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Best Warm Socks: Keeping Backpackers’ Feet Snug And Comfy On Cold Treks

Best Warm Socks
Russell McCarty
Written by Russell McCarty

Don’t you just hate it when it’s too cold while you’re camping or backpacking? Cold weather and low temperature settings can stiffen joints and make climbing and walking harder. Stiff and frozen toes and feet are a problem for backpackers because they slow everybody down. It can be hard to warm your feet when you’re climbing a mountain or skiing down a slope.

Wearing many layers of clothing and thick socks with sturdy boots is a good idea. However, the best warm socks do not only improve circulation in the feet, it also keeps you comfortable as you conquer miles of trail or mountain peaks.

When it is cold, our feet loose heat faster compared to other parts of the body. This is because it takes longer for blood to travel to the extremities. The warmest socks can prevent heat loss and keep your keep your base temperature warm so you don’t get chilly.

Person is Wearing Socks

Slow pace can affect your backpacking schedule so keeping your feet and body warm is really important not only for health but for survival reasons too. Luckily there are special socks made especially for hikers to keep their feet warm especially in cold weather. However, how exactly do you shop for these socks? Well, it’s a good thing that we’re here to help!

This article will help you understand the different features in socks that you need to consider so that you can make the best choice most suited for your lifestyle. We will also take a look at examples of some of the best products as well as their reviews to help you with your shopping needs. Let’s take a look.

Our Top Picks

ProductTog RatingMaterialBest UsePrice
Heat Holders 2.3 Tog2.3491% acrylic, 5% nylon, 3% polyester, 1% elastaneHiking, backpacking, outdoor activities in cold weatherCheck price on Amazon
Carhartt Extremes Cold Weather2.370% acrylic/15% wool/14% nylon/1% Lycra SpandexHiking, backpacking, outdoor activities in cold weatherCheck price on Amazon
Arctic Extreme Heat Trapping2.393% acrylic, 6% polyester, 1% SpandexHiking, backpacking, outdoor activities in cold weatherCheck price on Amazon
MIRMARU Multi Performance2.355% combed cotton, 40% polyester, 2% spandexHiking, backpacking, outdoor activities in cold weatherCheck price on Amazon
DINY Home & Style Black Heat Zone2.3100% mega brushed yarnHiking, backpacking, outdoor activities in cold weatherCheck price on Amazon
SmartWool Hunt2.3473% Merino wool, 26% nylon, 1% elastaneHunting, hiking, backpacking, outdoor activities in cold weatherCheck price on Amazon
People Socks Merino Wool2.371% Merino wool ,21% nylon, 7% poly,1% SpandexHiking, backpacking, outdoor activities in cold weatherCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

For normal people, socks are just socks. They are simply clothing designed to prevent feet from slipping inside shoes or a cloth to absorb sweat and prevent foot odor. However, hikers, backpackers and outdoorsmen are different because they have special needs that have to be met to make their feet more comfortable.

Here are some features you need to consider if you’re looking for a pair of warm socks.

Lightweight

If you’re a backpacker, hiker or outdoorsman you generally don’t have a lot of room in your backpack. Even if you’re just gone for a day you need to maximize space and save weight which is why you need lightweight socks to make your load more bearable.

Lightweight Socks

Socks are generally light pieces of clothing but for hiking socks that need to be warm, manufacturers usually put a lot of cushioning to lessen the impact of walking on the feet. Most manufacturers also use thick material or fabric for better heat retention. While all of these features help make feet warmer, they also make the sock heavier.

For better efficiency look for socks that provide good warmth retention with decent cushioning but does but is light enough so that you can carry at least an extra pair in your pack in case the one you’re wearing gets wet.

Quick Drying

Quick drying features are really important for outdoorsmen who have limited space on their packs. If you’re going for an extended trip, most adventurers only carry 1 spare pair and alternate by washing their socks when they reach camp.

Quick Drying Socks

Sock fabrics that are usually quick drying include nylon, polyester and cotton. Try to look for these materials in your sock of choice so that you can change socks at least once a day by washing and drying your current pair.

Remember a fresh pair of socks can help keep bad odors away by preventing the growth of fungus and bacteria. So change your pair daily.

Moisture Wicking

Hikers and backpackers know how uncomfortable it can be when your feet are trapped inside a pair of sweaty boots. Aside from bad odor, sweaty feet can also cause blisters, which make it harder for you to walk. This is why you need socks with moisture wicking abilities for dryer, better smelling and more comfortable feet.

Warm Socks

Moisture wicking fabric like wool for example pulls wetness away from your skin so that it can evaporate more quickly. Aside from wool look for: Spandex, polyester and nylon for moisture wicking fabrics.

