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Best Winter Socks – 2020 Edition

last updated: Oct 24, 2020

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
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Researched Sources
13
Researched Sources
Total Readers
12k
Total Readers
Hours Researching
11
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
15
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
Ana
By Ana:

We updated the guide with 6 new options we feel are the best when it comes to materials, comfort and durabilty.

Sorting Options
Materials Insulation Comfort Durability By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
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#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 (26.11.20)
#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 (26.11.20)
Amazon Link
$29.95
#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 (26.11.20)
#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 (26.11.20)
Backcountry Link
$15.95
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#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 (26.11.20)
Backcountry Link
$17.56
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Amazon Link
$21.95
#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 (26.11.20)
#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 (26.11.20)
#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 (26.11.20)
Amazon Link
$29.95
Backcountry Link
$29.95
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#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 (26.11.20)
#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 (26.11.20)
Amazon Link
$21.97
#11
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
77.8
Materials
77 %
Insulation
79 %
Comfort
78 %
Durability
77 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (26.11.20)
Amazon Link
$17.95

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
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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. These are the best cold weather socks 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 merino wool 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

They 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 best winter 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 best winter socks are great for cold-weather outdoor activities.

2. Burton - Weekend Midweight

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.3
Burton Men’s Weekend Midweight Ski/ Snowboard Sock
Amazon Link
Materials
95
Insulation
96
Comfort
95
Durability
95
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$29.95
Pros:

High-quality materials

Nice amount of cushioning 

Fast drying

Breathable 

Cons:

Some users found the socks were not warm enough in single-digit degree temperatures

If you want some long socks suitable to wear skiing or snowboarding, the Burton Weekend Midweight Socks will keep your feet warm.

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Materials

The Burton socks have been constructed using a high-quality performance material that you can rely on when out on the slopes. Stretchy, breathable, and comfy, these midweight warmth socks come in a pack of two so you will become short of socks when spending a day on the mountains. 

Insulation

These ski/snowboard socks from Burton’s will keep your feet warm as well as breathable. They are quick drying so you will not need to worry about your feet getting sweaty. 

Comfort

The Burton’s socks offer a good level of support and cushioning making your feet feel snug and comfy. The extra cushioning also reduces the impact on the base of your feet. The socks have been constructed so they have chafe-free toe seams as well as reinforced toe and heel support. The socks feature elastic arch and leg support. 

Durability

These ski/snowboard socks are abrasion resistant so they can withstand a lot of wear and rubbing but will keep their structure and look. 

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
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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, this 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 slides 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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$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

They 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 warm 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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$21.95
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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 mean 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 socks 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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$21.00
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 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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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. Carhartt - Cold Weather Sock 

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.8
Carhartt Men’s Cold Weather Boot Sock 
Amazon Link
Materials
85
Insulation
84
Comfort
82
Durability
80
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$29.95
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Pros:

Good thermal properties

Nice amount of cushioning

Durable construction

Excellent moisture control

Cons:

Best worn with boots that are half or full-size bigger

For better results wear a sock liner

Carhartt is known for its bestselling all-season work socks and their rugged outdoor styles that will keep you warm throughout the colder months.

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Materials

The Carhartt socks are crafted using high-quality materials including 68% acrylic, 16% wool, 10% polyester, 6% nylon, and 1% spandex. Suitable to wear in cold temperatures, these thick socks are exceptionally durable and will keep your feet well insulated as well as comfy when worn with winter boots.  

Insulation

Providing maximum thermal regulation, these boot socks will keep your feet warm and dry in extreme weather conditions. The socks have been developed with the best FastDry Technology that moves sweat to the fabric's outer surface and dries it quickly, preventing sweaty feet.

Comfort

These socks from Carhartt are the ultimate winter comfort! The winter socks have been built with the maximum padded protection, giving a cushioned and comfy fit. Ankle vents reduce bulk and mean that you do not have to sacrifice comfort for warmth. Featuring proprietary technology, these socks can fight off the toughest of odors, leaving your socks feeling and smelling fresh all day long. 

Durability

These are made from an extremely tough material that is guaranteed to last as long as your boots will. The socks have reinforced soles that protect the material from abrasion making them more durable. 

9. FEIDEER -Outdoor Recreation

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
79.3
FEIDEER Multi-pack Outdoor Recreation Socks
Amazon Link
Materials
80
Insulation
78
Comfort
79
Durability
80
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Pros:

Good overall comfort 

High-quality materials 

Descent breathability 

Excellent moisture control

Cons:

They run small

The high performing recreational sock is comfy, breathable, and moisture-wicking. Plus, they come as a multi-pack so you can pick a different color each day of the week.

