11 BEST Summer Hiking Socks for Hot Days on the Trail [2024]

Reviewed by Elina Ansary
Last updated:

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Short on time? Our pick for the best summer hiking socks is the Smartwool Performance Hike Full Cushion Crew Socks.

Find the best summer hiking socks to keep your feet cool on hot outdoor adventures.

I think a lot about hiking socks because I have a tricky and painful bone spur on my little toe that can make hiking a nightmare. Even though the spur is *super* tiny and only on one foot, it dramatically affects my ability to walk if I wear the wrong socks. 

The same is true of blisters. Get one, and the hiking fun is over! 

Choosing the right hiking socks can make a huge difference in your hiking comfort. 

I have 10+ years of hiking experience to inform my top picks for the best hiking socks in all categories. 

Whether you’re on the hunt for the best women’s hiking socks for summer, the best hiking socks for men, the best hiking socks to prevent blisters, or the best socks for multi-day backpacking trips, I’ve got you covered.

Plus, I’ve created a buying guide so you can understand the benefits of Merino wool over synthetic socks, how to choose the right socks for your hiking boots or walking shoes, and the critical sock features to consider in warm weather. 

Keep reading to find out which are my picks for the best summer hiking socks!

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

A pair of legs balanced on a boulder, wearing hiking boots and an example of some of the best summer hiking socks in grey.

#1 Smartwool Performance Hike Full Cushion Crew Socks

Product image for the Smartwool Performance Hike Full Cushion Crew Socks in grey and purple.

Our Rating: 5/5
Material: 60% merino wool/25% recycled nylon/12% nylon/3% elastane
Cushion (Light-Heavy): Medium
Cut: Crew

Smartwool is a top name in outdoor gear, and I love my medium-cushion Smartwool socks because they provide the perfect balance of cushion and warmth.  

The Smartwool Performance Hike Full Cushion Crew (Shop Women’s) (Shop Men’s) has “Indestructawool technology” with strategically reinforced toes and heels. 

While the toes and heels have thick, reinforced panels, mesh zones on other parts of the sock enhance breathability in warmer weather. 

I love their “virtually seamless toe,” which prevents chafing, and of course, I love that these are moisture-wicking socks.

Finally, their merino wool is sustainably sourced! While most people adore these socks, some had to size up a half size to different hiking shoes in order to fit the sock comfortably.


  • ZQ-certified wool for environmental sustainability
  • Mesh zones keep feet cool
  • “Virtually Seamless” toe 
  • Moisture wicking


  • It may be thick enough that you need to size up a shoe

#2 Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks

Product image for the Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks in lavender and yellow.

Our Rating: 5/5
Material: 59% merino wool/39% nylon/2% Lycra spandex
Cushion (Light-Heavy): Medium
Cut: Crew 

Darn Tough is another major player in hiking socks. The Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Socks (Shop Women’s) (Shop Men’s) are among their most beloved. 

The Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew socks have a shrink-treated wool blend to combine the best features of wool and synthetic fibers. These socks are moisture-wicking with elastic support around the arch to ensure a snug fit (I love this feature–it feels like your feet are getting hugs). 

I really like that the Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew has a reinforced heel and ball, plus extra cushioning on the ball of the foot–exactly where you need it for summer. 

Honestly, I couldn’t find a single bad review of the Darn Tough Hiker socks.


  • Shrink-treated merino wool
  • Moisture-wicking
  • High-density underfoot cushion
  • Reinforced heels and toes with elastic around the arch


  • Expensive

#3 Darn Tough Mountaineering Socks

Product image for the Darn Tough Mountaineering Socks in grey and  turquoise.

Our Rating: 4.8/5
Material: 72% merino wool/26% nylon/2% spandex
Cushion (Light-Heavy): Heavy
Cut: Knee-high

If you are hiking at high elevations or making multi-day trips, the Darn Tough Mountaineering Socks (Shop Women’s) (Shop Men’s) are for you. 

These Darn Tough socks for summer hiking are quick-drying and moisture-wicking. The extra cushioning makes them perfect for a multi-day trip, and the high wool content keeps your feet warm in lower temperatures and cool in warm weather too. 

I like that these heavy-cushion socks have fine-gauge knitting, and this tight weave makes the socks extra durable.

The downside to these knee-highs is that the calf portion may be tight on some wearers.


