Last Updated MAY 2018
It is easy to overlook the importance of socks, especially if you already own a great pair of hunting boots. Socks are actually just as important, and can make the difference between a successful or miserable hunting trip. There are several types of socks to choose from and each pair has its own advantages, depending on where you are hunting. Overall design and materials used can vary, and it is important to understand these differences before you choose a pair of the best hunting socks for your needs.
Weight, design and the general look of hunting socks can vary depending on the manufacturer, but most have the same components. Regardless of the design of the socks it is important to choose a pair that fits properly if you want to prevent painful blisters from forming on your feet.
The top of the sock should be above your ankle for maximum protection from scratches and bug bites. You also want the top to have elastic to prevent the socks from sliding down, and bunching uncomfortably in your boots. Some manufacturers also design the top with ribbing, but this is more a matter of personal preference.
The section of material that covers the top of your foot is the instep, and some come with light cushioning. This can improve comfort, but the added material also makes the socks heavier and might not be ideal if you need to walk long distances to the hunting blind.
The bottom of the sock is referred to as the “sole” and most pairs come with added reinforcement in the heel. This helps to prevent the normal wear and tear that can occur from the socks rubbing against your hunting boots. Some hunting socks also come with padding in the soles to provide extra support and cushioning.
Side panels and arch braces
Some hunting socks come with side panels which allow cooling air to flow through. These types of socks are ideal for hunting in warmer temperatures. If you suffer flat feet you might want to consider paying a little extra for a pair of hunting socks that come with an arch brace. While these socks are heavier and can cause leg fatigue, the added support can prevent injury and make it more comfortable to walk when you are stalking your prey.
Most socks designed for hunting are constructed from synthetic or blended materials. Wool is often itchy and can retain odors when wet, which is never good for your feet. Cotton can cause blisters and also retains moisture, and silk is simply impractical and expensive to use in hunting socks. Even though silk socks are not designed for hunting, the material can be blended with synthetic fibers to produce a pair that is affordable, breathable and comfortable to wear.
The synthetic materials used in socks can vary by manufacturer and each has its own advantages depending on when are where you are hunting. Polyester dries quickly and absorbs moisture so feet stay comfortable in warmer weather, while acrylic provides the insulation you need for hunting in cold temperatures. Spandex also has elastic properties, and can also give additional support.
You can also find hunting socks made from Gore-Tex, a synthetic material that is durable and breathable. If your feet often perspire or you are often hunting in warmer weather, this might be a good choice for you. CoolMax is another synthetic material that is similar to Gore-Tex, and it is also excellent at absorbing moisture.
When you are trying to choose a pair of hunting socks you want to look at the weight of the socks. While you want it to be thick enough to protect your feet from rubbing painfully against the sides of the boot, it should also be comfortable to wear. Lightweight hunting socks are great for short treks in milder weather, while a pair of heavyweight ones are perfect for longer climbs to the blind or hunting in colder temperatures. There are also mid weight socks that are capable of providing plenty of protection, without causing leg fatigue.
Since socks are worn for protection and comfort, it is important to consider the outside temperature. This will also affect the weight of the socks. Lightweight and even mid weight socks are ideal for hunting in warmer weather, while heavier pairs will keep your feet warm when it is cold outside. Most hunters also recommend bringing several pairs along. This ensures that you always have a dry pair of socks which can prevent blisters and foot odor. If the socks are different weights this will also allow you to keep your feet comfortable as the temperature changes. Some hunters also layer their socks, but this might not always be practical or comfortable depending on the weather and type of footwear.