How to choose the proper Hiking Socks?
How to choose the proper Hiking Socks?
Hiking socks – what is there to consider – some may ask at this point? But if you take a look at any manufacturer’s description of the latest high-tech socks, you’ll be amazed at all the different features.
Hundreds of material combinations, a wide variety of yarn thicknesses and innovative product treatments make the once common knitted sock from grandpa’s time into an item that now requires a great deal of consultation, and not just in local stores.
Yes, it’s hard to believe, but choosing the right outdoor sock is sometimes quite underestimated.
First of all, the question is: Should it be a sock for hiking, which is usually worn in combination with ankle-high, lightweight and breathable shoes? Or rather something for the full-blown trekking tour with high backpack weight? Or even a winter hike?
There are now suitable socks for all these areas of application. In general, however, an ideal sock protects the foot from friction and thus from blisters.
A high quality hiking sock offers cushioning in the heel area, supports the ball of the foot when rolling and quickly wicks moisture away to the outside. The last point, in particular, is of crucial importance here, as you sweat out up to a quarter of a liter of moisture per day through your feet alone.
Thus, the vast majority of manufacturers of functional socks rely on highly-tech material mixes – whose core competencies are robustness and the transfer of sweat. In combination with the right Gore-Tex shoe, this is an ideal combination.
In addition, there are various proportions of Elastane for maximum stretch, proportions of merino wool for the feel-good factor and treatments of all kinds to prevent perspiration odor and maximum durability.
Wrinkle-Free Fit: No matter what kind of tour you’re planning! Hiking socks – whether thick or thin, synthetic fiber or merino wool – must fit perfectly. If the socks wrinkle at the toes or anywhere else, this inevitably leads to unwanted friction or unpleasant pressure points – the starting point of blisters. So the best shoe is of no use if the sock doesn’t fit.
With or Without Padding: As a rule of thumb, you can say: the heavier the luggage on your back, the better the padding of the sock should be. There are various designs here – with more cushioning in the heel area, the midfoot and the toes. For summer day hikes in the low mountains, you can reach for the thinner pair with little or no padding here.
For trekking tours with tent and sleeping bag and winter tours, one logically should choose a thicker pair of socks in terms of fabric and pay attention accordingly to a, his personal preferences corresponding padding!
The Material Mix: polyamide, polyester, merino, spandex? Here the spirits divide. All materials have their advantages and disadvantages, but it’s the right mix that makes the difference.
Polyamide, for example, is generally more abrasion-resistant than polyester and is mainly used in particularly stressed areas such as the heel or toes.
Merino on the ankle and midfoot provides comfort and cushioning, while a stretch-polyester blend on the instep improves fit and breathability.
Some inserts increase compression pressure and thus promote blood circulation. So every manufacturer has its own recipe for the perfect outdoor sock!
What time of the year am I going hiking? Then I decide whether the sock should be thin or thick or equipped with a higher percentage of virgin wool for the winter.
What kind of tour am I planning? A hiking tour with light footwear? Then an ankle-high pair with minor to moderate padding is recommended. Heavy mountain or trekking tour? Then a shin-high pair with more cushioning comes into play. Ski touring or trail running? This is where compression socks can pay off.
What kind of shoes do I wear? Naturally, the most breathable pair of socks will do me precious little good if a massive all-leather shoe graces my feet. Here, socks with a higher percentage of virgin wool and padding to reduce friction and pressure points would be in order.
For breathable and lightweight Gore-Tex shoes, on the other hand, I tend to choose socks with Coolmax, Fibretech or similar polyester/polyacrylic fibers.
Don’t be surprised if you wear cotton socks in heavy waterproof hiking boots and the good old cotton socks feel like heavy, wet rags after 800 meters of ascent because they are dripping with sweat.
The right combination of shoes and socks makes all the difference – and here, everyone has to find the right way for themselves.
And last but not least, two hints to questions that are asked repeatedly: Basically, do not wear freshly washed socks!
This may sound disgusting to some advocates of cleanliness. Still, it has a profound background: detergent residues in the fabric of the socks can attack the sensitive skin of the feet and, in combination with sweat, cause irritation. You can avoid this by simply wearing your hiking socks at home after washing and before the next tour.
Merino wool is a real functional miracle and is perfect for hiking in all weather conditions
The best hiking outfit ideally consists of 100 percent merino and covers all layers of the onion system – base layer to top layer- if possible.
This is obvious because hiking clothing made of merino wool is compelling due to its functional properties, which do not have to hide in any way from the synthetic fiber competition. Instead, the opposite is true!
Thus, natural merino wool clothing, unlike artificial products, among other things, odor-inhibiting and temperature-regulating and is both breathable and quick-drying.
Hiking clothing made of merino wool is perfect for your next adventure or the upcoming trekking tour.
But that’s not all: for us, a modern hiking outfit made of merino must convince not only with its fabric qualities and practical features but also with a timeless appearance.
After all, it’s not just during our hikes that we want to benefit from the soft feel of the fine wool on our skin and its climate-regulating properties.
In general, wool is a 100 percent natural and renewable raw material and thus more ecologically sound than artificial fibers. Due to its fineness and soft feel, merino wool, in particular, is enjoying increasing popularity.
Its numerous functional properties have also been recognized by outdoor manufacturers, which is why it is mainly used in functional underwear, base-layer and mid-layers.
The main functional properties and advantages of merino wool derive directly from the natural structure of merino fibers:
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