Construction

Aside from fabric and materials, take a look at construction too. Generally speaking more expensive materials like Merino wool and Spandex make a sock more expensive but also more durable. These fabrics are important because hiking socks can be expensive so you want them to last long.

Wool Socks

Check out features like heel cushioning too. This will help lessen the impact of your steps as you hike along. Other cool construction features you need to watch out for are ventilation panels for breathability and fit because loose socks can also cause blisters.

Tog Rating

Basically speaking a tog rating refers to a material’s thermal insulation. This means that the more togs, the warmer the socks will be. Generally ordinary cotton socks have a tog rating of 0.33. This can’t really do much especially if you’re hiking in low temperatures.

According to sock manufacturers, for a sock to be considered as a “thermal sock” (i.e. sock for low temperatures) it has to have a rating of at least .89, this means; the higher the tog rating, the warmer the sock. To be safe, buy socks that have a tog rating of at least 1 to keep your feet warm and prevent heat loss.

Socks Tog Rating

Now that we know what to look for, let’s take a look at some of the best products on the market today.

Best Products on Today’s Market

Even though we now know what features to consider when buying a warm sock for hiking and backpacking, there are still so many products out there. One of the ways of knowing which products are good is by reading reviews of past users.

Their reviews will give you an idea if the products perform as stated by the manufacturer and can help you manage your expectations. Check out some warm socks below.

Heat Holders 2.3 Tog Thermal Socks

Price: Approx. $15Heat Holders Men's Original

Tog rating: 2.34

Material: 91% acrylic, 5% nylon, 3% polyester, 1% elastane

Specific features: 7x warmer than basic cotton, advanced insulating yarn, extra-long looped pile, brushed inner

Best use: Hiking, backpacking, outdoor activities in cold weather

Description: Pull on a pair of Heat Holders 2.3 Tog Thermal Socks if you want to feel warm on the coldest night. This pair is thick and chunky, making it an excellent choice if you want your feet and toes to feel pampered and warm.

This product has an impressive 2.34 tog rating which is 7 times warmer than basic cotton. It is made from advanced insulating yarn for better warmth retention against the cold along with moisture breathing abilities.

The socks look thick but feel just right when you’re wearing hiking boots. They are a good choice for hiking and backpacking during crisp and cold autumn or winter days. The product feels a bit thick and has decent cushioning. They feel snuggly and you won’t want to take them off when you get back to camp.

However, this pair is a bit bulky. If you’re planning to wear this product while hiking you need a generously sized hiking boot so that your feet don’t feel squished inside. If you’re planning on wearing them in your casual boots, expect it to feel a bit tight.

PROS:

  • Good tog rating
  • Warm and comfortable feet
  • Good durability
 CONS:

  • Thick and bulky

Related: Your feet aren’t the only extremities you need to take care of. Wear a pair of Heat Holders Thermal Winter Gloves to insulate your hands and fingers against the cold. It features fur-like thermal lining for better heat retention and protective cuffs for additional protection against low temperatures.

Check the price on Amazon

Carhartt Extremes Boot Socks

Price: $12 – $19Carhartt Men's Extremes Cold

Tog rating: 2.3

Material: 70% acrylic, 15% wool, 14% nylon, 1% Lycra Spandex

Specific features: Fast-dry technology, fully cushioned, full sole reinforcement, ankle vents, odor control

Best use: Hiking, backpacking, outdoor activities in cold weather

Description: The Carhartt Extremes Boot Socks is a pair designed for rugged, cold climate. It features a full cushioned design to provide maximum padded protection all day long. It also features quick drying technology so that you can wash your socks for extended trips. Aside from this, it has odor fighting properties to keep your socks smelling fresh.

Aside from your toes feeling warm, this product also features a full sole reinforcement to increase your comfort while protecting them from the elements. The ankle vents reduce bulk of the socks so you don’t have to sacrifice warmth for weight. The material and construction of this product feels strong and durable so you can expect them to last long.

Overall, this is a good product. It has all the features you need to keep your feet warm and comfortable. It doesn’t feel bulky and has a good fit. The odor control technology is good for 2-3 washings, but don’t expect it to last as long as the sock.

PROS:

  • Warm and comfortable
  • Not bulky, good fit
  • Quick dry
 CONS:

  • Odor control does not last long

Related: Bad feet odor can cause insecurities and embarrassment. Just put the remodeez Natural Carbon Odor and Moisture Remover footwear deodorizer on your boots before going to bed and it will absorb odor from your hiking boots.

