The Top Wool Hiking Socks for All-Season Comfort

Three pairs of wool hiking socks propped of up logs with mountains in the distance
Our Favorite Merino Wool Hiking Socks for Men & Women

As a former REI employee with three-and-a-half years of experience in the footwear department, customers have approached me countless times to ask which hiking socks are best for their next adventure. I’m a gear nerd and know that small details make all the difference in creating the best experience outdoors.

Various types of hiking require different styles of socks, so the list below will have lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight options for all types of hikers. From trail running to thru-hiking, the blister-preventing, waterproof, liner, and toe socks here are designed to help your next adventure go more smoothly.

Quality clothing should be made from long-lasting, durable, breathable, and lightweight materials. While most products here are made from Merino wool, we also feature a few with CoolMax and NuWool to help keep your feet cozy.

While at REI, I always loved hearing about the challenging conditions hikers put their socks through. Whether from ultra-marathon runners or beginner backpackers, the feedback I received from customers helped guide this list. Whether Darn Tough, Point6, Smartwool, REI, or Farm to Feet, my customers loved the brands represented on this list.

Best All-Around
Darn Tough Hiker

Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew men'sMaterials: Merino Wool, Nylon, Lycra Spandex
Cushion: Medium
Height: Crew

The Darn Tough Hikers are hands down my favorite hiking socks for the upcoming season. Made from Merino wool, these are the perfect combination of soft, durable, and anti-chaffing. Even after days in the backcountry, these feel fresh with minimal stink.

Though mine have lasted me several years, Darn Tough’s lifetime warranty means I could send these back to Vermont, and they would replace them, no questions asked. If I had to choose one sock for the rest of my hiking this summer, my Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew would be it.

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Best for Preventing Blisters
Injini 2.0 Outdoor Midweight NuWool

Injini 2.0 Outdoor Midweight Crew NuWool for preventing blisters

Materials: NuWool, Acrylic, Nylon, Lycra Spandex
Cushion: Medium
Height: Crew

Injini Outdoor Midweight Crew may look funny on your feet, but they’re entirely worth it. I’m prone to getting blisters between my toes on longer hikes, but Injinji’s five-finger design prevents that from happening. For that reason, I’m a huge fan of using toe socks like these on my hikes.

Their NuWool material helps regulate temperature, further preventing hot spots and blisters, and the crew length height also keeps dirt and debris out of your shoe. If you’re sick of blisters, take a chance and try the Injini Outdoor Midweight Crews out.

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Budget Merino Wool
REI Merino Wool Lightweight

REI Merino Wool Lightweight Hiking Crew

Materials: Merino Wool, Nylon, Lycra Spandex
Cushion: Light
Height: Crew

The first hiking sock I bought was the Merino Wool Lightweight Hiking Crew from REI. Not only were they quite affordable, but they were comfortable and made from high-quality materials. If you flip one inside out, you’ll see that the inside stitching is made up of large loops, making it lightweight, breathable, and perfect for those hot summer hikes.

REI has been producing its own clothing for years, and they’ve done a pretty good job of it. When working in the footwear department, customers would come in regularly, proudly repping 10-year-old socks with an REI logo. Keep in mind, REI makes various types of socks with different weights, cushions, and materials if this style doesn’t suit your needs.

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Lightweight: Breathable for Hot Summer Conditions

As the summer months approach, lightweight socks will become your best backcountry friend. I highly recommend choosing a pair from the three options listed below if you hike in hot environments frequently or are prone to sweaty feet.

Darn Tough Light Hiker

Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew merino wool summer hiking socks

Materials: Nylon, Merino Wool, Lycra Spandex
Cushion: Light
Height: Crew

If you’re looking for something with less cushion, the Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew is a fantastic choice for those hot, summery hikes. Being DT’s thinnest sock, these will also work well for trail runners with limited space in their shoes’ footbeds.

Darn Toughs help prevent blisters excellently, especially when your feet are a sweaty mess. Very breathable, the Light Hiker will almost feel like you have no socks on at all. I also found that these are great for traveling if you want to explore the great outdoors after a morning on the city streets.

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Swiftwick Pursuit Hike

Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Lightweight hiking and backpacking footwear

Materials: Merino Wool, Nylon, Olefin, Spandex
Cushion: Medium
Height: Crew

Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Lightweight socks regulate temperature using a Merino blend, making them an ideal all-around option. The seamless toe box is ideal for those more sensitive to seam rubbing, and their Olefin synthetic fiber will also help enhance durability and control moisture.

