Unless you plan to hang ten on a surfboard or take up upright paddleboarding, closed-toed shoes with the right socks are still the best option for runners, hikers, and other athletic pursuits. Although many of us just throw on any sock that we find in the drawer, wearing the right socks for the right activity can make a huge difference in keeping your feet comfortable and injury-free.
Running socks vary more than any other type of sock; from combinations of materials, level of thickness and fit. Selection of the right socks depends on the type of running conditions you face and the distance of the run. Thicker socks with more padding are important when outdoor conditions are rougher. Thinner socks with an excellent fit are best for distance running and marathoners.
Runners should avoid cotton-only socks to prevent sweat accumulation and blister formation. Some sock manufacturers combine Merlino wool and nylon while others incorporate acrylic, polypropylene, or polyethylene fibers to wick away moisture and reduce friction.
Some of the most highly rated brands include Nike, Asics, Injiji, Belega, Swiftwick, and Feetures. Fox River Socks and Darn Tough Vermont are two American made sock companies that have been in business for many years and are worth visiting online .
Hiking can be an easy 3 miler such as a visit to Snoqualmie Falls or it can be a demanding all-day venture to get to the perfect camping site while lugging a 50 pound pack. Either way your feet will need the right cushioning to prevent blisters and keep your feet in tip-top shape.
All hiking socks need to fit the foot well to protect the heel and the ball of the foot from friction and blistering. As hiking demands increase, the need for two pairs of socks also increases. Thinner liner socks can be worn next to the skin and are made of synthetics such as Coolmax to wick away moisture to the outer sock which will really help you avoid blisters.
Some great brands are SmartWool Trekking Crew Socks or Thorlo Light Hiking Socks. If you’re a Seattleite, REI is a great resource for socks from running to hiking or any other activity where protecting your feet are essential. They carry many of the brands recommended above.