Check the price on Amazon

Arctic Extreme Heat Trapping Socks

Price: Approx. $15Arctic Extreme Heat Trapping Socks

Tog rating: 2.3

Material: 93% acrylic, 6% polyester, 1% Spandex

Specific features: Padded, brushed fuzzy lining, ribbed stay-up toes, thick thermal yarn, moisture-wicking

Best use: Hiking, backpacking, outdoor activities in cold weather

Description: The Arctic Extreme Heat Trapping Socks is a good value sock for winter hiking, camping, hunting or backpacking. You get 2 pairs at an affordable price so you can enjoy padded comfort during your trip. It is made from thick thermal yarn with moisture wicking properties to keep you comfortable. This product is designed with ribbed stay-up top to prevent the socks from sliding down your legs.

Other great features include a fuzzy brushed lining so your feet feel like they are slipping inside the softest socks on the planet. The socks are insulated so your feet stay warm and toasty during low temperature hikes. Arctic Extreme is known for their use of durable fabric and this product is no different. It is made with 93% acrylic making it more durable than cotton or wool socks.

This is a good choice for a cold climate outdoor adventure or work sock. It has the ability to keep you warm thanks to its insulating properties. It also has a good price and is durable so it provides good value for money. However, the design resembles a shapeless tube sock so it does not look good. It also feels bulky and thick so you might need boots with a size allowance for maximum comfort.

PROS:

  • Affordable price with good value
  • Thermal yarn and good insulation
 CONS:

  • Unattractive tube-like design
  • Feels bulky and thick

Related: Show your feet some love and attention after hiking by spraying some The Body Shop Peppermint Cooling Foot Spray. This product will revive your tired hot feet while deodorizing it. The peppermint also helps smooth skin so your feet feel luxurious and pampered.

Check the price on Amazon

MIRMARU Multi Performance Crew Socks

Price: Approx. $28MIRMARU Men's 5 Pairs Multi Performance

Tog rating: 2.3

Material: 55% combed cotton, 40% polyester, 2% spandex

Specific features: High-density fabric with pile cushioning, designed for compression and elasticity, supports leg and feet

Best use: Hiking, backpacking, outdoor activities in cold weather

Description: The MIRMARU Multi Performance Crew Socks is best described as the ultimate performance sock. It is best used for a wide array of outdoor activities including hiking, backpacking, trail running, outdoor athletic activities and a wide variety of winter sports. MIRMARU designed this product with strength and durability in mind. The product is not only strong but the blend of fabrics was carefully chosen so that the wearer’s feet stays warm and dry while trekking.

This pair of socks has good support. It is reinforced with high density fibers and pile cushioning in the underfoot area to help absorb impact when walking or hiking. It also features an elastic arch support to protect and prevent foot injuries. The elasticity and compression around the calves do not only hold up the socks but also support the legs when walking and hiking.

This product offers good warmth, comfort and support at its price point. The only complaint we have so far is the little strings of fabric that seem to pull apart from the sock that wrap around your toes and can sometimes cause blisters.

PROS:

  • Affordable price
  • Good feet support and warmth
 CONS:

  • Little strings of fabric that cause blisters

Related: Prevent uncomfortable blisters with Body Glide Foot Anti Blister Balm. It has long lasting protection on toes and feet to prevent blisters and raw feet caused by rubbing against socks or shoes. This product is infused with Vitamin A and C to restore dry and chapped skin on your feet.

Check the price on Amazon

DINY Home & Style Black Heat Zone Socks

Price: Approx. $17Black Socks

Tog rating: 2.3

Material: 100% mega brushed yarn

Specific features: Thick cushioning, high bulk yarn, comfort-toe seams, moisture control

Best use: Hiking, backpacking, outdoor activities in cold weather

Description: The DINY Home & Style Black Heat Zone Socks comes in 3 pairs in a very affordable price. It is advertised as “heated socks” because it can keep your feet warm and comfortable even if you’re hiking or working in cold temperature. DINY Home and Style’s special knitting method creates a thicker cushion, which increases heat retention and adds comfort. The high bulk yarn used to knit this pair of socks produces high thermal capacity for heat trapping and deep cushioning.

This is a good pair of socks to wear when you don’t want your feet to suffer when temperatures fall. You can trust their high insulation and high tog rating to keep your feet warm even if temperatures fall to -25C/ -13F.

Overall, this is a good product and can keep your feet warm when needed. However, they are a bit short as they don’t really come up to mid-calf like the photo. They also feel thick and bulky since the manufacturer was not kidding about the cushioning. The socks were also reported to shrink in the wash.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Warm and comfortable
  • Traps heat
 CONS:

  • Shrinks
  • Feels thick and bulky

Related: Now that your feet are warm, the ZenToes Pack of 4 Toe Separators can keep you walking longer in comfort. You can stand or walk longer thanks to the soft but durable separators that keep your big toe aligned so you can hike all day and say good-bye to foot pain.

