Hillwalking and trekking socks on test

Socks, please - we're British

A good pair of socks is probably the most important piece of kit for a walker. Wear a poor quality pair and you'll probably end up in pain, feet red raw and covered in blisters - the last thing you want, particularly on a lengthy trek. We tested a selection of socks from 1000 Mile, Wynnster and Smartwool over a range of distances, from day walks to weekend stravaigs, and are pleased to report, no blisters at all...

1000 Mile Ultimate Tactel Liner sock

The Liner sock is designed for use as a blister preventing and wicking base layer under a traditional thick walking sock for four-season walking or climbing, or as a stand alone summer sock worn in lightweight boots or trail shoes. It has a lovely smooth and crease-free close fit and is superbly comfortable. 1000 Mile promise no blisters, or your money back and their socks are guaranteed for 1000 miles, although as yet we haven't put them through their paces over quite that distance!
Fabric: outer - cotton (76%), nylon (24%), inner - Tactel (100%).
Sizes: S-XL.
Colours: black, white.

1000 Mile Ultimate Tactel Walking sock

This sock is well suited to four season walking so will serve throughout the year in any kind of footwear, whether it be heavy mountain boots, or lighter summer trail shoes. The inner layer of Tactel provides warmth, durability and excellent wicking properties and, interestingly, this sock has been used on a North Pole expedition, and wash tested in Himalayan glacial streams, always retains its properties! So it should be able to cope with the rigours of Scotland, and a wash in the River Spey should the need arise.
Fabric: outer - wool (48%), nylon (52%), inner - Tactel (100%).
Sizes: S-XL.
Colours: four Argyle patterns.

1000 Mile Heavyweight Walking sock

This heavyweight contender in the sock stakes offers excellent durability and insulation. The outer layer provides great warmth and stands up to repeated wear and washing very well. The Tactel inner layer wicks perspiration away from the foot, into the more absorbent outer. The ribbed outer provides a thick, elastic outer layer, which hugs the foot closely and gives a high volume to fill traditional boots, making it a very comfortable sock to wear, while the double layer construction eliminates friction between boot and foot - like wearing two pairs of socks.
Fabric: outer - wool (76%), nylon (24%), inner - Tactel (100%).
Sizes: S-XL.
Colours: navy, grey, green, cherry, beige.

Cuillin Coolmax

By complete coincidence, the Cuillin's Coolmax test was undertaken on a long and fairly arduous two-day trek through the Black Cuillin of Skye. The Coolmax fabric is designed to keep feet cool and dry and this it did very well. When it did get wet - after a foray through a river - it dried out very quickly and was always comfortable. Comfort and support was excellent thanks to the super stretch ribbed lag and elasticated grip section at the arch of foot and the ventilation channels worked very well. Afterwards the socks were put through a 40£ wash and retained both their shape and support.
Fabric: 83% Coolmax (83%), nylon (15%), Lycra (2%)
Sizes: S, M, L.
Colours: ecru/navy, ecru/cherry, cherry/forest

Andes Outlast

The Andes sock employ Outlast microthermal material which is designed to absorb and stores body heat in periods of high activity and releases it when the body temperature drops. There's an elasticated grip section around the ankle to prevent slipping and wrinkling and good, close fitting elastic at the top of the sock. The heel and toe sections have good thick padding which ensures excellent comfort in all terrain.
Fabric: Outlast (73%), new wool (13%), nylon (12%), Lycra (2%)
Sizes: S, M, L.
Colours: navy/charcoal, dark green/charcoal, red/charcoal.

Smartwool Light Hiker

The Light Hiker is a boot-height version of the Smartwool Trail Runner II, designed to give the combined protection and durability of a hiking sock with the fit and performance of a running sock with a taller cuff. It's aimed at lightweight hiking or aggressive walking and is best used with light or flexible boots. Medium weight cushioning on the foot and toes provides protection in high-friction areas while a thin flat knit instep offers a sleeker fit and extra breathability. The elasticated arch brace helps keep the sock in place and adds arch support. It's similar to the Hiking sock, with the addition of a flat knit instep to provide more ventilation and a closer fit for lightweight hiking boots.
Fabric: wool (75%), nylon (21%), elastic (4%).
Sizes: S, M, L, XL.
Colours: celery, denim, grey, taupe.

Smartwool Expedition Trekking

Heavy cushioning throughout gives this sock extra insulation against the elements, shock absorption and support under heavy loads. It's well suited to long distance walking over rough terrain and backpacking with heavy loads and is for four season use in all conditions, other than summer walking when you may prefer something lighter. Heavyweight cushioning throughout the sock provides extra comfort, insulation and protection while extra cushioning protects the foot from the pressure of stiff boots and laces. The elasticated ankle brace holds the heel in place and allows for less bulk and greater forward flex in the boot.
Fabric: wool (85%), nylon (12%), elastic (3%).
Sizes: S, M, L, XL.
Colours: celery, forest, grey, navy, oatmeal, taupe.

Smartwool Hiking

The Hiking is Smartwool's leading all-around walking sock. The medium thickness works well with various types of boot, from lightweight trail footwear to heavy winter boots. There is plenty of cushioning, but, at the same time, the sock is not too thick. The Hiking is great for walking over rough terrain or lightweight backpacking and is an excellent all-purpose, three-season outdoor sock. Medium weight cushioning throughout the sock provides protection against blisters and lace pressure on the instep while the elasticated arch brace helps keep the sock in place and adds arch support. A ventilation panel helps cool the foot, ideal for warm weather treks.
Fabric: wool (85%), nylon (17%), elastic (3%).
Sizes: S, M, L, XL.
Colours: dark brown, grey, navy, oatmeal, pine, sage.

Smartwool Liner

Like the 1000 Mile Liner sock, the Smartwool Liner is designed for use as a wicking base layer when worn under a traditional thick walking sock for four-season walking or climbing, helping to prevent blisters and chaffing on long walks or backpacking expeditions. It also offers a nice cool alternative for summer outings. There is no cushioning in the Liner, so it feels like second skin, the flat knit design providing a comfortable, close and lightweight fit. The flat loop toe seam eliminates blister-causing knots and hard spots while a ribbed top holds the sock up.
Fabric: wool (65%), nylon (30%), elastic (5%).
Sizes: S, M, L, XL.
Colours: black, white.


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