Walking is a great way to start building up your fitness. When I was beginning my fitness journey, I had only committed to walking for 15 minutes around the block. I had no equipment, no gear, and no home gym. Walking, in my opinion, is the best way to ease into regularly working out – especially running.
Sometimes, though, your typical gear doesn’t do the trick. I remember having to buy better walking shoes to replace my uncomfortable rubber vans shoes. In time, as my fitness level went up and I explored hiking and trekking around, I learned I had to get better socks as well.
Socks are some of the most underrated parts of our athletic wear. We explore different styles of shirts, leggings, shorts, shoes, yet we throw on the same pair of socks we had since we were in college. I even have specific cycling socks.
However, when you start getting serious with your fitness, you’d know that this is a dangerous thing to do, especially when trekking on harder terrain. I highly recommend you check out better socks for more support and cushioning. However, if you don’t walk or hike that often and are looking for regular workout socks, this might not be the list for you.
Your feet, after all, deserve to be taken care of, especially since it is what keeps you moving and working towards your fitness goals. If you’re starting to take an interest in walking or you’re just looking to improve your sock collection, I can help you find the best walking socks out there. I spent a lot of time looking around for these, so I came up with the below list myself.
Best Walking Socks Compared and Reviewed
|Icebreaker Merino Hike+ Light Cushion Crew Socks
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|Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion
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|Smartwool Hiking Heavy Crew Socks
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|MirMaru Hiking Socks
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|YUEDGE Men’s Cotton Cushion Crew Socks
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#1 - Icebreaker Merino Hike+ Light Cushion Crew Socks
For example, a seamless toe closure, where the sock has one panel from the heel to the sole and up to the toes, makes for a less bulky yet protective sock.
This same panel is where most of the cushioning go as your feet will feel the most impact at the bottom. Despite this cushioning, there still is space for your feet to breathe as a fine mesh is included at the top of your feet. Near the heel, the Achilles support keeps the sock from riding down as you move along. Its cuff is also comfortable yet tight enough to keep it in place.
Accompanying the well-thought-out design are some great materials in the fabric. The Merino Hike+ Light Crew is made of 61 percent Merino wool, 37 percent Nylon, and 2 percent Lycra Elastane. Merino wool is lightweight and soft, making your feet happy. It is also renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable! It really goes to show how well Icebreaker thinks about its products.
Nylon, on the other hand, is known to be a durable fabric with strong fibers. Lycra Elastane, or Spandex, makes these socks fit your feet well with its stretchability.
You might prefer a thicker sock than this, especially if you walk at night or in the cold. Some users have said that these socks are too thin for their taste. Take note also of the light cushioning and the crew height.
What have others said about the Icebreaker Merino Hike+ Light Cushion Crew Socks?
“I love these. I’ve been wearing them all the time now for my hikes. Breathable and snug!” – Jay J
#2 - Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion
This sock is designed so that it stays on while you trek. All of us are familiar with the pain of your socks bunching up inside your shoe. With their performance fit and fine gauge knitting, you might even forget that you have these socks on.
Walking around day, and night? This pair of socks is designed so that it is cool in the heat and warm in the cold. It naturally prevents odor from building up, repelling bacteria to keep your feet healthy.
It also prevents the sweat from building up inside your shoe. Its material is sweat-wicking and dries quickly. Speaking of the material, it is made of 54 percent Nylon, 43 percent Merino Wool, and 3 percent Lycra Spandex.
The Merino Wool makes for an eco-friendly and soft sock as the material it is made from is renewable. Other than that, the mix of materials only proves that this is a durable and form-fitting sock.
Some users have complained that these socks ran a little small for them, so take note of that when ordering online. These are also only light cushioning with a micro crew height — shorter than the traditional crew height.
What have others said about the Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion?
“These socks really provide the support I need. They warm my feet well too! Tempted to grab another pair.” – Charles L
#3 - Smartwool Hiking Heavy Crew Socks
With Smartwool, we are getting into some heavy-duty socks. Heavy cushioning socks are especially good for when you’re very much prone to blisters. You might also usually go on very long walks on difficult terrain. The Hiking Heavy Crew Socks by Smartwool knows what you need.
Because of its thick cushioning, the impact of your feet hitting the ground will be absorbed by the sock. This, along with the shock absorption provided by your shoes, will decrease the impact it has on your joints, preventing injuries.
