You’ve got your knife, first-aid kit, and enough emergency food to get you through the next three Super Bowls.
Books to read and water purifiers? Check.
But what about socks?
They’re vital gear that is often disregarded.
We’re here to tell you about the best survival socks you can buy.
These socks can’t be beaten for comfort, performance, and incredible durability.
What Goes Into a Good Sock
More goes into a good survival sock than you might think, but they aren’t a complicated piece of gear. You’re looking for a few key elements when purchasing socks.
Arguably the most essential feature of a good pair of socks. What good are they if they pinch your toes or irritate your feet?
The best socks are the ones you don’t even know you’re wearing. They’re made of high-quality material that prevents or eliminates blisters and will keep your feet warm and dry. Some are padded and add a layer of protection between you and the ground.
Comfort can be a deceiving trait.
I’ve got a couple pairs of Wigwam socks that are a pain to get on and feel too tight for comfort, but after about fifteen minutes, I can’t feel them anymore.
They become one of the most comfortable pairs of socks I’ve ever worn after a short period of stretching out and acclimation.
When considering the importance of comfort, consider your intended purposes and likely activities.
Are you going to be in a cold and wet environment where you need warm feet?
Or are you clocking mile after mile of travel on your feet and need something lighter but protective?
Socks tend to wear out faster than most other pieces of clothing.
You want something that will last you as long as possible. After all, if the SHTF, there won’t be factories churning out piles of socks for you to pick through.
You need something that will last and put up to abuse.
In my experience, wool lasts far longer than any other material. Synthetic materials tend to be light and perform their duties well, but nothing beats a good pair of wool socks in terms of durability.
Rotating your socks is essential as well. If you’re moving around extensively on your feet and working up a sweat or are in wet conditions, changing your socks midway through the day could even be beneficial.
We can prolong their lifetime by giving our textiles a break from use.
You’ll find two basic types of material when purchasing socks: natural and artificial.
Each material has its benefits and its drawbacks. Many designers will combine fabric types when making their socks to get the best of both worlds.
Natural materials like cotton and wool readily absorb water. That’s why those white cotton socks we all know so well tend to get all sorts of stinky.
Unlike cotton, wool is capable of providing warming insulation even when it is wet.
Socks made of natural material are ideal for keeping your feet warm, but they tend to fall behind synthetic materials in the moisture-wicking department.
Synthetic materials are numerous in quality, purpose, and origin, but they do not absorb water. That makes socks made of synthetic material perfect for temperate and warm environments.
These materials lose their insulating properties when wet and can be uncomfortable when worn.
It’s tough to make a call on what material is best but in general…
- Socks made of natural materials are more comfortable and keep your feet warm
- Cotton is far more comfortable for sensitive skin than wool or synthetic materials
- Wool will keep your feet warm, whether you want them to be or not
- Synthetic materials will wick moisture from your feet
- Synthetic materials also tend to last longer than natural ones
Socks made of a blend of natural and synthetic material like Merino Wool offer the best of both worlds and are usually the superior choice when available.
Not all socks are created equal!
Some pairs are meant to keep your feet warm and toasty, while others are thin and breathable, intended for use when speed and performance matter.
Unless you live in a primarily desert or arctic environment, you’ll need multiple types of socks to get you through the day.
Pack extra pairs in your bug out bag.
I carry extra pairs in my work bag and my car everywhere I go.
Healthy feet are essential, and finding the right sock for the job is how we keep our toes in tip-top shape.
You’ll notice I didn’t include the price anywhere up above. Exceptions exist, but in most cases, you get what you pay for.
A bag of six pairs of white cotton socks for ten bucks will last you well enough in your day-to-day now, but they’re going to blow out on you before you know it when the SHTF.
There’s no way to cut corners here; to get quality survival socks, you’ll need to pay for the best survival socks.
Shop for bargains when you can and stretch the dollar as far as it’ll go, but don’t skimp when your feet are on the line.
The 6 Best Survival Socks
#1. Danish Endurance Merino Wool Socks
The pair that started my pursuit for the best survival socks.
A friend of mine gifted me three pairs of these socks years ago, and I wore them exclusively during winter weather for three seasons. It wasn’t until this past winter that I wore holes through the bottoms and had to retire them.
