If there’s one thing that can make or break a hunt, it’s your feet. While backpack hunting, if a hot spot forms and turns to a blister, or if your boots get wet from sweat or outside conditions, it can lead to miserable time on the mountain. Along with having high-quality mountaineering or hiking boots, you need premium socks to match.
Most experienced back country hunters going on a 10+ day unsupported backpack hunt will only take the socks on their feet, plus two extra pairs to rotate. With limited space and weight, choosing the best sock for your hunt is crucial.
In this overview, you’ll learn about which socks are best for you, and the tricks-of-the-trade of foot care while backpacking in extreme mountain conditions.
Your feet can produce over one pint of perspiration per day, and we’ve developed a sock that does something about it. The Strongwool Hybrid Crew Sock leverages the inherent absorption properties of wool and the wicking properties of synthetic polypropylene.
Wool fibers are naturally fantastic at absorbing moisture and insulating while wet. We’ve positioned 100% wool woven padding in the areas your feet sweat the most—the toe box, heel, top of foot, and ankle. Since these sections are woven with 100% wool and not blended materials, absorption is not hindered. However, once wool is wet, it’s not the best at letting the moisture go on its own.
To draw the moisture away from the wool, the midfoot and upper are built from synthetic polypropylene. Through capillary action, it wicks the moisture away from the wool sections, and evaporates it through the upper. This unique hybrid design keeps your feet feeling comfortable and dry.
StrongWool’s design also limits foot slippage within the boot, keeping blisters from forming and foot movement to a minimum. The result is a durable, hardwearing sock with enhanced dry times. They’re ideal for sweaty feet or hunting in wet conditions. They’re designed with right and left specific construction for an anatomical fit.
Testers noted the socks gained comfort after washing and wearing 1-2 times. If you’re sensitive to a traditional wool feel, consider our Nuyarn Merino wool options.
Built from NuYarn® Merino wool, the ultralight Midweight Mountain Sock is the most versatile sock in our collection. It features enhanced comfort, odor resistance, and moisture management—making it ideal for warm conditions.
It features Paladin® protection pads on the top of the foot to relieve pressure from boot laces. The pads also promote circulation for reduced fatigue and improved foot warmth in colder conditions.
Featuring elasticated arches and ankles, the sock grips your foot for blister-free wear while their seamless construction provides ridge-free comfort at fabric transitions. With built in Achilles cushioning and strategic padding, they reduce felt shock from the ground.
They’re designed with right and left specific construction for an anatomical fit. Each sock is strategically knitted so that there is only Merino wool next to the skin, allowing all its natural moisture wicking and odor reducing properties to stay in effect.
Featuring Nuyarn technology, the ULTRA Merino Crew Sock is a lightweight, technical sock that can be worn comfortably for days on end, protecting your feet from difficult mountain terrain.
This sock is designed for high-stress outdoor activity where additional technical support of your feet is required. The style and shape complement a wide range of footwear while adding needed protection. Highly breathable and moisture wicking, this sock molds to your feet, ensuring shear friction is reduced and skin integrity is kept optimal.
Like the Midweight Mountain sock, each sock is strategically knitted so that there is only Merino wool next to the skin, allowing all its natural moisture wicking and odor reducing properties to stay in effect. Additional yarn thickness in high wear areas helps protect the feet with cushioning and adds longevity to the life of the sock.
Elastic fibers are knitted through the middle of the sock to maintain a strong grip around the arch and ankle, allowing for minimal friction and blister-free wear. Strong Nylon fibers are then blended through the outer face of the sock for added durability.
If you prefer taller socks, the ULTRA Merino Over-the-Calf Sock is a premium choice. It’s shares the same common features as the Ultra Merino Crew Sock, but in a taller calf height.
Along with high-quality socks and well-fitting boots, taping your feet with Leukotape is fantastic blister prevention. Leukotape P features an ultra-sticky zinc oxide adhesive and it’s breathable, so it can be worn for several days at a time. Before your hike, apply it in areas you’re susceptible to hot spots and blistering—along your heel, ball, bridge, and big and little toes.
Its durable tacky surface not only protects your skin from friction, but it also locks your socks in place. Keep in mind, applying it beforehand is the key. It’s so sticky, if you apply it over existing blisters it can pull off loose or broken skin when the tape is removed.
Whenever you’re not wearing your boots, loosen the laces and remove the insoles so any sweat collected on the inside the boot can evaporate. Implementing this practice while you’re glassing or resting will also give your feet time to air out.
Often while hunting, the only time you get to air out your boots is at night. If your boots get soaked, stuff an extra base layer inside to absorb the moisture trapped inside. This tip will help them dry quicker overnight.
If hang drying or building a fire is out of the question, this tip will help you get your socks dried out while you sleep. Place a sock along the outside of each thigh, between your skin and your zip off bottoms. While you rest, your body heat will evaporate the moisture, drying them out. For more details on this tip, watch Allen Bolen’s explanation here.
Boot gaiters are another piece to the puzzle of keeping your feet dry. They block out water, snow, and debris from entering your boots. Our sleek designs also minimize cuff-to-cuff contact for added stealth.
If your boots and gaiters are DWR treated, water will bead up and roll off them. This is important because if the breathable panels and waterproof membranes become saturated, breathability is restricted. Even though the membrane is doing its job of not letting water in, if the boot’s outer shell becomes saturated, it can trap sweat on the inside.
When this happens, people often think their boots are leaking, but it’s their own sweat. The better your feet can breathe, the fewer issues you’ll have.
Sock liners or liner socks are thin socks designed to wear under your main hunting socks. Wearing a thin sock liner that wicks moisture and reduces friction is an effective way to reduce blistering.
During the off season, and before any hunt, thoroughly test your footwear exactly how you plan to hunt with it. Develop a system tailored to how you hunt and the conditions you’ll face. Pictured is what can happen when you ignore taking good care of your feet. If possible, seek out test conditions that will be worse off than what’s expected on your hunt. Whether it’s too hot or too cold, discovering on the hunt that your footwear is insufficient leads to misery.
Even with all the proper preparation and gear, sometimes your feet just get trashed. It’s all a part of the adventure.
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