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Best Winter Socks

last updated Aug 09, 2019

You undoubtedly have that classic top drawer that is overflowing with a surplus of socks. You might have all sorts of finds in there (such as Christmas socks, value pack purchases from bulk stores, and simple black socks for work). But do you have a few pairs of quality winter socks? If not, it’s worth investing in some, and for reasons that you may not have realized. Finding the best winter socks when it’s snowing and cold outside is important for maintaining good health since socks can protect you against the cold helping to prevent problems like hypothermia while you are outside.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 11 hrs of research

icon
Darn Tough Hiker Crew
97.5/100 our score
Materials
98
Insulation
97
Comfort
98
Durability
97
Darn Tough Hiker Crew
Why is it better?

Comfortable

Made to last

Fast-drying

Protection from bacterial build-up

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Darn Tough Hiker Crew
Test Winner: Darn Tough Hiker Crew
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
13
Researched Sources
Total Readers
12k
Total Readers
Hours Researching
11
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
15
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
Sami Kritz
By Sami Kritz:

Cold feet isn't just an expression used at wedding ceremonies. Cozy up this winter with one of these top-rated winter socks. While we didn't replace any products in this update, we did embellish and organize each review. We added insulation as a criterion so that you can see just how warm each product will keep you.

Sorting Options
Materials Insulation Comfort Durability By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.5
Materials
98 %
Insulation
97 %
Comfort
98 %
Durability
97 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.08.19)
Amazon Link
$20.90
Cabelas
$20.99
See Deal
Backcountry Link
$22.95
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#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.3
Materials
95 %
Insulation
96 %
Comfort
95 %
Durability
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.08.19)
Amazon Link
$15.77
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93
Materials
93 %
Insulation
94 %
Comfort
93 %
Durability
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.08.19)
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.5
Materials
92 %
Insulation
93 %
Comfort
92 %
Durability
93 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.08.19)
Backcountry Link
$15.95
See Deal
Amazon Link
$79.99
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
Materials
90 %
Insulation
92 %
Comfort
91 %
Durability
91 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.08.19)
Amazon Link
$20.94
Backcountry Link
$22.00
See Deal
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.5
Materials
90 %
Insulation
89 %
Comfort
90 %
Durability
89 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.08.19)
Backcountry Link
$14.99
See Deal
Amazon Link
$20.00
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89
Materials
89 %
Insulation
90 %
Comfort
88 %
Durability
89 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.08.19)
Amazon Link
$14.40
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.8
Materials
85 %
Insulation
84 %
Comfort
82 %
Durability
80 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.08.19)
Amazon Link
$26.95
Backcountry Link
$29.95
See Deal
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
79.3
Materials
80 %
Insulation
78 %
Comfort
79 %
Durability
80 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.08.19)
Cabelas
$16.99
See Deal
Amazon Link
$17.95
Backcountry Link
$19.00
See Deal
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.5
Materials
79 %
Insulation
78 %
Comfort
78 %
Durability
79 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (22.08.19)
Amazon Link
$11.80

Our Top Picks For The Best Winter Socks

1. Darn Tough Hiker Crew

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.5
Darn Tough Hiker Crew
Amazon Link
Materials
98
Insulation
97
Comfort
98
Durability
97
best offer for today
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Pros:

Comfortable

Made to last

Fast-drying

Protection from bacterial build-up

Cons:

They tend to run small

Darn Tough makes some of the best multi-seasonal hiking and outdoor socks available on the market today, and their Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks are no exception to this rule. Darn Tough’s Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks are made to help keep your feet dry while providing plenty of cushion and comfort for those outdoor enthusiasts that are always on-the-go.

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Materials
The main material of Darn Tough’s socks is Merino wool, which is naturally antimicrobial and protects your feet against any bacterial build-up you might encounter from your activities. Additionally incorporated is Nylon and Lycra spandex. The fit of these socks is also meant to be very comfortable, providing enough padding and protection to keep you free from pressure points so you stay active all day long.

