How Important Are Good Hiking Socks?

Do you really need good hiking socks in order to go on a hike? You’ve never owned a pair of hiking socks before, yet you’ve successfully completed several hikes. Plus, there’s the fact that you can buy 26 pairs of cotton socks for the same price as a single pair of merino wool hiking socks. Logic here implies that hiking socks aren’t necessary.

It’s not really a matter of necessity, however. It’s a matter of comfort and enjoyment, and good hiking socks can make a world of difference while you’re hiking.

Can you hike in cotton socks?

Of course you can. There are no rules barring you from hiking in cotton socks, but be prepared for misery if you do decide to trek in those flimsy white foot bags that are sold in a baker’s dozen.

Cotton socks can handle a short day hike on flat terrain, but they invite battered, bruised, and blistered feet on hikes over long distances, on challenging terrain, or in less than perfect weather.

Simply put, cotton socks can’t match the comfort, performance, or durability of good hiking socks.

Why are good hiking socks important?

You need to take care of your feet while you’re hiking. The better the condition your feet are in, the more enjoyable you’re hike will be. This is why a good pair of hiking socks is a must have for anyone who is serious about hiking.


More comfort = Happy feet = Happy hiker

Compared to cotton socks, hiking socks are softer, they have more cushioning, and they provide more abrasion resistance. Plus, materials like merino wool just feel better against the skin than cotton.

A pair of good hiking socks will also wick away moisture and provide better temperature regulation than cotton socks which improves comfort as well.


Cotton will never be known as a technical material.

Socks made for hiking are designed with all of the challenges of hiking in mind.

Technical hiking socks made from merino wool wick moisture away from the foot, and provide insulation even when wet. Merino wool also provides more warmth in cold weather and better heat dispersal in warm weather.

The extra cushioning and padding of hiking socks can also help prevents injuries from impact, and help reduce the chance of blisters and hot spots.


Hiking socks are made from materials that last longer than cotton socks. Stomping along a trail for miles on end is much more demanding than your daily routine, and cotton socks just can’t keep up.

Increased durability also means that even though you pay more upfront the price difference between hiking socks and cotton socks isn’t quite as drastic. Wool socks are still more expensive than cotton socks even when you factor in durability, but the technical advantages of good hiking socks more than makes up for the difference.

What are the best hiking socks?

There are lots of great brands out there making socks for hiking. We like socks from point6, SmartWool, and WigWam. Generally speaking, we recommend merino wool hiking socks or a blend that includes merino wool. Stop by Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters to check out our selection!

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