Like Darn Tough and REI, Swiftwick also offers various specialty socks for sports like cycling, golfing, and tennis. If you’re the type to dabble in several other outdoor activities, check out Swiftwick’s wide range of products.

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Smartwool Hike Ultra Light

Smartwool Hike Ultra Light hot weather for men and women

Materials: Merino Wool, Nylon, Polyester, Elastane
Cushion: Light
Height: Crew

If you like Darn Tough, check out Smartwools as well. Their Hike Ultra Light has always been a top choice among men and women, and for good reason. Thanks to their open mesh fabric, these will help your feet breathe in warm weather, making a massive difference in the summer!

Simply put, your feet will stay dry when using this brand. Because of the light cushion, I’ve noticed the back heel wears down faster than other brands here, but if you’re after breathability, check these out. And, for those who like to coordinate on the trail, this comes in several different colors and styles.

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Midweight: Versatile Performance in Multiple Seasons

When I first started getting outside and hiking regularly, I couldn’t afford to buy different socks for specific times of the year. Therefore, I chose a midweight variety that would perform well in all seasons. Here are the top three choices I recommend.

Farm to Feet Damascus Targeted Cushion

Farm to Feet Damascus Crew Light Targeted Cushion

Materials: Merino Wool, Nylon, Lycra Spandex
Cushion: Light
Height: Crew

Compared to other products on this list — like the REI Merino Wool Lightweight Crew — the Farm to Feet Damascus was engineered for distance hikers. Targeted cushioning and ventilation channels make it a fan favorite among thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail.

Farm to Feet’s 100% American supply chain isn’t typical in the industry. (They even source their packaging in the US.) Why care about this? Buying locally made products helps reduce the environmental impact of transportation costs. Farm to Feet also partners with the triple crown thru hikes — the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail — meaning they invest in their customers and the preservation of the wilderness areas they enjoy.

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Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Six

Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Six Medium-Weight merino wool footwear

Materials: Merino Wool, Nylon, Olefin, Spandex
Cushion: Medium
Height: Crew

The Swiftwick Hike Six Medium-Weight sports the same moisture-wicking technology and Merino wool blend as their Pursuit Hike Lightweight sock but with a little more cushion. This midweight option has multiple-season versatility like the other two products in this category.

As with the other American-made clothing on this list, customers can feel good about Swiftwick’s sustainability commitment. They produce all their products in the US and focus on sourcing the most sustainable materials possible. Swiftwick’s classic-looking sock is the perfect style for the minimalist hiker who wants help preventing blisters all year round.

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Point6 37.5 Essential

Point6 37.5 Essential Medium Crew men's and women's footwear

Materials: Wool, Nylon, Elastic
Cushion: Heavy
Height: Crew

The Point6 37.5 Medium crew is named after a human’s average body temperature in Celsius and is designed to keep your feet’s temperature stable during your entire hiking adventure. These are made in the USA and protected by a lifetime guarantee if you ever bust a hole through the toe.

After selling Smartwools for years, the Duke Family started their own company, Point6. Their goal was to bring the quality, knowledge, and sustainability of Smartwool and impart it into their unique products. This family-owned company from Steamboat Springs, Colorado knows its socks quite well.

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Heavyweight: Warm for Cold Winter Conditions

For winter camping, snowshoeing, or mountaineering, you’ll need a heavyweight sock to stay safe from chilly temperatures and frostbite. I also had customers at REI who would ask for heavyweight socks to help with poor circulation. Whatever your reason, the following products will help make hiking more enjoyable.

Darn Tough Mountaineering

Darn Tough Mountaineering Heavyweight Micro Crew

Materials: Merino Wool, Nylon, Lycra Spandex
Cushion: Heavy
Height: Crew

Whether you need extra cushion or have feet that run cold, the Darn Tough Mountaineering Heavyweight Micro Crew are the best cold-weather winter hiking socks. Their cushioning is generous and spans the entire sock (rather than just the footbed).

While I recommend the Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew for all-year-around adventures, if you live in a cold climate or enjoy mountaineering in the shoulder seasons, these will give you the extra warmth you need. Odor-resistant and durable, the Heavyweight Micro Crews will feel fresh throughout an entire expedition.

