Socks are one of the most underrated pieces of hiking clothing. Hikers often spend a lot of money on advanced hiking gear but when it comes to socks, they somehow forget how uncomfortable it is to have wet/moist feet. Not least because moist feet increase the friction between the skin and socks which often causes blisters. Hiking socks should therefore transport the perspiration from your feet to your boot’s lining to keep your feet comfortable and prevent blisters.
Therefore, hiking sock are typically made of moisture-wicking, quick-drying and breathable materials. As hiking socks are exposed to severe abrasion (friction between the foot, sock and the boot), the material should also be durable. Some hiking socks have antimicrobial properties, meaning that they are odor-resistant, which is a great benefit for longer hiking trips on which you might not change your socks every day.
Here we selected the best hiking socks for summer. We only listed relatively thin socks that provide good performance for hiking in warm weather. We steered away from cotton socks because cotton absorbs a lot of moisture and dries very slowly. All socks in this selection are long enough to be worn with mid-cut boots. Note that your socks should come higher than your boots to provide protection against the abrasion.
1. Buying Hiking Socks for Summer – What is important?
Hiking socks are in most cases made of a mixture of natural and synthetic fibers and can be divided in those that are made primarily of Merino wool fibers and those that are essentially made of synthetic fibers (nylon, polyester and advanced fibers such as Coolmax, Drirelease etc.).
In this review we listed three pairs of socks that are made primarily of Merino wool and two pairs which are made only of synthetic materials. Both types of socks have advantages and disadvantages.
Merino Wool Socks:
Merino wool socks provide great breathability and are very efficient at transporting the moisture away from the skin. They also maintain your feet’s natural temperature even if they get wet as the outer layers of Merino wool fibers are hydrophobic. Merino wool is also naturally antimicrobial/odor-resistant. However, as Merino wool fibers are not very durable or stretchy on their own, there will always be a certain percentage of synthetic fibers (nylon, polyester etc.) in the fabric for better durability/stretch. For more information about the properties of Merino wool, read our article Why you should wear Merino wool clothing.
Synthetic socks provide better durability than Merino socks and dry slightly faster because they absorb less moisture. However, synthetic socks are less breathable than Merino socks and become smelly faster.
The thicker the socks, the better cushioning they provide. However, for hiking in warm weather you should wear relatively thin socks to keep your feet at a comfortable temperature. Summer hiking socks provide only modest cushioning (heel and ball of the foot).
Crew (mid-calf length) socks work best with high-cut hiking boots while micro crew socks are best for those who typically hike in trekking shoes or mid-cut boots. Nevertheless, crew socks can be used with basically any footwear. In this review we included three pairs of crew socks and two pairs of micro crew socks.
Hiking socks should withstand regular washing without changing its performance or shape. In general, purely synthetic socks provide slightly better durability than Merino socks.
We only list top-tier products. Read how our selections of best hiking products differ from others here.
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2. The Best Hiking Socks for Summer Review
The Best Hiking Socks for Summer – List
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks
- Icebreaker Hike+ Light Crew Socks
- Darn Tough Coolmax Micro Crew Cushion Socks
- SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light Crew
- Wigwam Cool Lite Hiker Pro Crew Socks
|Feature/Product||Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew||Icebreaker Hike+ Light Crew||Darn Tough Coolmax Micro Crew||SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light Crew ||Wigwam Cool Lite Hiker Pro Crew|
|Material||61% Merino Wool, 36% Nylon, 3% Spandex||61% Merino Wool, 37% Nylon, 2% Lycra||37% Nylon, 34% Coolmax, 26% Acrylic, 2% Lycra, 1% Other||63% Merino Wool, 34% Nylon, 3% Elastane||44% Drirelease, 30% X2O Acrylic, 25% Stretch Nylon, 1% Spandex|
|Height||Micro Crew (just above the top of a mid-cut hiking boot)||Crew||Micro Crew (just above the top of a mid-cut hiking boot)||Crew||Crew|
|Type||Merino Socks||Merino Socks||Synthetic Socks||Merino Socks||Synthetic Socks|
1. Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks
The Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion socks are very popular among hikers, trekkers and mountaineers because they are very comfortable for hiking in summer. They are made of a blend of Merino wool (61%), nylon (36%) and Spandex (3%). Due to the high content of Merino wool fibers, the fabric is moisture-wicking, odor-resistant and very breathable. The socks also use nylon fibers for increased durability and Spandex fibers for good stretch. To eliminate chaffing and abrasion the socks utilize the True Seamless technology which makes them super comfortable. They offer mid-level cushioning on the underside and come in micro crew height (just above the top of a mid-cut hiking boot). The Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion socks are available in seven different colors.
2. Icebreaker Hike+ Light Crew Socks
The Icebreaker Hike+ Light Crew socks are, like the Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion socks, very popular among those who spend a lot of time in the outdoors. They are also made of similar materials (61% Merino wool, 37% Nylon, 2% Lycra) and thus they offer similar qualities – they are odor-resistant, moisture-wicking and breathable. The Icebreaker Hike+ Light Crew socks provide moderate cushioning and are anatomically shaped for good fit. They are best for hiking in warm weather but can also be used for all-year-round hiking, depending on how insulated your boots are. The Icebreaker socks are available in two different colors.
3. Darn Tough Coolmax Micro Crew Cushion Socks
The Darn Tough Coolmax Micro Crew Cushion socks differ from the socks listed above in material. They are made solely of synthetic fibers. They use the advanced Invista’s Coolmax fibers (34%) which are known for being extremely moisture-wicking, breathable and quick-drying. Therefore, these socks are great for hiking in warm weather. The durability of the socks is increased with nylon fibers (37%) while the amount of acrylic fibers (26%) increases the softness of the fabric. Like the Darn Tough Hiker socks, the Darn Tough Coolmax socks utilize the True Seamless technology for maximum comfort. They are available in two different colors.
4. SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light Crew
The SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light Crew socks are made of a blend of Merino wool (63%), nylon (34%) and elastane (3%) and feature mesh ventilation zones for good breathability and moisture management. They utilize the ReliaWool technology – SmartWool’s construction method for increased durability of Merino fabrics. The socks are also very stretchy (they have two elastics) and thus provide good fit. They offer light cushioning and come in three different colors. The SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light Crew socks are a great option for hiking in summer.
5. Wigwam Cool Lite Hiker Pro Crew Socks
The Wigwam Cool Lite Hiker Pro Crew socks are like the Darn Tough Coolmax socks made solely of synthetic fibers. In addition to nylon (25%), X2O Acrylic (30%) and Spandex (1%), the material also contains Drirelease fibers (44%) which are moisture-wicking, fast-drying and very durable. Due to the advanced Drirelease fibers, the socks are very comfortable to wear in the heat of summer. The Wigwam Cool Lite Hiker Pro Crew socks also feature cushioned soles and an anatomical shape. They come in eight different colors.
3. Questions and Answers
Why are cotton socks bad for hiking?
Cotton socks absorb a lot of moisture (perspiration) and are therefore uncomfortable to wear. Wet socks increase the possibility of getting blisters. Furthermore, they also conduct heat much faster than dry socks and thus make your feet feel cold very fast.
Are Merino wool socks good for summer?
Yes, merino wool socks are a great option for summer because they are antimicrobial which in simple terms means that they don’t become smelly as fast as synthetic socks. Note that Merino wool can be knit in very thin fabrics and thus Merino socks are not necessarily warmer than synthetic socks.
Are wool socks hot in the summer?
Not necessarily because the warmth of socks depends more on thickness of the fabric than on the material. Wool can be knit into thin fabrics which don’t provide much warmth and are perfect for summer.