How to Choose Hiking and Mountaineering Socks?
The average person takes about 1400 steps to cover 1 kilometer. This number never decreases, it increases, even more, when the road you are walking on is bumpy and possible obstacles along the way are taken into account. Choosing the right socks is an integral part of a comfortable walk-in every step you take. When you wear socks that are suitable for your activity and the season you are doing, you also prevent the occurrence of problems such as blistering. In today’s article, we examine day hiking, backpacking long-distance hiking, and socks for mountaineering.
When choosing socks for outdoor sports, you should decide according to the following criteria.
Height: The height of the socks works for three. The first is to protect the skin from rubbing caused by shoes or boots. The second is to reduce the effect of traumas that may occur as a result of impact or rubbing against an object. The third is to act as an additional layer in cold weather.
Thickness: Usually extra thick socks are preferred in cold weather and thinner socks are preferred in warm weather. In some socks, additional padding has been used on the nose, heel, and ankle to increase comfort and warmth and also to reduce injuries.
Fabric: The main component in quality hiking and mountaineering socks is generally wool. In general-purpose winter hiking socks, 40% wool, 35% acrylic, 15% nylon and 10% lycra are used to provide flexibility. In running socks, polyester and nylon material is preferred because moisture transfer rather than thermal insulation is the primary concern.
Compliance with the foot size: Just as when choosing shoes in socks, the foot number must be observed. When you use small socks that do not fit your feet, your toes will rub against each other and cause injuries between the fingers. When you use large socks, the excess fabric will accumulate under your feet and cause an uncomfortable walk and underfoot injuries.
To summarize, the higher the height of your shoes, the higher the socks you need to choose. The aim is to ensure that your skin does not come in direct contact with the shoe, thus preventing friction-related skin injuries.
High socks also serve as a protector against possible bumps and friction against obstacles in the path you are walking. They protect against trauma from stones if you slip with low-cut shoes.
Long socks below the knee used in winter activities serve as an additional layer against the cold.
Crew type socks ranging from 20 to 25 inches are the socks we use most frequently in daily life. While half ankle socks are preferred for walking, below the knee (over the calf) socks are preferred for winter expeditions.
As the sock thickness increases, you get better insulation in cold weather. Heel and toe areas are extra filled in hiking and mountaineering socks. And it is aimed to increase the insulation and reduce friction-related skin injuries in areas where the blood flow is slow. Thin models that do not cause sweating should be preferred in running socks, socks with extra filling in the nose and heel areas should not be used.
Very thin socks: Usually 4 millimeters thick and are mostly preferred by runners. In hiking and mountaineering, they are used as liners under thick socks. Wearing a pair of thick socks will cause no space inside the shoe so that there is not enough space for the static air required for your foot to warm up. Double thick socks will cause sweating as well as slow the blood circulation. 10-15% silk is used in the quality of thin socks to be used for running and liner purposes.
Slightly thick socks: Heel and toe caps are filled, but generally thin socks. They are preferred in the summer months. They are made of polyester, acrylic, and nylon.
Medium socks: These are the best selling hiking and mountaineering socks on the market. They provide sufficient insulation in cool weather as well as an adequate filling for the root of the toes and heel areas. Quality ones are wool blended.
Thick socks: In winter, they provide sufficient insulation for backpacking walks and mountaineering activities. Quality ones are wool blended.
Materials used in Sock Manufacturing
Today, there are no socks produced using only one material. The mixtures used in proportions that vary according to the activity and season. Will enable comfort, temperature, durability and fast drying.
Wool: Wool is the most popular hiking and mountaineering socks material. It regulates the temperature and provides a tampon to protect your feet from sweating. Another positive aspect is that since wool is naturally antimicrobial, it tends to keep the odorless compared to synthetic fabrics.
Today, most of the quality socks are made of wool, which does not cause itching and odor compared to the old wool socks types. Most wool socks use wool and synthetic blends for better durability and faster drying. Another feature of wool does not lose its insulation feature even if it is wet.
Polyester: Polyester is an insulating material that does not hold moisture and dries quickly. Sometimes it is blended with wool and/or nylon to better balance temperature, comfort, durability, and fast-drying.
Nylon: This is another synthetic option that is sometimes used as the primary material. It adds durability and helps to improve drying times.
Silk: It is not a durable material, but it is a natural fiber that helps you feel comfortable in harmony with the skin. Very light silk is worn under the inner expedition socks as a liner as it does not retain moisture and transfer quickly. Quality hiking and mountaineering socks have started to include this material. It is generally used in mixed socks in a ratio of 10%.
Socks for daily walks
20-25 cm socks have enough length for shoes and boots and will protect your wrists against simple injuries. In summer, you can choose thin models with a mix of polyester and nylon, reducing sweating and preventing problems such as blistering. I recommend using wool blend models only in cold weather.
Socks for long-distance hikes with backpacks
If you are going to walk long distances with your camp load on your back, you should prefer thin models with a mixture of polyester and nylon, but make sure that the nose and heel parts are supported with additional material.
When there is no snow, you can consider the suggestion above. In other words, socks with polyester and nylon blends, with support for the toe and heel, will work. When the cold factor comes into play, I recommend you increase the insulation properties by wearing wool mixed, half-calf or below-knee socks. If you are cold after all, note that there is a space in the boot for the formation of warm air, whether your socks contain cotton. However, if it continues to feel cold, I recommend you look at padded boot models. Buy 1,5 – 2 number large boots and buy thin liner socks containing silk.
These socks, which are used in activities that you will do in very harsh weather such as polar expeditions, 5000+ meters of mountaineering activities, are made of special materials that ensure that your feet do not get wet from sweat and increase the insulation.
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