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Best Overall: Darn Tough Scout
Backpackers know: Trail conditions can swing from sleet and snow to desert-like heat over the course of a single day. The Scout kept us comfortable through it all, though, marrying great temp control to one of the softest fabrics we tested. “My feet stayed dry and happy in temps ranging from the 30s to 80°F while I hiked in Hawaii’s Haleakalā National Park,” one tester says. Buy Now / Read the Full Review
Most Comfortable: Royal Robbins Venture Crew
It’s rare that we see a sock construction we haven’t encountered before, but the Venture Crew fits the bill. Its fabric is a mix of polyester, elastane, and, unusually, hemp (37 percent). Buy Now / Read the Full Review
Most Breathable: Swiftwick Pursuit Four Ultralight
When the dog days of summer overlapped with our toughest adventures, we looked for a sock that could keep our feet dry for the long haul. The 13 percent olefin content adds extra wicking action (olefin has greater surface area than poly or nylon, resulting in more moisture repellency), while merino’s semi-hollow fibers keep the thermometer steady. Buy Now / Read the Full Review
Best Protection: Bridgedale Trail Run Lightweight T2 Merino Sport
Mountainous terrain can rough up your feet. So when we encountered blister-causing dirt and grit on a 21-mile slog to Jade Lake in Washington’s Alpine Lakes Wilderness, we were thankful that the 1³/₈-inch high, skin-hugging cuff at the top of this sock kept the debris out. Buy Now / Read the Full Review
Best for Trail Running: Feetures Elite Max Cushion No Show Tab
When trail runners kick it into high gear, they need a sock that performs equally well on steep ascents as on gutsy sprints on the way back down. The Elite’s flat knit (no loops) on top of the foot was thin enough to release any sweat we worked up during an ascent of 14,265-foot Quandary Peak in Colorado, with temps in the upper 50s. Buy Now / Read the Full Review