Insulation
Honestly, unless you’re lounging around the house, you’re not going to wear these socks without winter boots. The insulation provided by these socks is warm and comfortable, but pairing them with a great boot can really take your warmth to the next level. For many people, because of their great breathability, they function well as a three-season sock.

Comfort
Darn Tough’s Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks are made with a lot of cushioning on the bottom of the foot area, which supports your feet well and helps protect them from blisters and other irritations. Plus, these socks are designed with fine-gauge knitting, making them breathable as well as fast drying so that you don’t have to worry about these socks retaining water.

Durability
These socks also come with a lifetime guarantee, which is a nice benefit since you know the manufacturer stands behind its product. With protection from water build-up, bacteria, and a lot of comfort and support, these socks are great for winter weather outdoor activities.

2. Heat Holder Thermal

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.3
Heat Holder Thermal
Amazon Link
Materials
95
Insulation
96
Comfort
95
Durability
95
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$15.77
Pros:

Good thermal properties

Breathable

Good overall comfort

Cons:

Run a bit large

Durability could be improved

If heat and warmth while you’re outdoors in the winter weather are your primary concerns, then you’ll probably love what Heat Holder Thermal Socks can offer to you. Heat Holder’s socks are made to be thermal, making them about seven times warmer than most other socks, something you won’t want to live without on the coldest days.

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Materials
Heat Holder’s Thermal Socks are made with an advanced insulating yarn, an expert brush liner, and are also 91% acrylic, 5% nylon, 3% polyester and 1% elastane. Their materials make them not only great at generating heat, but also make them feel very soft and comfortable on the inside so that your feet can keep going as long as you need them to be.

Insulation
With this sock, we are introduced to the TOG (Thermal Overall Grade) rating system. The higher the TOG rating, the warmer the item. For such a small item, these socks have an impressive TOG rating of 2.34. This makes Heat Holders about three times warmer than traditional thermal socks.

Comfort
Also, these socks not only insulate well against the cold, but they are also made with excellent breathability and the ability to keep moisture out of the sock. An extra layer of cushioning developed into the sock also helps to trap in more warm air, so the socks keep generating heat for your feet.

If you want some high-quality insulation, these thermal socks offer a lot of benefits, including their heat-generating capability, moisture protection, and breathability. Plus, they feel very soft and comfortable on your feet, so you’ll feel great while you play outside even when the weather is cold.

Durability
The good news is that these socks are machine washable. However, judging by customer feedback, to ensure long-lasting durability, you may be better off hand washing or using the delicate cycle. There is no doubt about their ability to keep you warm, but you should use caution to not over-wash or be too rough with them.

3. Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93
Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew
Amazon Link
Materials
93
Insulation
94
Comfort
93
Durability
92
best offer for today
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Pros:

High-quality materials

Durable construction

Excellent moisture control

Cons:

They run small

For the versatile winter outdoor enthusiast, a sock that covers a bevy of benefits would be best for you, and Smartwool’s PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks offers a lot of potential. Made to keep feet happy, warm, and dry, these manufacturers use a great combination of high-quality materials to create these socks.

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Materials
Constructed out of Merino wool, which is a very advanced fiber, the Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks use this material to create breathability, keep out moisture, and cut back on odor build-up. Smartwool’s socks can be worn all day long and will keep your feet comfortable and going strong through anything you need.

Insulation
These Mid-Crew socks have an overall height of about six inches. This is a warm and comfortable height because it is typically more or less the same height as your boot. It doesn’t bunch or slide down, providing uninterrupted warmth. Also, there are mesh zones integrated for breathability.

Comfort
These socks are also constructed with plenty of padding at the heel and forefront areas, which help to create extra support and absorb shock during your outdoor activities. The toe seams are virtually seamless, protecting you from uncomfortable rubbing or blisters. Plus, these socks are made to feel great as you move and have just the right thickness of padding to feel great.

