Have you ever excitedly opened a present on your birthday, only to realise halfway through unwrapping it that you’ve been gifted yet another pair of socks? Well, for the hiking enthusiast, this is no disappointment.
When it comes to hiking, a pair (or, depending on how your Christmas goes, a collection) of good-quality, waterproof socks will be your closest companion as you navigate rocky terrain and face harsh weather conditions.
No matter how high the quality of your boots are, no pair of shoes is guaranteed to keep your feet 100% dry. Socks are the last line of defence in protecting your feet, and as any experienced hiker will know, soggy socks are a recipe for all sorts of problems, such as blisters and athlete’s foot.
But how do you find a pair of socks that are truly waterproof, and how do you reconcile this with finding a material that is breathable enough to prevent sweat and excess moisture retention?
We’ve put together a buyer’s guide to answer your questions, as well as reviewing 5 of the top best waterproof hiking socks so you don’t have to.
If you’re in a hurry, see our top pick which features everything needed for the best waterproof hiking socks.
Top 5 Best Waterproof Hiking Socks
OUR TOP PICK
Randy Sun are highly popular within the hiking and outdoor sports industry due to the effective performance and quality of their socks.
Their unisex waterproof mid-calf socks are versatile and suitable for a range of outdoor activities as well as hiking, hence why they’re our top pick!
They do exactly what they set out to do, which is to keep your feet warm and 100% dry, and they’re also highly breathable thanks to their 3-layer construction and CoolMax Core technology, meaning they tick every box on the list of things you’d want in the best socks for hiking.
Additionally, the soft heel cushion and seamless toe provides reliable comfort so that your feet feel like they’re walking on air. The elasticity and thickness of the material acts as extra cushioning whilst also being highly durable so they won’t wear too quickly.
Our only complaint about these socks is that you don’t get more of them, as they come as a single pair. You’ll notice we’ve included another pair from Randy Sun in our line up of the best waterproof hiking socks, a close second only because they provide less ankle coverage.
- SGS certified
- 100% waterproof
- CoolMax Core technology
- Suitable for all outdoor activities
- Single pair
- Hand wash only
Waterproof, windproof, and breathable, these socks are perfect for anyone who wants to protect their feet from the elements whilst hiking and during other outdoor activities.
They feature 3-layer construction made with high quality nylon for enhanced breathability, and a 100% waterproof membrane is guaranteed to keep water away from your feet.
Intended to provide maximum comfort, these waterproof socks have padded elements including the heel, toe, and footbed areas to absorb the shock of your footfall just as effectively as the fabric absorbs sweat. This also helps to protect your ankles and joints from excessive pressure.
Your ankles are further protected by the knee-high length of these socks, and a seamless toe reduces the chance of chafing so you can relax knowing you’re covered from the top of your shins to the tip of your toes.
The elastic cuff is soft on your skin and is also designed to prevent your socks from falling down and causing extra friction inside your boots.
These socks come as a single pair in a draw-string bag that is perfect for keeping your socks together, and they’re available in a limited selection of simple, colorblock designs.
- CoolMax Core material
- Padded soles for comfort
- Elastic, anti-slip cuff
- Machine washable below 40 degrees temperature
- Only 1 pair
- Tricky to put on and take off
Like many of the other socks featured on this list, this pair of Layeba waterproof socks are constructed with 3 layers of material in order to keep your feet feeling fresh, even after a full day of hiking.
Not only does the middle layer of membrane prevent water from seeping into these socks, but the external layer is 74% high waterproof nylon which allows your feet to breathe.
In addition to this, the antibacterial yarn lining helps to prevent smelly socks as it reduces the build-up of bacteria and unpleasant odors.
They are extremely durable and resistant to wear as well as being comfortable for your feet, which is ideal for hiking and other outdoor sports. However, the thicker material does mean your feet can feel snug in your boots if they’re already a close fit.
- SGS certified
- Antibacterial yarn to reduce unpleasant odors
- Reinforced heel construction
- Machine washable below 40 degrees temperature
- Not tumble dryer-safe
- Tricky to pull on
- Not recommended for long-distance running
We promised you another pair of Randy Sun socks and we’re here to deliver! Available in a range of colors, this pair of waterproof ankle socks features the same 3-layer construction as our top pick.
As you probably know by now, this means they offer highly effective waterproof protection as well as being extremely breathable for your feet.
These socks are manufactured with 61% high waterproof nylon, 32% polyester, and 7% elastane for the outer layer; 66% coolmax, 30% polyester, and 4% elastane for the inner lining, and a layer of lightweight, breathable membrane in the middle to ensure your feet stay dry.
They differ from our top pick because they’re shorter in length, but despite offering less coverage above the ankle these are still suitable for a range of outdoor activities and can withstand harsh conditions.
Their ultra lightweight sole also provides extra cushioning for your feet, so you can run, hike, cycle, or trek without causing excessive discomfort.
