Step aside, shoes. It’s time to honor socks for a change. Why? Because when you’re wearing the wrong pair in the cold, it doesn’t matter how much fun you’re supposed to be having. If your feet are miserable, so are you. Complicating matters, not every sock is ideal for every winter activity. Hiking, skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, winter camping, and dogsledding all require different specs. Here are the winter socks you should be donning.
1. Duckworth Midweight Hiking Crew Sock
Best for: hiking, snowshoeing, winter camping
These American-made socks are heat-trapping, antimicrobial, itch-free, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying—which pretty much checks all the boxes for your fragile feet during winter. The natural crimp of Duckworth’s Montana-grown merino wool also features a nice springy bounce you’re sure to appreciate. We also like that the sock is designed with an athletic fit and ample cushioning in the toe and heel.
2. Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Medium Cushion Sock
Best for: hiking, winter camping, snowshoeing
Attention winter camping and hiking enthusiasts—these comfy, workhorse socks have been specially designed for you. Swiftwick’s Pursuit starts with a soft merino blend for odor and temperature regulation, adds a footbed with incorporated Olefin fibers to maximize wicking, and provides moderate compression for comfort. The result: Your feet stay toasty warm and dry even when you’re trekking through cold and wet conditions.
3. Royal Robbins Venture Crew Sock
Best for: hiking, snowshoeing, ice climbing
Can’t get enough of your alpine boots come wintertime? You’re going to dig these award-winning socks for outdoor enthusiasts of all ilk. The socks are made from a soft, naturally odor-resistant hemp blended with recycled polyester for a super comfortable feel with solid temperature regulation, which will keep your feet well-insulated yet cool during intense activity. Anti-bunch design coupled with a three-quarter-inch cuff helps keep these socks securely in place while you spend time in the snow. Finally, an ingenious seamless toe design eliminates rubbing whether snowshoeing or enjoying a backcountry ice climb.
4. Backcountry Stoic Ski Sock
Best for: skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing
If you’re all about conquering those 14ers on skis or a snowboard, you’ll want to order a few pairs of these socks. Created with an ultra-thin mid-weight cotton and polyester blend that fits snugly under boots, you’ll still get plenty of warmth without the extra bulk. The over-the-calf style also helps you avoid shin-bang when you’re enjoying your day on the slopes.
5. Lasso Compression Socks
Best for: hiking, skiing, snowboarding
Good luck finding a pair of athletic compression socks you love as much as these socks made with a proprietary blend of targeted compression weave patterns and sustainable yarns. Well ventilated and moisture wicking, these Lasso lifesavers keep your feet dry no matter where the day takes you. The brand’s HyperCompression technology is also said to help keep muscles warm, reduce swelling, and increase circulatory blood flow with graduated 15-20mmHg compression in the socks that gently pushes blood flow back up the leg—helping to prevent swelling and even varicose veins. A patented foot and arch compression support gives the wearer active joint protection and reduces foot fatigue.
6. Bomber X-Bionic Socks
Best for: skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing
Bomber’s recently unveiled X-Bionic collaboration of base-layers and socks crafted in Italy with a Swiss-designed performance-enhancing system included these stellar socks available in black-and-white and blue-and-red. The snug fit keeps you dry and comfortable while patented innovations work to keep blisters, skin irritation, and cramps at bay thanks to research conducted with sport medicine specialists, textile engineers, athletes, and scientists. Made with state-of-the-art yarns, these socks are also super lightweight and very breathable.
7. Darn Tough Vermont Ski and Snowboard Socks
Best for: skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing
No blisters may very well be a dream come true with these high-quality socks. This American manufacturer offers a lifetime guarantee on their socks, hence, the “Darn Tough” moniker. The wonderfully comfortable socks have fast-acting wicking properties, a no-bunching construction, and are available in a variety of fun designs. They’re available in an exclusive blend of either ultra-fine, premium Merino wool, or Coolmax/Thermolite fabric.
[from $24/pair; darntough.com]
8. Swiftwick Pursuit 12
Best for: skiing and snowboarding, ice skating, winter camping
Swiftwick’s Pursuit 12 socks are made with a merino blend ideal for wintertime without all the bulk. The thin fabric fits easily into a ski or snowboarding boot, or pair of ice skates—and they offer moderate compression that hugs your foot without the fabric getting all bunched up on your calf. A four-inch upper cuff keeps these socks in place for extended wear, so you can rock it on the mountains or at the skating rink all day long in comfort.
9. The Buffalo Wool Co. Pro-Gear Technical Bison/Silk Boot Socks
Best for: hiking, skiing, dog sledding
A high percentage of Iditarod competitors wear these socks—which is really all anyone needs to say. Made with bison wool, the same fiber that keeps these creatures warm in cold climates will do the same for your feet, while offering an incredible softness reminiscent of cashmere. Compared to many materials that feel soaking wet even if there’s only a touch of moisture on them, bison wool keeps you dry and cozy whether taking on a notoriously tough dogsledding race or sitting on your couch with a good book and the fireplace crackling.
10. Vim & Vigr 15-20 mmHG Compression Socks
Best for: Hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing
If you’re in the market for a solid pair of compression socks, this merino wool option is ideal for hiking and other winter activities, as well as recovery days to help increase blood circulation and assuage muscle fatigue. These socks offer superior moisture protection and odor-resistance—and are available in a host of stylish patterns and designs.