Durability
Smartwool’s socks also are made from a very tough and durable wool material, making them last quite a while, and keeping them tough and strong. This material has become so popular that they actually named it Indescructawool Technology. With a lot of comfort and warmth, these socks will help keep you productive when it’s cold outside.

4. Darn Tough No Show Light Cushion

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.5
Darn Tough No Show Light Cushion
Amazon Link
Materials
92
Insulation
93
Comfort
92
Durability
93
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Amazon Link
$79.99
Backcountry Link
$15.95
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Pros:

Exceptional moisture control

Good breathability

Lightweight

Decent antibacterial properties

Cons:

The ankle cut is lower, offering less protection

If you are interested in getting some lightweight socks with great moisture control, then you might want to consider Darn Tough’s No Show Light Cushion. These socks are made for people who like to move quickly when the weather is cold, and they offer the advantage of being less bulky and easy to hide.

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Materials
These Darn Tough No Show socks are a fantastic way to keep your feet decently warm in winter months because of the fabrics they are made from. These socks, like many others on this list, are made with 41% merino wool, which naturally repels bacteria and odor. They are also largely nylon and only 3% lycra.

Insulation
Merino Wool really is an amazing fabric. It provides insulation, breathability, and odor control naturally. While this low-cut sock doesn’t offer as much warmth as a high-rise sock, it still provides a decent amount of warmth to your foot. Reviewers are pleased with its functionality in all three seasons, excluding summer. They are breathable, but most summers would be too warm for wool socks.

Comfort
These socks are made to be light, so they don't weigh you down. However, they also offer some cushioning along the bottom of your feet for the best comfort experience. However, the big standout feature of these socks is that they are tab height, which means they won't show in a variety of shoes. This no show feature is nice for the workplace or if you head to the gym wearing them.

Durability
These socks live up to their name. They are Darn Tough and durable. To prove this, the company has given them a lifetime guarantee. This guarantee covers normal wear and tear including holes and rips. Overall, if you are shopping around for socks that are ready for winter, but will still be lightweight and can be worn with shoes and not be seen, you will love these.

5. Smartwool Trekking Heavy

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
Smartwool Trekking Heavy
Amazon Link
Materials
90
Insulation
92
Comfort
91
Durability
91
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$20.94
Backcountry Link
$22.00
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Pros:

Fights off moisture build-up

Exceptionally warm

Decent breathability

Cons:

As their name suggests, they are heavy

If you want some heavy-duty socks with the extra benefits of more Merino wool, then Smartwool’s Trekking Heavy Crew Socks provide you with this option. These Smartwool socks are made with 70% Merino wool, which makes these socks thick, but also gives them the ability to lock out moisture, breathe, and give you a lot of comforts.

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Materials
Typical for many of these winter socks, these socks are made from a blend of Merino wool, nylon, and elastane. With the benefits Merino wool has to offer, allowing for these socks to absorb moisture, be breathable, add warmth, and also ward off health issues, these socks are a great pick for warmth during the colder weather. You’ll get what you need for long periods of outdoor activities.

Insulation
The thickness of the socks combined with the materials creates a warm and comfortable sock. The height of this mid-length crew sock is perfect with almost any boots. The extra layer of warmth from these socks will keep you comfortable in many climates.

Comfort
Merino wool helps to not only keep your feet dry, warm, and ventilated, but also protects against microbial and bacterial build-up on your feet, keeping your feet happy and healthy. Smartwool’s Trekking Heavy Crew Socks also provide plenty of thickness and warmth around the foot, making them great for winter outdoor activities. The toe seam is flat-knit, keeping you safe from chafing and blisters. They provide optimal comfort and shock absorption. Also, they are made to be lightweight even with the extra wool woven into them, so that you won’t find them too restrictive.

Durability
Most reviewers are pleased with the durability of the Trekking Heavy socks. The antimicrobial properties of the wool means that you don’t need to wash them often, but they are easily machine washed. There have been a few reviewers who say that the sock began to pill much faster than they expected.

