Three Things To Consider When Buying Thick Socks

A good pair of thick socks can keep your feet warm and dry when other types of footwear will leave you shivering.

Man sitting on tree over running creek
Good wool stocks will keep your feet warm even if they get wet.Jake Ingle via Unsplash

Few things will send you home early from your favorite outdoor adventure more quickly than wet, cold feet. Fact it, if your toes are cold, your whole body feels cold. Thick socks, however, can ensure that your feet are warm and dry, no matter the weather. But with a variety of materials, heights and other factors involved, all aren’t created equal. To make a good selection when shopping for thick socks, consider three important factors—the material they are made from, the activity you will be undertaking and the fit/height of socks that you need.

Material

Merino wool socks
These thick hiking socks are 80% Merino wool, 15% polyester, 4% nylon and 1% spandexAmazon

A common thick cotton sock will keep your feet warm in just the right conditions. Unfortunately, those conditions seldom exist. The best thick socks are made of materials that not only keep your feet warm, but also wick moisture away from your feet to keep them dry, too. Merino wool socks can keep your feet warm in a wide range of temperatures and dry much better than cotton. Socks made of synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, spandex and other acrylics aren't quite as warm as wool but are great at wicking moisture away from your feet. Typically, a good polyester blend sock, without much cotton in the mix, is a good bet for most weather conditions. At the other end of the spectrum is cotton, which won't serve you well if your socks get wet from either outside moisture or perspiration.

Activity

Dickies black thick socks
These moisture-control crew socks feature arch compression support and stability.Amazon

The activity you intend to participate in will also make a difference on your selection. If you're going to sit in an enclosed deer stand without any chance of getting wet, thick cotton or wool socks will serve you fine. For hiking or backpacking, a polyester blend will keep the water out and wick the moisture away from your skin. For hiking in warmer weather, thinner socks of polyester or nylon are best, as long as they have the padding you need. In extremely cold conditions, whether hiking or sitting in a tree stand, wool socks are preferred by many just because of their insulation properties. Just remember, regardless of what adventure you have in mind, if your feet are going to get wet, you'll be better off with a moisture wicking sock.

Fit/Height

Carhartt socks
These tall, heavyweight socks are made for wearing with tall boots in cold weather.Amazon

Socks should fit snuggly, especially in the heel and toe. If a sock is too long, it will bunch up under your toe or under your heel. Both can cause blisters, which will can put a quick end to your trip. For very thick socks, it's best to try them on with the shoes or boots you intend to wear them with, just to make sure the thickness of the socks doesn't make your boots too tight. Sock height is largely a matter of personal preference, and often depends on the height of the shoes or boots you will be wearing. For mid-height and tall boots, crew height and taller socks offer some abrasion protection from your boot tops.