The importance of socks, one of the most mistreated garments
For a long time, even hikers have never taken too much trouble in choosing them and only recently have manufacturers and customers begun to consider these products carefully.
This has led to the creation of extremely diversified types and models based on the different types of use.
The role of socks is essential for an activity such as hiking, where the feet are certainly one of the parts of the body most subject to stress.
Trying to guarantee them the maximum possible comfort is the starting point to enjoy the best of our excursions and the technical hiking socks play just this role, acting as a “buffer” between the skin of the feet, subject to friction and rubbing, and the shoes. It is always the task of the socks to keep the feet at a comfortable temperature and to act as regulators of humidity.
This means that different socks must be used for different conditions of use.
Light summer hiking socks
Their primary purpose is to keep away from the foot the moisture generated by perspiration that is generated during a hike in warm climates.
These are light and thin socks with a length that generally does not exceed the ankle, as they are designed to be used with shoes that are soft, comfortable and “low” (hiking shoes or light hiking).
It is however important that these socks have a differentiated structure, with a thinner and lighter fabric along the sole of the foot and reinforcements on the toes and heel.
Hiking and mountaineering socks
When the excursions become more demanding and the boots heavier and more rigid, even the socks must adapt. The entire structure of the sock must therefore have greater consistency, to accentuate even more the action of absorption of rubbing and shocks.
To the reinforcements on the toe and heel it is advisable to add others at strategic points such as the ankles, the instep and ankle part in contact with the tongue of the boot.
In general, for demanding walks in the middle of the season, stockings reaching the middle of the calf will be fine, while knee-length stockings will be indicated above all for the cold climates characteristic of winter hiking (snowshoeing) or mountaineering at high altitudes.
For these activities at low temperatures it will be important to choose socks with specific characteristics, which in addition to the qualities of softness and breathability are accompanied by good thermal insulation.
Which materials to choose
All the qualities of the socks described above depend to a large extent on the materials used for their construction.
Today, specialist companies put on the market products that combine different materials, so as to make the most of the qualities of each of them, compensating for their defects.
For example, it has become virtually impossible to find technical socks that use 100% cotton.
This fiber, in fact, has a great capacity for absorbing moisture but then tends to retain. A cotton sock, once impregnated with sweat, would therefore become annoying and could increase rubbing, generating redness or even blisters.
Therefore, especially for summer socks, cotton is used in combination with synthetic materials that help to expel moisture.
Something similar happens for wool, ideal material for use in demanding trekking, given its insulating qualities that make it cool in summer, warm in winter and that do not change even when the socks are wet.
The “historical” problem of wool socks has always been the relative roughness of its fibres, which makes it unpleasant in contact with the skin.
Today, however, we have special processes that allow us to obtain very soft and comfortable woolen socks and, for almost all technical products on the market is used merino wool quality, exceptional for softness and thermal insulation capacity.
Apart from some companies dedicated to the belief of pure merino wool, in general the trekking socks available today combine wool with other synthetic fibres, which improve the drying time of the socks and their resistance to wear.