6. Injinji Outdoor Midweight

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.5
Injinji Outdoor Midweight
Amazon Link
Materials
90
Insulation
89
Comfort
90
Durability
89
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Amazon Link
$20.00
Backcountry Link
$14.99
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Pros:

Good moisture and bacteria protection

Nice amount of cushioning

5 toe design allows them to be worn with FiveFinger shoes

They are indeed warm

Cons:

The separate toe design may take some getting used to

Injini’s Outdoor Midweight Socks are designed to be a bit different, with a five-toe design that’s integrated into their socks to help prevent blisters and hotspots even in the toe areas of your feet. Also, if you want extra cushioning in your socks, these socks are made with added padding to absorb more shock as you move around and play outdoors.

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Materials
Injini’s Outdoor Midweight Crew Socks are made with NuWool, nylon, and spandex, so you get plenty of thermal regulation designed to help ventilate your feet and keep moisture out. Also, the Merino wool designed into these socks reduces the chances of bacterial and microbial build-up, as well as preventing odor.

Insulation
These midweight socks are a versatile pair that provide enough warmth for a harsh winter, and enough breathability to be comfortable in on a crisp spring day. Some reviewers have come to the conclusion that the individual toe spaces add an extra layer of warmth. After all, it is always your toes that are the coldest.

Comfort
The five-toe design of Injini’s socks can take some getting used to, although some people do feel they are quite comfortable from the first moment they try these socks on. However, their design focuses on decreases blisters and feet problems, so if that is an issue for you, these socks might be worth the investment. At the top of these socks is a mesh area which also helps to increase breathability and ventilation. Plus, you also get plenty of arch support and padding on the bottom of your feet to keep your feet comfortable and moving throughout all of your outdoor adventures.

Durability
For the casual wearer and washer, these socks seem to be durable enough. However, if you plan to use these socks for running multiple times a week, they may not last as long. It is important to keep in mind that the wool material is antimicrobial and it isn’t necessary to wash them after each use. To ease your concerns, there is a one year warranty from the manufacturer.

7. Wigwam Merino Wool Midweight

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89
Wigwam Merino Wool Midweight
Amazon Link
Materials
89
Insulation
90
Comfort
88
Durability
89
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Amazon Link
$14.40
Pros:

Reasonably priced

Built for durability

Quite warm

Cons:

They tend to fit rather loose

If you’re looking for affordability in a high-quality pair of Merino wool socks, then you might want to consider Wigwam’s Merino Wool Midweight Crew socks, which offer outdoor enthusiasts on a budget the chance to still purchase a great pair of Merino wool socks. Made to be midweight, these socks offer a lot of cushioning plus additional warmth and comfort.

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Materials
These socks have a bigger blend of materials than most. In addition to the merino wool, you’ll also find polyester, nylon, and spandex. This mix of materials provides warmth, breathability, and a great fit.

Insulation
Wigwam’s Merino Wool Midweight Crew Socks are made to be thick and work well for cold weather since they are warm and also don’t bunch up. The Merino wool designed into the socks prevents these socks from building up moisture and bacteria while also increasing ventilation and warmth every time you wear these socks.

Comfort
One reviewer described these socks as “fluffy.” We think that he meant “cushioned.” The Wigwam socks have ample cushioning in both the foot and leg. They provide great comfort throughout the day. The foot-hugging design features a seamless toe. A seamless toe provides great comfort and decreases your chances of chafing or blisters.

Durability
Although these socks aren’t quite as tailored as some more expensive versions of Merino wool socks, they do last a while and work well in all areas that are important for cold-weather outdoor protection. They come with reinforced durability and are made to last quite a while. Merino Wool’s Midweight Crew Socks also come with a lifetime guarantee, meaning the manufacturer stands behind this product. They also offer all the benefits of traditional Merino wool socks at a lower cost than what you can usually find on the market today.