Check the price on Amazon

SmartWool Hunt Socks

Price: $26 – $27Smartwool Men's Hunt Extra

Tog rating: 2.34

Material: 73% Merino wool, 26% nylon, 1% elastane

Specific features: Crew height to accommodate hunting boots, arch and ankle support, flat knit toe seam

Best use: Hunting, hiking, backpacking, outdoor activities in cold weather

Description: The SmartWool Hunt Socks keep outdoor enthusiasts on their feet even in low temperatures. SmartWool believes that don’t have to be cold when you’re skiing, hunting, backpacking or hiking in low temperatures. Over the years they have pushed the boundaries of Merino wool to produce high quality thermal socks that will keep your toes toasty warm when outdoors.

This pair is a blend of 73% Merino wool, 26% nylon and 1% elastane. The natural breathability and moisture wicking abilities of wool while resisting odors make it a good choice for the outdoorsman. When your feet are comfortable, it feels like you can conquer any terrain even if it’s freezing cold.

This product rests on the middle of the calf so it is high enough to accommodate most hunting boots for better protection, comfort and warmth. It also features an arch and ankle support for distraction free adventures and to prevent your socks from slipping.

This sock is made from good quality materials with durable construction. It is on the expensive side for socks but the price makes up for the comfort and durability this product can provide. They also need special care when laundering because of the wool.

PROS:

  • Quality materials and construction
  • Good height; can be used for hunting
 CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Special care because of the wool

Related: Cold weather can wreak havoc on your skin. Protect your skin from dry cold air with Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment. You can apply this on your dry heels and feet including your chapped lips to moisturize, nourish and protect the skin to enhance healing. Keep inside your backpack or first aid kit to restore dry, cracked and irritated skin.

Check the price on Amazon

People Socks Merino Wool Socks

Price: Approx. $25People Socks Merino Wool Socks

Tog rating: 2.3

Material: 71% Merino wool, 21% nylon, 7% poly, 1% Spandex

Specific features: Reinforced toe and heel, medium thickness, elasticized arch, non-abrasive toe seam

Best use: Hiking, backpacking, outdoor activities in cold weather

Description: The People Socks Merino Wool Socks is a good blend of Merino wool and other fabrics at a very affordable price point. This pair is actually unisex but with different sizing for men and women. This is a decent pair of socks that can provide good warmth and comfort for the outdoor enthusiast.

The reinforced toe and heel adds support for the foot so impact is absorbed and dispersed evenly. The elasticized arch also helps with support while helping to prevent the sock from slipping.

Considering the 71% Merino wool composition of this sock, it is very affordable as a 4-pack. They can keep your feet and shin dry and protected while doing outdoor activities. They have medium thickness so they don’t feel bulky when wearing with your boots. This product is a good choice for those who are looking for a sock made from premium materials at an affordable price point.

Some reviewers of this product have commented that this “new” version from the same manufacturer is thinner than the socks the bought 2 years ago. Not only are they thinner, they are also shorter which caused the reviewers to be disappointed.

PROS:

  • Good price point and value
  • Good blend of materials
  • Merino wool
 CONS:

  • Improper laundering can lead to quick degradation

Related: Wear your pair your People Socks with the Merrel Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Boots. Aside from the arch support and comfort of your socks, your feet will enjoy Merrel’s air cushion in the heel to absorb shock and add stability. It is made with leather with a mesh upper sole for breathability and comfort.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

This ends our reviews. The right pair of hiking socks can help prevent blisters and add another layer of comfort and warmth to your feet when you’re hiking, backpacking or hunting. A warm pair of hiking socks is an important part of your outdoor gear so you have to pay better attention to your choices when you’re shopping.

To add more comfort and warmth, pay closer consideration to the material of your socks. They should be thick enough to provide warmth and cushioning but not too thick that they overheat your feet. A good pair of warm hiking socks should also be quick drying and durable to last many hiking seasons.

Warm Socks

Always remember that you depend on your feet to take you everywhere when you’re outdoors. Taking care of them by wearing the right pair of socks and hiking boots can make your experience more memorable and enjoyable.

Which features do you think are most important when choosing a warm pair of socks? Do you think you will try any of our featured products? Tell us by leaving your comments below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Russell McCarty
Russell McCarty

Russell considers backpacking one of his great passions in life. He actually managed to transform his passion into a living becoming a professional adventurer. Russell loves long-distance backpacking and he enriched his portfolio with famous trails like the Alaska-Yukon Expedition or the Appalachian Trail. With thousands of miles under his feet, Russell is the expert to consult when it comes to how to prepare for a successful outdoor adventure.

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