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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

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Gear Hall of Fame: Socks

The BACKPACKER editors pick the pairs that have stood the test of time.

SmartWool PhD Mountaineering
“They’re super cushy yet breathable, so I use them for ski touring and alpine starts. Best of all: They don’t stink, even after 3 straight days of use."
—Trent Knoss

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May 07, 2014

I, also, am a huge fan of Darn Tough light hikers. Smartwool bag out at the top and wear thin. My Darn Tough hikers never change shape, vent wonderfully, and no rubbing while backpacking the AT. Please rate this brand the next time.

Star Star Star
Tim C.
May 02, 2014

It's too bad Darn Tough didn't make the list. They're by far the best thing I've warn and you can send them back if they ever get worn out. I've actually given away a couple of pairs to hiking friends as Christmas gifts.

Star Star
Pat McMahon
Apr 25, 2014

I love Smart Wool socks, BUT you had better buy one size larger because, being wool, they shrink!

Star Star Star Star Star
John Pavoncello
Apr 17, 2014

I pretty much only wear minimalist shoes but when I do wear regular hikers, I only wear Point 6 socks. I have six pair that I received as a gift at least three years ago and they are still like new. "Cheap" socks do not compare.

Star Star Star Star Star
Kathy W.
Apr 15, 2014

Balega socks are great - so comfortable and last a long time compared to many of the other major brands. I also like how comfortable Smartwool socks are, but they wear out really fast.

Trail Runner
Apr 15, 2014

I'll second geezer runner's comment. Injinji toe socks not being on the list is a glaring omission. Grab a pair and say goodbye to between the toe blisters forever.

Star Star Star
Sierra Packer
Apr 15, 2014

Perfect! Now when you get bloody toes it won't show around the campfire.

Geezer Skier
Apr 15, 2014

I second Geezer Runner's comment re Injinji toe socks. Since I discovered these about 15 years ago, my only use for conventional socks has been as a second layer over the toe socks. Injinji offers an over-the-calf model that is an excellent ski sock. Expensive but well worth it.

Geezer Runner
Apr 15, 2014

As a runner who has been on the trails for 29 years, I was surprised Injinji toe socks were not on your list. Many of the trail runners I know would not think of wearing anything else to prevent blisters between the toes. I have worn my Injinjis and a pair of Smartwool Light Hikers and completed 100 mile trail races lasting 44 hours in mud, snow, rain, many creek crossings, etc and never even had a hot spot. I don't even carry blister list any more - for me, the Injinjis are that good!

Star Star Star Star Star
Apr 15, 2014

Check out the Kirkland Outdoor Trail Sock from Costco. 71% Merino Wool, 21% Nylon, 7% Spandex, 1% Lucra. medium thick, reinforced, cushioned and moisture wicking. They are usually available fall and winter. 4 pair for 10-12 bucks. WHY PAY MORE?

Star Star Star Star Star
Jim Campbell
Apr 15, 2014

I too have found Darn Tough hard to beat. Never had a blister while wearing them. They just go and go.

Corey Reynolds
Apr 15, 2014

How about reviewing some which are not $20 a pair? frankly, that is a bit much for a pair of socks and I do not care how "stylish" they are. Y'all are paying for the "cute factor," not for functionality.

Star Star Star Star Star
Rob Knobs
Apr 15, 2014

Received a pair of point6's as a gift about three yrs ago. I fell in love with them the first time I wore them. I have purchased three additional pair since and all are my favorites.
p.s. the original pair still has shown little wear.

Star Star
Apr 14, 2014

Too bad... none of my favorites made the list. Love my Darn Tough merino socks. The fit is the best ever, and if you can wear them out, they replace them for free.

Star Star Star Star Star
Becky Hawkins
Apr 14, 2014

I have 4 pairs of these and find it hard not to put them on for everyday walking. These are my go to for any hiking/backpacking.


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