8. Darn Tough Mountaineering

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.8
Darn Tough Mountaineering
Amazon Link
Materials
85
Insulation
84
Comfort
82
Durability
80
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$26.95
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$29.95
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Pros:

A good amount of cushioning

Warm yet breathable

Well-fitting for most

Cons:

Some don't like the exaggerated height of the socks

Darn Tough’s Mountaineering Socks are made to work as a cold-weather sock for all outdoor activities, and the thermal warmth and other features these socks bring you will help protect your feet each time you put these socks on. Darn Tough’s Mountaineering Socks are also made to be quite versatile, so if you do a lot of outdoor winter sports, these could be the right socks for you.

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Materials
These mountaineering socks are made from merino wool, lycra, and spandex. The wool provides warmth, the lycra provides a great fit, and the spandex provides a tight feel and also ensures that the sock doesn’t fall or bunch. Reviewers have been impressed with the overall fit of the socks and say they run true to size.

Insulation
Darn Tough’s Mountaineering socks are cut to come right below your knees. This is great for extreme cold or to pair with high boots. They provide you with a lot of extra warmth at the bottom part of your leg and this high-cut design also prevents the socks from slipping and bunching up.

Comfort
Designed with Merino wool in the socks, these socks help to keep out bacteria, prevent odor, and also keep moisture out while still keeping your feet well-ventilated and warm. These socks also come with some of the highest density cushioning on the market for extra warmth and comfort. The excess cushioning helps with shock absorption and other issues you might encounter when out on the trail.

Durability
Keep in mind that the materials that the socks are built from are antimicrobial and these socks don’t need to be washed after every use. Darn Tough’s Mountaineering Socks come with a lifetime guarantee, which is a nice benefit for any outdoor enthusiast. Plus, they are very warm for winter weather and will give you everything you need to stay warm and perform well.

9. Smartwool Hike Light

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
79.3
Smartwool Hike Light
Amazon Link
Materials
80
Insulation
78
Comfort
79
Durability
80
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Pros:

Affordable

Quite comfortable

Decent padding

Cons:

Seems that earlier versions of this sock might have lasted longer

Smartwool’s Hike Light Crew Socks are some of the most popular socks on the market and work like a traditional, comfortable, warm sock. Made to be durable and long-lasting, these socks can endure a lot of abuse while you’re active outside, and also can handle being washed more than you could imagine.

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Materials
These socks are made from Merino wool and nylon. The fit of these socks is a bit looser than our other options. The exclusion of spandex makes them more comfortable for some. If you have poor blood circulation or just dislike the feeling of a tight sock, this would be a great option for you.

Insulation
If you like socks that are made to be lighter in weight but that can still retain warmth, then Smartwool’s Hike Light Crew Socks might fit your needs. They come with a thinner construction so that they breathe well, but they also dry quickly and are made with Merino Wool to help keep out bacteria and moisture while keeping feet warm.

Comfort
Smartwool’s Hike Light Crew Socks might fit a bit more loosely than some other socks, but they do come with excellent padding that runs across the entire bottom of the foot for better shock absorption and overall foot comfort. The design of these socks should help give you the support you need to have happy feet during all of your cold-weather outdoor adventures.

Durability
Smartwool’s Hike Light Crew Socks are also an affordable option for socks made out of Merino wool, and they provide a lot of moisture protection and comfort. You’ll get plenty of use out of these socks, and your feet will feel great each time you wear these socks.

10. Fox River Dry Walker

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.5
Fox River Dry Walker
Amazon Link
Materials
79
Insulation
78
Comfort
78
Durability
79
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$11.80
Pros:

Keep feet pretty dry

The general fit is quite comfortable

Designed well, prevention irritation

Cons:

Not merino wool, so bacteria defense is limited

Fox River’s Dry Walker Socks are made with comfort and warmth in mind and are designed with material that dries quickly and prevents blisters. The UrFit system and flat seams ensure that you won't experience any chafing or rubbing.

