If you’re thinking about buying a new pair of hiking boots or shoes, have you also considered buying a new pair of socks? Socks can play a very important role in the comfort and fit of any footwear and they’re not something that should be thought about as a secondary item when you’re buying footwear. One of the most important things that your socks are doing for your feet when you’re hiking in them, is managing moisture. That includes sweat coming off your feet as well as moisture that’s in the air or perhaps coming through your boot should you have walked through something wet and do not have a waterproof shoe. So you have different types of material that socks are made out of. Basics would be some sort of a wool, a synthetic or a cotton sock. Cotton is something you want to avoid because cotton acts like a sponge, and just absorbs water, pulls it into that fabric and holds onto it and doesn’t let it go. This results in you having a very wet, uncomfortable foot, which often results in blistering and hot spots. A merino wool sock, such as the one I have in my hand, would probably be the best option to go with here. Wool is kind of a wonderful, natural fabric. It manages moisture, body odor and controls temperature better than all other fabrics, man-made and natural. Synthetic would be another option. This is going to be a sock that does not have a wool fiber in it should you be allergic to wool or just find it uncomfortable for some reason, that would be another option to go with. But in order to make sure your feet are as dry and as comfortable as they can be, you would want to be looking for a wool, hopefully merino wool sock, or a synthetic sock and be avoiding cotton at all costs. So another benefit of a hiking-specific sock is going to be the fit of the sock. Socks that are designed for hiking and backpacking, outdoor recreation typically have a kind of a knitted arch support or brace here. You see how that fits my foot really snug. It doesn’t want to move around. You have some support and cushioning in the heel and through the forefoot as well. And then a nice kind of a knit round up here that will have more of a Spandex or elastane content to it, so the sock stays up and doesn’t slide down. What this does for the fit in the shoe is it creates no bunching, no socks rubbing or sliding around. This results in less blistering, more comfort to your foot and maybe the need to eliminate wearing multiple layers of socks, that sort of thing. Socks and shoes work together as a system to keep your feet more dry and comfortable. So, whether you’re out for just a day hike or you’re going for an extended backpacking trip, remember to be kind to your feet.
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