There is no doubt about it, hunting socks are an essential piece of gear. Hunting socks are a bit different from your everyday cotton socks. But not all hunting socks are created equal.
The type of hunting you plan on doing will influence what type and how many socks you should have with you. Even if you plan to drive around in a truck getting to your favorite hunting spot or are sitting in a blind you will need to keep your feet warm and dry.
Keeping your feet in good shape means you can go further into your favorite hunting spot, stay out longer, get around comfortably in all weather conditions and enjoy the adventure at hand.
If your feet are too cold or too warm your hunting performance will suffer and you will be wishing you had a different pair of socks. Ask any serious hunter and they will tell you that a good pair of hunting socks is a worthwhile investment.
5 things to consider before buying hunting socks
- Rugged – don’t cheap out on hunting socks. If you think you can go to a cheap box store and buy their wool socks and be happy with them after 2-3 miles of hard hiking you will be mistaken. Buy socks that last multiple seasons. Choose socks from high-quality brands.
- Moisture and odor reduction – are essential features to consider when looking to buy your next pair of hunting socks. We recommend merino wool based socks to keep your feet dry and not giving away your position because everyone (including game) can smell your stinky feet.
- Warmth – is the most important factor to consider when buying hunting socks. If you take your regular cotton socks on an all-day hunt with 30-degree weather you are going to complain about cold toes. Make sure you test your gear before going out and make sure you hunting socks are warm enough in the boots you plan to take.
- Sock height – make sure you have the right socks for the job. The height of your socks matter. You don’t want socks that are too short so the top of your boots rub against your skin and cause irritation. Find socks that are 3-4 inches taller than your boots.
- Price – Hunting can be an expensive hobby. But you can also find really good deals on socks. Expect to pay anywhere from $15-$30 for a good quality pair of hunting socks. You can find more expensive socks but a good pair of $20 merino wool socks should last you years.
In this next section we will talk a little more about some of these factors.
Thickness & warmth
The thickness and materials of the sock will determine how warm the socks are.
If you plan on hiking for multiple miles per day it’s best to buy hunting socks that aren’t too thick. If they are too thick they will heat up your feet and make them sweat which will create uncomfortable walking conditions and make your feet wet.
If you plan on sitting in a blind or tree stand all day you will want nice thick socks to keep your feet warm and happy.
If you aren’t sure which type you need, pack both. Swapping hunting socks in the field might seem like a pain but keeping your feet healthy is vital when you’re in the field.
Hunting sock height
Chances are you have a favorite style of everyday sock. For most of us, a crew sock will be the first thing you buy when getting hunting socks but there are a few things to consider.
Most hunting sock manufactures make socks in 2 or 3 sizes. They go from crew socks (just below your calves) all the way to above your calves. The height of your hunting boots will determine which style of hunting socks you should buy. Make sure the sock sticks out 3-4 inches above the boot so you don’t get unnecessary chafing from the upper part of your boots.
But there are some other unintended benefits of taller hunting socks…
The taller the socks the warmer they will keep your legs. In addition, hiking around all day will leave your legs tired if you are someone who likes a little tension on your calves then consider taller socks to help you push on during tough hikes.
Wool Hunting Socks
There are several different types of materials commonly used in hunting socks. Each material serves a different purpose. It’s important to know what each material is and how it can benefit your feet based on the type and style of hunting you plan on doing.
Cotton socks just aren’t going to cut it. They do a poor job of keeping your feet warm and dry.
As of right now, the best material to buy for hunting socks is merino wool. Most sock makers will have some sort of blend of wool with elastic, cotton and other materials to make sure the socks are comfortable and don’t itch.
In this section of the review, we will share some basic knowledge about the different types of hunting sock materials.
Merino wool hunting socks are by far our favorite type of socks. The benefits of merino wool are tested and proven by thousands of hunters with years of experience.
The Merino sheep grow wool that is super soft and fine making it comfortable next to your skin. Merino wool is naturally long and makes for a stronger fiber. This is important, as a garment that is made up of too many short fibers is prone hole easily
Merino wool helps keep you warm by insulating instead of trapping heat. Merino wool fibers have a natural crimp to them, allowing them to trap dead air and act as an insulator and a buffer against cold air and conditions. This helps keep your body at a more even and warmer temperature.
Other benefits of merino wool socks are that they are lightweight, and don’t stink as bad after multiple days of use, unlike cotton based hunting socks.
Merino wool based socks are easy to wash in a creek and dry relatively quickly in the sun or over a fire.
