16 Best Hiking Socks 2023: Top Merino Wool for Men & Women

Last Updated on January 5, 2023

Backpacker wearing boots and a pair of men's merino wool hiking socks with mountains in the distance on a 2023 trip

Our Favorite Merino Wool Hiking Socks for Men & Women in 2023


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 socks to buy for their next adventure. I’m a sock nerd and know that small details make all the difference in creating the best experience outdoors.

These are my recommendations for the best hiking socks for men and women in 2023.

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 you find here are designed to help your next adventure go more smoothly.

Quality socks should be long-lasting and made from durable, breathable, and lightweight material. While most socks 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.

With summer always around the corner, this list of 2023’s best hiking socks for men and women will help you focus more on the gorgeous views in front of you and less on your hurting feet.


Best All-Around Hiking Sock
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 the best hiking socks of 2023 for men and women. Made from Merino wool, these micro crew socks are the perfect combination of soft, durable, and anti-chaffing. Even after days in the backcountry, these socks are magic with minimal stink.

Though mine have lasted me several years, Darn’s Tough 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.

PRO TIP: Click the link below and use the promo code ‘COZYSOCKS’ for 10% off your order! (Valid until 11/24/22)



Best Sock 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 ever 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 Crew toe socks out. Both men and women would find them to be a valuable addition to their collection.



Best Budget Merino Wool Sock
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 ever 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 socks for years, and they’ve done a pretty good job of it. When working in the footwear department, customers would come in all the time, proudly repping a 10-year-old sock with an REI logo. Remember, REI makes various types of socks with different weights, cushions, and materials if this style doesn’t suit your needs.


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

PRO TIP: Click the link below and use the promo code ‘COZYSOCKS’ for 10% off your order! (Valid until 11/24/22)



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 who are 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, definitely check out Swiftwick’s wide range of products.



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 Smartwool socks as well. Their Hike Ultra Light has always been a top choice among men and women hikers, and for good reason. Thanks to the sock’s open mesh fabric, these will help your feet breathe in warm weather, making a huge 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 does wear down faster than other brands here, but if breathability is what you are after, check these out. And, for those who like to coordinate on the trail, this sock comes in several different colors and styles.



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 sock 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 sock 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 common 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 not only their customers but the preservation of these wilderness areas.



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 sock sports the same moisture-wicking technology and Merino wool blend as their Pursuit Hike Lightweight sock, but with a little more cushion. Like the other two socks in this category, this midweight option has multiple-season versatility.

As with the other American-made socks on this list, customers can feel good about Swiftwick’s sustainability commitment. They produce all their socks 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.



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 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 Smartwool socks 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.


Heavyweight: Warm for Cold Winter Conditions

For activities like 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, these favorite heavyweight socks are here to help make your 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 of 2023. 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 Crew socks will feel fresh throughout an entire expedition.

PRO TIP: Click the link below and use the promo code ‘COZYSOCKS’ for 10% off your order! (Valid until 11/24/22)



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 socks. 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 socks 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.”


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 came into REI looking specifically for Sealskinz. Made from a 100% waterproof three-layer system, these socks were commonly requested by those that hiked in consistently cold and wet conditions that prevent socks from drying naturally. Stream crossers rejoice! With Sealskinz socks, 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.



No-Show Socks for Warm Weather & Trail Running

I will be the first to admit that crew socks are not the sexiest looking sock. Whether I’m trail running or traveling, a no-show sock helps keeps 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 of 2023. Since my feet tend to swell during high-intensity activity, I use these for trail running and really enjoy how lightweight and breathable they feel.

The Light Hiker No Shows will also work well when worn with sandals like Keens or Chacos. I have several friends who prefer hiking in sandals during the summer, and adding socks like these help prevent rubbing on the footbed and blistering.

PRO TIP: Click the link below and use the promo code ‘COZYSOCKS’ for 10% off your order! (Valid until 11/24/22)



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 no-show best hiking socks 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 over the years. Compared to Smartwool and Darn Tough, these socks don’t give me hotspots under my feet. These have also worked well when I’m traveling and need a breathable sock for hours of site seeing.



Best Sock Liners for Sweaty Feet

Bringing along sock 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 sock liners for hiking.

Wigwam Coolmax

Wigwam Coolmax Liner for sweaty feet

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

Wigwam makes no-frills Coolmax liner socks that work well to wick moisture to keep feet dry and prevent blisters. I love how Wigwam makes socks 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 sock design. If you’re curious, check out their website to see exactly how their sock technology has evolved throughout their history.


Injinji Crew

Injinji Liner Crew sock for sweaty feet

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

Liners make hiking those 10+ miles days so 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, which is a solid wool alternative.

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



Factors We Consider When Reviewing Hiking Socks

Red and blue Darn Tough merino wool backpacking sock with a cloudy mountain range in the distance

Hiking 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 sock wall was enormous and could be overwhelming to customers. By breaking down a socks’ features one by one, I hoped to help simplify their purchase during their visit.

Here are the eight main factors that I considered when reviewing and recommending hiking socks for this guide.


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.


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

For me, a medium cushion sock works best for longer hikes, and lightly cushioned socks are 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.


Feet tend to get sweaty during hikes, and a sock’s breathability is a huge factor in its effectiveness. Typically, thinner socks offer better breathability and thicker socks tend to hold heat in more. The combination of materials, cushioning, and sock length factor into how much heat and moisture can escape the sock. Look for a sock with a ventilation-friendly material such as mesh if your feet tend to get sweaty.


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 socks 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 sock’s durability.

Sock Height

Most of the socks you’ll find 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 of sock that sits comfortably above your shoe’s cuff to help prevent rubbing. To keep from feeling overwhelmed at the sock 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 your socks are, 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 sock 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 own experience and customer feedback, but I understand that comfort is relative. I advise trying out a few different brands to see which works best with your feet.


Read a sock 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 socks. I’d also look into the store’s warranty where you’re purchasing your gear since many offer used gear exchanges.


Sock 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 of socks, which can also reduce the cost.

Which of 2023’s Best Hiking Socks Will You Rock on Your Next Adventure?

Camper wearing a pair of women's merino wool hiking socks on a 2023 backpacking trip

At the end of the day, your socks are a vital part of your hiking setup


I highlighted 2023’s best hiking socks for men and women to help hikers prepare for the trail year-round. From toe socks that prevent blisters to waterproof socks for river crossings to liner socks 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 socks 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.

Sock manufacturers use various materials to help make socks more durable, breathable, lightweight, and long-lasting. My experience in the shoe department taught me a lot about the different materials, and I know that Merino wool, CoolMax, and NuWool are better than the rest.

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 sock will more than make up for it.

I hope my guide to 2023’s best hiking socks is packed with a variety of choices to help hikers of all walks of life get outside and stay comfortable. After years of experience helping customers get on the trail, I hope my recommendations hit the mark.

More Hiking & Backpacking Gear & Resources


  1. FITS are hands down the best sock for preventing blisters. They hold their shape much better than Darn Tough, and have an overall better fit. I’m surprised they’re not on your list? The one knock against them is that they aren’t as durable which I believe lends to their performance (not as much stretchy nylon and more merino wool). But if I’m doing a multi day trip using a bit stiffer footwear than my feet are normally used to (I wear the Adidas Swift 4 Mid), these have never let me down. I typically carry about 25lb pack.

    1. Can’t say I’ve even heard of FITS socks, but I’ll give them a look. For me, Darn tough socks have always held their shape quite well and kept my feet in great shape, so I haven’t really looked into alternatives. Again, thanks so much for all of your input! Love to nerd out over gear with other hikers and backpackers. Cheers, Jason!

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