Hiking enthusiast? Mountain climbing lover? Camping junkie? Biking addicted? Then yes, you need waterproof socks. It’s not a caprice, but rather a necessity. Wet and cold feet can equal real health complications, so it’s best to avoid this scenario. The socks you decide to wear every time you’re performing such an outdoor activity are super-important, so if you want to be a true hiking-ninja, we’re gonna give you some tips and tricks on choose the best socks for this mission.
But first of, we have to answer a very important question: How do you choose the right socks?
What to know
There is a reason why “it’s best to safe than sorry” is a popular saying. So before you go on making spontaneous purchases, here are some things you should know about how to choose the best socks that match the weather conditions you expect.
- Lightweight socks would be the first category. They are a great choice for people who take on easier trails in warm weather. Even if they are relatively thin, they are warmer then you would expect. They also provide more cushioning compared to liners, which makes them more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time.
- Midweight socks are better for people that need protection in mildly-cold conditions. Not only are their soils properly cushioned as to provide comfort, but they are also insulated, to make sure your feet won’t be cold. While it is advisable to wear suck socks with liners, it’s important to know that many of the midweight socks available on the market have extra-padding built into high-impact areas, such as the heel or the ball of the foot.
- Mountaineering socks are the aces of the cold season. The provide better warmth, are the thickest sock category and they have the most cushion, obviously making them the most comfortable. If you are a fan of longer trips, heavy hiking and mountain climbing and you love doing this in colder seasons, this is the type of socks you want to turn to. However, summer trips gear should be focused on a more lightweight to midweight pair.
- The last (but not less important) category of socks we have to mention are liners. What liners actually do is provide extra comfort and protection, but they are rarely used alone. They are usually combined with some other type of hiking sock, because liners are generally very thin. This means that if you use them with no extra protection, your feet will be sore when you walk for too long and they will be cold in any other season except summer. Liners are sweat-absorbent, keeping your feet dry and providing you with the extra-comfort.
Now that we’ve established what kind of socks are suitable in which situation, it’s time to determine the materials that are generally used in manufacturing socks and how they contribute to the functionality of the product.
Silk is one of the most comfortable materials ever used in the fabrication of socks. Because of its texture and lightweight, it’s commonly used in the fabrication of sock liners, with the purpose of absorbing moisture.
Next on the list, we have wool. Wool is the most commonly used sock material. It’s very important that when you opt for a pair of socks made mostly out of wool, you choose the newer merino wools instead of the old raggy ones, which are prone to scratch your skin. Wool socks will keep your feet warm, but also provide cushioning because of their thickness.
Cotton is material well-known for its durability and comfort, but it is not recommended that you buy socks made entirely out of cotton if you plan on using them while hiking or mountain climbing. Cotton does not provide insulation when it gets wet, which means that if you step in a puddle and water reaches your socks, it will keep your feet cold. Even so, in combination with other materials, such as wool, cotton is a great choice for summer hiking socks.
Aside from these 3 fabrics, we also have some synthetic materials that are generally combined in order to bring out the best features of the natural materials. For example, man had made synthetic wicking materials (like polypropylene) that are used in sock liners in order to provide even more moisture absorbing capacity.
Now that we’ve painted a picture about what a good pair of socks should be like, let’s go over some of the best waterproof socks that money can buy.
Dexshell Waterproof & Breathable Hiking/Trekking Socks
These highly-breathable waterproof socks were designed around the idea of absorbing feet moisture. The Dexshell waterproof socks feel really close to normal socks and they will keep all moisture out of the sock, even if you’re wearing boots which are not waterproof.. As expected, these socks won’t breath as well as a pair of merino wool socks, since merino wool is one of the best materials used in the fabrication of waterproof socks. The first thing you will feel when putting on these Dexshells is that their fit is very close to that of a normal socks, which means comfortable days lie ahead. The internal seams are so accurate and well-thought, that you won’t feel them at all. Even more, the interior of the sock is very soft, making it even more comfortable.
However, there are a couple of downsides to these particular waterproof socks. First of all, you can only wash them by hand, which may be uncomfortable if you have a lot of pairs that need to be washed at the same time. Since they have no rubber seal, there is still a slight chance that water can seep in at the top. A waterproof test should settle that out before you actually use them outside. Compared to regular socks, these won’t allow your feet to breathe that much, which may cause a little bit of discomfort during the summer.
WATERFLY Ankle Length Waterproof Sock
With their 3 layer design, these waterproof socks are a convenient way to keep your feet dry when you’re out hiking. The outer layer of these socks is mostly made our of nylon (98%) and rubber (2%). These materials are not only there to make sure water stays away from your feet, but they will also prevent you from slipping. The inner layer is made of breathable film and is waterproof. This means that even if you feet are “sealed” and water won’t touch them, they will still breathe and feel comfortable, which is a huge plus if you’re out in the sun, taking long walks. The inner layer is made of merino wool (35%) and nylon (65%). As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, merino wool is the best kind of wool to use in sock manufacturing.
As advertised, these socks are extremely waterproof, in a way that you can actually dip your foot in a stream or a puddle of sorts. No more stone skipping for this ninja, now I can go ham and just cross the river! When reading the reviews, I was tempted to believe that these particular waterproof socks are for men. However, the pink model suggested otherwise, so ladies can benefit from the awesomeness of this product as well.
Dexshell Ultralite Bamboo Waterproof Socks
Being one of the top manufacturers of waterproof socks, Dexshell presents the Ultralite Bamboo line, an ultra-light model which is comfortable in almost any given situation. The beauty of owning waterproof socks is not only the protection they provide against humidity for outdoorsy people, but they also come with their own utilities for the others. For example, imagine how difficult it would be to shower if you had a foot wound. You would literally have to balance your weight on the other foot, while making sure the damaged one stays out of water. Some people might even be tempted to tie a bag around it. But if you owned a pair of these, you can take a shower with no worries about the wound getting wet.
This particular models excels in terms of comfortability, because it feels like a regular sock. If you plan on washing them inside the machine, make sure you turn them inside out because the outside is waterproof. Another important thing to mention is that they do take a long time to dry. So, if you’re planning a trip in the nearby future, make sure these socks are prepared 1 or 2 days in advance.
A lot of waterproof socks provide extra-cushioning around the heel, the ball of the foot and the toe area, in order to increase comfort. The padding is created either by increasing the density of the weave or, in some cases, by weaving long-wearing materials like acrylic into those areas. This extra padding can be a real foot-saver on rough terrain.
When you choose a particular pair of waterproof socks and you are in doubt about the elasticity of the product, try to look for models which have a small percentage of spandex or nylon. This reassures you that even if you over-stretch the socks, they will return to their initial form.
As far as brands are concerned, Dexshell seems to be the top choice amongst hikers and mountain climbers, but also amongst bikers and people that generally love performing outdoor activities.