For many outdoor enthusiasts, as soon as the days begin to shorten and the trees lose their leaves as signs of the oncoming of winter, the amount of time they spend enjoying the Great Outdoors begins to decrease. Subsequently, “outdoors withdrawal syndrome” ensues. Though medical professionals have not identified this rare condition yet, I can tell you from personal experience that it certainly does exist. For people, like me, who love to be outside, the worst part of the year are the cold months of winter when the weather forces me to spend more time inside than I can stand. In an attempt to overcome my own outdoors withdrawal syndrome, I recently began an effort to find the absolutely best winter gear that would allow me to brave the elements and spend as much time as possible outdoors.
Overview of Best Thermal Socks Comparison:
- Hunting: Carhartt Men’s Extremes Cold Weather Boot Socks
- Snowboarding / Skiing: Thermal Compression Ski Socks
- Hiking: Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew
- Women: DG Hill Thermal Merino Wool
- Merino Wool: Kakuetta Trail
- Tight Budget: Soxnet Eco Friendly
After purchasing a subzero-sleeping bag, a tent built for Himalayan explorers, and a pair of winter boots that could withstand a trek across Antarctica, something was still missing to give me the feel of absolute protection from the cold. Finding a quality pair of thermal socks that can protect feet from the cold and the wetness of winter is an often overlooked, yet absolutely essential piece of gear for outdoors enthusiasts looking to spend time outdoors outside. Cold feet can ruin much more than a wedding, and for people wanting to stay comfortable outdoors in the cold, we have reviewed the best thermal socks on the market today.
Buying Tips for Top Thermal Sock
Though the seven options for thermal socks reviewed above represent some of the top products on the market, there are dozens of other companies specializing in thermal socks. If you are looking to purchase a pair of quality thermal sock, there are certain characteristics that you should look for to make sure that you are getting a product that can deliver excellent performance even during those long hikes through a winter blizzard.
Of course, one of the most important aspects and qualities of thermal socks is their ability to keep your feet warm. This “warmth factor” comes mainly from the different fabrics that are used in the manufacture of the sock. While cotton socks are great for warm days and sports activities because they “breathe”, they do not have very good insulation capabilities. As we have mentioned throughout the reviews above, Merino Wool is by far and wide one of the warmest natural fabrics on the market, so the higher the content of Merino Wool, the higher the probability that your sock will be able to keep your feet warm. Besides Merino Wool, other warming fabrics include polypropylene (not very common, but does offer good warmth) and nylon fabric.
If you only want a pair of warm winter socks for lounging around your home, then pretty much any sock will do. However, if you are looking for a durable sock that can withstand hours of snowboarding, hiking, hunting, and other outdoor activities, you should be searching for thermal socks that are durable and hardy. Though almost every thermal sock product will claim to have incredible durability, searching for products that have extra cushioning in support in the heel and toe area will help. Furthermore, if a product has a reinforced weave pattern to support the arches of the feet, this will offer extra comfort and durability as well.
The best thermal socks should keep your feet so warm that after a long day of hiking, you might begin to feel a little bit of sweat appear. When your feet do begin to sweat, it is important that your socks have some sort of way to deal with the excessive moisture accumulating near your feet. If they do not you can quickly develop blisters and suffer from the discomfort of soggy socks. Fortunately, many different fabrics work to wick away the moisture from your feet. You should thus look for thermal sock products that incorporate this wicking technology so that moisture can be moved away from your foot to the outside of the sock where evaporation can naturally occur and keep your feet dry.
Lastly, thermal sock options should also include some sort of anti-odor properties. Because these socks are typically used during hard, physical outdoors activities, it is common for odors to develop after a long day of being outside.
Our Top Pick for “Warmest for Hunting “
I love hunting, don’t get me wrong, but there are certainly different types of hunters with different strategies and techniques. When I go hunting by myself, I usually dress up as warm as I can, strap on my best pair of hiking boots, and spend time walking through the woods in search of a deer, turkey, or whatever else is in season. Even if I don’t bring anything home, I still get some exercise, stay warm because of the physical activity, and up having a great time. Other buddies of mine, however, prefer to spend time hunting simply camped out in a deer blind, and for me, that is when the cold is the absolute worst.