  • Quick-drying and moisture wicking
  • Perfect for long distances
  • High wool content 
  • Durable


  • The calf may be too tight for some users
  • Expensive

#4 Smartwool Everyday Crew Slipper Socks

Product image for the Smartwool Everyday Crew Slipper Socks in white and maroon.

Our Rating: 4.6/5
Material: 73% merino wool/17% recycled nylon/9% nylon/1% elastane
Cushion (Light-Heavy): Heavy
Cut: Crew

If you’re into backpacking, you know the importance of packing one good pair of “sacred socks.” Your sacred socks are only worn around camp and to bed, so you always have one pair of warm, dry socks to sleep in. 

The Smartwool Everyday Crew Slipper Socks (Shop Unisex) are your perfect hiking socks for backpacking. 

The Everyday Crew Slipper Socks have a maximum cushion with small grippers on the bottom, which make them great camp and casual wear socks, but in a pinch, it might be uncomfortable to hike in if you had to.

These slipper socks have 73% merino wool to keep you cozy but enough synthetic material that they dry out quickly.


  • ZQ-certified merino wool for sustainability
  • Grippers on soles
  • Perfect for sleeping socks on camping trips


  • The grippers on the bottom of socks may be uncomfortable to hike in

#5 Merrell Trail Runner Cushioned Low-Cut Sock

Product image for the Merrell Trail Runner Cushioned Low-Cut Sock in yellow and green.

Our Rating: 4.9/5
Material: 97% Recycled Nylon/3% Spandex
Cushion (Light-Heavy): Light
Cut: Ankle

I almost always hike in tennis shoes, even when I’m backpacking, because of my darned bone spur, so I often opt for ankle socks. If you walk in sneaks or like to trail run, the Merrell Trail Runner Cushioned Low Cut Sock (Shop Unisex) could be for you. 

The standout feature of this lightweight sock is the extra deep heel pocket that prevents your sock from slipping into your shoe while you’re trail running. I also appreciate the elastic arch support and the seam-free toe. 

These lightweight hiking socks for summer are entirely synthetic. While this makes them quick-drying and moisture-wicking, fully synthetic socks tend to hold on to odor more than wool socks so if you’re worried about stinky feet, these may not be the best choice.


  • Arch support
  • Friction-reducing material on the heel, toe, and sole
  • A deep heel pocket prevents sock slippage
  • Great for trail runners and hikers alike


  • 100% synthetic socks may accumulate odor over time

#6 REI Co-op Liner Crew Socks

Product image for the REI Co-op Merino Wool Liner Crew Socks in grey.

Our Rating: 4.6/5
Material: 64% merino wool/34% nylon/2% spandex
Cushion (Light-Heavy): Light
Cut: Crew

If you’re on the liner sock bandwagon or you like a very thin sock, check out the REI Co-op Liner Crew Socks (Shop Unisex). 

The REI Co-op Wool Liner is a thin sock with little to no cushion, made of super soft merino wool. The synthetic blend keeps moisture off your skin and dries quickly, mainly because it’s so thin, making these a good replacement pair if you don’t want synthetic socks for foot odor reasons.

A few other things that I appreciate about these socks are their seamless toes, as well as the fact that they’re 100% sustainably-sourced wool. 

This REI Co-op liner sock is designed to go with an outer layer, but some users complained that it wasn’t suitable as a liner sock. Some said it was too rough; others said it was slippery inside the outside sock.

Additionally, many folks mentioned that this hiking sock shrinks in the wash– a pitfall of the fact they’re wool socks.


  • Certified to Responsible Wool Standards (RWS)
  • Extra soft, non-itchy Merino wool
  • Quick drying


  • They may shrink after the first wash
  • The quality has diminished in recent years

#7 Patagonia Wool Anklet Socks

Product image for the Patagonia Wool Anklet Socks in blue

Our Rating: 5/5
Material: 58% RWS-certified merino wool/41% nylon/1% spandex
Cushion (Light-Heavy): Light
Cut: Ankle

I have a pair of the Patagonia Wool Anklet Socks (Shop Unisex), and I *love* them. I used to buy cheapy cotton blend anklets in packs of a million, but then I got a pair of these wool anklet socks, and I’ve seen the light. 

Patagonia’s Wool Anklets have light cushioning with a mesh arch support panel to hug the sock to your foot. I wear these socks year-round and layer them over taller socks for warmth on my foot without strangling my ankle.

