Waterproof socks are sometimes looked at with skepticism. It’s hard to imagine a sock that both blocks water from reaching the foot while preventing this highly active body part from overheating.
But the latest waterproof socks make this a reality.
You might want a pair of waterproof, windproof socks next time you’re caught in a nasty mountain bike slog.
They’d also come in handy for a hike that leads to way more water crossings than you planned for. If a rain-soaked hunting trip yielded a fridge of meat but also a week of healing from peeling and mildewed feet, well, you know — waterproof socks.
The concept is pretty simple: Put a waterproof-breathable membrane inside a sock made from merino wool or synthetic fibers. This water barrier will keep feet and any fabric underneath the barrier dry. The breathability of the barrier allows sweat to escape.
Waterproof Socks 101
Showers Pass thinks waterproof socks should be on every outdoor pack list. But not all waterproof socks are made the same.
Waterproof-breathable membranes must make a compromise between waterproofing and breathability. And to make a good waterproof sock, brands must find the right balance between the two.
To achieve that equilibrium, Showers Pass uses a mix of merino wool, a waterproof-breathable membrane, and an outer layer made to be durable.
Beyond that balance, several other factors should weigh in during your selection process. Read on to learn the answers to some of the most common questions people have about waterproof socks.
If I have waterproof shoes, why do I need waterproof socks?
Not all hiking boots that claim to be waterproof can account for those places where rain or water inevitably creeps in, namely the tongue and lacing points. Plus, gear-makers use many different applications to waterproof footwear. Most eventually wear out over time spent outside. And that can quickly lead to wet, cold, unhealthy feet.
A waterproof sock can be a nice extra barrier during a variety of outdoor activities. One scenario is a rainy all-day hunt where you could be changing shoes but want to keep the same socks. Another could be a winter hike where post-holing is a serious possibility. Waterproof socks could also be considered the new bikepacking essential.
Showers Pass even has some feedback from runners who are using a lighter-weight version of the waterproof sock. Lynda Neuman used them throughout this year’s infamously soggy Boston Marathon. She ran in the rain for five hours.
“My shoes were soaked the entire way, but my feet remained dry. My feet were the only thing on me that were dry,” she said. “The socks are truly waterproof, they breathe, and are very comfortable to run in.”
What does a waterproof rating on a sock even mean?
There are three layers to a waterproof sock: a knit interior and exterior with a waterproof membrane sandwiched in between. Showers Pass’ Crosspoint Waterproof Mountain Socks use a wear-resistant knit exterior, a seamless waterproof-breathable membrane in the middle, and a moisture-wicking merino wool blend for a softer lining.
That means they’re thicker than the average athletic socks. But this multilayer construction protects the critical waterproof membrane. Remember, though, that waterproofing in socks only runs from the tip of the toe to just below the top of the cuff. So wearing rain pants over top is ideal for full coverage.
How can I make sure my feet can still move and breathe in a waterproof sock?
No doubt, feet sweat. And they need to flex on the move. While waterproof socks are not always appropriate for high-intensity, high-perspiration sports, they can work for a variety of outdoor activities.
In the Showers Pass Crosspoint Socks, for example, a membrane made with Artex fabric technology helps pull moisture from the skin and pass it along. The sock’s inner liner is important too. Choose a naturally antimicrobial merino wool-blend liner for cold conditions (40 degrees and below) or an antibacterial Coolmax liner for warmer temps.
Also, look for waterproof socks that have fully bonded layers, no seams, a wide toe box, and a padded toe and heel. This combination of fabrics and features will help your feet stay dry while not overheating while you’re outside.