They’re constructed primarily of wool but have composite materials, including nylon and rubber, that keep your feet warm, dry, and unbelievably comfortable.
They age well, are incredibly durable, and are so comfortable it’s almost decadent.
Even with the full boot length, these socks are my number one favorite and get the top spot on our list.
Add half a dozen pairs to your gear – you won’t regret it.
#2. Darn Tough Socks
These socks are… well, they’re darn tough.
They’re also comfortable, padded, and multi-purpose.
Constructed primarily of Merino Wool, the Darn Tough socks should be added to your bag, and your dresser, and your Christmas list.
You really can’t go wrong with them. People from every walk of life and climate zone wear these socks and report only positive things.
#3 Smartwool PhD
Full disclosure, I have not worn these socks, but a trusted friend swears by them… so much that he bought twenty-five pairs, so he doesn’t need to worry about running out for a long time.
His recommendation said, “I wore them snowboarding, and as soon as I got home, I ordered enough to last me awhile. Throw out your other socks and buy these.”
Now, I’m not about to throw out my other socks, but that’s a pretty solid recommendation.
#4. Injinji Sport
My first venture with Injinji socks was during that crazy Vibram Five Fingers fad a few years back. I needed a sock that fit the shoes and was delighted to find these bad boys.
I’ve since ditched the Five Fingers, but the Injinji socks have found their way into my regular rotation.
They are, without a doubt, the most comfortable sock I’ve ever worn, and that toe-hugging tightness is designed to minimize friction and blisters. That’s a great feature and lands these socks on my list.
They’re the only sock I wear when running or hiking.
However, they aren’t perfect. The Injinji wears out quickly compared to other socks I’ve worn. Their relatively thin design is also not suitable for cold temperatures, but they should still their way into your rotation during warmer weather.
#5. BRUBAKER Alpaca Winter Socks
One of my go-to pairs for winter wear, this sock feels slightly uncomfortable initially but quickly conforms to your foot.
I bought three pairs last winter and left them on the shelf after my first try.
It wasn’t until I was out of clean socks that I put them on again, and boy am I glad I did.
After being broken in, they fit like a dream and offer so much warmth in cold weather.
#6. Realtree AP Men’s Full Cushion Boot Socks
A solid pair of socks for most SHTF purposes. This pair has an added feature where the top cuff is designed to stay in place on your leg and not slide down. It has a reinforced heel and fitted arch support for maximum comfort.
They run a tad large, but that’s not a bad thing.
I like the material, but some folks find it a bit scratchy.
The ideal survival sock is, in our appraisal, the Wigwam Merino Wool Comfort Hiker.
This decision has been made because of how comfortable the socks are for year-round use, their incredible durability over many years of abuse, and how their intended function is seemingly to be the best survival sock you’ve ever worn.
You won’t be disappointed with these socks!
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Most people are not ready to walk long distances in a pair of hiking boots – especially humping a 3 day ruck. That translates to a large majority of the readers here facing potentially catastrophic problems with blisters. Blisters may not kill you themselves, but they may immobilize you and that may well be fatal.
The simplest solution of course, but one which may be quite difficult or just too darned inconvenient for many, is to take the time to properly break in their boots and condition their feet to walking in those boots by doing just that – walking in them.
Of course, having moleskin, band-aids and lancets or some other means of draining a blister is an excellent, no, a necessary precaution.
There is another solution that should be considered. Liner socks have been used by many in the military and many infrequent hikers to keep most or at least many blisters from even being a problem. Liner socks, or, like when I was still in the military, ladies knee high stockings, provide a protective layer that takes the punishment rather than the skin of your foot. Modern liners wick away moisture and stay put relative to your skin. Their “slick” nature means it is they, and not your skin, that rub back and forth against your cushion socks and the liner of your boot. They’re like a cheap insurance policy and they take up so little packing room and weigh so little, it’s like their not even their. Your feet will, however, notice.
Excellent sensible advice there Bill. Thanks.
I enjoyed the read, and advice. The one point that I find frustrating is myself. I have to work on trying new (to me) products. Tending the old ways or products just keeps me from advancing my experiences. Thanks