Why You NEED a good pair of socks!
Socks come in all shapes and sizes and are designed for a variety of uses. Despite being so important to foot care, they are often one of the most overlooked parts of the outdoor experience!
A good pair of socks will easily be the difference between blisters, discomfort and cold feet! This guide will tell you all you need to know about socks and the best kinds of socks for walking and keeping your feet prepared for anything!
Step 1: The Material
As with most things clothing related, the most important part of any sock is the material it’s made from. Your average day to day sock is usually made from cotton or nylon with an elasticated top. This is because these materials are generally soft, breathable and relatively inexpensive. Whilst these socks are great for a simple throw on and day-to-day activities, they have their drawbacks when worn for long periods of time…
The main issue that nylon or cotton socks face is moisture absorption, a cotton sock will absorb almost any moisture it comes into contact with, sweat, water and anything else. This ultimately just leaves your foot bathing in a soak, which softens the skin and eventually will lead to blisters or other issues. A wet sock will actually stick to the inside of your boot and rub against your foot, causing further friction and most nasty blisters!
To put this in context, your feet contain around 250,000 sweat glands and can produce up to around a half pint of water each day! That’s a lot of moisture to soak up!
Read More: If you’re a keen dog walker and are looking to make the most out of your dog walks, a new pair of socks and boots might be just what you’re looking for! Read Our Guide
Our dear friend Merino wool! We’ve written before about the benefits of Merino wool, however the reason they make such great socks is because of their ability to regulate temperature and wick sweat away from your foot.
The Darn Tough Mountaineering Over The Calf Sock is a great example of a high quality Merino wool sock.
When your feet warm-up and begin to sweat whilst your walk, Merino fibres absorb moisture vapour before it can turn into sweat and force it to evaporate outside the sock – This lowers the temperature of the air between your foot and the inner of the sock whilst still keeping a layer of warmth on those particularly brisk days!
Likewise, as Merino wool is a fine wool and naturally elastic. Its coil-like structure helps it to return to its original shape when stretched. This means that the wool is able to ‘hug your foot and ankle’ far more efficiently than non elastic materials, securing the sock in place and minimising friction between the boot and sock.
On the other hand, if it’s warmth you are after for those treks to particularly cold areas or brisk Wintery days, we’d recommend also looking for Alpaca wool socks such as the Vicuna Antartica, As these Alpacas live at high altitude in the Andes Mountains of South America where they endure some of the most hostile cold environments on earth. They have evolved a very fine wool coat which traps large amounts of air without matting down and also sheds moisture. These are the properties that make Alpaca wool so good for socks.
We often hear it quite a lot that a sock is…just a sock.
Well trust us on this one, it really isn’t! A great pair of hiking socks includes a plethora of overlooked features that your standard day to day sock won’t even come close to matching.
For example, many hiking socks offer both supported toe boxes and cushioning across the bottom to not only prevent chafing on the top of the toe, but also protect the underside of your foot by cushioning impacts. It is not uncommon to find that the fabric on the top of the foot is slightly lighter than that on the toe and heel. This gives you insulation where you need it the most and allows unwanted heat and moisture to escape.
Perhaps our favourite additions to walking socks though are elastic fastenings found in strategic places around the sock to secure it to the foot and prevent it slipping or moving whilst in your walking boot. Sock technology is in fact so advanced that on some advanced socks this elastic is designed to actually compress the muscles to increase support and blood flow by flushing out cramp-causing toxins and aiding recovery, helping you walk further for longer…Pretty neat right?!
Step 3: Caring For Your Socks!
Hopefully by now you’re realising the importance of a good pair of socks! So now that you have got gone through the effort of getting yourself some decent socks, it’s time to keep them in tip top condition!
One of the most common issues we see when washing socks is not turning them inside out. Unlike thin wool or nylon socks, merino socks are best washed inside out to help remove oil and salt build up. NOTE: Use a low temperature wash or cold water setting to prevent the wool shrinking. The same goes for drying, as Merino wool is already non absorbent, instead of tumble drying, lay the socks out flat and let them drip dry. In terms of storage, it’s always best practice to place socks flat in a draw rather than wrapping them in a ball. A ball can stretch the socks and begin to lose some of their elasticity!
So there you have it, all you need to know about high quality socks and their benefits! If you have any further questions, our customer experience team would be happy to help answer your questions! Contact us here, or carry on reading about the best ways to was and re-waterproof your jacket for those wet and rainy days!