As a hiker, boots are the first piece of footwear you think about when planning a trip, but once you hit the trail, you realize that socks are just as important. Hiking socks don’t just bring style with you on a hike; they also ensure your comfort and reduce the chances of having sore feet and blisters. It is important to choose the right material and thickness, though; that is where tough but thin socks for hiking come in handy.
While thick, fluffy socks may sound enticing, they soak easily and retain water, causing odor and blisters. The best thin socks for hiking don’t just reduce sweating in the boot; they also keep your legs comfortable by providing a better foot cushion. Polyester and spandex dry quickly and also offer better protection for both feet and ankles/calf, making them the best material for hiking socks. It is hard to narrow down the exact brand of hiking socks for your specific terrain, but this guide will offer some clues and options to make it a lot easier.
Table of contents
- Danish Endurance Hiking Socks
- PAPLUS Ankle Compression Socks
- Dickies Women’s Dri-tech Crew Socks
- Merrell Women’s Performance Hiker Socks
- EnerWear Merino Wool Hiking Socks
- Busy Unisex Hiking Socks
- ECOEY Women’s Ankle Hiking Socks
- Darn Tough Men’s Micro Crew Socks
- Smartwool Women’s Hiking Socks
- Under Armour Performance Socks
- Ortis Men’s Hiking Crew Socks
- FoxRiver Men’s Liner Crew Socks
- Columbia Moisture Control Crew Socks
- How To Choose The Best Thin Socks for Hiking?
- What type of socks is better for hiking?
- Why do hikers wear thick socks?
- Are thin or thick socks better for hiking?
Danish Endurance Hiking Socks
Danish Endurance is one of the biggest hiking footwear brands around, and these performance socks are especially popular with experienced hikers. They’re designed and tested by Everest Mountaineer Rasmus Kragh. Their key weapon is extra cushioning, which makes them good at preventing blistering when hiking the toughest trails.
Danish Endurance Hiking Socks have a great balance between merino wool, cotton, spandex, and nylon. Hence they offer better protection and comfort on tough and bare tracks. The extra cushioning on the bottom balances comfort and arch support, which also makes the socks comfortable for daily use.
These unisex hiking socks wick sweat off your feet effectively and also stretch at the pressure points to reduce stress on your foot. Moreover, the socks remain breathable when worn because of the extra ventilation offered above the ankle and at the calf. They’re stretchy and snug at the calf, which also helps prevent the sock from sagging after multiple uses.
- Snug fitting
- Too tight on the calf
PAPLUS Ankle Compression Socks
Compression socks are favored by both medical practitioners and trainers for proper cushioning when your feet have to endure intense activity. PAPLUS ankle socks are both stylish and durable to keep your feet comfortable on the toughest hikes. They’re still very slim compared to other compression socks, making them one of the best thin socks for hiking to avoid a joint or muscle injury.
These socks are made of spandex and nylon, which stretch uniformly with your leg muscles providing the arch support needed by every part of your foot. They’re still breathable with their tough fabric meant to both last and offer better protection up to the ankles.
When in use, the ankle band keeps the sock above up, preventing it from retracting into your shoes and causing discomfort at the heels. The socks don’t fade after washing either, which ensures long-term service. Besides, you can still wear them for casual and official events, especially when you need to stay on your feet for long hours.
- Snug fitting
- Dries quickly
- Repel moisture and odor
- Can be a little too tight when new
Dickies Women’s Dri-tech Crew Socks
If you are looking for the best thin hiking socks that keep your feet warm and dry, especially if you’ve got sweaty feet, then these crew socks from Dickies will suffice. They are made of 96% polyester, which is more absorbent and meant to increase comfort by wicking moisture from the feet. Furthermore, the socks are compressed at the toe and heel to offer durability and better cushioning for the pressure spots of your feet when you hike.
Despite being thin and light, the socks are tough, with enough nylon and spandex to keep them stretchy. They fit snugly, with the top band keeping the sock above your calf, offering maximum protection. Both the color and the material are meant for use in tough terrain without fading or retaining tough stains.
- Quick drying
- Better protection
- They are not stretchy enough
Merrell Women’s Performance Hiker Socks
Sometimes, when on the trail, you just need to feel light, as if your footwear is not even there, and that is why lightweight socks like Merrell Hiking Socks save the day. Their biggest advantage is that they are made of synthetic fiber, tough and stretchy enough to keep you warm. Better still, Merrell focuses on quality weaving at the toes to enhance durability by eliminating joints at the toe, which often results in holes in other brands.
When on your foot, these women’s hiking socks are also breathable because two meshed strips on both sides of the socks extend to the toe, ensuring proper aeration when hiking. Furthermore, the socks have less spandex in the band at the calf to reduce the tightness, eliminating marks on the calf when you wear them for long hours.
