Sock liners are an essential piece of kit to help protect you from blisters. We have all had the nightmare of breaking in new shoes or out hiking or enjoying a leisurely walk…only to find ourselves having to hobble the rest of the way home – the best sock liners are the solution to this problem.
Blisters are caused when your skin encounters an excessive amount of friction, and this causes a ‘hot spot’ to develop on the skin – this occurs when the heat from the friction starts to physically impact the body. If left unattended, you end up with a fluid-filled blister, which, apart from being painful, can increase your risk of infection. This is especially an issue if you plan to hike in new shoes or boots, or hiking a multi-day trek.
Sock Liners Reviews
There are a lot of choices available when it comes to buying a sock liner, and we have put together a list of the top choices to help make your selection as painless as possible! Here are our top picks; happy hiking!
1. Wigwam Ultimate Liner Pro Socks
The Wigwam sock liners are affordable, lightweight, and perfect for any task. These Wigwam Liners are the perfect pick for anyone looking to break into the liner market and try out the products for the first time.
These Wigwam liners use a composition material to help make the most of the properties of a host of top materials. They are constructed from 37% stretch nylon, 62% Coolmax polyester, 1% stretch polyester, and 1% Spandex. This allows a great blend of stretchability and a lightweight finish, perfect for keeping you moving and flexible without the risk of blisters.
CoolMax polyester fibers are dedicated to helping remove moisture; just what you want from a sock liner.
- Length – These come to around crew length and are a great fit for most brands of hiking boots
- Thickness – These Wigwam socks benefit from an ultra-lightweight finish and are thin enough to avoid being a burden
- Moisture Wicking – The blend of materials used in creating these liners means that they are designed to reducing the amount of moisture that can build up, and they do a great job at wicking away excess moisture and helping to prevent blisters
- Option on Sizes – The Wigwam liner comes in a standard size and should be a good fit for most customers
2. Injinji Liner Crew NuWool Socks
These fantastic Injinji sock liners help to stand out from the other products on our list by offering a brilliant five-toe patented design, which is specifically designed and created with hikers and runners in mind. Toe socks are perfect for reducing friction, as there is far less material to potentially bunch or cause hot spots.
These Injinji socks are made from 5% Lycra, and this means that there is plenty of stretch and movability – just what you want on a long trek. They also use merino wool to allow for breathability, as well as 44$ NuWool and 51% Lycra.
- Length – These come in crew length, and this means that they will be a great match with the most common hiking boots brands
- Thickness – Designed to act as a base layer, these liners are super thin and accessible, perfectly designed to be worn beneath warmer sicks or extra layers for added protection
- Moisture Wicking – The merino wool which is used as a major ingredient is very useful in wicking away additional moisture, and this allows these liners to really breathe
- Option on Sizes – The Injinji liners come in standard sizes and will fit well beneath another pair of socks
3. Fox River Adult Wick Dry CoolMax Ultra-lightweight Liner Crew Socks
These Fox River sock liners come in a single pack and offer everything you are looking for from a great pair of sock liners. With a high percentage of CoolMax polyester making up the lion’s share of the construction, they are designed to keep you cool and comfortable, no matter how long or intense your hike is!
These liners are made up of 93% CoolMax polyester, as well as 1% spandex for stretch, and 6% nylon. CoolMax technology is specifically designed to help move any excess heat and moisture away from your skin, and this can significantly reduce your chances of developing blisters. The fabric also offers great thermal insulation properties, and this helps to keep your feet warm and dry, even if you get wet en route.
- Length – The Fox River sock liners come in crew level – perfect for ensuring comfort while moving and hiking
- Thickness – To help keep these lightweight and reducing the bulk, these are thin and flat-knit, allowing them to be layered as required
- Moisture Wicking – The inclusion of CoolMax polyester means that these are the perfect deterrent for moisture, and this is a fabric designed to wick moisture away from the body as fast as possible
- Option on Sizes – With a standard sizing system, it is easy to identify the one which is the best match for your feet and boot – remember, smaller is better here
4. Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks
With a high concentration of merino wool, these Smartwool PhD sock liners are designed to help wick away sweat and offer total comfort.
