No matter what the coolest equipment you have, no matter how carefully you plan your trip, but one small callus, scuff, or a worn cushion under the thumb can ruin the whole vacation.
Leg problem is really a serious thing that many do not think about before the trip, and then it is late, painful and annoying. It is necessary to wear shoes in advance, no matter how stupid you look in them in the city, or at home.
For many experienced tourists, there has long been a rule – there are never many socks. They do not take up space and weigh nothing, so even for a week’s hike, you can take 4-5 pairs. During the day, you can change 2 pairs of socks, as long as the legs remain dry. While you are walking in the fresh socks, others can be dried by tucking under the straps of the backpack. Even a slightly damp sock can lead to calluses, which then tear off to the blood.
What are Trekking Socks, How to Choose Them and Why are They Needed?
Over the past decades, such a seemingly banal thing, like socks for hiking, travelling, has evolved significantly. Even 50 years ago, in any hiking, footwear, and boots, or hard mountain boots were the norm. Then they gave way to thin socks and special shoes for different types of activity – from the lightest running sneakers to serious climbing boots for high-altitude climbing.
And so, by the beginning of the 80s of the XX century, when tourism proved to be a mass phenomenon, and many innovative materials appeared in the textile industry, special socks for long trips began to appear on sale.
At first, it was just socked with a reinforced heel and toe, which were warmer than usual and dried faster. But, subsequently, production technologies became more and more perfect. The term thermal underwear, thermal socks also appeared.
Here, perhaps, it is worth noting that the thermal sock is not the sock that warms, it is the one that removes moisture, keeping the feet dry, thereby keeping them warm. So in fact, any thermal socks can do for a hike, however, trekking has its own peculiarities.
Modern trekking socks (or thermal socks) are not only durable but also have the function of supporting the foot, preventing the development of bacteria and the smell, they breathe and remove moisture, minimizing the likelihood of corns formation.
They have become more specialized. Dozens of varieties of trekking socks – from light synthetic models made of polyester or polypropylene to thick woollen socks or combined delight our eyes on the shelves of the store.
However, a large selection is also a big thought.
Why is it Worth Buying Trekking Socks?
Are they really necessary?
Indeed, thermal socks are much more expensive than regular cotton ones. And heaped up with compression and even more. So maybe buy a few pairs of cotton and just throw them away every day?
If you go for a walk in the park or travel with the intention of slowly enjoying the surroundings and not moving further than 5 km from civilization, then perhaps you should do just that. But if you spend the day in constant motion, you are going to seriously engage in training in the fresh air, to participate in sporting events, especially long-term ones (nowadays popular orienteering competitions in the forest or the city, marathons, bike races, alpine races, etc.), or go hiking with a backpack behind you – then summer or warm socks for trekking and hiking will greatly simplify your life.
Did you know that your feet can produce up to 60 g of moisture per day? If you walk barefoot, the moisture evaporates from the surface of the skin, your legs remain dry and there is no problem.
Proper Trekking Socks have the Following Advantages
- Trekking socks fit snugly to the foot, minimizing the chance of skin erasing when walking for a long time. That is, you will not become a burden for comrades, having received corns in the first transitions.
- Specialized trekking socks will not tear. The toe, heel, and lift of the trekking socks are reinforced, durable threads in combination with special weaving do their job. Abrasion of them is really not one year’s business. The most common reason that you lose your favourite hiking socks is their banal loss or shrinkage when improperly washed. Holes on them are rare.
- Socks for trekking and hiking support the foot, give it the correct shape during physical exertion. The load when walking up and down, while running, and, say, when skiing, is aimed at different points of the foot as the primary ones. Accordingly, the design features of socks for trekking, mountaineering or for skiing, running, etc. will also be different.
- If you buy good socks for trekking shoes – they will not let your feet get wet. The very principle of thermal socks is the removal of moisture from the surface of the skin and quick drying. Thus, even if you wet your feet, you will not freeze and squish on the go. Isn’t that perfect?
- Good socks for trekking shoes breathe. Well, it doesn’t mean that they have a nose and they use it to pump oxygen into shoes – but they remove the steam generated during exercise from the legs, providing them with dryness and good ventilation.
- Some trekking socks reduce the load on the muscles of the foot and lower leg. Yes Yes exactly. The thin muscles in the correct position are significantly better and work longer when running and walking.
