You will be hard-pressed in life to find someone who does not own at least one pair of good wool socks. They are everywhere for a reason; they’re warm, protective, cushioned, and just about as durable as clothing items come. The best part about them is the product satisfaction- it is extremely difficult to buy a pair of wool socks that you will regret owning!
For anyone who lives in a colder region, or enjoys winter activities, wool socks are essential. Good wool socks are a must for anything from snowshoeing to ice fishing, or simply reading by the fire on a cold winter day.
What to Look for in Wool Socks
We outlined some of the key perks of wool socks above, but let’s get into the three basics of what you should look for in a good pair of wool socks:
Most of the time, wool socks are synonymous with warmth or insulation. Ninety-nine percent of the time, this is true! However, maybe you aren’t looking for wool socks that are gonna keep your toes on through a winter storm, but rather some that are good for a long summer’s hike. There are wool socks for that too! It all depends on thickness; the thicker the sock, the warmer it is. For ski or winter socks, it’s best to get a pair that is compact-woven, hearty, and plenty thick. The beauty of those socks is that they will keep you warm even if they get damp! Conversely, if you have a thin pair while you’re hiking, they will ventilate your feet while keeping them nice and protected.
Obviously, you want wool socks to be made from wool. However, the best wool socks will actually be made with anywhere from 60-90% wool and 10-40% nylon or spandex. The reason for this is that the presence of spandex allows the socks to better warm and support your foot by having more shaping and forming capability. Additionally, though you want the vast majority of your socks’ makeup to be wool, a benefit of having a blended fabric is quicker drying if they happen to get damp.
There are also different types of wool. Merino wool, often found on base layers but not that common on socks, is generally the highest quality found in mass-produced garments. If you can find merino wool socks, they will probably be most comfortable and have a little more cushion than other wool.
Wool is classified by its quality, much like other commodities are. The higher the grade of wool used, the higher the price of the socks will need to be to cover the cost of production.
Depending on what activity you plan on using your wool socks for, you should look out for how much cushion they are designed with. If you are going to be skiing or just spending prolonged periods of time outside during winter, it would be best to seek out a pair of wool socks that advertises a very high amount of cushion and foot protection. What should be noted, however, is that cushion does not always correlate with thickness; for example, some thinner wool hiking socks, as mentioned earlier, have strategically targeted cushioning components that are made to balance with the thin nature of the rest of the sock. Of course, in warmer winter wool socks, the cushion is a bit less visually distinguishable due to their thick nature. Be rest assured, however, that thick wool socks made with cushioning specific to skiing DO make a massive difference in the comfort of your feet on the slopes or inside your boots!
5 Best Wool Socks
Now that you know the essentials of great wool socks, we think that it is time to recommend to you some of our favorites from the best brands out there. Trust us on these, we have used all these socks personally and did not include any that we weren’t fans of:
Smartwool is the most widely-recognized business in the wool sock industry, and for good reason. This pair that they have crafted will fit perfectly to your feet, featuring a particularly masterful blend of merino wool and expansive fabrics. Designed with crew length and full cushion, these are the perfect socks for any fall or winter activity, and are also sure to last you through many seasons of activity. These socks in particular actually sport some extra arch support with an elastic built-in arch band, ensuring that you will be able to spend hours outdoors without your feet giving you a single problem.
Don’t let the name of this sock fool you – you don’t have to be a hunter to appreciate them. They are great all-purpose socks, for any type of cooler-weather activity where you want a bit more cushion. With that said, they do work really well inside hunting boots, but are equally competent with a good pair of hiking boots.
What I like about Smartwool socks is the wool quality for the money is really good, and they make enough socks so you can always find the right weight for what you need.
Let me first say that I own several pairs of these socks, and they are probably my favorite general-use cold-weather socks that I have ever owned. Crafted with that special durability unique to the Darn Tough brand, these socks will keep your feet perfectly warm and comfortable while refusing to develop even the smallest of holes. What’s more with these socks is that all Darn Tough socks come with a lifetime warranty! Not only does this warranty ensure that you will always have access to a truly excellent pair of snug warm socks, but it gives you that wonderful peace of mind that comes from smelling great. Why, you may ask? Well, Darn Tough’s wool-synthetic material combination wicks away sweat and neutralizes almost all odors. What’s not to love?
I personally like the durability of Darn Tough socks, and have had good luck with them. They must have chosen the right name.
The highest-rated winter sock that Filson has, these socks represent all that Filson is as a brand. Built to last with the highest-quality wool and crafted for both durability and warmth, these socks will be with you as long as you need to use your feet. Filson in particular works especially hard to flatten and smoothen the seams on their socks, meaning that you won’t encounter even the slightest bit of discomfort when putting these socks to use out in the field. Additionally, these socks feature the newest weave-shaping design by Filson, meaning that they will never lose their shape after being washed or worn in wet conditions for an extended period of time. Filson’s wool fabric also retains its original texture extremely well through several years of wear and tear.
I’ve found that Filson products are awesome, and you won’t be disappointed when you buy, even though they cost a little more.
If you are looking for the best quality for the best price, look no further than this brilliantly designed and crafted pair of wool socks by the venerated L. L. Bean. Though made to deliver you through all of the trials and tribulations of cold weather, these socks actually feature the highest nylon-to-wool ratio of any pair of socks on this list as L. L. Bean chooses to focus on function more than any other wool sock company on the market. What’s more is that L. L. Bean’s innovative form of fine-gauge knitting ensures that you will not have to worry about getting rid of these socks any time soon!
This sock is my pick for the best value.
A new star in the sock market, Bombas has quickly become a favorite of consumers due to their high quality products and unprecedented comfort when it comes to footwear. These newest merino wool socks of theirs do not only sport a fully-cushioned sole, but set themselves apart in their own way with a special honeycomb arch support design! Such a design speaks heavily to Bombas’s strengths as an athletic sock manufacturer, as this new winter design still has the comfort and support of the consumer as its primary concerns.
Bombas has grown in popularity lately with an aggressive ad campaign, you have probably heard of them by now. The socks are high quality and I can recommend them.