- Quick drying
- Durable weaving
- Less heel cushioning
EnerWear Merino Wool Hiking Socks
This will get the job done if you need all-weather socks that can be used on the trail or in the office. The first thing you notice about these Enerwear Merino wool Hiking socks is the quality of fabric and weaving. Joints are nearly invisible, which also reduces the weak points that make the first holes on the sock. Additionally, these Enerwear thin socks for hiking are suitable for harsh weather, with extra cushioning on the entire bottom of the sock for uniform wicking of sweat.
The socks are thin enough to be worn in sneakers, boots, or official shoes, with the multicolor design meant to complement different fashion choices. Despite the extra cushioning on the bottom, they’re still breathable thanks to the ventilation lines, widened at the ankles and the top of the foot for aeration
- Extra arch support
- Tight on the calf
Busy Unisex Hiking Socks
Ankle socks are a lifesaver when hiking on a hot day because everywhere else above your ankles gets to breathe. You still need proper cushioning, especially at the toes and heels, and that is where a pair of Busy unisex hiking socks will come in handy. They are strategically raised at the back to prevent the back of your low-cut boot from pinching into your heel, a flaw most ankle socks ignore.
The best part of these socks is the extra cushioning at the heels, which act as soft padding, good for tough climbs. Better still, they’re slim but snug, suitable even for people with small feet. The socks have more polyester for better wicking of moisture to keep your feet dry. To top it off, the fabric and color are well suited to tough conditions without fading.
- Heavy heel cushioning
- They don’t dry quickly
ECOEY Women’s Ankle Hiking Socks
If you are looking for the best thin socks for hiking that you can also wear on morning runs and without feeling too tight, then these socks will do the job. They’ve got the Y-heel meant to provide the extra padding needed that reduces pressure and prevents blisters. The best part of ECOEY women’s ankle hiking socks are the snug toes, which help wick the sweat from the lower foot better. They’re also stylish and suitable for trainers and sneakers, which is why you can still use them in your daily footwear.
These socks have extra compression on the lower part of the foot and around the ankles to prevent them from sagging and offer better arch support while in use. Additionally, the top parts that don’t have extra cushioning are light mesh to offer the breathability needed during intense activities such as hikes.
- Sufficient cushion
- Can be tight at the toes
Darn Tough Men’s Micro Crew Socks
The last thing you want on the trail is a sock that folds up inside the shoe and starts competing with your foot for the room. That is why micro socks with a real pull-on closure like this one make a great companion on hikes. Darn Tough men’s micro crew socks live up to their reputation, staying tight with frequent use and offering the padding needed for tough hiking trails.
These socks have visibly thicker foot cushioning, offering more warmth and protection, which is why they’re one of the best thin hiking socks for frequent hiking. The outer side of the socks is also smoother than regular cotton socks to repel stains and prickles that stick to the loose fabric. In addition, these socks are double-woven at the toes and heels for extra padding and durability.
- High-quality knitting
- Repels stains
- Fade-resistant finish
- There is less padding on the heels
Smartwool Women’s Hiking Socks
Getting the best thin hiking socks for women can be a headache because you need something tougher than general-wear socks but thinner than your winter socks. Smartwool created this hybrid no-show socks with extra cushioning on the entire bottom side for a long-lasting solution. The sock features a raised heel to prevent the back of your boot from poking your Achilles as you walk.
They’re premium-wool socks, with double weaving at the heel and the lower part of the foot that provides padding on long hikes. The extra wool used in Smartwool women’s thin socks for hiking wicks sweat and moisture better while also preventing odor. They remain comfortable when they stay on your feet for long and also air dry quickly, which is a lifesaver on long treks. Moreover, being a no-show sock, you can wear it with any type of shoe and not worry about color clashing.
- Odor resistant
- Extra padding for the whole foot
- Effective pull-on closure
- They are pricey
Under Armour Performance Socks
No-show socks for hiking still need to have the best quality of fabric and be comfortable for you on the trail, which is why the padding on these socks is amazing. Under Armour, Performance socks are another set of double-weaved premium hiking socks suitable for any trail and comfortable in any weather. They have a tight band at the ankles to keep the shoes from retracting into the boots when hiking tough terrain. The fabric also has more polyester, which helps keep your feet dry to prevent bruises.
The socks have more padding on the bottom from heel to toe for better performance. With uniform stretching, the socks offer excellent arch support. Better still, They’re light and breathable on the upper side of the foot, making them one of the best thin hiking socks if you don’t want cover above the ankle.
- Pull-on closure
- Arch support
- Good for large feet
- Doesn’t dry quickly
Ortis Men’s Hiking Crew Socks
Crew and Knee-high socks take most of the beating while you are on the trail; you just need to ensure the pair you got on has proper pull-on closure. A combination of Merino wool and spandex makes Ortis Men’s Hiking crew socks a tough pair good for any day that involves lots of walking around. What’s more, these socks are built thin but tough, with the merino wool cutting out the odor. They’ve got little loose fabric to repel stains and avoid picking up prickles when trekking through the undergrowth.
