Hiking socks are specially engineered to provide comfort, support, and cushioning while also being very durable and able to prevent blisters from developing. Most primary contact points (foot, ball of foot, heel), provide good cushioning for the majority of activities performed on a hiking trip. However, irritation, blister formation, corns, and calluses develop at less sensitive areas of the foot. These less sensitive areas include the ball of the foot, the heel, the ball of the ankle, the toes, the sides of the foot, and the top of the foot.
There is a common misconception among hikers that socks provide an insulating benefit, however, this is not true. Most socks are just plain water-resistant and can actually increase your risk of developing cold sores, warts, and cramps. During prolonged exposure to damp, cold environments (in hot climates) the skin in your feet can begin to show signs of aging. These aging signs are caused by the reduction of elastin and collagen fibers in your skin. A dry pair of hiking socks will increase your risk of developing calluses and other conditions.
For effective protection, you need shoes that are breathable and also have some sort of waterproofing or insulating properties. Shoes with these characteristics will prevent sweat from building up between the shoe and your foot, which will prevent bacteria and fungi from growing. The breathability of a shoe can be enhanced by using socks with a wicking system such as neoprene. This action draws out moisture, which prevents perspiration and dampness between the shoe and your feet.
Neoprene has the highest level of moisture barrier of any material used for socks. It allows your feet to breathe and stay dry. Because of this feature, you can wear a pair of socks anywhere, even on a humid day. But if you do wear a pair of socks keep in mind that they need to be extremely comfortable. You may want to add a little weight to the inside of your sock to add more comfort, or if you find that your feet stay sweaty after a few minutes of walking, thin plastic spandex socks work well.
One of the advantages of purchasing a sock made from wool is that it is highly durable and offers excellent breathability. Wool socks are great for keeping your feet dry on hot summer days when your socks begin to get wet. But if you choose a synthetic sock it will not have the same benefits as a pair made from 100% wool. Synthetic materials are often stiffer, less flexible, and do not breathe as well. They do not hold the moisture like wool does and do not provide the best breathability either.
For those who enjoy long-distance hiking, you will want to consider lightweight socks that offer good breathability. There are several benefits to using wool socks for long-distance hikes, but synthetic materials do have their own advantages as well. They are light weight, do not retain moisture, and tend to last longer than synthetic options. This means that you have more flexibility when choosing the right pair of socks for your hiking trips. If you use a synthetic option you can expect to purchase a pair that will last a good deal longer than the ones made from natural fibers such as cotton.
When shopping for hiking socks, keep in mind that the comfort level of the shoe is just as important as the insulation and weight. You should make sure that you are purchasing a pair that is a good fit to prevent blisters from forming and that the toe box is wide enough to accommodate your toes. This ensures that you are getting a good amount of comfort and protection from your socks while still keeping with a streamlined look and minimizing bulk.
One of the best ways to ensure that you are purchasing a comfortable pair of socks is to find a brand that offers both comfort and breathability. One brand that offers both is Pinnacle Sports. They have blended their performance sock line with their Lycra athletic apparel line to create a great combination. Lycra is the premier fabric used in athletic socks as it works to eliminate friction from your foot during your workout, resulting in less stress on your body and a more comfortable ride.