As always, Patagonia uses sustainably sourced materials. 

Despite the fact that these socks are so phenomenal, there are few reviews for them online, so I couldn’t find any negatives. If I had to be picky, I wish they came in more fun colors and patterns.


  • Mesh arch support
  • Light cushioning is perfect for warm weather or layering in shoulder seasons
  • Certified to Responsible Wool Standard (RWS)


  • Limited color selection

#8 Smartwool Performance Hike Light Cushion Mid Crew Socks

Product image for the Smartwool Performance Hike Light Cushion Mid Crew Socks in grey, orange, and teal.

Our Rating: 5/5
Material: 56% merino wool/31% recycled nylon/11% nylon/2% elastane
Cushion (Light-Heavy): Light
Cut: Crew

A more colorful (literally) alternative to the Patagonia Anklet socks is the Smartwool Performance Hike Light Cushion Mid Crew Socks (Shop Women’s) (Shop Men’s). 

The Hike Light Crew sock comes in men’s and women-specific fits and features many of the same features as other Smartwool socks. The Hike Light Crew socks contain recycled materials and sustainably sourced, ZQ-certified wool. 

These top summer walking socks are moisture-wicking with a “Virtually Seamless” toe (although note that at least one person could feel the seam and found it irritating). 

This summer hiking sock has a cushion at the bottom, right where you need it, and both the men’s and women’s versions come in fun patterns. 

As can be common with wool, the material will begin to pill after a few washes, especially if you don’t turn them inside out to wash them.


  • They contain recycled nylon and ZQ-certified Merino wool
  • Moisture wicking
  • Women and men-specific fits
  • “Virtually Seamless” toe
  • Cushioned along the bottom of the foot


  • The fabric starts to pill after a few washes

#9 Farm to Feet Damascus Lightweight Crew Socks

Product image for the Farm to Feet Damascus Lightweight Crew Merino Wool Socks in black, blue, and pink.

Our Rating: 4.8/5
Material: 61% Merino Wool/34% Nylon/5% Spandex
Cushion (Light-Heavy): Light
Cut: Crew

Farm to Feet prides itself on a completely American-made product. All the materials and labor are sourced in the US of A, allowing the company to closely inspect every part of the process. 

I like the Farm to Feet Damascus Lightweight Crew Socks (Shop Women’s)(Shop Men’s) because of their seamless toes and the thick cushion at the ball and toe of the foot. 

F2F boasts that the Damascus (named after a town on the Appalaichan Trail) is a perfect sock for section and through-hikers. 

The one thing I don’t love about the Damascus is the height. These are tall crew socks; I often find my calves too big to wear high-topped socks.

You can purchase these summer hiking socks on Amazon, but if you search their website, you can get shorter versions of the Damascus socks. So those of you who have bigger calves may want to check there.


  • The cushion is thickest on the toe and ball of the foot
  • American sourced wool
  • Super soft 19.5-micron wool


  • The cut can be too high for some users

#10 Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Socks

Product image for the Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Socks in grey and blue.

Our Rating: 4.8/5
Material: 54% nylon/43% merino wool/3% Lycra spandex
Cushion (Light-Heavy): Light
Cut: Crew

The Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Socks (Shop Women’s) (Shop Men’s) is another of REI’s top-selling socks, so I had to include them. So far on my list, most other socks have had more Merino wool than any other material, but the Hike Light Crew socks are mostly nylon. 

This can be nice because synthetic socks are more durable than wool socks. As much as I love my woolies, they almost always get holes in them eventually. 

That said, the Hike Light Crew socks contain 43% wool, so they still get the moisture-wicking benefits. They also have a shorter height than standard crew socks (hence the “mini” in the name), making them an excellent crew socks for people with bigger calves. 

Darn Tough made their micro crew socks with their “True Seamless” design, so there’s no worry of bunching up and blisters. 

One slight knock on these socks is that at least one person reported that they orders two pairs of socks (same size), but one pair was about an inch shorter than the other, meaning their sizing may be inconsistent.


  • Moisture wicking
  • Durable sock due to high synthetic content
  • “True Seamless” design prevents blisters


  • Inconsistent sizing

#11 Injinji Trail Midnight Mini-Crew Socks

Product image for the Injinji Trail Midnight Mini-Crew Socks in grey, purple, and blue.

