hunting socks, FITS socks, LOWA boots

The Best Hunting Socks of 2020

A pair of socks can make or break your feet on that dream hunting trip. We’ve researched the best hunting socks of 2020 so your feet can hunt happy.

If your feet are in distress, you’re not going much further. That’s the long and short of it, really. And socks are the truly binding factor of the foot-sock-boot trifecta.

It’s easy to shrug this piece of gear off. A flimsy and oft-neglected piece of fabric, good socks go unnoticed and are sometimes taken for granted. Bad socks, however, can ruin an outing with bunching, constant slipping, or — worse yet — hunt-ending blisters.

Suck it up. Buy good socks. We’ve got hunting socks for men, hunting socks for women, and hunting socks for kids on this list. And they’re GearJunkie-tested and reviewer-approved.

Best Hunting Socks of 2020

A note on socks: Where certain socks are offered separately for genders, we’ve denoted that. But most socks are gender-neutral. As a female hunter, I wear men’s socks on the regular with zero issues.

Best Overall Hunting Sock: Farm to Feet Ely Sock — Lightweight & Midweight

Farm To Feet Ely Hunting Sock

The gender-neutral Ely sock ($23-25) is a beast. It’s offered in both light and full cushion, and in sizes that go as low as a women’s 4 and up to a men’s 14.5. The midcalf height works for most hunting boots, and it’s a sock that truly goes unnoticed simply because it does the job so well.

With a content of 63% merino, it also has an added copper content of 8%, in addition to nylon and spandex for comfort. The antimicrobial combo of merino and copper is a real winner. They’re light on scent, lean where it counts, and cushioned at all the right pressure points.

I reach for the Ely often in every type of weather, barring the uber-cold negative-degree Montana winter onslaught or triple-digit heat. And you should too.

What customers say: “These socks are amazing. Light enough not to cause me to sweat all day but heavy enough with the padding on the heel, toe box, and top of the foot to keep from blisters. I have 5 pairs of them!” — Stephen H

Check Lightweight price hereCheck Midweight price here

Best Budget Socks: Kirkland Signature Merino Wool Socks — Women’s & Men’s

Kirkland Signature Merino Wool Sock

In my opinion, these are on par with most socks on this list. I wrote a full ode, err, review discussing why Kirkland Socks are in my constant sock rotation. And it still rings true. For $20 (and a Costco membership), you get six pairs of high-content merino-poly-blend socks. That evens out to a solid $3.33 per pair — for merino socks.

They’re warm, breathable, comfortable, and worthy of nearly any and all hiking situations, save for super-hot or super-cold days. If you don’t have a Costco membership, hound one of your buddies to pick you up a pack. You won’t regret it.

The men’s and women’s socks vary slightly. But they’re still a great buy either way.

What customers say: “They are my all-time favorite socks! The wool is very soft and not at all itchy, and if you get cold feet these will keep them toasty without too much bulk. I also wear them hiking, and when my feet perspire the wool wicks away the moisture.” — ColoradoSpringsSue

Check women’s price hereCheck men’s price here

Best Hot-Weather Socks: Le Bent Le Sock Trail Lite Crew

Le Bent Le Sock Light Hiker

When the weather gets hot, I grab my Le Bent Le Socks ($22). The Le Bent signature blend includes merino and rayon from bamboo. Whereas most merino feels soft and a bit lofty, this blend feels smooth and almost silky.

The Lite Crew is ample enough to give some cushion in the heat, but it breathes phenomenally well, and it is truly minimal without feeling thin. While not specifically a hunting sock, it’s a high-performance, snug-fitting running and biking sock that easily transfers to the long miles spent in early-season to midseason heat.

What customers say: “Sexy socks. I love it.” — Damir (Enough said!)

Check price here

Best Midseason Socks: Darn Tough Hunter Boot Sock — Cushion & Full Cushion

Darn Tough Hunter Cushion

 

Darn Tough Vermont socks are some of the most durable merino socks we’ve used over the years. The brand stands behind its “tough” claim with a remarkably robust warranty too. And if you’re pounding big miles in the backcountry, a durable, comfortable sock is hard to beat.