Not only does the heavy full-cushioning give you shock absorption, but it also provides insulation, making it perfect for the cold weather. Of course, this might put you at a disadvantage if you’re hiking in the scorching sun.
This sock is made of 70 percent Merino Wool, making it eco-friendly and less itchy than traditional wool in those itchy jumpers! It is also 29 percent Nylon, which has very durable fibers, and 1 percent Elastane, giving this sock some stretch and an ability to conform to your feet.
You can watch one of their videos about their socks here:
Due to the high amount of Merino Wool, this crew sock might be susceptible to pilling. A lot of users have actually reported this especially after machine washing, which is really unfortunate since they also found it very comfortable! That is until it started pilling.
#4 - MirMaru Hiking Socks
So far, our list consists of the same kinds of materials. MirMaru stands out with its blend of materials. It is made of 55 percent Combed Cotton, making for a comfortable sock. 40 percent is made of Polyester, giving us the sweat-wicking quality that we need in every athletic clothing. The rest is 3 percent Rubber and 2 percent Elastane.
In the underfoot area, you’ll find a great amount of support and cushioning due to the high-density fibers. This will help absorb some of the impact of your feet constantly hitting the ground, especially in difficult terrain. This will also prevent foot blisters and injuries.
Because of the Elastane, these socks are designed to compress your feet and provide even more support. This protects your arch, ankle, and heels, keeping the sock on while you continue to trek. Indeed, these socks are designed well; they even have a 100% satisfaction guarantee!
Some users have complained about how the cushioning is not enough, especially for those who hike a lot. They had wished for a thicker sock, so keep that in mind. However, if you’re casually walking around and looking for a cheaper sock, this might be great for you!
#5 - YUEDGE Men’s Cotton Cushion Crew Socks
These socks are made of 80 percent Cotton, 17 percent Nylon, and 3 percent Elastane. If you’re familiar with athletic wear, you know cotton isn’t usually a material that is included in the fabric. This is because of the high moisture absorption ability of Cotton, making for a wet sock, especially if you sweat a lot!
The Nylon may offset this with its moisture-wicking ability, but since there is a higher percentage of Cotton, I would doubt that.
One of the great things about these socks, though, is how comfortable it is. You are less likely to have blisters due to friction. It’s soft like Cotton — well, because it is Cotton.
Because of the Elastane, this sock provides compression to your feet, which is great especially if you want some extra support. It doesn’t restrict your movement, though, and it stays on well. Because of the mesh design, these socks are very breathable, perfect for the hot weather. Maybe you won’t sweat too much at all.
Some users don’t like the thinness of this crew sock. Some have also reported holes quickly appearing in their socks even after just a day of using them. Others rave about this, though, especially about how comfortable they are!
My Number One Pick
Key Considerations When Looking For Walking Socks
Below is a guide that hopes to help users who wish to be informed on what to look out for when wanting to buy walking socks.
The materials that go into making the fabric are really what gives the sock its essential and key features. You’ll see what I mean in a minute, but just make sure to always check the labels of your socks. This really is important, especially when talking about the right athletic clothing and looking for what’s best for your situation.
- Merino Wool
Merino wool is a natural option, made from Merino sheep wool. It is said to be eco-friendly especially compared to synthetic fibers made in labs. Because it is renewable, it becomes a sustainable option too. Plus, it’s biodegradable.
Merino is also moisture-wicking, which is great especially for those days where you sweat from head to toe. They also provide some insulation because it does not absorb or give off heat easily. So, if you’re in hot weather, your feet will be feeling cooler, while if you’re in cold weather, you’ll feel its warmth!
Not only does it have insulation, but it also is antimicrobial. This means that it repels bacteria, making it less prone to odor. This is especially soft, making for a comfortable sock. Plus, it can be stretched, and it will recover well. It’s even 5 times more elastic than Cotton. Love these features? The Icebreaker Merino Hike+ Light Cushion Crew Socks has them for you!
Cotton is another material you’ll see in most socks. They are known to be very comfortable and cooling, as they have hollow fibers. Its breathability is really helpful especially when you’re on those long, hot walks. The YUEDGE Men’s Cotton Cushion Crew Socks will keep your feet comfortable!
The downside to this is that Cotton can easily retain water. In fact, it retains 24-27 times its own weight. Imagine walking in scorching heat, feeling the sweat build up on your feet, and your sock slowly becoming wetter and wetter… yikes. I really wouldn’t want that. However, I think some amount of cotton would be fine, beneficial even!