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Materials
Comprised out of 75% microfiber acrylic, 23% nylon, and 2% spandex, these socks are lightweight but also offer plenty of warmth and softness for all of your winter outdoor adventures.

Insulation
Fox River’s Dry Walker Socks have vented panels to help keep your feet dry, but enough thermal heat regulation to keep your feet warm as they stay dry during the winter. You’ll be able to walk, run, or play all day in these socks while your feet stay warm and dry.

Comfort
Fox River’s Dry Walker Socks are made for people that worry about blisters and shoe irritation, and these socks help to keep your feet comfortable and clear of problems shoes and weather elements can create. Plus, these socks come with the Urfit System, which gives great arch support with the memory-knit construction of the socks. These socks also have a high cushion instep, which helps to take the pressure off your feet from your shoe’s laces and tongue, cutting back on pressure points and increasing comfort. They are also made with a smooth and flat toe seam, made specifically so the seam won’t rub against your toes.

Durability
These socks have proven to be quite durable. They are machine washable and can handle quite a bit of abuse. One thing that slightly worries us is the UrFit system. It does provide great fit and comfort, but with pressure on the exact same points of the sock each time you wear them, holes may form faster than expected. They do not feature any wool or antibacterial properties and should be washed often.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Materials

Most winter socks are made from more than one fabric and blend several types of materials together to provide your feet with a balance of warmth, durability, comfort, and protection against moisture. There are a few materials you’ll find often in winter socks, and we’ve listed them below.

Wool
Wool is probably the most common material you’ll find in socks, and it’s the material most footwear specialists prefer above others. Wool helps to keep your foot temperature where it needs to be without creating more sweat or locking moisture in. Plus, wool provides a lot of effective cushioning. Most types of wool are naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial, so odor won’t build up and you’ll have fewer health problems with your feet when compared to some other materials. Socks made from wool are usually comprised out of merino wool, which is itch-free and very comfortable. Still, most socks are not completely made of wool and use blends of other materials to make the socks dry out faster and help create better durability.

Polyester
As a synthetic material, polyester helps to create insulation and warmth in socks while keeping moisture out and making the socks dry out quickly. Polyester is often mixed with nylon or wool to create a feeling of warmth and comfort that adds features of durability and moisture protection.

Nylon
Nylon, like polyester, is also a synthetic fabric, and it’s usually combined with other materials although sometimes it is the primary material you’ll find in the socks. Nylon helps to lock out moisture, makes the socks dry out quicker, and also helps make the socks longer-lasting.

Silk
Silk is not a durable material and is usually not the primary material in socks, but it does work well to add insulation and comfort. Silk is a lightweight material that helps create a nice sock lining and works well to wick out moisture.

Spandex
Some socks have a small percentage of spandex in them, and the elastic in this material helps to hold socks up, as well as giving them the ability to retain their shape more easily.

Insulation

You can't talk about winter without talking about insulation. The insulation of an item is something that we will investigate for just about every single layer that we put on in the wintertime and sock are no exception. Doesn't it seem like your toes are sometimes the most difficult body part to warm up? A well-insulated pair of socks will not only keep your feet warm, but they should also have moisture-wicking abilities and keep your feet dry. Some winter socks come with temperature ratings while others can only be rated by customer reviews. Either way, it's an important piece of the puzzle.

Comfort

The most comfortable types of winter socks available on the market today are typically comprised out of some percentage of Merino wool. Merino wool is very popular for outdoor socks in general, and the soft comfort, foot health protection, and insulation this material provides makes it extremely popular for winter outdoor socks.

Some of the best quality Merino wool socks on our list are made by Darn Tough, who know to lead the outdoor footwear market in producing the best hiking and winter wear socks. Darn Tough’s sock designs all focus on comfort and performance and run slightly thicker than some other sock designs on our list. The nice thing about the thickness of Darn Tough’s socks is that it increases their durability.

