Kickin’ It: Best Socks For Survival

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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.

 

Our Top Pick

Best For Camping, Bugging Out, Or Traveling Wigwam Men's Merino Wool Comfort Hiker Crew Length 2-Pack Sock,Charcoal,Large/shoe Size:Men's 9-12,Women's 10-13

For comfort, performance and incredible durability the Wigwam Merino Wool Comfort Hiker can’t be beaten.
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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.

 

Comfort

Arguably the most important 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 an additional layer of protection between you and the ground.

Wigwam Men's Cool-Lite Mid Hiker Pro Quarter Length Sock
Wigwam Socks

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 think first about 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?

 

Durability

Socks tend to wear out faster than most other pieces of clothing.

You want something that will last you as long as possible. Afterall, 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 important as well. If you’re moving around extensively on your feet and working up a sweat, or are in wet conditions, it could even be beneficial to change your socks midway through the day.

By giving our textiles a break from use, we can prolong their lifetime.

 

Material

You’ll find two basic types of material when purchasing socks: natural and man made.

Each material has its benefits and its drawbacks. Many designers will combine both types of material 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 tend to 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.

 

Function

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’re living 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 in my car, everywhere I go.

Healthy feet are important and finding the right sock for the job is how we keep our toes in top-top shape.

 

Price

You’ll notice I didn’t include 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 7 Best Survival Socks

#1. Wigwam Merino Wool Comfort Hiker

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.

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Wigwam Men's Merino Wool Comfort Hiker Crew Length Sock,charcoal,Medium/shoe Size:Men's 5-9.5,Women's 6-10

They’re constructed primarily of wool but have composite materials including nylon and elastic 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 pair to your gear –  you won’t regret it.

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#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.

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Darn Tough Vermont Men's 1/4 Merino Wool Cushion Hiking Socks, Black, Large

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.

If there’s a sticking point, it is the sizing. It took me a few tries to find the right pair; lucky for you, the company provides an accurate and helpful sizing chart to make your life easier.
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#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.”

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Smartwool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew Sock - Chestnut Medium

Now, I’m not about to throw out my other socks, but that’s a pretty solid recommendation.

Comfortable and warm, the major complaint I’ve stumbled upon is that they can be too warm, so this pair is best reserved as part of a sock roster.
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#4. Wigwam Cool-Lite Mid Hiker

When you’re wearing sneakers or shoes and quality counts, these are the pair you want.

They’re light, breathable, and fit incredibly well right away. It’s an all-season sock suitable for just about any environment you find yourself in.

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Wigwam Men's Cool-Lite Mid Hiker Pro Quarter Length Sock (Large (3 PAIRS), Grey)

I love the shorter length of these socks. I’ve owned two pair so far and am going to stock up on more for the hiking season. It took some trial and error to find the right size; it seems like these socks run a bit small, so consider purchasing a size up.

One of the few padded socks that does not decrease sensitivity in your feet, and all of that combined lands these babies on our list.
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#5. Injinji 2.0

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.

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Injinji Run 2.0 Lightweight No Show Toe Socks 3 Pack (Black/Gray/White, Large)

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 2.0 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 find their way into your rotation during warmer weather.
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#6. BRUBAKER Alpaca Winter Socks

One of my go-to pairs for winter wear, this sock feels a bit uncomfortable at first but quickly conforms to your foot.

I bought three pair last winter and left them on the shelf after my first try.

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BRUBAKER 4 Pairs Thick Alpaca Winter Socks 100% Alpaca Color Mix EU 43-46 / US 9-11.5 (EU 43-46 / US 9-11.5, Multicoloured)

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.

The alpaca material feels nice too, and I’m a fan of the larger knit. They kept my feet warm through wet and freezing conditions, so they get my vote.
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#7. 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 a fitted arch support for maximum comfort.

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Realtree AP Men's Full Cushion Boot Socks (2-Pair), Grey, Large

They run a tad large, but that’s not a bad thing.

I like the material but some folks find it a bit scratchy.

My only hangup with this pair is the full boot length; I prefer shorter socks, but that’s just personal preference and not enough to knock this pair off the list.
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Conclusion

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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Matt Suwak

Born and bred in rural Pennsylvania, Matt embraced the backwoods lifestyle. An early exposure to knives, firearms, gardening, and foraging developed him into the outdoorsman he is today.

Matt is fueled almost entirely by beer and hot sauce. Learn more about Matt here.

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