How to choose the best waterproof hiking socks for you?
Nothing is as important for a good hiking trip as comfortable feet. They’re the part of your body that takes the most abuse, and thus are also the part that should receive the most care.
Socks with a waterproof membrane are thicker and less flexible than standard hiking socks. This is something you get used to with time, but know that you’ll need some extra space in your boot to accommodate them.
The comfort of waterproof socks varies depending on what activity they were designed for; the more comfortable ones have thinner inner membranes, are made with softer, less weatherproof external layers, and are better for activities like trail running.
For maximum comfort, you should choose the softest model with the thinnest membrane that’s appropriate for your sport.
How long should my waterproof hiking socks last?
When choosing a pair of socks, you might not consider durability as one of your top criteria.
Socks are normally protected from the environment by your shoes, so they really shouldn’t take a lot of abuse.
Plus, most pairs aren’t so expensive that you’re worried about them lasting forever.
However, waterproof socks cost quite a bit more than regular hiking socks, so you’ll want to make sure the pair you buy will last a long time.
For waterproof socks that use the three-layer design, the outer layer is what provides their durability.
An exterior made from tough nylon will keep them in top shape for years to come, but the downside is that greater durability usually sacrifices comfort.
Tougher fabrics will be less stretchy and won’t fit your foot as well, which could lead to blisters after several hours of hiking.
To keep your waterproof socks functioning, it’s best to not put them in the washer and dryer, but rather gently hand wash them and hang dry.
They take a while to completely dry, so you’ll want to hang them in a warm place with plenty of ventilation.
Can waterproof hiking socks be as breathable and wicking as my regular socks?
There’s no way to avoid it: waterproof socks are just less breathable than regular hiking socks.
It’s the cost of having a waterproof membrane, but some models do a better job than others at moisture wicking.
Wicking starts at the inner layer; the fabric against your skin needs to move moisture away.
Wool has excellent wicking properties, making it the ideal fabric for an inner layer. Certain synthetics can also work well, but they have the downside of breeding bacteria, leading to smelly socks.
One thing you’ll want to consider is that any moisture that gets in the top of the sock will wick down to the soles of your feet.
If you’re trudging through deep powder, you’ll want to wear gaiters to prevent any snow from contacting the top cuff and getting everything wet.
Do I want waterproof socks that are warm?
Many hikers use waterproof socks in the winter because snow can enter your boot much more easily than rain or trail water, but also because a wet foot is more dangerous when the temperature is below freezing.
For winter hikes, you’ll definitely want the most waterproof sock possible.
How warm your hiking socks are is directly related to how breathable they are; less breathable socks are warmer.
A completely impermeable membrane prevents moisture from getting out, but it also traps heat in.
Neoprene socks are some of the least breathable, and they’re also the warmest.
For summer hikes, you’ll want to choose a more breathable sock and accept that they won’t be as waterproof. In the summer, socks that don’t breathe will make your feet too hot and thus sweaty, a sure path to blisters.
On the other hand, the best insulated socks for winter will hold onto the heat from your feet, while wicking away moisture that would cause blisters.
Conclusion: What Are The Best Waterproof Socks?
When it comes to choosing great all-around waterproof socks, the Dexshell Hyptherms are the clear winner.
They are breathable, comfortable, and highly durable. The type of sock that will work in almost any environment where they might be needed.
The only downside is that they dry slowly. Like all waterproof socks, you’ll want to get them off as soon as possible when you reach camp, giving them time to dry before you start hiking again the next morning.
A close second to the Dexshells Hyptherms was the Showers Pass Crosspoint. They are just as waterproof and are actually a little more comfortable, but we had to rate them lower due to their inferior windproofing.
If you’re looking for something a little less bulky and don’t need as much waterproofing, the Dexshell Bamboos make for a great summer waterproof hiking sock. Sometimes you just need a little extra protection, and the Bamboos combine that with excellent breathability.
Whether you’re hiking, cycling, or just working in the yard, you want to keep your feet dry.
Wet feet breed fungal infections, blister easily, and get frostbitten in colder temperatures.
While many boots are at least somewhat waterproof, a pair of waterproof socks is your last line of defense in keeping moisture away from your feet.