During my last “stationary” hunt with a friend of mine, I checked out Carhartt Men’s Extremes Cold Weather Boot Socks. I have owned a Carhartt jacket for a number of years, and when I found that this rugged clothing company with a solid reputation also made socks, I had to check them out. The Carhartt thermal socks are made from a mix of 70% Acrylic, 15% Wool, 14% Nylon, and 1% Lycra Spandex. The wool gives the added warmth while the other materials offer breathability and comfort.
Furthermore, with these socks I don’t have to worry about scaring away my family when I come home and take off the boots. The advanced odor control element of this sock, along with the state of the art FastDry technology, keeps my feet warm while also moving away sweat from the feet and keeping them dry and fresh. The fully cushioned heel and sole of this sock also add an element of comfort that is needed during those long hunting days.
Warmest Socks for Snowboarding / Skiing
Note: You want Thiner Socks for Skiing.
I love snowboarding, but even if I have found the absolutely best hill with a perfectly compacted snow cover, once my feet begin to get cold and wet, I usually call it a day. After several wipeouts on the hill, even the most protective snowboards boots and pants usually give way and small amounts of snow find their way into my foot area. When I heard that certain types of thermal socks were designed for skiers and snowboarders and could offer another level of protection, I had to try it out.
The Pure Compression Thermal Compression Ski Socks certainly did not disappoint, even after hours of snowboarding. While these socks offer quality warmth, the real benefit comes from their design that takes into account the underlying reasons why your feet get cold. In most cases, your extremities (think toes and fingers) get cold first because they are the farthest away from your heart, which pumps blood through the body. Because they are farthest away from the heart, they usually get much less blood flow and thus get colder quickest.
These socks are actually a type of compression sock that is designed to improve circulation so that more warming blood can get to the tip of your toes. In essence, they actually energize your legs while you´re outside skiing or snowboarding. Furthermore, these socks also have moisture wicking technology so that even if your feet stay so warm that they begin to sweat, you won´t have to worry about sweat-related odors.
Warmest for Hiking
Almost inevitably, every time I head out for a long day hike or a weekend backpacking trip, after a couple of miles my feet find the biggest puddle on the path. It´s almost like there is some sort of magnetic attraction between my hiking boots and puddles on a path. Though I always look for hiking boots that claim to water proof, even a little bit of water that makes its way into the boot will usually lead to cold feet.
Instead of stopping to change my socks every time I step in a puddle, I recently purchased a pair of Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks. As the name implies, these socks turned out to be both tough, durable, and extremely warm and comforting. The mix of Merino Wool and Nylon is perfect for warmth and comfort. Also, this sock delivers high performance for tough hikes as it won´t slip, shift, or otherwise cause discomfort to your feet. The antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that are naturally present in Merino Wool also help to stop unpleasant odors from scaring away my hiking partners once we make settle down for the night and the boots finally come off.
Additionally, these Darn Tough socks also dry out extremely quick. When I´m on the trail during a weeklong backpacking trip, I like to take at least one day to find a river and wash my clothes. Nothing is worse, however, than having to wait for hours while your clothes dry or settle for an uncomfortable dampness. These socks will dry out in about an hour, which shows their breathability capabilities as well.
Thinnest Warm Sock
Even though keeping my feet warm is my number one priority while being outside during the wintertime, that doesn´t mean that I enjoy having bulky feet. Before I started researching about the best and warmest thermal socks on the market, my strategy was to simply go for layer, and sometimes I´d end up with three or four layers of my regular gym socks. While this certainly did add more warmth, it was uncomfortable and also turned the process of getting my feet into my hiking boots an hour-long ordeal.