The first thing you notice about them is the extra Y-shaped heel, made with extra cushioning for comfort. Besides, the entire foot is also reinforced to provide arch support and also wick sweat effectively, especially under the toes. There is minimal jointing at the heel and toe as well for durability.
- Repels prickles
- Quick drying
- Can be too tight on the calf
FoxRiver Men’s Liner Crew Socks
If you prefer having two pairs of socks on the toughest trails, then you need your liners to be tough but super-thin and stretchy. FoxRiver Men’s Liner crew socks are good at wicking sweat off your feet, but they also offer the warmth and protection of any other hiking socks. These liners are also suitable for wearing under cotton or thick winter socks when hiking.
They’re also odor resistant and breathable, with a meshed design at the calf and joints for comfort. Despite being thin, these men’s hiking socks still have extra cushioning on the entire bottom side to provide arch support and soft padding. They’re made of polyester and spandex and therefore stretch uniformly, making it comfortable to walk in them for long.
- Snug fitting
- Dries quickly
- Not suitable for quick drying
Columbia Moisture Control Crew Socks
Columbia is another big footwear brand known for its durable socks. These’re probably the brand’s best thin hiking socks if you consider their warmth and padding. The socks have 17% cotton, concentrated on the inside for warmth and effective sweat-wicking. They also have extra cushioning at the toe and heel to provide more padding and reduce stress.
Columbia Moisture Control crew socks also have a comfortable top band that doesn’t exert too much pressure on the calf, discomfort associated with most crew socks. The extra cushioning means that these moisture-control socks offer more warmth than other thin socks for hiking, making them a great companion for the cold weather. In addition, they’re stylish and classy so that you can wear them on a regular casual trip, morning run, or even with official shoes.
For more comfort on the trail, these unisex hiking socks have more meshed lines for breathability above the ankle and on top of the foot. They also retain their classy finish on the inside, so you can fold them down without picking up prickles while hiking.
- Extra warmth
- Well cushioned
- Can be too tight
How To Choose The Best Thin Socks for Hiking?
Hiking socks become your shoes on the trail after hours of walking because the boots start feeling hard, and your feet become sore. Therefore, you should go for a pair of socks that grips your foot properly without being too tight and wicks the sweat off your feet, keeping the inside of the boot bearable for your foot. Comfort is, therefore, the main concern for any traveler when on the hunt for the best hiking socks.
The thinner and tougher your hiking socks are, the more comfortable they will feel as you walk more, which is why this guide concentrated on tested thin socks for hiking even the toughest trails. Below is a list of five more considerations before buying your hiking socks.
Cotton socks are warm, easy to wash, and affordable, but not resilient enough for a hiking trail. Hiking needs resistant socks that wick sweat off your feet and absorb it without soaking into a wet rag, and merino wool and polyester do that better than cotton.
Hiking socks also need to offer arch support, which means they need to stretch at the same rate as your muscles when you make a step, just like other sportswear. You, therefore, need more spandex and nylon in hiking socks than general wear cotton socks typically have.
The three main types of hiking socks are:
- Crew socks
These go right above your calf and may go up to the knee. They offer more warmth and protection against debris. They are perfect for hiking in cold temperatures as well as on bare trails as they keep the debris out of your boot. Crew socks heat up quickly, though, and most of them tend to be tight on the calf, so they are not the best for hiking on a hot day unless they are breathable enough.
- Ankle socks
These ones stay just below the calf but above your ankles which is good for keeping debris out while preventing overheating. They are stylish and breathable and offer better aeration to your hiking boots. Ankle socks also keep low-cut hiking boots/sneakers from poking into your Achilles as you walk.
- No-show/quarter socks
These are the trendiest hiking socks that allow you to walk while not appearing to wear any socks at all. These are the preferable summer socks for hiking on a hot summer day, especially if you tend to have sweaty feet, as they are the most breathable. They allow proper aeration in the boot. They offer little protection from debris and cold, though.
Your socks should stay up on the trail, and that comes down to how snug they are. More nylon and spandex in the material help socks stay above the boots better. Low stretchability leads to socks retracting into the boot, causing discomfort, especially the ankle and quarter socks
What type of socks is better for hiking?
Tightly woven Merino wool socks with spandex and nylon are the best for hiking. They resist odor and also stay warm and elastic for a long time.
Why do hikers wear thick socks?
Thick socks offer more cushioning for the feet. You need to remember that thick socks also make your feet sweatier, which in turn causes blistering. You should therefore go for only the thickness suitable for your particular trail and weather.
Are thin or thick socks better for hiking?
It depends on the trail. Thin socks are versatile as they keep you safe from prickles and pebbles on short and light trails. Thick socks offer better protection and warmth in the winter and tougher and longer trails.