Gear Tips

How to Choose the Perfect Hiking Socks

POSTED ON November 25, 2019 BY Ralph S.

How to choose hiking socks


People usually don’t pay much attention to socks, but a good pair can mean the difference between an enjoyable and uncomfortable hike. That’s why it’s important to consider a few things and take your time before buying hiking socks. This post covers some important things to consider when buying socks for your next adventure and compares our socks with others on the market.

Things to Consider When Buying Hiking Socks

A pair of quality socks is your first line of defense against blisters and sweaty, tired feet. Hikers usually don’t get a chance to wash their socks when hiking for multiple days, while it’s also not feasible to carry a dozen pairs of socks on long trips due to weight and volume restrictions.  That’s why hikers need to pick the best socks, which this post is all about. Let’s start with some of the most commonly used materials and their pros/cons.

Hiking Sock Materials

Merino Wool

merino wool sheep

Although more expensive than other materials, merino wool is considered the best material for hiking socks, thanks to its moisture-wicking, temperature regulating and anti-microbial properties. It takes quite some time before stink starts to build up in merino wool socks, which means hikers can wear one pair for much longer than socks made with other materials. It’s entirely up to you to decide for how long you should wear a pair of merino wool socks, but you’ll get much more mileage out of them than from cotton or polyester socks.


cotton plantage

Many people believe cotton to be the ‘fabric of their lives’, but things are different when it comes to hiking socks. Although cotton might seem perfect for your feet due to its hypoallergenic properties and softness, it can actually cause blisters and is not a recommended material for hiking socks. That’s probably the reason you don’t see cotton-made workout clothes because cotton soaks up moisture and keep it trapped against the skin.

Hiking socks must have moisture-wicking fabrics that dry quickly and cotton does not fit these criteria. Wearing cotton socks gives an unpleasant feeling of dampness after some time even if you are not working out or hiking. Cotton socks might be fine for casual wear/low-impact activities, but they should be avoided in situations in which your feet might get sweaty.

Synthetic Fibers

yarn spinning

Synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon are used in hiking socks to wick the moisture away, speed up the drying process and improve durability. Although polyester helps keep the feet cool, it quickly starts to get stinky, which is why fully-polyester socks are not ideal for hiking and other intense physical activities. Cotton on the other hand absorbs moisture, but is heavier and takes more time to dry.

That’s why serious hikers usually belong to the merino wool camp as polyester (essentially plastic fibers) socks start to stink pretty quickly while cotton is heavy and can cause blisters.

Pure merino wool socks have problems with durability though, that’s why high end hiking socks use some blend of merino wool with synthetic fibers such as Nylon for durability and faster drying time and spandex for improved stretchability.

Insulation and Thickness

For the sake of simplicity, we’ll categorize socks as mid-weight, light-weight and ultra-lightweight. Lightweight socks are suitable for three-season hiking and casual wear and provide adequate insulation/padding while not being too thick. Ultra-lightweight socks are recommended for hiking in hot regions such as in desert regions. However, ultra-lightweight socks don’t provide as much blister protection and padding as lightweight and mid-weight socks do.

Summer hikers can also opt for ¼ height (quarter socks) lightweight socks for hotter regions, but it mainly comes down to personal preferences. Hikers and mountaineers prefer mid-weight and heavyweight socks for winters for more warmth and padding. However, the same socks are not suitable for three-season wearing even if made of merino wool as it’ll cause unwanted dampness. The thickness of socks depends on the climate and to some extent personal preferences. Some people feel comfortable wearing lightweight socks even in winters.

Hiking Sock Heights

hiking sock heights

Crew Socks

Extending 6-8” above the heel, crew is the most common height and extends just a few inches above an average hiking boot. It is considered to be an optimal height because it provides adequate lower-leg protection and saves you from becoming excessively hot.

Over-the-calf Socks

These socks rise higher than crew socks and cover most of the leg (just a few inches below the knee). These socks are suitable when you need extra warmth or off-trailing through high grass. However, crew socks remain a more suitable option for other situations as over-the-calf socks are not considered as all-season socks.

Quarter Socks

These socks cover the ankle and the heel, but don’t go as high as crew socks. These socks are preferred by minimalistic hikers and are mostly used in hot climates. Quarter socks are not the best option for high ankle boots and don’t provide adequate protection from abrasions.

Ankle Socks

Ankle socks are socks going up to the ankle. They are not recommended when wearing hiking boots, but are a good option for lightweight trail runners or sneakers. Many hikers wear trail runners as it saves weight and allows for faster speeds. Ankle socks are also used by trail runners and runners in general.

Durability and Comfort


Hiking socks are designed to be comfortable and usually last longer than regular socks, so there is not much to worry about when it comes to durability. 100% Merino wool socks though are not the most durable of the bunch, that’s why wool is usually blended with Nylon or Polyester and Spandex. Merino wool is the most comfortable material out there, but also can stretch out over time when not combined with synthetic fibers.

With that being said, even pure merino wool socks are still more durable than regular cotton socks in terms of durability.



Hiking socks usually don’t use much compression, but light compression does help against blisters, prevents unwanted sock movement and improves blood flow. That’s why hikers should choose socks that have enough compression to prevent bunching-up and slippage, which is especially important during long hikes.

Women vs. Men Hiking Socks

hiking socks for men and women

Although many manufacturers brand their men and women socks differently, there isn’t any real performance difference that differentiates them. The most noticeable difference is perhaps the color, which obviously is a personal preference, while women socks are usually offered in smaller sizes. The buying decision should be based on core features and comfort and not because a pair has been labeled as women’s socks.