- Socks with light compression improve blood circulation, helping to reduce leg fatigue and faster recovery. But more on that later.
Benefits of Having Trekking socks
When walking over rough terrain, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints interact. One careless step and the mechanism may collapse. The ankle area requires additional protection, especially for untrained tourists or in the case of particularly difficult terrain and a heavy backpack. A cross bandage made of elastic knit material stabilizes the ankle and supports the foot.
All bodyweight and backpack are in small areas of the foot. The anatomical insole, adapted for the left and right leg, supports these areas. Complex knitting provides regulation of heat and moisture, creating maximum comfort when walking.
Thick socks are a good shock absorber in the event of a kick, or even with the pressure of the top of a high boot. But their air permeability is reduced. A compromise solution is a kind of stuffed rods that perfectly conduct air and protect the lower leg.
Achilles tendon protection is made of shock-absorbing wear-resistant materials, reduces friction and pressure from the upper part of the boot.
Everyone knows the unpleasant sensation when the finger constantly rests on the toe of the shoe. With a long trip, this can be a problem. A special pillow on the toe of the toe is a buffer, protecting your fingers from this pressure.
The heel area is most susceptible to the appearance of corns, so manufacturers of hiking socks tend to most effectively reduce and absorb friction in this area.
How to Choose Hiking Socks?
Thermal socks for a campaign, like any others, are simpler (for weekend trips) and more expensive (for long and heavy physical exertion, specialized types of activity). Nevertheless, before you buy trekking socks, pay attention to the following:
- Camping socks need to buy in size, like shoes. The sock should not wrinkle on the leg, nor should it unnecessarily tighten the foot.
- All seams should be outside (if any). There should not be any seams to the leg. Often trekking socks are generally seamless, they are made using the technology of circular knitting, but sometimes there is a seam on the toes or on the top trim, it’s nothing – if it is outside.
- Thermal socks must be suitable for their intended use. Socks for the gym or for running have a different structure than socks for mountain trekking, they have different tasks and, accordingly, different characteristics.
- Trekking socks must take into account the temperature conditions of the hike or competition. You should not walk along the warm coast in high woollen socks and do not go on a multi-day hike to the glaciers in thin thermal knots for running and easy trekking.
- Trekking socks must be anatomically shaped. Almost all good socks have the letters R and L, i.e. Right and left.
- Pick up socks after shoes are bought or selected. They should not be shorter than shoes or sneakers. But they should not rise much above them. The toe should fit perfectly into the boot and not catch on the inside of either the insole or the anatomical protrusions.
Types of outdoor activities and just active life are different. Therefore, one or two pairs for all occasions can not do. However, there are different varieties of thermal socks and they are very different from each other.
Types of Hiking Socks
For almost every type of activity, the most suitable models have been developed. Socks for football, volleyball, socks for running in the gym – and for running in the fresh air, socks for skiing and snowboarding, for carving – and for freeriding, etc. fall into separate categories.
Such ultimate specificity makes it possible to take into account all the nuances of the design of shoes for certain sports and recreation and, of course, make it easier for you to choose. But what about hiking socks?
There is a division of the campaign as such into species depending on the complexity and severity of the load:
- hiking (hiking) – the easiest hiking trip on a simple terrain in light trekking boots or even sneakers with a small backpack. It is understood that you will spend the night and eat in guest houses.
- trekking – a series of day trips connected by spending the night somewhere but not in a tent. Trekking implies more difficult conditions than hiking, most likely hilly or mountain routes. The backpack is already quite weighty, it requires food and water supplies for the day, and a large number of additional equipment. Tougher shoes are already required – full-fledged trekking boots, since there may not be trails as such, but stone screes, sticks and tree roots underfoot are more likely.
- backpacking (backpacking) – a hike in the real sense of the word. You turn into pack animals carrying on their back with all the belongings – a tent, sleeping bags, food, clothes, etc. A backpack can reach sizes up to 120 litres. With such a burden in rough terrain, high trekking boots are used.
Accordingly, for each of the three areas are different socks. Plus seasonality – summer trekking socks are a separate category. Depending on the destination, manufacturers use various materials and technologies, combining which can achieve the desired results.