If you want the best combination of warmth and performance from a sock, but also want your sock to be thin enough so that you can comfortably get your foot in and out of your boot, I’d recommend the Fox River Outdoor Wick Dry Alturas Ultra-Lightweight Liner Socks. These Fox River socks have fantastic wick-dry technology which will keep your feet ultra dry even during intense activity. Dry feet, of course, mean warm feet. While these socks don’t include Merino Wool which is naturally bulky, they are made from 93% polypropylene which adds an enormous amount of warmth without the bulk.
By moving moisture away from the skin while still offering warmth, these socks are also fantastic to help people avoid blisters. While I do certainly love warm feet, once sweat begins to build up in my shoe area, it is usually only a couple minutes before blisters appear. The shipping weight on these socks is only 8 ounces, which proves that they are extremely lightweight due to the thinness of their make.
The Most Durable Thermal Sock For Women
I´m not sure if my feet are deformed are what the cause may be, buy every pair of socks I have usually develops a hole either in the heel area or in the toe area after a couple months of use. Not only is this uncomfortable and leads to heat loss (and thus the dreaded cold feet), but it is also kind of embarrassing when I take off my boots and my big toe is poking out of the sock for everyone to see.
DG Hill Thermal Merino Wool Socks are by far and wide some of the most durable thermal socks that I’ve found on the market. These socks are great for pretty much every outdoor activity. I’ve used these socks on hiking trips, hunting excursions, and even for a cross-country ski adventure. Their durability comes from the fact that they’re made from 80% Merino Wool. Additionally, the reinforced heel and cushioned arch support means that you won’t have to worry about holes suddenly developing in your heel.
Besides being durable, these socks are also high on performance as they are designed for extreme weather conditions. Durability, however, doesn’t mean that you are sacrificing comfort. The inner-brushed fleece linings with these socks are extremely soft and comfortable while also adding yet another layer of warmth.
The Top Thermal Sock Made from 100% Merino Wool
By now, it should be pretty obvious that if you are looking for a pair of thermal socks, Merino Wool is one of the elements that you should be looking for. While most of the other socks that we reviewed above included a percentage of Merino Wool in the fabrics used to make the sock, why not opt for the real thing? The Kakuetta Trail 100% Merino Wool Hiking Socks are the real deal when it comes to combining warmth, durability, and the comfortable feel of a sock made without any sort of synthetic fibers.
This sock offers optimum warmth, even if your feet get wet. Because of the unique properties of Merino Wool, they have the ability to retain your body heat even if the sock gets wet, meaning that you won´t necessarily have to stop your outdoor activities to change your sock if you step in a puddle or get snow in your ski boot. These socks are a bit bulkier than the other socks we´ve reviewed here because of their 100% Merino Wool design. If you don´t mind the extra weight, you would be hard pressed to find a sock that will keep your feet warmer during extreme cold weather.
If you are still not sure whether a 100% Merino Wool sock is for you, this company offers a full 30-day money back guarantee, which will allow you to try the sock for yourself and discover its performance capabilities.
The Best Thermal Socks for a Tight Budget
When I was going through the process of trying to purchase the best outdoors gear for cold weather, my credit card did a lot of work. High quality outdoors gear usually will add up to a sizeable investment. After purchasing the high performance tent, subzero sleeping bag, durable backpack, and numerous other gadgets and devices, I didn´t necessarily want to spend $50 dollars on a pair of socks. While keeping my feet warm is certainly a priority, spending more than $10 dollars on a pair of socks just wasn´t going to be financially possible.
Then I came across Soxnet Eco Friendly Heavy Weight Recycled Cotton Thermals Boot Socks. These socks are made from 100% recycled cotton, which appeals to my ecological conscience. The fully cushioned foot and leg of this sock adds warmth and comfort while also helping to absorb some of the shock that comes from heavy duty outdoors activity. The best part of this sock is that you get two quality pairs of thermal socks for under six dollars. After splurging on other types of gear, it was nice to find a quality thermal sock that didn´t add to my mounting credit card debt.