socks for Winter Hiking?
The proper sock height protects your feet from abrasion caused by your shoes, just as it does with the right running socks.
The following are the four sock heights:
This sock height is your best bet for getting prepared for a cold-weather hike. It’s incredibly high and reaches up to your knees, as the name implies. It will keep your legs and feet completely warm in the winter. Most hikers wear shorts, so this is a great option.
This height places your legs in the intermediate position. It’s located halfway between your knee and your ankle. It is the most popular and best hiking sock on the market.
This height comes to an end at your ankle and is ideal for casual hikers. A low-cut boot will suffice for simple treks rather than high jungle boots. Ankle hiking socks are often for low-cut and mid-cut boots. In the cold, this is never a good choice.
The name is self-explanatory. They don’t appear, and no one knows you’re wearing them. Their work is internal, making it unsuitable for the winter months. Unless you plan to cover them up with another sock, this is the worst option for cold weather.
Cushioning has an impact on the durability, comfort, and warmth of a product. For running or hiking in low-cut shoes, ultralight cushion socks are an excellent choice. They’re popular because they dry quickly and breathe well. But they’re not as long-lasting as other socks. To avoid blisters, some people wear sock liners under their other socks. Lightly cushioned socks offer a good blend of breathability, moisture-wicking, and comfort. In ordinary to cold conditions, medium cushion socks are ideal for trekking.
To protect your feet from impact, they provide a considerable amount of padding in the heel and ball of the foot. The thickest and warmest socks are those with extra cushioning. Many hikers find them too thick and hot for backpacking. But they’re excellent for keeping warm in the winter and mountaineering in boots.
Polyester, nylon, and other synthetic materials are moisture-wicking and quick-drying. But, they can pill and keep scents a little longer. Wool is a natural fiber that is great for wicking away moisture. They work great in absorbing odors and keeping you warm while you’re wet. Merino wool of good quality is soft and pleasant, and it blends nicely with synthetic fibers.
Remember to avoid any socks with cotton content in cold weather.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I wear cotton socks for cold weather hiking?
Cotton socks are unsuitable for cold temperatures. They provide little insulation and absorb and keep moisture. Worse, once a cotton sock becomes wet, it loses all its insulating properties. Not even a good pairing of hiking boots can help. Wearing cotton socks in the winter results in absorbing moisture and then holding it. It coats your foot in a slick film of water while losing any insulation benefit. Because a wet foot is a recipe for a cold foot, wearing a cotton sock is a NO. Unless if you prefer cold, wet, slimy feet.
What fabric are the best socks for cold weather hiking?
Synthetic socks or Merino wool are the best socks for winter hiking. These materials wick moisture and dry quickly.
Are merino wool socks worth it?
That is somewhat dependent on the application as well as the boot socks in question. If you mean everyday socks for the average individual, the answer is probably no. That’s a different story if you’re looking for more hardworking applications.
Merino wool has unique qualities that set it apart from other varieties of wool. It’s trendy among serious outdoor enthusiasts, such as mountaineers.
If you spend a lot of time outside in the cold, you should invest in a good pair of winter socks. If you’re wearing cotton socks, the latest and most costly winter boots for women or men will do little to keep your feet warm.
So, what pair of hiking socks do you wear in the winter? Of course, a dedicated winter sock. Wool and certain synthetics can control your feet’ temperature and wick away moisture. It will keep your feet pleasant and free of blisters. Merino wool is exceptionally soft and warm. It defies the stereotype that wool is irritating. Unless otherwise specified, most of the socks on this list are available in men’s and women’s sizes. The women’s have a somewhat narrower fit (and sometimes a variety in color options).