Why Are Cotton Socks Bad For Hiking? (Explained)

Why Are Cotton Socks Bad for Hiking

Hiking is an exercise for people who enjoy physical activities and improve their health. 

For example, Hill climbing is good for the heart and strengthens your leg muscles because of its continuous use.

When getting ready to go hiking, socks are a part of the clothing you should consider; however, the kind of socks matters.

A Cotton sock is one of the types of socks that you should not wear for hiking. Find out why here.

There are several reasons why cotton socks are not appropriate for hiking. First, never hike in cotton socks because cotton soaks up moisture and takes a long time to dry. Wearing wet cotton soaks while hiking can result in fungus and bacterial infections. The material’s tendency to rub against the foot can also result in blisters.

This article explains why cotton socks are not suitable for hiking and reveals the best type for hiking—keep reading to find out.

Why Should You Not Wear Cotton Socks When Hiking?

Why Are Cotton Socks Bad for Hiking

Cotton socks for hiking are a terrible choice for several reasons. First, imagine hiking with wet, sweaty, tight, or inconvenient socks. 

You won’t enjoy hiking during that period because it is uncomfortable.

When hiking, the type of footwear you wear—including the kind of sock and the fabric used to make the sock—should be your priority.

Cotton has always been the regular material for socks, and everyone has been wearing it. But in truth, any benefit white cotton socks may have had over other fabrics is no longer relevant.

Socks or clothes made from cotton absorb water and become sponge-like. When this happens, it loses its ability to keep your skin warm and can become uncomfortable.

You may believe that your waterproof hiking boots will keep your socks secure; thus, it is irrelevant. 

That may be true for preventing moisture from the outside, but this doesn’t affect sweat inside.

Because of the insulation in those waterproof hiking boots, your skin will produce a lot of heat, which causes moisture. 

The cotton socks will absorb this moisture and leave you feeling uncomfortable.

Another reason that makes cotton socks the wrong idea is that when the socks become wet, and there’s no way for you to change them, it has adverse effects.

Here is a table showing the side effects of wearing wet cotton socks for an extended period.

Side EffectsThe Results
BlistersWetness increases friction between the foot and the sock, which can result in sores and blisters.
Bacteria or Fungi RashThey thrive in wet environments; thus,  you can have rashes or athlete’s foot when your feet stay n wet socks.
Fungal Toenail InfectionYour nails may start to peel and bend, which can be uncomfortable.

Over the years, scientific improvement has led to the discovery of materials other than cotton, which means better socks suitable for hiking.

Are Regular Socks Suitable for Hiking?

The majority of regular socks are usually cotton socks that have some elasticity. Cotton and other regular socks are suitable to wear when going to the office, school, and other daily activities.

These regular or cotton socks are still manageable for short-distance hikes but are not practical for longer hikes.

Which Socks Should I Use for Hiking?

Several options are available, so choosing the hiking socks depends on what you want. 

Below are some of the factors to consider;

#1. The Sock Material

Hiking socks come from a combination of materials that strikes the ideal balance between comfort, endurance, and the ability to dry on time.

#1. Polyester

This fabric is a common one that absorbs moisture away from the skin, helps to keep warm, and dries quickly. It is usually used with other materials to produce one of the best hiking socks.

#2. Silk

Silk is a natural insulator and protein fiber that is soft and light, although it is not as strong as other materials. This material also absorbs moisture and is mainly used as a sock liner.

#3. Wool

This material provides padding and does an excellent job of controlling temperature to prevent your feet from sweating. 

Wool’s inherent antimicrobial properties make it less likely to trap odors than synthetic materials, which is another benefit. 

Most hiking socks are made from wool and other synthetic materials because they are durable, don’t cause itching, and dry quickly.

#4. Spandex 

Spandex is an elastic material that helps socks to maintain their shape and minimize creasing. A small amount of spandex is present in many hiking socks.

Contrary to cotton, these fabrics will remove moisture from your foot, reducing the likelihood of blisters forming. 

Due to its inherent antibacterial properties and ability to provide insulation even when wet, wool is the preferred choice of material, particularly for winter hiking.

#2. The Right Fit

Fit concerns are usually the main issue when choosing the best hiking socks.

The secret to avoiding blisters is the proper size. Socks that embrace the foot, ankle, and lower leg are necessary for easy movement.

Your sock may begin to sag if it is too slack in the leg, leading to pressure areas and slipping off.

If they are too tight, they may have creases that rub against each other and produce a blister or block off blood circulation.

Knowing your foot size is more important than your shoe size because if you get a sock based on shoe size, it might be too big.

To avoid buying socks based solely on your shoe size, look for socks with extra calf-width measurements and other expanded sizes.

Before going hiking, ensure that the socks are the right size to be comfortable throughout the hike.

#3. The Cost of the Socks

The price of hiking socks cost around $15 to $40. Although the price may seem high compared to conventional socks, you can locate discounts to lower the cost of your order.

How much money you spend on hiking socks depends on what you want. Your socks determine how much ease you experience while hiking.

Always check the warranties and return policies of the makers before purchasing socks. To ensure you’re receiving a good deal, check customer reviews of the socks.

#4. Height of Hiking Socks

There are different lengths of hiking socks. For example, there are knee-length socks and short socks. Pick the appropriate length according to the kind of hiking boots you wear.

Your socks should be longer than the cuffs on your hiking boots to prevent your skin from rubbing against your footwear directly.

Are Hiking Socks Necessary?

Hiking socks are necessary whenever you are going hiking. 

They are substantially more expensive than ordinary socks, but they provide a fit with cushioning, moisture wicking, and compression that make hiking more enjoyable.

Hiking is a physical activity involving your feet; for a smooth trip, you need suitable materials, and hiking socks is one of them.

Wearing a good pair of shoes with the wrong type of socks amounts to nothing; this is how much hiking socks are essential.


Is It Okay to Wear Long Socks for Hiking?

When hiking, it is advisable to wear crew-length socks to prevent ankle irritation from taller boots. 

However, the kind of shoes you’ll be wearing and the hiking location determine the socks’ length.

What Not to Wear When Hiking?

It is not advisable to wear cotton socks or any footwear or clothing unsuitable for hiking. These items can cause a lot of discomforts while hiking.

Josh Matthews

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