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Montbell Merino Wool Trekking

Montbell Merino Wool Trekking merino wool hiking clothing

Materials: Merino Wool, Nylon, Polyester, Polyurethane
Cushion: Heavy
Height: Crew

Don’t overlook Montbell in your quest for quality cold-weather hiking clothing. Their Merino Wool Trekking sock offers all-over cushioning, making it a great hiking companion during cold and icy environments. Produced in Japan from a thoughtful Merino wool blend, these will deliver quality thermal regulation.

The Montbell Merino Wool Trekking sock is a no-frills option that gets the job done when temperatures drop. Their unisex sizing will fit well for both men and women.

I’m a huge fan of Montbell’s founding principle, the Japanese tradition of Kinobi, which means “Function is Beauty.”

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Sealskinz Waterproof Cold-Weather

Sealskinz Waterproof socks for cold weather and hiking in water

Materials: Nylon, Hydrophilic Membrane, Merino Wool, and more
Cushion: Heavy
Height: Crew

Over the years, more and more customers have come into REI looking specifically for Sealskinz. Made from a 100% waterproof three-layer system, these were commonly requested by those that hiked in consistently cold and wet conditions that prevent socks from drying naturally. Stream crossers rejoice! With Sealskinz, your feet won’t come close to getting wet.

Surprisingly breathable for their thickness, one con is that they may still make your feet feel hot. That said, I’d happily take warm feet over wet feet when frequently crossing streams or hiking through muddy terrain. These also can be used during the summer months when kayaking.

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No-Show for Warm Weather & Trail Running

I’ll be the first to admit that crew socks are not the sexiest-looking on the trail. Whether trail running or traveling, a no-show helps keep my feet comfortable and my style on point. Below are a couple of options I recommend to use with your favorite low-top hiking shoe or sneaker.

Darn Tough Light Hiker

Darn Tough Light Hiker No Show for trail runningMaterials: Nylon, Merino Wool, Lycra Spandex
Cushion: Light
Height: No-show

Darn Tough has done it again! In my opinion, their Light Hikers are the best no-show hiking socks. Since my feet tend to swell during high-intensity activity, I use these for trail running and enjoy their lightweight and breathable feel.

The Light Hiker No Shows also work well with sandals like Keens or Chacos. I have friends who prefer hiking in sandals during the summer, and adding a Merino wool layer between their foot and the sandal helps prevent rubbing on the footbed and blistering.

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Injinji Run Lightweight

Injinji Run Lightweight No Show blister preventing footwear for hiking and trail running

Materials: NuWool, Acrylic, Nylon, Lycra
Cushion: Light
Height: No-show

Ijninji’s Run Lightweight five-toe socks are the best no-shows to prevent blisters. Made with NuWool, these will ventilate well, hug your toes, and keep them from rubbing together. People might question your style choices, but they certainly won’t make fun of you when you finish a hike blister-free.

I love running marathons, and Injinji has become my brand of choice for high-intensity exercise. Compared to Smartwool and Darn Tough, these don’t give me hotspots under my feet. These have also worked well when traveling and need a breathable sock for hours of site seeing.

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Best Liners for Sweaty Feet

Bringing along liners is the secret life hack I learned after years of hiking. Adding a liner to a sock will help keep your feet dry, decrease rubbing, and prevent blisters. Here are two different brands that make quality liners for hiking.

Wigwam Coolmax

Wigwam Coolmax Liner for sweaty feet

Materials: Coolmax, Nylon, Spandex
Cushion: Minimal
Height: Crew

Wigwam makes no-frills Coolmax liners that work well to wick moisture to keep feet dry and prevent blisters. I love how Wigwam makes products to help everyone get outdoors, as they have an extensive collection of diabetic sport socks, which can be challenging to find.

Wigwam was founded in Wisconsin in 1905, meaning they’ve had over a hundred years of experience to perfect their design. If you’re curious, check out their website to see how their technology has evolved throughout their history.

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Injinji Crew

Injinji Liner Crew for sweaty feet

Materials: Coolmax, Nylon, Lycra
Cushion: Minimal
Height: Crew

Liners make hiking those 10+ miles days much more bearable, and I think Injinji’s toe socks would be a great option to break out during any demanding hike. This model is made with Coolmax technology, a solid wool alternative.

I will warn you: liners are very thin, and you should always pair them up with another sock. I wouldn’t recommend hiking with the Injinji Liner Crew alone, as they’ll wear down very quickly.

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Factors We Consider When Reviewing Products

Male backpacker wearing black shoes and Darn Toughs walking on a hiking trail
Socks may seem simple, but there’s a lot to consider when choosing your next pair

When I worked at the REI foot department, the enormous sock wall could overwhelm customers. By breaking down a specific model’s features individually, I hoped to help simplify their purchase during their visit.