Another manufacturer known for making great outdoor and winter weather socks is Smartwool, a brand that has been popular for many years because of its high-quality products. Most of Smartwool’s socks also focus on comfort and fit, but these socks aren’t quite as durable and can wind up with holes.

Comfort, however, will depend a lot on personal preference. The best thing you can do here is to figure out what features you really feel you need, then narrow down the choices you like, and go to a store to try them on. Make sure you bring your winter weather footwear or boots to dry on with the socks. When you’re in the store, take them for a spin with your winter boots on, and focus on what you feel is most comfortable for your needs.

Durability

Merino wool isn’t known to be the most durable fabric, and since most winter socks are comprised out of some percentage of this material, you’ll need to keep this in mind. However, a lot of winter sock manufacturers know that your outdoor winter socks need to last a while and remain durable, and combine other materials into their Merino wool to make the socks last for a long time.

For instance, both Darn Tough and Smartwool make socks comprised out of Merino wool, but these socks are all designed to be tough and can handle several washes before you’ll notice any wear. Durability with winter socks often depends on the brand of the socks, since some winter sock manufacturers focus more on durability than others. The company that makes the most durable socks today is Darn Tough, with Smartwool a close second.

Still, most winter socks, no matter what their brand is, are made to last quite a while. If you manage to rotate out a few pairs of good winter socks, you’ll probably be able to make it through several seasons before you’ll have to replace them.

If you really are worried about how long your socks might last, plenty of manufacturers on the market today make winter socks that come with lifetime guarantees so you may want to opt for one of those pairs.

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Protection

To avoid any health risks, you want to find the best pair of winter socks to protect you during your winter activities. Thicker socks offer a lot of padding and extra blister protection, which will come in handy if you experience foot irritation and other frustrating foot problems that can decrease the amount of time you spend outside. Most midweight and heavyweight socks are great for winter usage and can handle temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, providing a lot of warmth, thermal regulation, and padding.

Extra Warmth

If winter socks aren't keeping you warm enough, there is a way to increase the heat. The same way that many manufacturers offer hand-warming pods- there is also such a thing as toe or foot warmers. These pods are typically a bit smaller than the hand-warmers but work just as well. If you're not keen on purchasing foot warmer and already have hand-warmers, those will do the trick too! The only thing is that they may be too big or uncomfortable for your boots.

Other Factors to Consider

Weight

Socks are made with a wide variety of thickness options since some are made for summer hikes and others for winter mountaineering. While our list features socks that are ideal for winter, we’ll be covering here just what sock thickness means for you, and what type of weight versions you’ll want.

Some winter socks are made to be more lightweight while still providing good warmth as well as solid padding and protection. You also get plenty of insulation from lightweight socks and breathability. Lightweight socks work well even for the cold weather, but if the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you might want to consider something a bit thicker.

Thicker socks offer a lot of padding and extra blister protection, which will come in handy if you experience foot irritation and other frustrating foot problems that can decrease the amount of time you spend outside. Most midweight and heavyweight socks are great for winter usage and can handle temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, providing a lot of warmth, thermal regulation, and padding.

Most midweight and heavyweight socks are made primarily with warmth in mind, and shouldn’t be worn all year round or for casual wear since they can make your feet sweat more, even if they do well with moisture wicking. So, most outdoor enthusiasts searching for the best pair of socks will want to consider socks that are midweight to heavyweight if they expect to be outside when the weather is severely cold.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: Why is merino wool so good for winter socks?

a:

Before Merino wool became a popular material in winter socks, many socks were made with cotton and polyester. However, nowadays, Merino wool is nearly the standard in winter socks, and there are several reasons for this.

First, Merino wool is a comfortable fabric that doesn’t irritate the skin and offers extra support. Merino wool also wicks away moisture while still doing a great job of keeping socks warm and allowing them to ventilate. Merino wool is also naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial, meaning your feet will stay healthier and you won’t have to worry about excessive odor build-up if you are out on the trail for several days wearing the same pair of socks.

