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Common Sock Materials

Get the lowdown on what your socks are made of.

Every company touts the virtues of its chosen fibers and the below list is a look at some of the most common sock materials. Socks are almost always a blend of 2-5 different materials– like the ones listed here– plus Lycra, nylon, silk, polyester, spandex, etc. To determine the socks primary performance characteristics, look at the fabric content on the label. Then, find the main ingredient and look it up on our chart.

MaterialComes fromCharacteristics
Merino WoolFine-wooled white sheep originating from SpainSoft, durable, no-itch, high quality, toasty warm.
AlpacaSouth American mammal related to the llamaA soft, fine, durable, hollow core fleece. Warm, comfortable and tough.
AcrylicSynthetically madeQuick to wick and an ease to dry. Best suited for extra-sweaty feet
CoolmaxSynthetically madeSpun polyester water-hating material. Often used in conjunction with other materials (like acrylic).
Worsted woolSheepKnown for its isolative ability. Generally more affordable than merino.
FleeceSynthetically madeAvailable in a variety of thicknesses. Cozy camp socks, but not tailored or padded enough for hard-core backpacking.
CottonShrubby plantFast wicking, but painfully slow to dry. Best for a game of hoops or a free weight session at the gym.

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