Our Rating: 5/5
Material: 58% nylon / 39% COOLMAX EcoMade polyester / 3% Lycra spandex
Cushion (Light-Heavy): Medium
Cut: Ankle

I have never been a huge fan of wearing toe socks while hiking, but after researching the Injinji Trail Midnight Mini-Crew Socks (Shop Unisex), I might have to try them out. 

These Mini-Crew toe socks are the best hiking socks if your hiking boots squish your toes or if you have an anatomical toe issue that causes your toes to rub together. 

The Mini Crew Socks include COOLMAX polyester, specially designed to dry quickly and manage the moisture on your feet. I also appreciate the double elastic construction on the ankle, which prevents dirt and debris from getting in your sock. 

One con against the Injinji Trail Socks is that the manufacturing seems inconsistent. I.e., different colors of socks have different thicknesses.


  • Quick-drying and wicks moisture
  • COOLMAX polyester for extra comfort
  • Protects each toe from blisters
  • Double elastic at the top prevents dirt and pebbles from getting in


  • Inconsistent thickness

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Hiking Socks for Hot Weather

A woman's hands pulling up her blue hiking socks; she's wearing khaki pants and a diamond wedding ring, and a pair of hiking boots sit on the grass beside her.

What to Look for in Summer Hiking Socks


Your socks *must* have a secure fit regardless of what season you plan your outdoor adventures in. 

Well-fitting socks with a snug fit (not too tight!) will keep your feet comfortable and prevent blisters. You know your socks fit well when the sock’s heel cup naturally forms around your heel.

Moisture Wicking

The best summertime hiking socks wick moisture away from your skin and help it evaporate faster. I’ll go over the best wicking fabric for warm weather below. 

Fabric Choice

  • Wool: Wool is the king of hiking socks, especially merino wool, which isn’t scratchy like rag wool. Merino wool summer hiking socks provide great cushion, but all-wool socks wear out quickly, so hiking socks are usually a blend. This type of wool also has superior moisture-wicking and odor-controlling abilities compared to synthetic material.
  • Polyester and Nylon: These synthetic fibers have the durability that wool lacks. These also dry faster than socks with high wool content. 
  • Coolmax: Coolmax fabric is a special type of polyester that provides excellent moisture wicking and heat dispersion, giving it superior moisture management compared to conventional polyester. 
  • Spandex: Almost all socks have some synthetic spandex material to shape the sock and prevent bunching. 


Your hiking sock should extend just above your hiking footwear to prevent your hiking boots from rubbing your ankle. Crew socks are the most popular sock height for summer hikes; they extend just above the ankle. 


Socks have four different levels of cushioning. 

  • Ultralight socks: These thin socks are breathable with minimal cushion. Liner or minimalist hiking socks (more on that below) fall into this category.
  • Light cushioning: These are another excellent choice for warm-weather hiking. They release heat well and have padding on the ball and heel of the foot.
  • Medium cushioning: These are my personal favorite all year. Many medium cushioned socks have extra padding all over and on the ball and heel of the foot, plus they keep your feet warm on chilly summer nights. 
  • Heavy cushioning: These are cold weather with max cushion. Personally, I don’t even wear these in winter because they squish my toes. But to each their own!

Liner Socks

Liner socks, or ultralight, super thin socks, were very in vogue 10-ish years ago. The logic went that you’d wear two layers of socks so that your boot would rub the outer layer and the inner sock would protect your feet. 

Today most good summer hiking socks are designed for wearing solo, without a second layer. I never caught on to the liner sock trend, especially for warm weather hiking, but be aware that it exists, and some people really like this style. Maybe you’re one of these people!

Check out this video about liner socks. 

Seamless Toes 

While it isn’t a dealbreaker, the most comfortable hiking socks have seamless toes. Not having a seam on the toe means you don’t get an uncomfortable seam line, which can cause foot irritation.

Types of Hiking Socks

A pair of grey and neon yellow hiking socks poke out of hiking boots that are sitting on a pebbly river bank, while a pair of out-of-focus legs is visible in the background walking towards the water.

Regardless of sock material, three standard heights are appropriate for summer hiking. 


Ankle socks are perfect for hiking in tennis shoes, as I do. These provide minimum leg coverage, less chance of an awkward sock tan, and will allow for max airflow. 


