Setting off on an adventure is such an exciting and wonderful experience. Whether it’s trekking through an American rainforest, Climbing Mountains in Nepal, racing down slopes in Canada or backpacking around Europe, you are going to need some socks. This may seem like a small detail but trust us, this often overlooked item can help to make or break an adventure. 

It is very common to place a high level of importance on getting the right shoe or boot, (which don’t get us wrong is very important) but then forget about the layer closest to our skin, the sock. Having the wrong type of material in your sock can lead to a whole range of issues including cold or hot feet, hot spots and blisters, reduced circulation and even infections. It is so important to choose the right sock for your adventure so we have popped together some information on a range of different sock types to help you choose the best option for your next outdoor adventure.

When choosing socks there are a few main criteria that you should consider initially. These are height, thickness (or weight), material and the activity the sock is designed for.


Firstly the height of a sock is very important to consider. The main factor influencing this decision is the type of footwear you are wearing it with. For instance, if you are wearing a trail shoe you will only need and ankle length sock whereas a hiking boot will require something longer such as a crew length. This is because we don’t want the shoe to be directly on your foot as this may cause rubbing and blisters.

Crew and ankle length hiking socks

A little tip – a hiking sock is rarely long enough to wear with ski boots, they may feel long enough, but trust us they aren’t.


The thickness, also known as weight, will be largely determined by the climate that you will be walking in. Thicker socks for colder weather and thinner socks for warmer weather. Although, ski socks shouldn’t be too thick as the extra padding can lead to reduced circulation resulting in cold feet.
Thicker socks, such as the Icebreaker Mountaineer Expedition, provide more cushion in your shoe, however when walking in warmer climates this isn’t ideal. Luckily there are a range of technical socks that provide cushioning in the places where you need it like the sole, heel and toes; while the top of the sock has thinner and breathable panels to allow moisture and heat to escape.


The next thing to consider is the material of the sock. Cotton socks that you wear every day may be good for sitting around and light activities, but once you start exercising and then sweating they will become wet and stay wet. Not to mention the smell at the end of the day, or when they have been in your bag for a week. A more technical fabric with antimicrobial properties will be a better option, such as a wool blend for a full day of trekking or adventuring. The reason wool socks are often blended with other fabrics is to increase the durability of the sock and allow for them to stretch and maintain their shape. A moisture wicking fabric will help the sock to stay drier and prevent that wet foot feeling.


The intended purpose of the sock should be considered. For instance, wearing a ski sock running won’t be the comfiest option, or going on a long trek in lightweight running socks will lead to rubbing and your feet becoming worn out far more quickly as there is less cushioning. A good technical sock will usually have the intended use and design on the packaging, making it easy to see which one is right for your adventure.

Different types of outdoor and hiking socks

Now we have the basics, we have included a few more tips to help you choose that perfect pair of socks.

Toe Seams
This one may not be the first thing to come to mind, but depending on your feet it can be important. Have a look at how thick the seam is on the inside of the sock as this may cause rubbing. Some socks are made in such a way that there is no seam, allowing for comfy toes all day long.

Flat toe seams on hiking socks

Flat toe seams prevent rubbing and irritation.

Being prone to blisters is not fun, especially when you are on a multi-day trek. Sock liners can help to reduce the friction on your feet, as you have an extra layer of movement and protection. Sock liners are usually very thin and help to wick away moisture from your feet allowing them to stay dry. As wet skin is softer, it is more vulnerable to blisters.
We recommend not wearing a liner with anything thicker than a mid-weight sock as it will be very thick and restricting in your boot.

A range of hiking sock liners

Toe socks
This is another for all the blister prone folks out there. Toe socks may look a little funny but they do have benefits, other than being able to be worn with thongs. They allow your toes to move more freely whilst being covered and protected from rubbing on one another. Injinji Toe socks are available in liners and socks.

Injinji Toe Socks

Pack Extra Socks
If you are doing any type of outdoor adventuring an extra pair won’t be wasted. Keeping your feet as dry as possible is so important to prevent blisters and infections so the more you swap out your socks the better. Remember to air them out at night by hanging them up or laying them near the fire (not too closely!) to allow them to dry.


There is a sock for every type of adventure so it is worth spending the time and having a look for the perfect fit before your adventure. In the end, your boot is only as good as your sock.

Let us know in the comments below your top sock tips!

#ExperienceIsEverything | #PaddyPallin

About The Author


Some 80 years ago, a young bushwalker's dissatisfaction with the limited and heavy bushwalking equipment available prompted him to design and make his own. Before long, word spread, and Paddy Pallin's lightweight, functional designs were soon in demand among fellow bushwalkers. From its early days the company has concentrated on supplying bushwalkers, travellers and adventurers with the highest quality and most advanced products and knowledge. Since 1930 the company has grown to become Australia's leading supplier of specialist outdoor and travel gear. The company, still owned by the Pallin family, now has thirteen stores throughout Australia as well as online, mail order and corporate sales divisions. We are using our vast wealth of knowledge, and experience, to build an online community where we can share our stories, reviews and tech tips to help you research and plan your next adventure.

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