These liners are constructed of 59% merino wool, 39% nylon, and 2% elastane. This is a combination dedicated to helping keep your feet cool and dry, offering total comfort no matter how tough your hike might be.
- Length – These are designed to be crew length, offering flexibility and the chance to be worn with a range of the best hiking boots
- Thickness – Ease of use is the priority here, and these Smartwool liners are designed to be wearable under a range of additional layers. With a light cushion on the sole, they are designed for comfort and total practicality
- Moisture Wicking – The high percentage of merino wool included in the material really focuses on keeping moisture and friction away from the foot and is perfect for avoiding friction and the risk of blisters
- Option on Sizes – These liners come in a variety of standard sizes, and this means that they are perfect for use with any standard hiking boots, and are designed to be worn beneath layers as required
5. Fox River Wick Dry CoolMax Liner Sock
Another offering from Fox River Wick Dry sock liners is another excellent offering designed to help provide you with total comfort and protection for any exercise. Whether you are a runner or a hiker, you will be protected from the elements, and able to enjoy your sport in total comfort. The inclusion of CoolMax Material in these liners helps to ensure that they are built to wick moisture away, and this is one of the major benefits of this pick.
- Length – These Fox River liners come in a crew length; perfect for comfort, and matching to any popular hiking boots
- Thickness – In order to allow flexibility, these are designed to be super thin and breathable. They are perfect for acting as a base layer beneath warmer, thicker socks. This means that you can adapt your footwear situation to whatever situation you may be tackling
- Moisture Wicking – The inclusion of CoolMax means that the ability to wick moisture away from the foot is a key job of these liners, and this is important for reducing friction and the likelihood of hotspots
- Option on Sizes – These Fox River products come in a range of the most popular standard sizes; this means that you are sure to find your perfect fit, no matter your preference, and can afford to go a little smaller than your usual sock size to help ensure a snug and comfortable fit no matter where you are heading
6. Realtree Men’s Liner Socks
If you are looking for the chance to add warmth and comfort to your hike, without having to carry excess weight, the Realtree sock liners are the perfect pick. These liners have the added bonus of being machine washable -an advantage not awarded to all sock liners – and this means that they are super practical and easy to use, and can be easily washed and reused no matter how hard you have worked out! They also offer arch support, helping to make sure you get the best possible fit and reducing the risk of friction.
These liners are made from 2% Spandex and 98% Polypropylene, allowing them to wick moisture away with no effort, while still ensuring you have plenty of stretch and freedom to move.
- Length – The Realtree liners are crew length, making them perfect for layering
- Thickness – With an ultra-thin finish, you will forget you are wearing these, and there is no need to worry about added bulk or weight in your boot
- Moisture Wicking – The polypropylene finish means that moisture is wicked well away from the foot quickly, leaving you warm and comfortable
- Option on Sizes – These liners are available in all standard sizes for the utmost convenience and choice
7. Outdoor Obsession Men’s Lightweight Over The Calf Liner Socks
A unique blend of materials means that these Outdoor Obsessions sock liners help to do their job better than most other brands. They offer a brilliant blend of comfort, moisture resistance, and lightweight finish which means they are the perfect match for every hike.
Made from 80% Thermolite, 3% Spandex, and 17% Nylon, these liners are constructed from a blend that seeks to pick the best properties of every fabric for an overall top quality finish.
- Length – Unlike most of the models we have analyzed, these are over the calf length, and this allows for extra protection from friction, no matter which boots you wear
- Thickness – Despite the comfort, these are designed to be super thin and comfortable, to reduce the bulk and weight associated with liners
- Moisture Wicking – Thermolite yarn is perfect for wicking away moisture, and is designed to help keep your feet dry, warm and comfortable no matter what you are doing
- Option on Sizes – With a range of sizes, you are sure to find your perfect match
Can Sock Liners Really Help Prevent Blisters?