Wool fibers do such an amazing job of moving moisture away from the skin that even if the fabric is soaking wet the surface area of your skin will remain dry. Merino fibers and fabrics can absorb up to 30% of their dry weight before feeling wet. Most synthetics feel wet after they absorb less than 7%.
But the absolute best part is, although they are wool, there is 0 itch factor when it comes to wearing these socks.
Nylon & Lycra Spandex
You can’t just have socks made of wool. You need other basic materials to keep them from sliding down on your foot when walking around in them. Most sock manufactures will use a mix of nylon, cotton, and other stretchy materials to give support in the arch and ankle portions of the sock.
One isn’t necessarily better than the others.
When looking for a quality pair of merino wool socks just look for the % of the sock that is merino wool and know the other stuff is there to help.
Our Favorite Types Of Merino Wool Hunting Socks
Smartwool’s Merino Hunting Socks
These socks are one of the better options out there for a merino wool based sock. Their merino blend is 71% Merino Wool, 28% Nylon, 1% Elastane. The company was founded by New England ski instructors Peter and Patty Duke in Steamboat Springs, Colorado in 1994. Since then, they manufacture a lot of different clothing with merino wool and are experts in working with merino wool type fibers.
These socks are breathable and in between heavy and lightweight. They do a great job of being odor resistant. Make sure you select the right height for your boot size.
When trying these socks on you will immediately notice they stay in place and don’t slide around your foot as some wool socks can do. Smartwool was careful in putting nylon in the right spots to make sure the socks stay in place.
Darn Tough Socks
Another great option for hunting socks is Darn Tough socks. They are ribbed with merino wool and have a nice tight knit to keep your feet warm and dry. You cannot go wrong with either option. It honestly might come down to price on these and Smartwool socks.
Darn Tough socks were created in Vermont and are still produced in the states.
Their merino blend is 67% Merino Wool, 29% Nylon, 4% Lycra® Spandex.
One nice feature about Darn Tough socks is the extra cushion they put in their socks. They know where your feet tend to take the most impact and have socks with different levels of cushion to help keep them happy and blister free.
KUIU Hunting Socks
Kuiu is a leading hunting gear brand that has gained a lot of popularity lately. We decided to try out their merino wool based hunting socks last season and were impressed.
These socks are super comfortable and soft. They have extra padding and cushion in multiple areas. You can tell they put some thought into these socks when making them.
The merino blend of these socks is 55% Merino Wool / 25% Nylon / 15% Lycra / 5% Spandex.
Kuiu claims these merino wool socks use a special type of technology to make the fabric more stretchy and performance driven. Here is what their website claims
Developed in New Zealand, Nuyarn technology has revolutionized the Merino wool market. Taking the twist out of the yarn has produced a fabric with higher stretch and recovery, better moisture management, and greater warmth. It is stronger than the average Merino wool on the market, yet boasts the same natural odor resistance and comfort.
These socks are a little more expensive than other options but make up for it in comfort and performance.
Meriwool socks are another option for high-quality hunting socks. These are by far the most affordable socks out of the group. You can find 3-packs of these socks for the price of a pair of their competitors.
I used these socks for the first 2 years I was hunting. I have since upgraded my sock selection but they did a decent job in the field.
They kept my feet warm but after numerous trips through the washing machine they didn’t seem to have the same amount of hold on the arch of my feet or around my ankle. I would consider taking these socks on a trip if I was going to be stationary most of the time or not doing a lot of hard hiking.
For the price, they can also serve as great hiking socks or everyday socks. They are definitely worth trying out. This sock blend is 75% merino wool 15% nylon 10% elastic.
Picking the right pair of hunting socks isn’t difficult but it’s not something you should overlook. All hunters agree that taking care of your feet in the field is important so don’t cheap out on your gear here.
Hunting socks are one of the least expensive pieces of gear you own. Don’t be afraid to try 2-3 of these options and find the one that works best for you.
How many socks should I take hunting?
This is a question I have struggled with. Socks, by nature, are lightweight. Bring as many as you need to feel comfortable.
The type of hunting you do will dictate how many pairs you should bring, if you have extra room in your tent then bring a couple. If you are only camping on your back then bring 2 pair. One to wear all day and one to change into at night or as back up in the event your feet get totally soaked.
The best part about hunting socks is you can wear them when you aren’t in the field. Anytime you are facing cold weather or a lot of walking you can put on your favorite merino wool socks and be ready to face the elements. I often find myself putting on my Smartwool socks for Salmon fishing or recreational shooting.
Grab a pair and put some miles on your boots.