Do you need sock liners for hiking?
Sock liners can prove to be a divisive issue among avid hikers. While some swear by and wear them religiously during hikes, others shun them all together and see no point in having them on when you are already wearing socks.
So, what exactly are sock liners and why do some hikers refuse to get on the trail without their favourite pair?
If you are not a hiking enthusiast, the phrase “sock liners” might sound foreign to you. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place for everything you need to know about sock liners. In this article, we’ll tell you what sock liners are, what exactly they are used for, and the best brands in the market that you can find.
By the end of the day, you’ll have a more informed answer to the question; “Do you really need sock liners for hiking?”
What are Sock Liners?
A sock liner is a thin hosiery that is worn under the main sock to act as an additional layer of protection against friction, as well as to reduce moisture.
These are a common accessory among some hikers who acknowledge their importance in preventing painful blisters as a result of the skin rubbing against the shoe during those distant and treacherous hikes.
Why are Sock Liners so Important?
If you’ve ever gone on a hike before or merely worn shoes (of course you have), chances are you’ve suffered a case of blisters at least once.
The undesirable blister is the consequence of an excessive amount of friction between your foot skin and the shoe, leading to the development of a “hot spot” and the friction starts to physically affect your body.
If this continues for an extended period, the hot spot that has developed can morph into a fluid-filled blister, which can be so painful and discomforting that it hinders you from walking.
Furthermore, the blister can be infected when exposed to the countless microbes in the wilderness, so you can imagine what this exposes you to when embarking on a hike in the middle of nowhere.
This is what sock liners strive to prevent during a hiking expedition.
Those advocating for sock liners swear by their ability to limit friction and reduce the chances of blisters developing. However, some people wear them because they can be very effective at wicking away accumulating moisture or sweat during a trek.
In essence, sock liners are simply a base layer for your feet!
Do you Really Need Sock Liners?
This is a tough one to answer, and ideally what you need to do is try out a pair, hence the reason for this review, we're trying to showcase the best sock liners!
Ultimately, there’s no harm in investing in sock liners, especially if you are still new to hiking and looking to go on your first adventure.
They are pretty effective at reducing friction and wicking away excess moisture; you’ll also need them to avoid blisters. Additionally, some people feel that their hiking shoes fit much better when they wear liner socks.
Therefore, if you’re curious about what you’ve read on hiking blogs and wondering whether you should try out sock liners, you could probably get a nice pair to see how it works for you. Who knows, you might end up falling in love with them after all! If not, at least you’ll have a thin pair of socks you can wear at home on those absurdly hot days.
Can Sock Liners Prevent Blisters?
As they say....Only death and taxes are certain in this world... ?
so we won’t go out on a limb and declare that sock liners will definitely fix your blister problem. However, we guarantee that they’ll be quite useful for your feet during a hike. Blisters aside, the sock liners will reward you by wicking moisture from your sweaty feet, helping to keep them dry and comfortable throughout the hike.
If you wear sock liners and still realise that they are not doing much to prevent the blisters, you might want to inspect the fit of your hiking boots, as well as how you are lacing them up. Too large or too small boots tend to raise the probability of blisters occurring, and the same is true if you lace your hiking boots too tightly or too loosely.
Sometimes, it could be the boots that are rubbing your feet the wrong way, resulting in blisters. Having said all that, sock liners can be an effective part of blister prevention, so you have every incentive to test them out!
Sock Liner Buying Guide
Before you blow your budget on the first pair of sock liners you come across, there are a few things you need to know. The following are crucial features you should consider if you hope to find the best sock liners for hiking:
The majority of sock liner brands in the market are made from fabrics such as nylon, silk, polyester, and even merino wool. These materials have a smooth texture that feels lovely against the skin, breathes nicely, and dries fast; this is what makes them perfect for use as a sock liner fabric.
Just like in regular socks, you can select from a variety of sock liner lengths. The most commonly used are the crew or mid-ankle sock liners, which tends to greatly complement hiking boots. Alternatively, you can opt for low-cut liners if you want something to wear under your low-top hiking boots.
Sock liners should generally be thin since they are not meant to provide insulation.
Rather, they are just an extra layer between your foot skin and sock, so thinner is the way to go when it comes to sock liners. They should be no thicker than a pantyhose; anything beyond that will only be adding to the bulkiness inside your boots.
One of the key reasons why hikers wear sock liners is to find a way of wicking moisture from their feet. As such, you need to go for a material that can wick moisture effectively. Naturally, most people tend to choose merino wool; it has a great moisture-wicking reputation, which in turn prevents foot odor. Meanwhile, polyester blends can wick well too, and present you with a more affordable alternative.
The size of the sock liner you choose determines the kind of fit you’re going to get from it. You want to find something that fits snugly rather than loosely. This is because liners have a tendency to bunch up under your foot, leading to the very blisters they are intended to prevent. If your foot is between sizes, you’d be better off going for the lower size.
The Best Sock Liners for Hiking
Wigwam Ultimate Liner Pro Socks
Wigwam sock liners are lightweight, affordable and suitable to take on any task at hand. They make the perfect choice for anybody looking to get their first sock liner experience on their next hiking adventure.
These amazing liners are made using a blend of materials to make the most of the desirable properties in the individual fabrics.
The liner is made up of 62% Coolmax polyester, 37% stretch nylon, 1% spandex, and 1% stretch polyester. This helps to deliver a lightweight finish and stretchability that is just what you need to keep hiking for days without risking any blisters.
The Coolmax fibers are exceptional at wicking away moisture to keep your feet dry and comfortable.
