Socks are often an underrated part of a traveler’s wardrobe. We spend so much time trying to find that “perfect” travel shoe that we forget about the key clothing component that can have just as much impact on your feet, if not more.
Simply put, travel socks can make or break your feet.
When exploring a new destination is reliant on walking and hiking, a little thing like a blister can end a trip as soon as it starts. If you’re traveling in a place where you’ll be doing lots of both, or you’re doing the Camino de Santiago, definitely consider buying a pair of well-made socks!
Choosing Travel Socks
There are a few different types of socks that you might consider for travel, hiking and the active lifestyle. All should have reasonable cushioning to prevent heel spurs, bunions, blisters, and other sorts of foot-related issues.
You should also consider what type of fabric you need from your socks. Problems like fungus and odor are more prevalent with certain sock fabrics, so make sure they’re breathable. Cotton socks, while good for normal life, tend to hold in moisture which can be terrible for blisters and when hiking or trekking.
Additional qualities you might want are the ability to dry quickly, especially if you’re doing your laundry on the road.
>>Here is the essential packing list for hand-washing clothes.
Compression Socks for Travel
Created to keep the blood flowing in your legs, compression socks are worn by all sorts of people, including those with office jobs, athletes, and pregnant women. The fabric is stitched in a way that create pressure and prevent deep vein thrombosis. They’re a recommended item to have for long haul flights!
Vim & Vigr Compression Socks, $33
I didn’t wear compression socks much until I had surgery on my foot a few years back. Since then, I’ve found them very useful, especially for long haul flights. There are some not-so-cute versions on the market, but thankfully Vim & Vigr solved that problem with their bright colors and designs. I’ve tried out both their nylon and cotton variations, but they also make moisture wicking and wool socks.
>> Read Caroline’s Vim & Vigr compression socks review.
Travelsox is another brand that creates compression socks specifically for travel, albeit less decorative than Vim & Vigr. They cost slightly less, but can be found in basic colors with foot padding. They’re made of anti-fungal material to prevent odor and afflictions and also dry quickly.
Another brand somewhere in between is Sockwell, which offers both moderate and firm compression for your travel needs. This company chooses cashmerino bamboo, merino wool, and alpaca as their natural fabrics with seamless toe closure. They make full length and ankle length in a variety of patterns and colors.
A few additional features make for ideal socks for hiking and long walks. Ask the experts at your local running or outdoors store for suggestions if you have problems with your feet, as I do. Consider what the thickness should be depending on conditions. Also think about the fabrics like wicking materials. Wear them a few times before a big trip to make sure they’re a good fit!
Alyssa shared about her love for Wrightsocks, a double-layered pair of socks that she originally found during her training for a half-marathon:
“I first learned of Wrightsock products when I was looking for a way to prevent blisters during a half-marathon. An associate at a running store suggested them, so I decided to give Wrightsock a try. I was amazed at the results! My blisters completely disappeared during training runs and the half-marathon.”
>> Read Alyssa’s Wrightsocks review.
Smartwool Socks, $12-25
My brand of choice for socks, especially in cold weather, is Smartwool, which adapts to wick sweat in warm weather and insulate your toes in winter. They come in athletic and standard versions in different levels of padding. They’re also long lasting, as I’ve had the same pair for many years. Best of all, they can be machine washed without shrinking!
REI Hiking Socks, $12-15
The American outdoor store brand also has their own line of hiking and travel socks. They feature many of the same qualities you’ll find in the name brands but at a lower price, especially for co-op members. You can get a pair for half the price of the other brands. Made of merino lambswool, socks provide cushioning, support and breathable fabrics.
Travel Socks are an Investment
When it comes to socks, and travel gear in general, you get what you pay for, so you may end up paying around $20 USD for a pair of high-quality socks. They’ll last you through many travels if you treat them well. Also consider how many pairs you’ll want to bring per trip. Two is usually fine, no matter the length of the trip, but you may want more or less, depending on your trip style and activities.
What are your preferred brand of socks for travel and hiking?
Darn Tough! These socks are amazing and everytime I go to the store and ask for suggestions, they always bring me to this brand. Made in the USA.
One of my never travel withouts – bed socks, or something I can wear as bed socks. I can’t sleep with cold feet, so even in the middle of summer I pack at least 1 pair of socks to sleep in if necessary.
I gotta second Darn Tough! I live in Vermont and they’re made in the town right next to mine and they have a huge factory sale every fall and people come from all over the country to get these! They also supply socks for the US military, so you know they’ll hold up.
Darn Tough all the way! I work at REI and recommend these to everyone who asks me for sock suggestions. They are the best socks I’ve ever owned!
Smartwools are awesome! I once took a 13 hours long bus trip from London to Edinbrough, before walking around the city for several hours. Smartwools kept my feet odor free and comfortable for the whole trip. I managed to end the day without any blisters or foot injuries.