Another option is material blend
Some brands blend these fabrics together, especially with synthetic fabrics, in order to bring out the best in their main material. You wouldn’t think it, but 100 percent Cotton isn’t the way to go all the time! A lot of times, especially in athletic wear, blends are better than pure fabrics.
Polyester is a synthetic fabric known to be durable and sweat-wicking. This is perfect especially for people with sweaty feet and who walk on hot mornings. The MirMaru Hiking Socks incorporate Polyester with Cotton elegantly.
Nylon is another synthetic fabric that is much more durable than Polyester. You will usually find this in higher quality brands with higher prices because Nylon is pricey as well. Because of this, some brands opt for Polyester.
- Spandex or Elastane
Elastane or Spandex is a stretchable fabric that usually conforms to the shape of the user. This provides compression and support which you need to maximize your walks. Stretching this fabric doesn’t risk it being loose and flimsy, though; Elastane will recover well and keep its shape! That’s why you’ll find it in most athletic clothing and even form-fitting casual wear.
How much cushioning would you like? Do you often walk or hike in difficult terrain? Do you just casually walk around the block? These are some things to think about when determining what thickness you like.
Thinner socks are great for easier trails and on sunnier days. This is because your feet will be able to breathe more. The Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion Socks are perfect for those casual, hot trekking days.
Mid-thickness socks prevent blisters more than thinner ones, thus it can be used on harder trails and hotter days. Thick socks, though, are the best for cooler temperatures and the toughest hikes, like the Smartwool Hiking Heavy Crew Socks.
It’s to no one’s surprise that the fit of your socks is very important. Too tight, and your feet go numb because of the lack of circulation. Too loose, and you’ll find yourself blistering and struggling with the sock bunching up into your shoes.
My advice? Try measuring your own feet and comparing it to the size chart of the brand. This way, you’re sure to get an exact fit. A bit of warning though: some brands run smaller or bigger than what they portray in their size charts. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s the reality.
Always check for reviews, because if it is not true to size, reviews are where you’ll see a lot of people complaining about that.
Type of Sock
Although my list only consists of one type of sock due to its common presence in brands, there are other types of socks that might be better for you. You can’t always think about the support and cushioning all the time; sometimes, temperature regulation is more important to you! This is why you have to explore more options.
- Crew Socks
Crew socks are the most common ones out there, which is why this is what’s on the list! It raises up to mid-calf and provides both thick cushioning and support. The downside to this is that, on warmer days, these socks can really be a bother and cause your feet to sweat a lot.
- Ankle Socks
Ankle socks are those that stop at the ankles. They don’t provide much support, but they are great for easy trails and warmer days. They are also able to be moisture-wicking, which can help your feet stay comfortable, dry, and safe from blisters.
- Liner Socks
These are even lower than ankle socks and are usually thinner. They stop below your ankle, so some hikers put this on under their crew socks for extra moisture-wicking and protection from blistering.
Frequently Asked Questions About Walking Socks
Q: What are other ways I can protect myself when walking on difficult terrain?
A: If you’re going into the wild or into the mountains, I suggest tucking your pants into your socks! It will prevent insects from getting to your exposed skin. Otherwise, you could consider using trail gaiters.
You also have to bring bug spray. If the day is especially hot, you can also check out some running sunglasses or running hats that are not only designed for runners, but for the great outdoors too!
Q: Should I still wear walking socks with my walking shoes?
A: Walking socks can act as a supplement to the support that walking shoes already provide. If your feet are especially sensitive, then yes, you probably need walking socks. If you also walk or hike very often, then I’d say get some socks to protect your feet! You can never be too sure about that, especially since it helps with injuries.
Q: What should I take note of, health-wise?
A: Some people are allergic to certain types of fabric, especially polyester. You should always check the label of your socks before purchasing. If you notice any rashes or weird reactions to certain clothes, visit your doctor immediately.
Everyone starts somewhere. For me, I started by walking on my street, just going around and around. My only goal then was to get my heart rate up and to move around feeling active doing some form of exercise.
Keep in mind what your preferences are and your current situation. Do you usually walk in hot weather? Do you walk in more challenging areas, such as hills or mountains? Always check the reviews, too, and try to shop physically if you can, because nothing is better than real experience with the product. Good luck on your fitness journey; I’m sure you won’t stop there!
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is through constantly challenging yourself.