The liners are available in crew length style and will be a nice fit for most models of hiking boots.
The ultra-thin and lightweight design reduces the overall bulkiness of the liner, ensuring that it won’t be a burden for you going forward. The mix of fabrics in the Wigwam Ultimate liners ensures that they will keep moisture from accumulating inside your sock due to continuous sweating.
They also help to reduce friction between your skin and the shoe, ensuring that your hike won’t be cut short because of the nudging blisters forming. Finally, you can find these amazing sock liners in a standard size that should be a nice fit for most foot sizes.Buy on Amazon
Injinji Liner Crew NuWool Socks
The Injinji sock liners stand out from the crowd with their separated five-toe patented build. These were designed with runners and hikers in mind. The toe-sock construction is extremely effective at reducing friction because there is far less material to possibly bunch up or lead to hot spots.
The liner socks are made up of 5% Lycra, which allows for flexibility to make sure that you get the correct fit. It also facilitates movability, especially on distant hikes. Merino wool has been included to boost the liners moisture-wicking properties, as well as offer insulating properties.
The Injinji sock liners are available in a crew style, which allows them to be a great match for most brands of hiking boots in the market. The design of the sock was meant to act as a base layer, meaning they are super thin and accessible; just what you need to wear under warm socks for extra protection.
The largest material composition of the Injinji sock liners is merino wool, an effective fabric when it comes to wicking away excess moisture and allowing the liners to be breathable. You can find these amazing footwear accessories in a standard size that will fit snugly under your pair of ArcticDry Waterproof socks.Buy on Amazon
Fox River Wick Dry CoolMax Liner Sock
This is another great product from Fox River that will offer you the ultimate comfort and protection when you set out on your next long-distance hike.
Their versatility allows you to use them for a variety of outdoor activities; be marathoning, mountaineering, or trail running. The liners do a good job of protecting your feet from the elements.
The incorporation of Coolmax fabric into the liner’s construction helps to provide it with crucial moisture-wicking properties, which is one of the first things that hikers generally look for in sock liners for hiking.
These crew length accessories will be great for any kind of hiking boots you may have.
To ensure that you get enough flexibility when you are walking, these liners have an ultra-thin and breathable design. They are ideal for acting as a base layer of protection under your thicker socks.
With the Coolmax fabric, it will be hard for hot spots to develop on your skin, so you can bid farewell to your once nudging blisters. Select your Fox River sock liners from a range of standard sizes that you’re used to.
There’s no need to worry about not finding the perfect fit for your foot size; just ensure that the liner fits you snugly and comfortably.Buy on Amazon
Realtree Men’s Liner Socks
If you are trying to add a sense of warmth and comfort to your upcoming hike without having to carry excess weight, the Realtree men’s liner socks will be the perfect pick.
These come with an added advantage of being machine washable, which is not something you find in most sock liners in the market.
They are super functional and easy to use; maintaining them down the line will be a walk in the park for you. They also provide you with arch support, which helps to ensure that you get the perfect fit while reducing the risk of friction.
The sock liners are made up of 98% of Polypropylene and 2% spandex. This allows them to wick away moisture effortlessly while offering you plenty of room to stretch your toes as you walk.
The Realtree liner socks come in crew length and are ultra-thin to ensure that there is no added bulkiness or weight inside your boots.
Polypropylene fabric has good moisture-wicking properties, which allow you to enjoy a warm and comfortable hike.
You can choose among any standard size when you go shopping for these remarkable sock liners.Buy on Amazon
Smartwool hike liner crew socks
If you have a tendency of hiking in the summer, these smartwool liner socks promise to offer your feet protection from blisters, as well as help to regulate your body temperature. They are manufactured using a combination of wool and nylon for a super-smooth texture. The liners will easily slip under your thicker pair of socks and you won’t feel any awkwardness.
Additionally, they come with natural bacteria resisting properties that allow you to walk for as long as you may want and never have to worry about foul odour from your feet. Although the Smartwool sock liners are perfect for hot weather hikes, they are versatile enough to be used for trekking in cold weather conditions.
The socks are also seamless to guarantee your comfort every time you wear them on a hike. They also fit snugly and stay in place all the time, so you won’t have to get ticked off by their twisting and slipping under your foot.
You can find them in either small or large sizes depending on your foot size.Buy on Amazon
Bridgedale Ultralight Coolmax Liner Socks
These high-tech hiking sock liners will get the job done for you in the harshest of environments. The Bridgedale Ultralight Coolmax Liner Socks come with a nylon/Coolmax blend with a touch of Endurofil fibers to provide you with day-long comfort with a smooth feel against your skin.
Endurofil is a mixture of regular wool and merino wool that has been included to provide fantastic moisture-wicking properties in this durable package. This means you have a remarkable sock liner that will keep your feet dry while reducing the risk of friction.
But to make the deal even sweeter, the Bridgedale Ultralight Coolmax sock liners come in a double pair pack, which means you have an extra pair to change into for your multiday hike in the wilderness. The only thing is that you should be prepared to pay slightly more than some of the sock liner brands in our review.Buy on Amazon
The best way to make the most of a good hiking trip is to ensure that you have all the clothing gear to shield you from potential distractions that can mess up your adventure.
The best sock liners for hiking will go a long way to reduce the probability of blisters developing as a result of friction, as well as keep your feet dry in hot conditions.
If you’ve never worn sock liners on a hiking trip before, the above brands offer you a good option in case you want to get a a feel of just what sock liners can offer you!