Discover the Top 5 Hiking Socks for Ultimate Trail Comfort

5 Best Hiking Socks

Hiking is an exceptional way to savor the beautiful outdoors and also push your physical limits. The trick to any successful hiking trip is having the right gear. Happy feet on the hiking trail mean wonderful memories. In this case, one thing you should never overlook is the importance of proper hiking socks. Hiking socks are not just a simple accessory; they are your feet’s best friend on the trail.

Many of our top picks feature merino wool, which is now the go-to choice for socks and base layers. While premium hiking socks come at a relatively higher price point, at about $18 to $25 per pair, each of the selections below is designed for rugged trail use and built to endure over time. Here are the 5 best hiking socks;

Be sure to make it to #1 for our take on why Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Lightweight Hiking Sock is the best pick.

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Hiking socks comparison table




Rating (out of 5 stars)


Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Lightweight Hiking Sock

54% Nylon, 43% Merino Wool, 3% Lycra Spandex




Smartwool Run Zero Cushion Ankle Socks

46% merino wool, 51% nylon, 3% elastane




Swiftwick’s Pursuit Four

63% merino wool, 35% nylon, 2% spandex




Farm to Feet Damascus Crew Light Targeted Cushion sock

51% Merino Wool, 46% Nylon, 3% LYCRA Spandex





Smartwool Hike Light Cushion

56% merino wool, 42% nylon, 2% elastane




5. Smartwool Performance Hike Light Cushion Crew

Material: 56% merino wool, 42% nylon, 2% elastane

Cushioning: Light

Height: Crew

Price: $23

Experience the performance and comfort of ethically sourced, ZQ-certified Merino wool with the Hike Light Cushion Crew socks. Formerly known as PhD® Outdoor, the Smartwool Hike Light Cushion has undergone a significant transformation by incorporating more sustainable materials, such as recycled nylon, enhancing durability, updating mesh zones, and achieving an even more tailored fit.

The core of what makes this sock exceptional remains unaltered, including the ample padding under the heel and forefoot for activities like trail running, hiking, and lightweight backpacking. Expect the same exceptional breathability and snug, foot-conforming fit you have come to love over the years.

To add a touch of modern style to your outdoor adventures, Smartwool has introduced fresh designs and patterns, including captivating mountainscapes and vibrant color options. The crew height offers added protection on the trail, and the light cushioning throughout the sole ensures your comfort, even when the terrain is less forgiving—empowering you to enjoy uninterrupted hikes.


  • Offers great performance fit
  • Has great padding
  • Made from sustainable material


  • Not as sturdy as Darn Tough

4. Farm to Feet Damascus Crew Light Targeted Cushion

Material: 51% Merino Wool, 46% Nylon, 3% LYCRA Spandex

Cushioning: Light

Height: Crew

Price: $25

The Farm to Feet Damascus Crew Light Targeted Cushion sock is an excellent choice for your hiking adventures. Well-suited for off-trail hiking where extra shin protection is paramount, this sock features a higher rise on the shin than most of the other models on our list.

With its advanced features and a balanced combination of cushioning and ventilation, this lightweight crew sock ensures superior comfort and exceptional moisture management, thanks to the ultra-fine 19.5-micron merino wool that naturally combats odor-causing bacterial buildup.

To shield against blisters during high-mileage excursions, the Damascus incorporates targeted full-density padding. Also, this sock is a testament to quality and durability, as it is crafted from materials and manufactured in the US, ensuring resilience in the face of rigorous use.

The tight-knit blend, which includes nylon, merino wool, and Lycra spandex (much like our top pick), is an effective barrier against the intrusion of microgrit. Also, these socks are backed by a lifetime guarantee, assuring you of their longevity, even in the face of potential fabric wear and tear.


  • Has a lifetime guarantee
  • Has great breathability
  • Has targeted cushioning


  • Not as comfortable as the Darn Tough Light (below)

3. Swiftwick Pursuit Four

Material: 63% merino wool, 35% nylon, 2% spandex

Cushioning: Light

Height: Micro-crew

Price: $19.99

Swiftwick’s Pursuit Four is a versatile performer across various categories. The snug fit exudes a near-compression sensation, ensuring your feet are well-supported. Even in the sweltering summers, the breathability remains impressive.

This sock offers just the right amount of cushioning, making it perfect for high-impact endeavors like mountain biking, trail running, or hiking in trail runners—footwear known for having less underfoot protection compared to traditional hiking shoes.

