If you’re anything like me, you look forward to those Summer/Fall months when a hike is on the calendar 3 of the 4 weekends of the month. Foliage, forest, beach, no matter the rewarding view at the top, the fun is in the hike itself.
However, what can make those (sometimes) challenging hikes not so fun is when you’re halfway through it and you start to feel it.
Yep, you know what I mean. A nasty blister is starting to form! Nothing is worse than the pain of the dreaded abscess on the back of your heel, top of your toe or side of your foot. Unfortunately, I speak from experience.
However, there are a few things you can do to help prevent those irritating sores to pop up and one of the best ways to do so is with socks. Yes, that’s right. It’s as simple as that.
Choosing the right sock can make a huge impact on your feets comfortability in general, but can also be a deciding factor in whether you reach the top pain-free or not.
How To Choose The Best Socks For Hiking
Read the label
So what should you look for when buying a pair of hiking socks? Well, first off, read the label.
I know that may sound a little odd considering we’re talking about socks here and not a bag of chips, but reading the label will indicate what material the socks are made with, and give us a good idea of the type of quality you can expect from them.
Now there isn’t a “miracle” material that wondrously prevents blisters, however, merino wool is known to be an excellent choice in keeping those feet blister free. Why is merino so promising? Because it tends to wick away the moisture your foot creates, a.k.a. sweat.
Sweaty feet is the most likely reason someone will develop a blister, as the sweat helps soften up the skin, making it a bit looser, and making an abrasion a lot more likely.
Choose the right fit
This may seem obvious, but most socks aren’t like shoes. You can’t just request a size 10 pair of socks. It doesn’t work that way.
Usually, you will either find socks in Small, or Large sizes, or you may find that they come in size range, for example, it may say something like “Fits sizes 7-9.”
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This sounds great in general, but the truth of the matter is if you are on the low end of that number in shoe size (7, for example) or on the high end (9.5), you may be getting a sock that is just a little too big, or after the first wear, has stretched and won’t squeeze back to size.
On the other hand, by choosing the high end, you may feel like your toes are stretching the fabric just about as much as they can be and sooner than later, your big toe is going to pop right through.
Thus, don’t go buy the “size”of the sock. If possible, try them on first. Most footwear stores nowadays have sample socks you can try on and if that truly is not an option, or if you’re buying online, don’t be afraid to read the reviews. You can usually get a good indication of the fit.
Why is this so important in blister prevention?
Because when your feet are uncomfortable, whether too tightly wrapped or too loose, you will not be comfortable. When your socks are too loose, they tend to sag down, sometimes turning over in your shoes (who doesn’t hate that?!).
That, in turn, means they will be in a spot where they are not supposed to be, causing your foot to rub in the wrong places and more time than not, the beginning stages of a blister is formed.
Ok, so now that we know a bit more of what to look for in a pair of socks, let’s check out a few favorites. Below you will find some top finds, specifically to wear while hiking, that will not only be comfortable but keep those obnoxious blisters away!
The Best Socks To Prevent Blisters When Hiking – My Top 3 Picks
Omni-Wool 3 Pairs Merino Wool Light Hiker Socks
Omni-Wool offers these light hiking socks made from merino wool, nylon, and lycra in a variety pack. They are great for keeping your feet cozy and comfy while on the trail, as they have a padded footbed, as well as a band that fits around your arches.
However, the best part is they were constructed to keep those blisters away. The Merion wool will help melt away moisture, as your foot is surely to sweat during your hike, and in the meantime avert those (normally) inevitable blisters.
A great option for both men and women!
SmartWool PhD Outdoor Ultra Light Crew Socks
These SmartWool PhD Outdoor ultralight socks are another great option for the hiker looking to prevent blisters. They are made up of 49 percent merino wool, constructed in the US, come in two great color options and are super lightweight.
In fact, the concept of these socks was thought of while skiing in Colorado, so you can imagine how durable and ready for nature these babies are.
Made with the adventure seeker in mind, SmartWool socks are a must for any outdoor enthusiast wanting to make the best of his outdoor experiences.
Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks
If you’ve never heard of Darn Tough socks, no worries since after you try on a pair you will never forget them. There are so many great features to these socks I can’t name them all here. However, to give you a few of the highlights- they are made in Vermont, a place that knows first hand the importance of having a great hiking sock and shoe.
With the majority of these being made from merino itself, you can be confident in an antimicrobial experience, as the wool naturally deters these unwanted bacterias from the feet.
This also helps keep those blisters away as the moisture is easily wicked away by means of the wool and the snug fit keeps the socks in places, so no slipping or bunching down to your ankles (woo-hoo!).
These are just a few of the great a options out there, but remember, when choosing a sock to prevent blisters, read the label (a.k.a. Buy Merino Wool) and choose the right fit You will be happy you, and your blister-ree feet will be too!
What is your favorite brand of socks to wear in order to avoid those harsh blisters when hiking? Let me know in the comments below!