Socks for Flat and Mountain Trekking
A rather serious class of thermal socks – here, first of all, the increased strength of the toe-heel and ankle, as well as breathability and the ability to drain are required. As a rule, these socks are worn under trekking boots, maintain their membrane properties and have a height just above the ankle or to the middle of the calf. Synthetic materials providing strength, breathability, moisture removal, shock absorption are popular in them.
Socks for High Mountain Trekking
They should have the same properties as ordinary trekking socks – plus increased heat capacity and increased strength. To keep your feet always warm at a height, wool threads are added to such socks, mixing them with moisture-removing materials. The height of the alpine socks is up to the patella.
Inserts for Trekking Socks
These are very thin socks made of polypropylene or silk, which create an additional drainage layer in the heat and fit the legs like a second skin, preventing the formation of blisters and corns on the sensitive skin of the feet, even in the most intense heat. In a multi-day trip, the liners can be changed, thus increasing the life of the main hiking toe for trekking shoes.
Antibacterial Trekking Socks
The campaign is a sweatshop. And the feet sweat no less, but more than anything else. Trekking socks for hiking, as a rule, undergo antibacterial treatment, they include a special thread that prevents the growth of bacteria, which, firstly, cause an unpleasant odour from the legs, and secondly, prevent the healing of minor injuries.
In addition, the antibacterial layer in the socks for trekking also does not allow the fungus to develop, no matter how many kilometres you wind and wherever you swim. Thanks to this, socks for trekking shoes can be worn for more than one day and their shelf life, even with active use – at least a year.
What are Trekking Socks made of?
There are a lot of terms written on trekking sock labels. How to figure out which thread composition is right for me? In the manufacture of trekking socks, synthetic, woollen and cotton threads are used. Each material has its own qualities and their combination means specific properties.
In the manufacture of synthetic socks for trekking, many different compositions are used, we highlighted the most common ones. However, it is worth considering that even socks made from the same material from different manufacturers can vary greatly in properties. The reason is weaving technology, as well as the use of various additives and impregnations. For example, treatment with silver ions to counter bacteria.
- Outlast: this is temperature regulation;
- Coolmax: removes moisture, dries quickly, cools the leg;
- Cordura: gives increased strength;
- Kevlar: also tough, but more static, used to protect the ankle from damage;
- Robur: wear-resistant material with a hollow structure with shock absorption properties;
- Lycra: material familiar to everyone, gives socks high elasticity and guarantees an excellent fit on the foot;
- Modal: it is actually silk, only synthetic. His work is effective cooling of the feet, comfort;
- Polyclonal: antibacterial thread, dries quickly, removes moisture from the foot;
- Polypropylene: dehumidifying, very quick drying material;
- Thermolite: a very warm thread that retains body heat;
- Polartec: (heat preservation, moisture removal, comfort, dry quickly);
- Polyclonal: antibacterial thread, dries quickly, removes moisture from the foot;
- Elastan, Polyamide, Polyester, Nailon: quick-drying and air-permeable synthetic fibres;
- Merino wool: the most popular woollen thread, makes socks warm and cosy;
- Lama wool: very warm and voluminous wool thread;
- RHOVYL’Coton and RHOVYL’Laine: cotton threads with a modern, durable weave, used in thermal socks for gyms;
- White cotton: cotton thread, provides comfort and a pleasant fit to the body with little physical exertion;
In addition, each manufacturing company, as a rule, has its own developments with beautiful names. To understand what is meant, do not be lazy to read the product description before buying it. This will save you money and will not make you regret your choice later.
How to Extend the life of Trekking Socks?
In order for your trekking socks to serve you for a long time, you need to properly care for them. The rules for caring for thermal socks are the same as for any thermal underwear:
- Socks must be washed in a washing machine at a temperature of + 30-40 ° C.
- Can be washed by hand with soap;
- Do not use bleach or detergent. Wash with a liquid, easily washable without perfumes;
- No need to push your hiking socks hard. They will dry quickly and so;
- You can’t dry the trekking socks on the battery and even more so iron it (yes, there are some). This will lead to the loss of the properties of the thread or a violation of the weave – and therefore, to the loss of the properties of the thermal sock.
And then your socks for trekking and hiking will serve you happily ever after, supporting your legs in the most difficult and happiest moments of life – on the way to beauty, top, victory – and simply the radiant joy of being.