The best sock liners are designed to help reduce this friction, thereby reducing the likelihood of a blister forming in the first place. In addition, they can be useful for removing any excess moisture or sweat which may build up during your hike, and act as a valuable protective base layer for your feet.
However, if you buy really good hiking socks you might not need liners. Alternatively, always have two pairs of socks with you on long hikes. Once your feet start to get damp from sweat, change your socks. On multi-day hikes I try to find a stream partway through the day and soak my feet to cool them down, this works for me. If you are walking in wet weather or across wet ground consider waterproof hiking socks.
If you are brand new to the world of hiking or are in the process of breaking in a new pair of hiking shoes or boots, sock liners could prove to be your salvation. If you have never tried them before, there is absolutely no harm in giving them a go; they are affordable, lightweight, and could totally transform your hiking experience for the better.
One of the biggest endorsements for sock liners is that they can help to reduce the likelihood of you developing painful blisters, but is this really the case? As with anything in life, there are no guarantees, but certain features of sock liners do help to reduce the likelihood of you developing painful and unpleasant lesions.
Because sock liners work to wick moisture away from the feet, they can really help to reduce friction which is a common cause of blisters. Liner socks also add extra padding and protection, so in the event that your boots do rub, there will be an extra layer between them and your skin, and this reduces the chances of you developing a blister, or allowing the boot to rub directly at delicate skin.
Sock Liners Buying Guide
If you do decide to go down the route of finding the Best Sock Liners, there are a few key factors to consider which will help to ensure that you make the right choice.
The most popular liner socks are made from high-quality materials that focus on breathability. These include merino wool, silk, polyester, or nylon. I have reviewed some of these materials already for instance Icebreaker and Smartwool, and Darn Tough vs Smartwool socks All of these materials help the skin to breathe properly and feel comfortable to wear. They also dry quickly, and this means they are a top choice for use in sock liners.
To learn more about the difference between synthetic fabrics and wool, you may also want to read my Coolmax vs Merino wool hiking socks comparison.
Length of the Socks
Just as with non-hiking socks, there is a range of lengths to choose from. Mid-ankle and crew length are the most popular choice, and these go well with hiking boots. Low-cut options are also available if your boots are cut at a lower or medium level.
Sock liners are not intended to provide insulation, and so tend to be fairly thin. They act as an additional barrier of protection, and so are rarely thicker than a pair of pantyhose. If the weather is bad, you will need an extra pair of cold weather socks for warmth, and so the last thing you need is a bulky pair of liners clogging up your boots.
A key advantage to liners is their ability to wick the moisture from your feet. Merino wool, Smartwool, and polyester are great materials for this and can help to reduce the unpleasant smell which can come with sweaty or damp feet.
When it comes to sock liners, size matters. It is better to choose a pair which are a little too snug, rather than opting for a looser size up. If your socks are too loose and baggy, there may be extra material that bunches at the bottom of the boot, and this can result in a one-way ticket to some pretty bad blisters; the exact enemy which your liner is trying to prevent! Make sure that your choice is snug and comfortable; not too tight to cause discomfort, but not so large that they have any excess.
Budget is perhaps the first consideration; the amount you have to spend will impact the selection which is available to you. Quality sock liners are available at a range of prices, so don’t be put off by the high prices of the top-end choices. If you are just trying out sock liners to see if they suit you, it may be a good idea to pick up a cheaper pair at the lower end of the budget. If you get on with them, you can look at investing slightly more money in a higher-end pair, and if not, there is very little lost!
Investing in a great pair of sock liners can really make a difference to your overall comfort, and massively improve the quality of your hike, run, or outdoor activity. Out top pick has to be the Outdoor Obsession sock liner; it is sturdy, flexible, and designed to keep moisture well away from your skin. Even better, they are super comfortable, and will enhance any trek, rather than weighing you down!
I love hiking, backpacking, and camping. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.