- SGS certified
- 100% waterproof
- CoolMax Core technology
- Less coverage
- Machine washable below 40 degrees tempterable
With 25 years of experience in manufacturing outdoor sports accessories, Sealskinz have developed waterproof socks that are high-quality and extremely well-performing, even in adverse weather conditions.
Cleverly constructed using ethically sourced materials, everything from the stitching to the materials used is designed to help protect your feet against the elements.
Moisture is effectively wicked away by the merino wool inner layer which acts as added insulation, and an innovative hydrophilic waterproof membrane keeps out 100% of water molecules so your feet remain completely dry.
These knee-length socks are also comfortable as well as practical thanks to the zonal elastication and footbed padding, which provides support for your feet and prevents blisters from forming.
- Lifetime waterproof promise
- Hydrophilic membrane
- Four-way stretch for anti-blistering
- Hydrostatic head of >20,000mm for durability
- Sizes run slightly large
- Can be short in the leg for taller people
Best Waterproof Hiking Socks Buying Guide
Sure, we’ll all remember to grab a multipack when there’s one too many mismatched pairs in your sock drawer, when the threadbare heel has practically worn away to nothing, or if your toes are starting to poke holes through the material, but when was the last time you truly invested in a pair of socks?
Your feet are one of the most hard-working parts of the body, responsible for keeping you upright and literally carrying you through the day, so it’s important to look after them. This is especially true of any outdoor enthusiast, or anyone who’s job requires them to be on their feet in harsh weather conditions.
Problems Caused by Wet Feet
Everyone will have experienced the searing pain an awkwardly placed blister can cause, but having wet feet can exacerbate this and leads to much more serious problems. Chafing and blisters, although painful, are minor compared to cracks in the skin or heels of your feet and conditions like athlete’s foot, which thrive in moisture-filled environments.
If your feet are exposed to damp, wet conditions for prolonged periods of time you can even develop NFCI (nonfreezing cold injury), more commonly known as trench foot. If you remember anything from your school history lessons, then you’ll know this is something you definitely want to avoid.
Materials and Design
On the surface, hiking socks can appear to look just like any regular old sock, when in fact they are typically constructed of 3 different layers that work together to keep your feet dry and comfortable. You’ll usually find that beneath their durable outer layer, waterproof hiking socks contain another layer of membrane intended to prevent water from leaking in, whilst also letting moisture and sweat out.
A final, innermost layer cushions your feet and provides comfort as you walk. Well, as much comfort as you can be in during a hike. As this is the layer of fabric that moves against your skin, the inner layer is also responsible for wicking moisture away from your feet. Wool is ideal thanks to its impressive water-wicking abilities, or synthetic materials can also be used, although they’re more susceptible to bacteria which can spread and cause unpleasant odors.
Alternatively, some hiking socks are made using more impenetrable materials such as neoprene instead of layering materials to ensure waterproof protection. Although this is great for Winter when your feet are less sweaty, during the summer neoprene and other similarly waterproof materials are less breathable.
Waterproof vs Breathability
Waterproof socks are a great way to care for your feet and protect them from the elements. The biggest dilemma when it comes to choosing the best socks for hiking is the age-old debate of waterproof ability versus breathability. Both are important because if your socks are lacking in either one it can lead to problems with your feet.
Ultimately, any pair of socks designed for hiking should find a balance of both. That’s why we’ve selected only socks with 3-layer construction for this article, as they are vastly superior in terms of breathability when compared to socks made of neoprene or other materials that focus on being 100% waterproof.
Another way to prevent blisters and other problems with your feet is to minimize their ability to slide or move around inside your boots, as this creates friction between your skin and the fabric of your socks.
Buying the correct size socks for your feet is therefore essential, as the looser your socks are, the more movement there’ll be between the material and your feet causing more friction. Different brands can run small or large, so if you have the option to, you should try before you buy.
The length of the socks will determine how much protection your feet and ankles will have, with options for shorter or longer lengths depending on how much coverage you want. Your boots should also play a factor in this decision because any skin not covered by your socks is vulnerable to rubbing against your shoes, which can lead to painful sores and blisters.
It’s also worth noting how thick the material of your socks is and how it will affect the fit of your boots. If the socks are layered the material tends to be thicker overall, which means your boots could feel tight, resulting in blisters. However, thinner socks could mean your boots feel too loose, also resulting in blisters. It can be tricky to find the right balance, but your socks and shoes should work together to protect your feet.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will my socks remain waterproof?
Good-quality socks should stay waterproof for a relatively long period, but regular use and washing can lead to less effective performance over time. One way to combat this is to always wash your socks by hand.
Do waterproof socks require special waterproofing treatment to be effective?
No, most waterproof socks are not treated with anything. Instead they utilize 3 layer construction technology with a middle membrane to keep water out and they are manufactured using materials with waterproof properties.
How can I prevent rain or water from leaking in through the top of my socks?
The easiest way to stop any rain water from trickling down to your toes is to cover the top of your socks with your pants or leggings.