Whenever I am asked what my absolute top piece of advice is for those wishing to get outside more, I always say – “wear good socks”. Whether you want to go on a day hike or two, start a self-powered commute (walking or cycling), or simply want to spend more time out and about, the advice is the same. Good socks. To me, good socks are directly associated with a good day out. Good socks mean happy feet, which means a happy Zoe. I choose to wear the best socks I own as much as I can – that is, whenever I have decent socks available in my sock drawer. And because of this, I have become known as something of a sock snob.
Proper hiking socks with Dr Martens. And why not?
I’m not sure who started it, probably LincsGeek, maybe my sister, and I denied this idea of being a sock snob to start with. But thinking about it, it’s not so bad. I know I’m right – donning a pair of decent socks with my hiking boots, walking shoes, trainers, Dr Martens or whatever else, helps to make my shoes the most comfortable they can be. And when your favourite thing to do is go out for a walk, wherever you happen to be and whatever the reason for being there in the first place, being prepared with good socks means I can head off and get my one hour outside without worrying about hurty feet.
And it is definitely the first piece of advice I give whenever I’m asked about what gear someone should wear/buy when planning some time outdoors – wear good socks – probably more important than any other article of clothing you might choose. Possibly even more important than your shoes, but that could be argued either way. Choose good socks, become a sock snob, and your feet will thank you.
Bryt socks and skate shoes on Blackpool Beach.
What socks do sock snobs buy?
So what are good socks? To me, good socks are made well, using good quality materials, with the right shape for your feet and for the activity you are taking part in, with extra padding in the right places, and decent elastic so they stay put but don’t dig in. They will have a great fit, wash well and last for hundreds of miles.
The opposite I guess are thin socks with rubbish elastic, probably bought in bulk from a supermarket or discount clothing store. They last a couple of washes, wear thin on the heel super-fast, go out of shape, slip down inside your shoes, and provide no real barrier between your toes and your footwear. Wearing the wrong socks can directly lead to hot spots, sore bits, blisters, and result in having a thoroughly miserable time. Yea, sock snob.
It does not necessarily mean spending loads of money or buying a hugely well-known brand. I have come to learn that you do get what you pay for the majority of the time, so spending a little more than normal will make a difference but don’t feel you need to take out a mortgage. Whatever activity I am doing, here are the things I look out for when buying socks:
- Moisture wicking to keep my feet dry
- A mixture of materials such as merino wool and synthetic fibres for comfort and temperature regulation (I generally avoid all-cotton socks as they hold on to moisture and wear thin quickly)
- Added padding around the heel and toe areas to provide cushioning
- Flat seams so there’s less chance of them rubbing and causing blisters that way.
I do have different socks for different things, but nothing is sat there exclusively for one activity. The main differences, the things that will cause me to choose one pair of socks over another when I get up in the morning, are the thickness and length. Thicker socks are great to wear with boots, thinner ones with trainers. Longer socks work better when it’s colder and I’m wearing trousers, shorter socks work better when it’s warmer or I don’t want them to show.
Trainer socks by Bridgedale with a little extra padding where you need it most.
To give you some examples, I have a couple of pairs of Bridgedale CoolFusion RUN Speed Diva socks for cycling, wearing with trainers or walking shoes in the summer, and for wearing with knee high boots and tights for work in the winter. They have all the features I need but are reasonably thin and quite discrete. I wear the Bridgedale WoolFusion Trekker Cuped or MerinoFusion Trekker for hiking (with a liner sock underneath for long distance hikes – I have had these ones for probably six years and they are still absolutely up to the job), with my walking shoes for days out exploring the city or for travelling, and for with my Dr Martens or in fact any other boots for work or casual wear. Hiking socks such as these have good thickness, super comfortable padding where your feet hit the ground and where your shoes might push in, and are made of materials that are known to look after your feet for step after step after step. I’m not an ambassador for Bridgedale and they haven’t sponsored this post, but if you are looking to join me as a sock snob I would absolutely recommend starting with them as they make fantastic socks.
Are you a sock snob? Or do you think I’m talking a load of rubbish and you swear by the thin cotton socks you always buy from the supermarket? Let me know in the comments – tips and advice for time outdoors with happy feet always appreciated.