The Hunter Boot Sock is a great compromise of attributes that results in a fairly perfect hunting sock. The sock height sits in the center of the calf, so it’s tall enough for even high hunting boots while short enough to not overheat the leg on warmer hikes.

The merino is soft and lays very flat against the skin, reducing the risk of blisters. They are incredibly comfortable and a top choice of one of our hunting editors.

What customers say: “Archery hunting in heavy scrub oak, pinion, aspen trees to pine trees on benches and steep canyons. These socks cushion and keep your feet dryer in the hot weather. Great socks so far.” — Doug P.

Check Cushion price hereCheck Full Cushion price here

Best Cold-Weather Socks: Wigwam Minus 40C Silver Socks

WigWam Minus 40C Silver

WigWam has a few iterations of the Minus 40 socks, but the Silvers ($17) are the best buy. They’re a 75% merino blend with added olefin for durability and extra comfort.

Like most cold-weather socks, these are thick and intended to be so. With extra cushioning for warmth and comfort, reviewers say the socks live up to their promise of keeping feet warm in very cold temps. In my experience, WigWams can run a little big. But they’ll get the job done if the weather turns ugly.

What customers say: “This is the 8th pair of Wigwam Minus 40C Silver Socks I own, I’ve ordered 3 times for myself and 2 other pairs for gifts. I have diabetes and these socks are the best ever.

“I go ice fishing and only wear these socks inside a heavy pair of boots and very seldom have problems keeping my feet warm. Even when it’s -20 degrees and now I’m almost 70 years old. Best Socks I’ve ever purchased.” — Larry

Check price here

Best Over-the-Calf Sock: First Lite Triad 2.0 OTC Socks

First Lite Triad 2.0 OTC Sock

First Lite has a bomb collection of hunting socks. The only downside is that they’re often sold out. Luckily, the brand’s new Triad 2.0 OTC Sock ($28) is currently available. A three-layer sock, it’s designed to add helpful compression for circulation and support.

The Triad is a merino-nylon blend, with Prolene that insulates next to skin for better temperature regulation. Although it’s new, it does have a 5-star rating from folks who have already taken these socks into the elements.

What customers say: “I just wore these on a three-day scouting trip in august. they were very comfortable and don’t smell even after a few days of putting some miles on! They wick moisture away really well and no blisters I had foot surgery for bone spurs and these by far are the most comfortable socks I’ve found.” — Matt

Check price here

Best Kids’ Hunting Socks: REI Co-op Merino Midweight Crew — Kids’

REI Co-op Merino Midweight Crew - Kids

We know two things: kids grow outta stuff, and they need to comfortable. Or we’re all in trouble. These $10 merino midweight socks from REI fit the bill for outfitting your kiddos in appropriate gear while not bruising your wallet.

Kids can hike, ski, hunt, or play in these socks. One note from reviewers is that sizing runs very big. So if you’re in doubt, order down or go to an REI and test the socks before buying. REI also makes a knee-high snowsports merino sock for kids ($14), but it’s new and yet to be reviewed.

What customers say: “My son really likes these socks. They are comfortable and warm, have washed well, and seem like they will hold up to the life of an active child. These are warm but not quite as thick as some other brands we have, which works for us because these don’t make his toes sweat (his words, not mine).” — Jess

Check price here

Best of the Rest

Smartwool PhD Hunting Medium Crew Sock

SmartWool PhD Hunting Sock

A beloved player in the sock game, Smartwool has long catered to hunters, and the brand’s PhD hunting socks ($27) rise above the rest.

I like the feel of Smartwool’s seamless toe, and they certainly keep feet temp-regulated and dry. The hunting socks are specifically body-mapped to prevent hot spots on long hikes and to allow for better circulation while in motion.

A 5-star rating backs the socks’ claims, though I’ve had a few issues with durability in my PhD socks’ toes in the past.

