Tips for Bringing Socks into the Wild

In the normal course of daily living, most men try to wear socks of the same color. Failing that approach, they usually take the fallback position of grabbing those that are either fairly dark or almost white.

That’s all well and good for those whose al fresco adventures culminate in a brisk walk through a city park. For the dedicated outdoorsman a bit more care is required.

Oddly, while most intrepid trailblazers put a lot of thought into buying the proper pair of boots, they sometimes forget to pay proper attention to the lowly sock. The best and most comfortable pair of hiking, jungle or snake boots will do little to protect your feet if you lack a decent pair of socks.

This is one area where price and quality do tend to walk hand-in-hand. Purchase thick socks made of wool or cotton, as these fabrics soak up perspiration. Most decent socks have a reinforced heel, but even better is if the front of the sock (under the ball of the foot) contains a bit of extra padding. Don’t be afraid to spend a couple of bucks more than you think is necessary for heavy-duty socks, especially if you’re going on a long trek or will be covering tough terrain. The feeling of being gouged financially pales in comparison to the pain of developing a blister when you’re 10 miles east of the middle of nowhere.

There are a few other things you should consider regarding the arcane topic of socks.

Don’t just buy one pair; socks get lonely
Buy two or three and take them with you in the field. An experienced hiker will change socks every few hours in order to keep his feet dry. Tie the damp socks to your belt or backpack and allow them to dry. Repeat the process until you make camp.

Don’t let your socks sit in you boots overnight
The rationale here is the same as that of changing them frequently. You want those suckers dry. That’s why quite a few folks periodically sprinkle some talcum power in their boots.

Bring along some insoles; your feet will thank you
Your boots may be tough, but that doesn’t mean the inner soles are comfy as a new recliner; usually they’re hard as rocks. Placing a cushioned insole in your boots (both the foam and gel-type insoles are okay) prior to departure will garner endless accolades and pledges of loyalty from your feet. Bring along a few pair, and replace as needed. Walking will be more comfortable and the wear and tear on your socks will be greatly reduced.

The following only applies if you’re lost, forgetful or are the hardcore, Jeremiah Johnson type
Rather than purchasing insoles you can extend the life of your socks by putting a thin layer of birch bark or grass on the inner soles of your boots. The cottony stuff you find on cattails and milkweed is also an option. No matter your choice, it’s a good idea to frequently replace the bio-mass. Your feet only want to feel good; they’re not vegans.