How to choose the right socks for sport and outdoor activity
It used to be that there were a few types of socks. For example, socks for office, socks for walking and socks for cold feet. These days, if you walk into a sports or outdoor shop or look on-line there are multiple different socks for every kind of indoor and outdoor activity and sport.
The right socks are important especially when there is the potential for blisters, rubs and the affects of low or high temperatures. For people who enjoy outdoor activities and a variety of sports, there are some important things to know about choosing socks.
Socks by activity
While some socks will cover a range of activities, there are socks that are better suited to just one sport. Here are a few subtle differences, such as how they are constructed, to take into account.
These socks will generally be thinner and lightweight than other socks. They are usually only ankle height, unless you are buying socks for calf compression, in which case they will be knee high.
They might be double skinned to protect your feet from blisters while running. Also, they will be cushioned in all the right places, such as the sole of the foot and the heel.
Some running socks also have compression support around the arch of the foot.
Look out for seamless toe areas for great comfort and less blister potential.
Choose a sock that fits neatly, so that it doesn’t move about on your foot while you run or bunch up uncomfortably.
Walking.hiking socks comes in a range of different weights. Lightweight hiking socks will be better for summer use, while heavier weight materials will be better for keeping your feet warm in the winter.
Walking socks should be lightly padded. especially around the sole and heel of the foot and potentially in the toes area, too. The aim is for comfort in a walking boot.
The length of the sock is a personal choice. Some people like a longer sock that rises to the knee, while others prefer one that sits on the calf above the height of the boot.
The choice of fabric is important. A natural wool is more likely to be breathable and will not becomes a smelly with use as a polyester fabric.
If you feet a sensitive to natural wools, choose a mix of fabrics as a compromise.
Fit is also important and some socks are made to suit the genders. Women’s feet tend to be narrower, so a sock made to suit a female foot will fit better.
Ski socks might look like walking socks but they will have extra padding. As well as the sole, heel and toe area, most ski socks will be padded at the shin area where pressure often builds up when wearing ski boots.
Ski socks need to rise up above the ski boot and most will sit just below the knee.
The best material for ski socks is natural wools, such as merino, or a merino/polyester mix.
Perhaps you will choose to wear your running socks for cycling, or maybe you like the idea of a cycling specific sock. Cycling socks often follow a trend. The latest trend is for socks that rise up to the lower park of the calf.
Cycling socks should be comfortable and many will have seamless toe areas and light padding around the heel.
Cycling socks often come in a range of bright colours and designs, too.
General sports socks
Again, you might choose to wear running socks but these days there are socks for all types of sports including hockey socks, indoor football socks, basketball socks and softball socks. Each will have features to suit the different spots, such as sole cushioning with a minimal bulk overall.
Wellington boot socks
If you enjoy a country stroll in Wellington boots, then you will be pleased to know you can buy socks to suit tis activity. Wellington boot socks are usually warm and padded and rise up to the knee.
Understanding sock fabrics
Feet happen to be one of the sweatiest parts of the human body and yours, most likely, are no different. Your feet have around250,000 eccrine sweat glands. Performance fabrics help disperse and absorb all the moisture created by those densely populated sweat glands
- Merino Wool: This naturally fine fabric has managed to virtually replace all the scratchy rag-wool sock fabrics previous generations were used to. The thermostatic/temperature-regulating feature of merino is a great benefit and helps to keep your feet comfortable in a wide range of temperatures. Another advantage of natural wool is that it tends not resist the smell of sweat for longer than polyester alternatives.
- Wool/polyester mix: If your feet are sensitive to full-on merino wool, a mix will be a great choice. Merino mixed with polyester is also likely to be softer and easier to pull on to your foot. Plus they wash well in the washing machine.
- Cotton: Probably the material to avoid because it soaks up moisture and will lead to blisters and rubs in many cases.
- Neoprene socks: Perfect for keeping your feet dry – and warm – when running and cycling in wet or cold weather, or for doing watersports.