Should You Buy Liner Socks?


Liner socks are thin socks worn inside your regular socks to prevent blisters and boost padding. They are often toe socks for an even closer fit to the foot. However even while they are designed to minimize movement, they can still rub against the outer sock. We’ve designed socks with two layers which mimic the benefits of liner socks to prevent blisters, but are not able to rub against the other layer, since they are seamlessly knitted together. Learn more about the benefits of Silverlight socks below.

Our take on Hiking Socks: Silverlight Hiking Socks


Silverlight socks are designed keeping specific needs of hikers in mind. Hikers are always looking for socks that provide comfort, wick moisture and most importantly can be worn for extended periods of time (without smelling like crazy) and causing blisters. With merino wool on the inside and a blend of nylon and spandex on the outside, Silverlight hiking socks are designed to wick moisture and dry quickly.

Our lab-tested socks are infused with silver yarn that kills bacteria and prevents it from growing moisture, which means no smell, blisters and unwanted moving-around. We offer a no-questions-asked return policy that shows the confidence we have in our product. They are especially made for hikers who only want to carry a few pairs of socks for extended periods of hiking without having the chance to wash frequently.

What Makes Silverlight Hiking Socks Unique?

2-in-1 Design

Silverlight socks are essentially a 2-in-1 sock, thanks to the dual-layer construction. This means hikers get the best of both worlds i.e. light compression which prevents movements of the socks and excellent moisture-wicking capabilities. Dual-layer socks usually mean thick socks, which are not suitable for all seasons. However, Silverlight strikes the right balance and is thin enough not to cause any discomfort while still being more comfortable than standard hiking socks, especially while wet.

Merino Wool

Made from Australian merino wool and complemented by seamless stitching for ultimate comfort. Seamless stitching in the toe-box and light padding minimizes rubbing and provides adequate cushioning. Hikers get proper cushioning/padding in a lightweight package that wicks moisture like a champ.

In addition to the comfort and moisture-wicking characteristics, we’ve blended merino wool with nylon and spandex for maximum durability and uniform compression. We carried out rigorous endurance and performance testing before launching the product. Although it’s hard to accurately predict the expected life expectancy of a pair, these socks are made to last. We had to stop our testing equipment to give it a break after extensive testing, while the socks felt and looked like new.

Moisture-wicking and Temperature-regulating

Merino wool is naturally moisture-wicking and helps regulate temperature, resulting in dry feet and blister-free journeys. The cherry-picked wool absorbs moisture quickly and brings it to the surface for quicker drying.

Silver-infused Threads

Silverlight silver yarn

Silver ions kill bacteria and are a rare ingredient in hiking socks. Silverlight socks use silver-infused threads as they kill bacteria and prevent them from growing in moist environment aka sweaty feet. Medical professionals and astronauts use silver for the same reason i.e. to prevent the growth of bacteria. Odor prevention isn’t the only benefit of using silver lining in socks as it also prevents foot-rot and ensures blister-free feet that can easily breathe.

Grippy Outer Layer

Silverlight Hiking Socks DetailThe outer layer of the sock is made of a blend of spandex, which serves multiple purposes. It provides light compression which eliminates slippage, movement and bunching. Slippage and bunching up of socks is a common issue and causes discomfort and blisters on long trails. Silverlight socks fit snugly and ensures comfortable journeys, providing hikers with the comfort they need for their adventures.

Blister Prevention

Blister prevention

Blisters is one of the most common problems hikers face when hiking for long periods of time. Silverlight socks are designed from the ground up to prevent all main causes of blisters, which is what hikers need when traveling for days at end.


Proper support is essential in a hiking sock and with three core support areas, Silverlight is designed to support the feet in all the right places. The toe, heel and mid-foot have all the support hikers need for long hikes. The mid-section has a breathable compression around it, while padding in toe and heel remain soft even after extended use.

Lifetime Guarantee

Lifetime Guarantee

Silverlight hiking socks are backed by a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee. We have full confidence in our product and endorsements from experienced hikers are a clear indication of how well the socks perform on the trail. Buyers have nothing to lose and can return the product at anytime for any reason whatsoever, but we are sure you’ll love these hiking socks and would not want to go on a hike without a pair (or two).

The Wrap-up


Silverlight Socks Medium Crew Black




stars 627 reviews

The silver-infused socks are a result of extensive research and fulfill all the criteria for the ultimate hiking socks that come into mind. From merino wool to proper support and durability, Silverlight socks have you covered. The underlying design is complex, yet functional and covers everything hikers expect from top-of-the-line hiking socks.

hiking in Hong Kong

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How to choose the perfect hiking socks

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Ralph S. is the founder of Silverlight, an avid hiker and trail runner he enjoys spending time outdoors, riding his motorcycle and swimming at the beach when he's not busy replying to customers or developing new Silverlight gear.


    1. Thanks for the comment!
      Stay tuned! We have some exciting new cuts and styles in the plans.

  1. Firstly, great shipping time, thanks.
    Wore them for the first time today, from the moment I put them on I New they were a quality sock. I wear army style boots for hiking.nornally there is enough to fold over th top of the boot, but these socks stayed up and did not move. Took them off and no sweaty smell. Well done guys. Maybe you could make some Khaki socks that are slightly longer and you may get in with the defence force. ,

  2. I also would like an over the calf due to veins in my legs.
    Let me know if one is coming

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