The great outdoors is beautiful and unpredictable. You could be out hiking in perfectly good weather and terrain, and the next moment, your feet are shin-deep in a stream.

You run the risk of developing blisters or getting cold feet. And that severely compromises your trip and worse, your health. However, there is a way out. You can either have shoes that prevent water entry, or you can have waterproof socks.

What are Waterproof socks?

There are a number of great socks on the market, but most of them don’t do well with water.

Hiking enthusiasts typically have shoes made out of waterproof material. However, you might need an extra layer of protection if you are anticipating that you will be treading in wet terrain.

Waterproof socks are meant to keep your feet dry. It would be easy to assume that this means your feet would stink due to the moisture in the socks. Not really. These socks have 3 layers: the outer layer keeps the water out, the innermost layer soaks up all the foot’s perspiration and the middle layer is there to make sure your feet stay warm.

Why should you get waterproof socks?

Keep Your Feet Dry: The primary function of waterproof socks is to keep your feet dry. You can be trekking, cycling, or camping, and waterproof socks should protect your feet if it gets wet and drizzly.

Prevent Blisters: Wet feet quickly develop blisters due to soft skin. However, waterproof socks are designed to soak the moisture from your feet. They are also meant to reduce the friction between your feet and your shoes. 

Improves Performance: Waterproof socks don’t just protect your feet but they also improve your performance. They enhance the grip on the shoe. This gives you more control over tough terrain. You can take on tougher challenges on account of waterproof socks.

Keeps Your Feet Warm: The outdoors can get chilly. And since you might not always have a chance to keep your shoes on, you need to keep your feet warm. The layers in the socks are specifically made for this purpose.

Helps Keep You Comfortable: They may look basic in the stitch and design, but waterproof socks are comfortable as well. They cushion your feet and provide breathing space at the same time. This improves your outdoor experience.

Types of waterproof socks

Merino Wool Socks: Merino wool makes some of the most premium socks to hit nature trails. These are especially popular among hikers and mountaineers in cold places. Merino wool is thick and it has impressive heat retention.

Gore-Tex Socks: Goretex is a material that features in most outdoor gear. It is durable, has excellent durability and it is highly breathable. Socks made from this material are likely to keep your feet dry and fresh all day.

Neoprene Socks: Neoprene is used by scuba divers to keep water from their bodies. It is an excellent material that adheres to the skin, yet does not get compromised easily. It is also comfortable and does not interfere with circulation.

Nylon Socks: Nylon socks are easy to slip onto the feet. They are more breathable than other materials such as merino wool. Contrary to most beliefs, nylon socks are a comfortable fit with a smooth lining that enhances comfort.

The 5 Best Waterproof Socks

The Rocky 11 comes in neutral tones to blend in with any attire and gear that you have on your trip.

The inner lining of the socks is made of GoreTex. This is effective in keeping your feet fresh and cool. The outer layer not only improves the durability of the socks, but it also keeps water away

The socks are about 11 inches in height, giving you plenty of coverage even when you’re in hiking boots.

pros
  • Machine-washable but you can handwash as well
  • Goretex construction
  • Comfortable inner layer
  • Abrasion-resistant outer layer
cons
  • The fit is extremely tight for adults.

If you’re looking for a pair of socks that adapts to your body temperature, this is the perfect pair for you.

The Merino wool material keeps your feet warm when its cold and dissipates your body heat when it gets hot. It features a Porelle membrane in the middle for added water protection.

It is made from 96% Nylon,3% Elastane, and 1% cuff Elastics for more stretch and water protection. This enhances the fit while maintaining proper circulation.

pros
  • Mid-calf length for more coverage
  • Merino wool and anti-pilling acrylic blend
  • Mid layer to improve waterproof ability
  • Machine and hand-washable
cons
  • They might not stay waterproof for long

These socks come in a wide range of colors. The tripple layers comprise a Nylon and Polyester blend on the outside and a Coolmax and polyester blend inside. The mid-level is a breathable membrane that keeps your feet fresh.

They are great for a whole range of activities such as snowboarding and cycling in wet terrains. 

When I go cycling and it starts to rain before I get home, my normal socks are usually soaked. 

pros
  • Reinforced heel and toe
  • 360-degree circulation
  • Windproof
  • Safe for snow
cons
  • Might be too thick for some shoes

These Sealskinz socks are the ideal height if you’re heading into swampy areas or you are looking for more coverage.

The knee-length socks are made of stretchy material. They feature uni-directional stitching that makes it easy to fit.

One of the best features in this pair of socks is the instep support and ankle support.

The socks are bound to serve you exceptionally well if you pair them up with hiking boots.

pros
  • Ankle and instep support
  • Windproof and waterproof
  • Comfortable merino wool lining
  • Padded for extra shock absorption
cons
  • They can get hot inside if you’re in hot climates

These socks are made from a nylon and rubber blend. Not only does it make the socks stretchy, but it also makes them waterproof.

They are triple-layered, with the mid-layer providing a barrier against water. The socks absorb sweat and transfer it to the upper level, keeping your feet odor-free and dry.

It features a reinforced heel for both comfort and durability. Wash these socks by hand in warm water.

pros
  • Sweat soaking material
  • Enhanced breathability
  • Elastic for more stretch
cons
  • They might let in water if submerged for too long

Factors to consider when choosing waterproof socks

Breathability

A poor choice of waterproof socks could have your feet sweaty, uncomfortable and with bad odor. The first question you need to ask when choosing socks is, can my feet breathe through these socks? You will know just by looking at the material.

Material

You have up to 5 materials to pick from when choosing waterproof socks. These materials each have a property about them that influences their stretching ability, the fit and their effectiveness against water. They also play a key role in determining the degree of waterproofing.

Dimensions

You just have to get the right fit when it comes to socks. A fit that’s too snug won’t fit. When it’s too buggy it will be uncomfortable and will not perform well. The fit, size and thickness of the socks will determine how effective they are and how comfortable you feel.

Kelvin Mwathi