Walking The HR: Kit Essentials – Socks

Dave’s Feet, with a view of Lac de Champex  

I certainly won’t be writing this much detail about everything on here! But there are certain things that are so important to comfort on a long walk that they’re worth concentrating on. Like socks for instance.

There’s no point in spending a money on good footwear if you then put on a pair of cheap socks. We’ve tried X-Socks Smartwool and Sealskinz as well as a host of cheaper ones. The cheaper ones aren’t worthy of mention. I’ve found Bridgedales to be fine but only Thorlos give Smartwool any competition in my experience.

What we’ll take

You certainly don’t need a fresh pair of socks every day! You’d probably need an extra bag to carry them.

I’m planning to take one pair of thick Smartwools, two Smartwool liner socks and a pair of Sealskinz in case it gets really wet.

Then, each night in the hut, I’ll wash out the thick sock and liner from that day. Roll them up in my towel and squeeze the water out. They should be dry enough by the morning. Even if they’re not completely dry you’ll be putting on the dry, spare liner sock and quickly getting them damp with sweat anyhow.

Taking an extra pair of thick socks pretty much guarantees that you’ll have a dry pair each day and taking just one pair for a week seems like under doing it, but it can be done!

X-Socks

The X-Socks were of the lightweight hiking variety (I must admit I’m not sure which ones now – have you seen how many there are?). We found they were too thin and both ended a weekend with slightly sore feet but that’s our own fault really for choosing the wrong thickness. But the most off-putting thing was the smell! Being synthetic it was very, very cheesy after just a day’s walk. There are lots of people that love these socks but even with thicker ones I wouldn’t want to put up with that smell.

Smartwool

Gorgeous. Really cushioned and grippy. Best of all, because it’s only Merino wool in contact with your skin, they are amazingly smell resistant (there’s elastane in them but it’s not touching your skin). Nothing much more I can add. Wouldn’t buy anything else. Apart from a pair of…

SealSkinz

Sealskinz appear to be tougher than other brands of waterproof socks. Possibly because they’re not a laminate fabric. And to be clear – they have nothing whatsoever to do with seal skin!

Wearing waterproof socks whilst walking up hills with a pack in pouring rain obviously will not keep your feet 100% dry, but they do at least get no worse than rather damp. Which means warmer feet of course.

My first pair actually failed within four days of use but that seems to be very much the exception. Also, I simply stuck them in an envelope with a covering letter saying they leaked and they sent me a brand new pair within a week.

There are now many people that use an unlined approach shoe (no waterproof membrane), which is cooler, combined with a pair of Sealskinz when it’s wet.

Liner Socks

Both LB and I went from thinking Liner Socks were just more unnecessary faff to not wanting to be without them. They can certainly prevent blisters in our experience. The theory being that they provide a slip plane between the liner and the outer sock that prevents friction raising a blister. Smartwool make these as well.

 

4 Replies to “Walking The HR: Kit Essentials – Socks”

  1. Interesting post Dave and as you mentioned socks like footwear are a very individual thing.
    I personally didn’t find the X-Socks too thin and also not too smelly after a day’s walk but of course my feet are different than yours. Because they are synthetic they dry faster than wool socks but if the weather isn’t rainy and cold a few days in a row I also have no issue to put damp socks on in the morning. They warm up fast anyhow and don’t cause blisters to me because being damp.
    Speaking of blister I’m gonna try Injinji socks this year as I have problems getting blisters at my toes. They look quite funny wearing them and I have some doubts about their longterm durability but for a 2-3 weeks trek they should be fine.

  2. Those Injinji (how on earth is that pronounced??) socks look like they might help out a lot of people. Be interesting to see how well the last.

    I tried a pair of socks with toes on some years back – weirdest feeling! But I doubt it takes long to get used to.

    Glad someone found the post interesting – it was a pretty detailed look at one bit of gear after all! :)

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