What customers say: “Awesome socks. I’ve had these for about a year now and will be buying another pair ASAP. These are great for everyday use, but really excel when it comes to hiking miles in your hunting boots in the cold. I used these on elk and deer hunts in Washington in the cold, snow, wet, and everything in between and they performed extremely well!” — bentommat

Check price here

Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Six Light Cushion Socks

Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Six Light Hiking Socks

As a biking and running sock, this is another great option for high-heat scenarios. The Pursuit Hike Six ($22) is a thinner, minimal sock that still harbors the technical prowess of merino wool.

It has a bit more compression than a lot of the socks on this list, which I personally like. I haven’t had these in testing for long. But thus far, they’re durable, they beat back scent, and they’re great in the early-season heat we’ve been having.

Also, I really like this review from a happy customer. Enjoy.

What customers say: “I fell into the fringe of a frozen lake. I had hiked 4 miles through the snow in the rocky mountains to go see this lake. I got a little too close to a thin patch of ice and it cracked; submersing half my leg in ice-cold water.

“I took off my shoes and Swiftwick socks and dried my leg off. I poured the water out of my boot and squeezed the socks until I couldn’t get any more moisture out. I was wary about putting the socks back on to hike 4 miles back to my car through the snow, but to my surprise, they were actually nearly dry and the hike back wasn’t bad at all!

“I’m glad I wore my favorite socks that day, and this is why I am here writing a review because I am going to be buying some more of these!” —AnonHiker

Check price here

FITS Light Hiker 

FITS Light Hiker

I really like the FITS Light Hiker socks ($22). They’re comfortable, snug enough, and a great everyday kind of sock. A generalist more than anything, they’ve been durable and held up to all types of use.

As they’re a bit taller, I like to use them with my cowboy boots on long rides or under jeans on cool days. Like me, reviewers really love these socks. With a 4.9-star rating, you’d be hard-pressed to dislike this sock.

What customers say: “I have found a sock that “fits” my foot snuggly without being constricting. The weight of this sock is perfect for me all year long while working our ranch in my boots.

“I also wear them with my hiking shoes and the reinforcement in the heel and pads of my feet are so comfortable! I am a nurse also and work in a long-term care facility which means I am on my feet all day.” — Tammy

Check price here

How to Choose the Right Hunting Socks

We’ve got thoughts on how you can make sure you’ve got the right socks for the job.

Choose Wool

It’s really that simple. Synthetics are great for leggings, jackets, some base layers, and the occasional T-shirt. But when it comes to keeping smelly feet dry and less smelly, wool always wins. It will also keep you warm when wet, which can save your feet in potentially hypothermic moments.

And there are a plethora of wools to choose from, including merino, yak, alpaca, and bison. But merino is the most common and it’s the most affordable. And it works. In fact, all the socks on this list are merino blends. Why? Again, because it works. End scene.

Buy a Few Different Heights & Weights

Some days, you’ll only need a crew. And in my opinion, a crew is the most versatile sock around. It can sneak under jeans, protect you in a midheight boot, and even pull off a workout at the gym. Midcalf and over-the-calf socks can also work well for taller boots, including rubber boots.

One point I’d like to add for rubber boot hunters is that thicker isn’t always better when it comes to socks. I like to go with a midweight sock to allow the rubber boot to circulate heat. You should have a bit of room in the boot to let it do its job.

Always Pack at Least One Extra Pair of Hunting Socks

If I’m packing in for any reason, I always bring an uber-cushy pair of camp socks for end-of-day foot relief. Let me tell you, it might be my favorite part of the day. And they double as emergency warmth if needed.

Really, shit happens. You might soak your socks, sweat through them, or want to trade for a different weight depending on the weather. When you need that extra pair of socks, you’ll be happy you packed them.

Nicole Qualtieri
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Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. When she's not writing or editing, she's likely hunting, fishing, or on the back of her little brown horse with a border collie named Butch Cassidy on heel in the mountains. Find her on Instagram at @nkqualtieri.

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