You may have just wasted your money on an expensive pair of walking boots – why? – You’re wearing the wrong socks!
How many of us have spent time getting expert advice on a pair of walking boots. We have made our choice and are happy with the pair of boots we are about to buy, then the sales assistant tries to sell us a pair of socks. In your head you are thinking, “you are just after an extra sale”.
Actually if they are a good assistant they are not. They know the socks we wear with our walking boots, are just as important as the boots.
Socks are the interface between your foot and the material of the walking boot. So they play a vital role in the comfort and health of your feet on any walk. Unsuitable socks will at least leave you with sore feet, or much worse with serious blisters.
What is the purpose of wearing socks for walking then?
To keep your feet warm?
Well yes, but they can also help them stay cool!
They are a vital part of your feets wellbeing, on any walk.
Good socks are vital
A good pair of walking socks will be effective to help prevent rubbing, and a build up of moisture inside your boot. Which are the causes of blisters and discomfort.
It is teamwork between your walking boot and your socks. So when you have found a pair of boots you feel comfortable with, next think about your socks.
We get blisters when the skin of our foot rubs against the material of the boot. Socks are a barrier between the two. Make sure your sock is thick enough to prevent excess movement of your foot inside the boot, but not too thick that your foot feels squashed. A problem here is that your feet will swell when walking, especially when they are hot, so allow some tolerance.
The thickness of your sock will also affect heat retention – obviously. I have winter walking socks and summer ones. Hot feet sweat – that creates moisture – which creates blisters. So your socks need to be able to ‘wick’.
Wicking is the fabrics ability to draw moisture away from the body to the socks exterior, where it can evaporate through the fabric of the boot, (Gore-tex lined boots are excellent for breathability).
Everybody’s feet are different
We all have different feet, that is obvious, what works for one person might not be so good for you.
Walking socks like all outdoor clothing come with different features. Some have extra thick soles, some have reinforced heels or toes. There are walking socks that help provide arch support. Socks come in different lengths, to give you a choice of calf length.
It goes without saying that there are different fabrics. Most manufacturers of walking socks favour wool rather than cotton or synthetics. This is because wool is warm, it also can absorb a high amount of moisture and still maintain its insulating properties. Also it dries much more quickly than many other fabrics, and of course it it ‘soft and comfy’ to your skin.
Many manufacturers use Merino wool because it has an antibacterial composition that helps prevent odours. The weave often combines synthetic fibres with the Merino wool to create a sock that is warm and comfortable with good wicking.
At e-outdoor we have three brands of walking sock that we recommend for you. They are all Merino wool based.
‘Darn Tough’ are a pure Merino wool sock with a lifetime guarantee. ‘Extremities’ and ‘Smartwool’ are brands that combine a Merino wool/Polyamide weave. They all come in different thicknesses and sizes.