Sport socks will not serve your hiking needs. The socks you wear for tennis or basketball are not adequate for a long hike. Good hiking socks are thick, comfortable and sturdy and have great moisture-wicking and thermal properties.
Moisture-wicking is a must in hiking. “Wicking” is simply transporting sweat away from your foot. Without this feature, you can develop such things as fungi, blisters or chafing among others. It’s not even about the smell at this point, but rather health problems. That alone should get you out to the store purchasing a quality pair of socks!
If your hike is of any significant length, you will want your socks to have good thermal properties. In hot climates, the sock needs to pull the heat away from the foot and exit it out of the boot. In colder climates, the socks help keep the feet in a comfortable range of warmth.
It is quite a technological wonder that socks can perform these to opposite goals, but they do. Even better, they do that while providing comfort, support and moisture-wicking as described above. For those who are still skeptical, go out and try a good pair of socks with some good hiking boots. You will be impressed.
Cotton is a good choice as far as material, but clever manufacturers have gone beyond nature’s material and now offer other excellent choices in socks. They have combined blends such as Lycra or wool and micro-geometry to provide excellent thermal control, comfort, support and moisture-wicking capabilities.
As far as fit, socks should have thicker areas around the heel, ankle bone and toe. These areas incur the most wear and tear. Also, avoid socks that have ridges near the toes or ankle bone especially, as ridges can irritate your foot similar to having a small stone in your boot.
They should be long enough to be pulled up and folded over your boot. Even if they have some elasticity at the top, folding them down helps prevent the sock from sliding inside your boot.
Keep in mind that hiking socks are more expensive than other socks, ranging from $ 10 per pair and higher. But, you do not want to find yourself replacing hiking socks every other month. So, invest in several good pairs and take care of your feet!