What’s especially appealing about the Pursuit Four is its height, falling somewhere between a quarter-length and a traditional crew-cut style. It’s more like a 3/4-length crew, which strikes a balance between coverage and breathability. While the Swiftwick Pursuit Four boasts medium cushioning, it is noticeably thinner and more breathable than alternatives such as the Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushion below.

However, when you are engaged in technically demanding activities that require your feet to work hard, you would be hard-pressed to find a more well-rounded option. Also, the price point is quite attractive, with the Pursuit Four available at just $19.99, a notable value considering that true compression models often come with a higher price tag.


  • Excellent fit
  • It has great breathability
  • It has great cushioning


  • They have limited colors

2. Smartwool Run Zero Cushion Ankle Socks

Material: 46% merino wool, 51% nylon, 3% elastane

Cushioning: Ultralight

Height: Ankle

Price: $18

Smartwool’s latest offering, the Run Zero Cushion Ankle Socks, is a great choice, particularly in the ultralight category. Priced competitively at $20, these socks provide an impeccable fit, exceptional breathability, and an overall comfortable feel.

Smartwool has incorporated its revolutionary Indestructawool technology, known for enhancing durability. The Run Zero Cushion socks are also an attractive choice for summer outings, especially when you don’t require substantial padding or thickness.

There are some drawbacks to choosing an ultralight hiking sock such as Smartwool. These socks feature notably thinner materials compared to options such as Darn Tough (below), even in high-stress areas like the heel and toe box, albeit with some reinforcement around the toes.

If you have resilient feet and can sidestep the threat of blisters, these socks will help maintain a refreshing coolness, particularly in the sweltering summer months. For those in need of extra impact resistance, Smartwool offers “targeted cushion” alternatives within the same Run lineup. These variations provide added padding around the heel and ball of the foot, catering to those who require a bit more support during their adventures.


  • They are light
  • They are breathable


  • Has minimal cushioning

1. Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Lightweight Hiking Sock

Material: 54% Nylon, 43% Merino Wool, 3% Lycra Spandex

Cushioning: Medium

Height: Micro-crew

Price: $47.90

The Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Lightweight Hiking Sock is one of the most adaptable hiking socks on the market. Its micro-crew design offers a height that’s taller than a traditional ankle sock but a few inches shorter than the average crew sock, allowing it to comfortably reach just above the upper edge of standard hiking boots.

Crafted from a blend of highly breathable materials such as merino wool, nylon, and Lycra spandex, the Darn Tough Light Hiker ensures your feet stay comfortably dry, even during sweltering summer treks. This sock’s tailored toe design and cushioning underfoot contribute to its exceptional comfort.

Despite their robust construction, these socks are backed by Darn Tough’s lifetime warranty, offering peace of mind in any situation. You can return them anytime – even if it’s a well-worn sock – and the manufacturer will replace them at no cost to you.


  • Very sturdy
  • Very comfortable thanks to great cushioning
  • They have a lifetime warranty


  • They are not as plush as other socks on our list

How to pick out reliable hiking socks

An ill-fitting hiking sock can transform your well-fitted shoes or boots into a discomforting experience. Take time to find the ideal socks tailored to your needs; your feet will thank you for it. Now let’s dive into what you need to consider when buying them.


Cotton is the least favorable material due to its high water absorption and slow drying properties. Cotton socks tend to retain moisture, swiftly lowering your core body temperature, sometimes to the point of endangering your well-being. Given these drawbacks, we excluded any options containing cotton from our selection.

Moving on to wool-based models, three pairs of socks crafted with varying wool percentages – 40 percent, 50 percent, and 60 percent, respectively – can feel remarkably similar on your feet. Also, two pairs of socks designed with the same wool percentage may offer completely distinct sensations. Ultimately, what truly matters is the quality of the wool used, rather than fixating on the percentage itself.

Sock size

Hiking sock sizing can differ among manufacturers, with some offering unisex options and others specifying sizes for different genders. These size ranges are typically correlated with shoe sizes, but the sock sizes within these ranges can vary significantly from one manufacturer to another. Smaller variations within size bands tend to yield a more precise fit. If you find yourself in between two sizes, try on both to ensure the perfect fit.

The right pair of hiking socks can make your hiking experience more enjoyable, comfortable, and blister-free. By considering materials, height, fit, and the season and terrain you will be hiking in, you can choose the perfect pair of hiking socks that will keep your feet happy and ready for new adventures on the trail.

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