Crew-length socks are the most popular length for summer hikes. Crew socks extend a few finger widths above your ankle and provide good coverage for most hiking boots.


Knee-high socks, while the warmest of the three types of hiking socks, are still a good option for summer hikers who want coverage from sun or ticks but don’t want to wear long pants. Knee-high socks are also popular with mountain biking.

FAQs About Hot Weather Hiking Socks

A pair of feet wearing brown leather boots and off-white hiking socks seen from behind while walking on a leaf-strewn path.

What makes a good hiking sock for summer?

The best socks for hiking in summer will extend beyond the top of your hiking boots, be moisture wicking and have extra padding on the ball and heel of your foot.

What’s the best material for summer hiking socks?

The best hot-weather hiking socks are usually a Merino wool blend. This type of wool is breathable and soft with good moisture management, and adding synthetic fibers to the blend provides durability and elasticity.

Do you need hiking socks in the summer?

Unless you hike in sandals, you need a pair of quality socks to keep your feet comfortable, even in warm weather. Thin hiking socks wick moisture away and help prevent blisters, which can be disabling on the trail. 

What are the best Coolmax socks for hiking?

Enforma makes Coolmax socks, and their SLK-3K4 Highlands Merino/Silk unisex socks are among their bestsellers for hiking. 

What hiking socks cool your feet?

There are no hiking socks that actively keep your feet cool. The cooling sensation you might feel while hiking is due to evaporation from wicking fabric (however, remember that even the thinnest, most evaporative sock still lives inside your shoe while you’re hiking). 

The best socks for moisture management in warm weather are synthetic socks made from polyester or nylon, or a wool blend. You may also choose Coolmax fabric, which uses synthetic fibers for maximum moisture wicking. 

Is Merino wool too hot for summer? Is cotton better?

A pair of feet wearing light grey hiking socks and blue-and-white hiking boots stands on a rock overlooking an out-of-focus vista.

Merino wool socks are not too hot for summer. Even in warm weather, this material performs well. If you’re engaged in long backpacking trips, Merino wool socks will keep your feet warmer at night than cotton socks, which hold no warmth when wet. 

This wool variety also has better natural cushion than cotton. 

Want to know more about the wonders of wool? Check out our article on the best wool shoes!

Are Smartwool socks good for summer hiking?

Smartwool socks are some of the best summer wool socks. I love my Smartwool socks; they’re a staple of my sock rotation regardless of my activity. 

Smartwool socks have excellent cushioning, are soft and durable, and keep my feet comfortable in hot weather.


Are expensive hiking socks worth it?

Yes, a quality pair of well-padded durable socks can make all the difference when it comes to hiking comfortably. 

Spending over $20 on a single pair of socks may seem excessive, but considering that your feet are your primary vehicle to the world, it’s worth it to take care of them like you would a quality car. 

Conclusion: Our Pick for the Best Summer Hiking Socks

A pair of feet and muscular legs wearing blue hiking boots and maroon socks standing on a rocky lakeshore with mountains and partly-cloudy sky in the background.

Honestly, this list is packed with some of the best hiking socks on the market, but at the end of the day, if I had to choose one, I would go with the Smartwool Performance Hike Full Cushion Crew (Shop Women’s) (Shop Men’s). 

This medium-cushion sock has “Indestructawool technology,” and the ball and heel of the sock are reinforced. The mesh zones help to enhance evaporation too, so they’re nice and breathable. 

The “virtually seamless toe” prevents chafing, and of course, their wool is sustainably sourced and keeps them smelling fresher! 


author bio - Meredith Dennis

Meredith Dennis

Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in 6 states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is chef’s kiss next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!

Hunting for hiking gear? Check out these related articles below!

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Best Hiking Backpacks for Women

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Best Dog Backpack Carriers for Hiking

Best Minimalist Hiking Sandals

A pair of legs balanced on a boulder, wearing hiking boots and summer hiking socks in grey, with the text overlay, "Best Summer Hiking Socks."

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Hi, I'm Mimi! I'm an outdoorsy Californian who has spent over 28 years immersed in the incredible natural beauty that California has to offer. My goal is to inspire others to get out and find their next adventure in California. Whether it’s escaping to an alpine lake in the Sierras, finding peace among the giant redwoods, or road tripping down the PCH, there’s always more to explore in this beautiful state.


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