One can hardly overstate the importance of protecting your feet whilst trapesing about mountainous regions, where cold and wet conditions abound. Having a pair or even a small arsenal of top shelf hiking socks can turn the tide of a hot spot or blistery experience for your feet into the comfortable and incredible experience the great outdoors has to offer.

The Great Importance of Hiking Socks

To help you best avoid the painful experiences that often ensue due to lack of preparation, many people forget to factor into their plan the benefits hiking socks provide, which are as follows. First, think of your hiking boots and hiking socks as one unit. As important as your hiking boots are to enjoying natures many wonderful sights and sounds, you would do well to give hiking socks their due place as they make up the barrier between your feet and the boots interior. A ten-mile hike over rocky terrain will test the happiness threshold of your feet. Make every effort to spoil your little “piggies” in the best way possible, by giving them the extra cushioning they need to avoid that horrible “throbbing” sensation we all long to avoid.

The Best Hiking Socks of 2016

Whether you’re heading into an inferno of heat or snowshoeing your way through subzero temperatures the best quality hiking socks share a couple common elements. First off, the socks I’ll be recommending for your consideration contain at least 50% merino wool, will run in the neighborhood of $20 per pair, and are considered the standard in terms of the performance and quality they offer. Most, if not all of the hiking socks mentioned here will come with a lifetime guarantee, and fall in the light/mid weight category.

Hiking Socks Tough Enough for Trail Duty

· Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushioned ($20): Hailed as simply the best, these light/medium weight hiking socks come with a merino wool count of 67%, 29% nylon, 4% spandex and offer a lifetime warranty. The sock is known to run on the warmer side due to the cushioning underfoot, and will feel less plush compared to other light weight models.

· Smartwool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew ($20): Warm, comfortable, extra cushioning, outstanding compression, solid wick capability (prevents moisture from accumulating,) all come with this mid-weight hiking sock. Contains 67% merino wool, 31% nylon, 2% elastane, and a 2-year satisfaction guarantee. Known to pill (little balls that accumulate) more easily and are not as breathable as other socks.

· REI Lightweight Merino ($14.50) Lightweight and on the more affordable side of the coin. These hiking socks offer a good amount of cushioning and feel soft with their merino wool count at 67%, 20% nylon, and 2% spandex. Try line drying them to avoid pilling bear in mind that the spandex will wear the material around the arch.

· SmartWool PhD Outdoor Ultra-Light Mini ($16): If you are looking for the perfect pair of summer hiking socks these are known to offer superior breathability and are extremely comfortable attributed to the 54% merino wool, 44% nylon, and 2 % spandex. If you plan on a longer expedition consider something with more cushion, as these hiking socks run on the thinner/lighter side.

Great Hiking Socks are a Worthwhile Investment.

It may not seem like a big deal at the time to skimp on the quality of hiking socks you decide to pick out for your trip through Utah’s Canyonlands or Washington’s North Cascade. However, an investment of only a few extra dollars can and often will be the deciding factor in making your hike comfortable, breath-taking, and exhilarating experience. Avoid the blisters, smelly feet, and durability that come from a high quality pair of socks like the ones mentioned above.

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