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Materials

These high-quality socks from FEIDEER are made from 78% cotton, 20% polyester, and 2% spandex. Featuring fine gauge knitting technology, these socks offer a fuller thickness creating a softer and comfier feel. 

Insulation

It will not only keep you warm in the winter but will keep you dry and cool when on the move. The socks have been designed with Exclusive Moisture Wicking Management, making them breathable and quick drying so they keep your feet cool and dry.   

Comfort

Featuring a thickened towel bottom, these hiking socks are made so they are super soft on the base of your foot, helping relieve any possible foot fatigue or friction. A comfier and softer base will protect your feet against potential rubbing and blisters. Elastic ribbed cuffs also help achieve the perfect fit. 

Durability

These thicker FEIDEER socks feature an elasticized arch brace, making them highly flexible and durable when running miles. Fine gauge knitting technology gives the sock a fuller thickness, particularly around the heel area, helping with shock absorption and wear resistance. Hand washing in cold water and air-drying is advised for longer-lasting durability. 

10. Pure Athlete - High-Performance Socks 

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.5
Pure Athlete High-Performance Wool Ski Socks 
Amazon Link
Materials
79
Insulation
78
Comfort
78
Durability
79
best offer for today
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$21.97
Pros:

A good amount of cushioning

Warm yet breathable 

Made to last

Cons:

Expensive 

If you want a thick and warm winter ski sock that can lock out moisture but allow your feet to breathe, the Pure Athlete ski socks are a fantastic choice!

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Materials

The Pure Athlete High-Performance socks include 54% nylon, 25% merino wool, 16% polypropylene, and 5% spandex. The combination of merino wool and polypropylene cleverly works by wicking away moisture while keeping your feet warm so you can ski comfortably. The merino wool is also ultra-soft against your skin. 

Insulation

These socks feature thermal regulating technology, so your feet stay at a perfect temperature and do not overheat when exercising. The midweight thickness of the socks also provides the optimal blend of warmth without affecting the fit of your ski boots.

Comfort

The ski socks have been constructed using advanced knitting techniques that work by providing comfort to areas including the foot, ankle, and shin. A seamless toe prevents blisters, and no-slip cuffs stop the socks from sliding down into your boot. 

Durability

These make a great skiing winter sock because they are extremely durable. The socks include a premium merino wool that is midweight thickness. At Pure Athlete, the experts guarantee these socks for life and offer a 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee with every item. 

11. Darn Tough - Vermont Hiker ¼

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
77.8
Darn Tough - Vermont Hiker ¼
Amazon Link
Materials
77
Insulation
79
Comfort
78
Durability
77
best offer for today
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$17.95
Pros:

Durable construction

Lightweight

Good breathability

Reasonably priced 

Cons:

Allow for some shrinking after the first wash 

The Darn Tough Vermont Hiking Sock is one of the most comfortable and durable socks in our collection. Built for hardcore hikers, these socks are great if you enjoy being outdoors in the cold weather. They are also suitable for runners because they are lightweight and less bulky, making them easier to wear with trainers rather than boots.

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Materials

These socks are made from 61% merino wool, 37% nylon, and 2% lycra spandex. An advantage of merino wool is that it is soft, breathable, and has fast drying properties. 

Insulation

Merino wool is a fantastic material because it is thermal regulating, moisture-wicking, and flame resistant. This means that the socks wool fibers will hold and release heat depending on how warm the body is. So, the socks cleverly work by keeping you warm in the winter but cooler in the summer.

Comfort

Suitable to wear all day long, these fitted socks include ribbed support that prevents any slipping, bunching, and blisters. Designed to be worn on hardcore trail runs, these socks are lightweight and sit just above the ankle. They also have a layer of cushioning, giving you pure comfort when on the move. 

Durability 

This sock from Darn Tough will certainly go the distance and withstand crazy miles. Constructed using fine gauge knitting, these socks have unprecedented durability and will keep your feet feeling snug all day long.

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 comfort, warmth, durability, 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.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

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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 an 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.

q: Does wearing two pairs of socks keep your feet warmer?

a:

No. You may be surprised to hear that two pairs of socks will not keep your feet warmer. Wearing a second pair of socks will achieve the complete opposite. Two pairs of socks will compress your feet, cutting off the circulation and making your feet colder than if you were wearing one pair of socks. In colder conditions, the lack of blood flow could even make your feet vulnerable to things like frostbite. 

q: Are alpaca socks warmer than wool?

a:

Alpaca socks are much warmer than wool socks because of their hollow-core fiber. Alpaca fibers are softer, warmer, and much more lightweight than wool making them a great thermal material to wear in colder weather. Alpaca socks are also extremely durable. 

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