Why Merino Wool Socks are the Best Darned Socks
One of the most singularly important considerations for your well-being while hiking, traveling, camping, or whatever is taking care of your feet. And it goes a lot further than just having good shoes, and perhaps orthotics, it means having excellent socks that can prevent blisters, chafing, moisture, and even odor.
We of the modern era are blessed with the recent development of Merino Wool Socks: an all-natural amazing material that will keep your feet in bliss and keep you walking for miles.
Not all socks are created equal. Let's see why:
First let's talk about cotton, which is probably what we are all used to walking around in all day. During the summer and for short distances cotton can be comfortable since we aren't working them to hard.
But cotton traps moisture, and once you start to get going that moisture will start to rub the sock against your feet, begin to bunch up, and then here come the blisters.
You do NOT want blisters. If you start to feel hot spots developing on your feet, stop and take care of it. Blisters aren't far behind. You can use Leukotape on your foot in that area so that the sock is rubbing against the tape and not your foot.
DO NOT USE DUCT TAPE. It will NOT stick while wet and can cause swelling in the foot area because it offers no give. If you must, use as a last resort only. I've heard mixed reviews on Moleskin too, but YMMV.
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Synthetic socks can wick moisture away from your feet, but they also tend to get warm. Good thing about synthetics is they usually have extra padding where you need it. My only gripes about synthetic materials is the decreased durability and increased stinkability over wool.
Merino Wool SOCKS All the Way
We first came across Merino Wool a few years back, and have pounded the heck out of our socks since then. We got a few pairs from Darn Tough Vermont.
They are aptly named! Our first time out with them after puttering around Hawaii for a week we put them to the test on the Kalalau trail in Kauai. It was a 9 mile hike in intermittent rain with river crossings and mud everywhere. We figured out pretty quick why some locals weren't wearing shoes at all...but we were already committed.
I'm pleased announce that they worked like a charm, even though they were soaking wet within 20 minutes of our start. Not a single blister that day, just tired and waterlogged feet.
All in the name of science!
Wool can handle moisture very well. It won't lose too much thermal protection in the cold when wet, and when hot it wicks away moisture. They dry pretty quickly and keep their shape very well.
DARN TOUGH VERMONT
We went with the Darn Tough Vermont brand because they are made in the US and offer a lifetime unconditional guarantee. Yes they are more expensive but you don't need a whole drawer full of them.
We have 3 pairs each and they are all look as new as the day we bought them 2 years later. We now keep a pair in our Bug Out Bags too as our backup socks.
There are cheaper brands on Amazon, but you're not getting the same amount of wool or reinforced stitching or padding. So yes, you can get 3 pairs for $20 but you will be buying more again next year. I prefer to buy once and use forever.
Besides, look at that craftsmanship! America still makes the best stuff period and I'm buying 'merican if I can get my hands on it, end of sentence.