I considered the following eight factors when reviewing and recommending products for this guide:

Materials

One of the most important factors to consider when picking out socks is which materials they’re made of.

As the saying goes, “Cotton kills,” meaning that the moisture it holds can be dangerous for hikers. Moisture held from cotton causes more rubbing and, therefore, more blisters. For that reason, I don’t recommend hiking in cotton socks.

In this post, I’ve recommended durable, moisture-wicking, and blister-preventing materials like Merino wool, NuWool, and Coolmax. The materials you’ll find here in this guide are designed to keep your feet happy.

Cushion

Each person has a different opinion on which cushion level, or sock thickness, works best for them.

For me, a medium cushion works best for longer hikes, and a light cushion is ideal for quick runs around the block. Cushioning can also be all over the sock or placed only in select areas like the footbed. It may take a bit of trial and error but aim to find the perfect cushion that suits your feet and type of activity.

Breathability

Feet tend to get sweaty during hikes, so breathability is essential to a sock’s effectiveness. Typically, thinner fabric offer better breathability, and thicker products tend to hold heat in more.

The combination of materials, cushioning, and length determines how much heat and moisture can escape the sock. Look for ventilation-friendly material such as mesh if your feet tend to get sweaty.

Durability

Hiking socks can seem pricey, but you’ll spend less money in the long run if you first buy a quality product. That’s why we picked out products known for their high durability.

Typically, the thinner the sock is, the less durable it will be, and the thicker it is, the longer it should last.

Material, shoe fit, and washing procedures will also contribute to a product’s durability.

Height

Most products here thrive during hiking and outdoor activities, where a crew height is preferred. Higher socks help prevent debris from the trail from entering and rubbing against your feet.

Pick a height that sits comfortably above your shoe’s cuff to help prevent rubbing. To keep from feeling overwhelmed at the wall, consider which cut will work best before entering the store, and also clarify the height with the sales associate to ensure you’re buying the right one.

Overall Comfort

The more comfortable a piece of clothing is, the more you can focus on enjoying the trail. At the end of the day, you should forget you even had socks on your feet to begin with. If a piece of clothing feels scratchy or uncomfortable when you first put it on, it’ll feel far worse after three miles in.

My suggestions on this list are based on my experience and customer feedback, but I understand that comfort is relative. I advise trying a few different brands to see which works best with your feet.

Warranty

Read a company’s warranty in-depth, and it’ll give you a good insight into the quality of their products.

Companies like Darn Tough and Farm to Feet offer lifetime warranties which speak to the company’s commitment to producing long-lasting gear. I’d also look into the store’s warranty where you’re purchasing your gear since many offer used gear exchanges.

Price

Expenses can add up! When I first started hiking, I was in high school with little expendable income and couldn’t afford to buy more than one or two pairs of hiking socks.

This list features a variety of prices to help fit your budget needs and introduce you to several of the industry’s best brands. Many stores offer discounts if you buy multiple pairs, which can also reduce the cost.

Which the Best Hiking Socks Will You Rock on Your Next Adventure?

Camper wearing a pair of women's merino wool hikers on a 2023 backpacking trip
At the end of the day, your socks are a vital part of your hiking setup

I highlighted the best hiking socks for men and women to help hikers prepare for the trail year-round. From breathable products that prevent blisters to waterproof socks for river crossings to liners that wick away moisture, there are plenty of options to ponder.

My advice is simple: look for socks with specific features that suit your hiking style.

My summer running socks are not the same ones I wear for my rainy hikes in the Pacific Northwest. Consider your use case, choose wisely between lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight designs, and you’ll go a long way in keeping your feet happy for all four seasons.

Being a conscious consumer requires an understanding of the brands you’re supporting. Buy products from reputable names like Darn Tough, Smartwool, REI, and Farm to Feet to ensure an intelligent and responsible purchase. Yes, the initial investment may be more, but in my opinion, the quality and longevity of the product will more than make up for it.

I hope my guide to the best hiking socks is packed with various choices to help hikers of all types get outside and stay comfortable. After years of experience helping customers get on the trail, I hope my recommendations hit the mark.

Last Updated on March 19, 2024

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Regan Gong

Hi, I'm Regan. After working at REI for years, I love nerding out about gear and helping people craft their own adventures. I'm always on the go and have traveled solo, lived abroad, and road-tripped around the US.

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