Furthermore, merino comes from a prized breed of sheep that lives in harsh mountain climates, and these sheep adapt their wool to their tough environment. Because of the sheep’s adaptation, Merino wool has wound up giving winter weather socks some great performance characteristics, including less itch than other types of wool, insulation, bacterial protection, and insulation.

Remember that most Merino wool winter socks won’t be made with 100% Merino wool; usually, a good percentage of Merino wool is between 50% and 80%. Mixed in with Merino wool is generally a combination of nylon and spandex to help keep socks breathable, warm, and flexible. The more Merino wool doesn’t necessarily mean the socks will be better, but how the Merino wool works in the socks is really the important factor.

q: How can I make sure I know my socks fit correctly?

a:

Making sure your winter socks fit you right is important for your comfort when you’re outdoors in the colder weather. Socks that fit too large can bunch up, rub, and cause blisters. On the other hand, socks that run too small can slip down and create unwanted pressure points on your feet.

Getting the right sized sock means you should do a little research into what the size of your foot actually is, not just your shoe size. Sometimes people will size-up in shoes, and if you do that with socks, your socks aren’t going to fit right and will be too big. If you aren’t sure what your foot size is, you can always go to a store and get it measured.

After you know what your foot size is, you can use that number with the size charts provided by the manufacturers. If you find that you are between sizes, it’s almost always better to get the size smaller in socks so that you won’t wind up with socks that are too large and cause blisters.

Outdoor winter socks should fit snugly, but also should not be too tight. If a sock fits correctly, you’ll see that the help cup lines up with the heel of your foot perfectly. Trying your socks on and testing out their fit in a store is probably the best way to go about finding winter socks that will fit you just right.

q: Are cotton socks good for the winter?

a:

Cotton is a fantastic fabric that is breathable and cozy; however, this fabric is best suited for summer months and less frequently in. In the winter, you may find that cotton is not an insulating fabric, because it doesn’t hold hot air and it lets cold air in, which of course, is not ideal.

Furthermore, cotton doesn’t repel moisture, rather, it allows any moisture from outside or inside your sock to be absorbed and remain on your feet. This makes for very soggy and uncomfortable feet. While you may find that some winter socks do have a tiny amount of cotton in them, most will have something like merino wool.

q: Why are winter socks so important?

a:

It is true, you can most definitely put any old pair of socks on and head out for the cold winter day to run errands. But if you want to feel as snug, warm, and comfortable as possible, it’s crucial to properly attire your feet. Also, remember that your feet are on the ground, which means the cold pavement is not only chilly if you physically reach down and touch it with your hands, but that icy feeling will travel straight up from your feet and into the rest of your body. And this is especially true if you are participating in strenuous activities outdoors. It’s much healthier for your body to be protected from the shock of the cold (starting with your feet).

It should also be mentioned that not only can you wear your winter socks outdoors, but you will also be glad to shuffle around the house in a pair of warm and snuggly socks when the temperatures have dropped. This is noticeably true when you have just woken up, and especially, if you have flooring other than carpet (such as tile or wood).

q: Should I wear a sock liner?

a:

Sock liners are often forgotten about; however, they have two important duties. Firstly, they wick sweat away from your feet and transfer it to your sock and hopefully out, (depending on your sock’s material). Another pro to wearing a sock liner is that they add an additional layer of insulation to ensure your feet feel totally warm. It’s worth considering a pair of sock liners if you participate in outdoor activities so that the sweat is actively wicked away.

While sock liners are not as easily found anymore, because of the advent of quality winter socks that now flood the market, they can be found on sites like Amazon.

Sources

  1. RENA BEHAR, The 12 Warmest Winter Socks You Can Buy, Travel Blog
  2. James Lynch, The Best Socks for Tackling the Winter, Buying Guide