No matter what you do during the winter—ski, run, backpack—you need a few quality pairs of socks to keep your feet from getting blistered or even frostbitten. Sub out your cheapie stockings for these cozy, winter-weight wool and synthetic socks, and you’ll be more comfortable than ever in the outdoors.
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Best Value: Decathlon Forclaz MH520 High Sock
Our die-hard merino enthusiasts were skeptical about using a wool-free sock on wet winter excursions. But after crossing numerous streams while hiking the Crawford Path in New Hampshire, we were convinced that the double-layered MH520 has the chops to be a fourth-season sock. Buy the Decathlon Forclaz MH520 High Sock Now / Read the Full Review
Most Comfortable: Darn Tough Edge With Cushion
The Edge is a high-performance ski sock that feels like your favorite slipper. Credit the terry loops of merino wool (54 percent) contoured around the back of the heel and in horizontal stripes across the shin. Buy the Darn Tough Edge With Cushion Now / Read the Full Review
Best for Trail Running: Rockay Razer
Shoulder-season runs can be a mixed bag, but Jackson Pollock-style layers of mud splotches—and blisters from the ensuing grit—are usually a given. So we were surprised when we peeled back this thin pair of socks to find our feet (relatively) clean after a 20-mile run on Tiger Mountain in the Cascade foothills. Buy the Rockay Razer Now / Read the Full Review
Best Camp Sock: Farm to Feet White Mountain Lounger
When snow turned to sleet on an overnight in the North Cascades, we were glad to swap out our soaked liners for a pair of these ultracushy merino socks. The material’s warming ability is accentuated by the sheer amount of wool in the White Mountain Lounger. Buy the Farm to Feet White Mountain Lounger Now / Read the Full Review
Best for Big Days: Smartwool PhD Pro Ski Race
For missions that packed in lots of vert through changing conditions, the PhD Pro Ski Race was the first sock we pulled out of the drawer this winter. Elastic (3 percent total) along the arch and extra-long cuffs locked everything in place during one tester’s 8-mile skimo race in the Washington Cascades, preventing hot spots. Buy the Smartwool PhD Pro Ski Race Now / Read the Full Review