The Best Hiking Socks Review

Do you have yet to find the perfect hiking sock? One that will fit like a second skin, wick moisture away, and keep you warm, wet or dry? To help solve this very problem, weve tested five of the leading mid-weight competitors, in all types of adverse conditions. We put them through the paces, worn continuously for weeks, dragged through snow and over ice, and used in the demanding conditions you expect your mid-weight trekking sock to handle. Once testing was completed, we ranked each based on their comfort, insulation while wet, insulation while dry, drying speed, and wicking ability. Our Editors Choice awards will help you decide which product belongs on your adventures, and which belong on the shelf.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Hiking Socks - Men's Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
SmartWool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew Socks
SmartWool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew Socks
Read the Review
Video video review
Lorpen PrimaLoft Midweight Hiker Crew Sock
Lorpen PrimaLoft Midweight Hiker Crew Sock
Read the Review
Smartwool Hiking Light Crew
Smartwool Hiking Light Crew
Read the Review
REI Merino Wool Light Hiker II Socks
REI Merino Wool Light Hiker II Socks
Read the Review
Video video review
Smartwool Hiking Medium Crew
Smartwool Hiking Medium Crew
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award    Best Buy Award   
Street Price Varies $24 - $72
Compare at 8 sellers
$12
Compare at 1 sellers
Varies $16 - $18
Compare at 6 sellers
$14
Compare at 1 sellers
Varies $15 - $19
Compare at 6 sellers
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1 rating
Be the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate it
Pros Comfortable, insulates well when wet, dries quickly.Dries quickly, comfortable, wicking, warm.Can accommodate liner.Comfortable, cozy, warm.Warm, accommodates liner.
Cons Expensive, cannot take liner.Insulates poorly when wet, clammy when cold.Doesn’t wick well, dries slowly.Not very durable.Poor wicking, not fitted.
Best Uses Three-season backpacking, canoe tripping, mild-weather hiking and trekking.Backpacking, hiking, trekking in warm and wet conditions.Hiking, backpacking.Cold-weather climbing and backpacking, budget buys, mountaineering.Mountaineering, winter travel.
Date Reviewed Jun 20, 2011Jun 20, 2011Jun 20, 2011Jun 20, 2011Jun 20, 2011
Weighted Scores SmartWool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew Socks Lorpen PrimaLoft Midweight Hiker Crew Sock Smartwool Hiking Light Crew REI Merino Wool Light Hiker II Socks Smartwool Hiking Medium Crew
Comfort - 20%
10
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10
10
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9
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7
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8
10
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6
Warmth When Wet - 20%
10
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8
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6
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9
Drying - 20%
10
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9
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10
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6
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5
Warmth When Dry - 20%
10
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7
10
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8
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7
10
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10
Wicking - 20%
10
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9
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7
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5
Product Specs SmartWool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew Socks Lorpen PrimaLoft Midweight Hiker Crew Sock Smartwool Hiking Light Crew REI Merino Wool Light Hiker II Socks Smartwool Hiking Medium Crew
Material 79% wool, 20% nylon, 1% elastic 75% PrimaLoft yarn (50% PrimaLoft polyester, 50% merino wool), 15% nylon, 10% Lycra 73% wool, 22% nylon, 5% elastic 78% merino wool/20% nylon/2% Lycra spandex 71% wool, 28% nylon, 1% elastic

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review



The test subjects
The test subjects
Credit: SuperTopo Review Team

Comfort
Fitted designs are becoming increasingly common these days, and no fitted model performed better than the Smartwool PhD. With aggressive paneling and cushioning on the toes and heel, it was one of only two contenders to produce no blisters. The other was the Lorpen Primaloft, with a similar fitted design. However, the material, a Primaloft, nylon and lycra blend, was not quite as friendly as the pure wool of the PhD. Both stayed entirely motionless on the foot, a real advantage when traversing hillsides or hopping on talus.
The REI light Hiker was not quite as well fitted as the PhD or Lorpen Primaloft, but was knitted with fantastically cozy wool. If the Lorpen Primaloft and Smartwool PhD represent the cutting edge of performance, then the REI Light Hikers are the pinnacle of leisure. There is nothing more luxurious after a long, wet day than a dry pair of REI Light Hikers.

Insulation While Wet
In a competition for pure insulating ability, nothing beats a thick, no frills attached, burly wool option. And thats exactly what the Smartwool Medium Crew delivers. It kept feet comfortable through snow, slush and hail, and was unmatched for pure warmth. However, they tend to slide around the foot when wet, so using a pair of liners is recommended.
Despite being relatively thin, the PhD did nearly as well as the REI Light Hiker, which has significantly more material. Neither of them moved very much when wet, which meant they were chillier, but overall more comfortable, on long wet slogs than the Smartwool Medium Crew.

Insulation While Dry
While most models performed better dry then wet, the option with the best all-around insulating ability was, again, the Smartwool Medium crew. It kept feet cozy well into the low twenties. The Lorpen Primaloft also did well, but became uncomfortable below thirty degrees. Additionally, they nearly lost all of their wicking ability at those temperatures, and became rather clammy.

Drying Speed
For sheer speed, no product tested can match the Lorpen Primaloft. During testing, they averaged two hours to damp, and four to dry (on a sunny granite slab), an exceptional number compared to the six to twelve of its wool equivalents. They were also the only ones to dry completely overnight, a luxury on cold mornings. The runner-up is the Smartwool PhD, which dried in a little less than twice that time.

Wicking ability
While neither was sensational, both the PhD and Lorpen did an adequate job at keeping the testers feet dry. Neither performed spectacularly during extended periods of high-intensity exercise, and the Lorpen socks almost entirely stopped wicking at low temperatures. That wouldn't be as much of an issue, however, if they were large enough to take liners. None of the thicker, less fitted socks wicked well independently, but this problem could easily be avoided by wearing a pair of liners.

Favorite product
The Smartwool PhD was the tester favorite. Smartwool has managed to blend warmth, comfort, and wicking ability into the best midweight trekking sock out there. However, the Lorpen Primaloft was a close second, and the recommended product for anyone traveling in warm and wet conditions.

The top three performers
The top three performers
Credit: SuperTopo Review Team

Best value
We recommend the REI Light Hiker II's. They performed well across the board, and retail for less then $12.

Another option if you want the absolute most days of use for your dollar is the Wigwam Cool-Lite Hiker Pro Crew. They are not as high performance as the other socks, but they last forever and have a lot of cushion. Some of our testers have been wearing them for 6+ years and they still look newish.

For more great hiking gear check out our Dream Hiking Gear List.

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