Best Thermal Socks
It doesn’t really matter what your personal preference is for outdoor activities, or even what kind of weather you choose to do it in, a good, quality pair of thermal socks is an investment that is more than worth the money and time spent finding the right pair for yourself.
The thing is, when people hear about or talk about thermal socks (or sometimes people refer to them as ‘thermo socks’), the tendency is to think about warm socks for cold weather. The reason, most likely, is that people associate ‘thermal’ with ‘thermal long underwear’ and cold, winter weather, and thermal socks with warm wool socks. While these are all accurate to a certain extent (i.e. you definitely want to have a good thermal base layer when you go out into the cold), they leave out a significant part of the benefit of this kind of insulated sock (whether it be a 100% merino wool sock or some other kind of material); and that benefit is that they will take care of your feet equally well in hot weather to help keep your feet comfortably dry and cool.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, the fact is that good thermal socks work like the insulation in your house – they help to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and comfortable all year round. Part of the way they are able to do this is through their ability to wick moisture away from your skin and out towards the outer part of the material where it can easily evaporate into the surrounding air.
As you can imagine, keeping your feet dry is not only critical to your comfort, but it is critical to your good hygiene as well. It will prevent your feet from getting fungus on them, not to mention helping to keep the nasty smell of stinky feet at bay. While you may not think this is a huge deal because you’re only going for a short day hike, think about the benefits of someone who is going on a multi-day hike and has limited room to pack clothes. They may only be able to bring along 2 pairs of thermal socks, so keeping them from getting horribly smelly is a tremendous advantage.
This is one of the many benefits of wool socks; the fact that they are naturally antimicrobial. In addition to that, even when they do get wet from the weather, they still retain their insulating properties, which a cotton sock will NOT do (this is one huge advantage of wool socks and the reason why there is no comparison when it comes to cotton vs smart wool hiking socks).
And if the thought of wool socks makes you think of the old itchy-scratchy kind of sock, fear not. One of the benefits of merino wool socks is the fact that this kind of wool not only has the same antimicrobial properties and insulating qualities of regular wool, but they are incredibly soft and comfortable at the same time. In fact, 100% merino wool socks for men are often sold along with the finest shoes and business suits. So if it’s good enough comfort-wise for that kind of situation, AND it has all the properties of the best thermal socks, I think it becomes pretty much a no-brainer as to which thermal socks would be considered the best and most comfortable.
Fortunately for everyone else, there are thermal socks for kids that are made of the same great merino wool. One of the best known and respected companies making children’s thermal socks is SmartWool. Children’s Smart Wool socks are certain to keep your kids’ feet and toes nice and toasty warm, dry and stinky-free, and, speaking from personal experience, one of the greatest benefits of these soft cold weather socks is the fact that the kids don’t pitch a fit about their feet itching and scratching! I can’t tell you how much time has been wasted in our house trying to get the kids to put on (and keep on) their other wool socks. Prior to these winter thermal socks, it was an absolute nightmare getting them ready for the cold. No more. And to make things even better, with just a little bit of web surfing I have pretty much always been able to find a smartwool socks sale somewhere, so I’ve been able to purchase all of our children’s cold activity wool socks at below retail prices, even in the height of the season.
So far we’ve talked about mens thermal socks for outdoor activity as well as thermal dress socks made of merino wool, and how these materials work just as well for children’s thermal socks. Of course it goes without saying that when it comes to cold weather socks, women’s feet are at least as prone to getting cold as those of men and children (in my personal experience, they have seemed to be the MOST prone to getting cold). As such, there is absolutely no reason to think that these insulated socks for kids and men aren’t just as applicable to the ladies. Some of the most popular brands (in addition to the aforementioned SmartWool brand) include Thorlo thermal socks, CoolMax socks (in fact, CoolMax toe socks have been growing quite a bit in popularity these past few years, and while I have yet to try them, they are next on my list of thermal socks for running that I plan on trying out). My wife’s personal favorites are a pair of small WigWam thermal socks that she refuses to go hiking without (WigWam socks are among my favorite as well, especially their ultimax socks). Gold toe wool dress socks are another brand that is well recognized, but not so much for outdoor activities.
Speaking of various outdoor activities, many people think they need special thermal socks for each of their different pastimes. While I suppose one could do this, more often than not it is more a question of having different weights of thermal wool socks, as well as possibly different lengths. For example, thermal socks for hiking should be long enough for you to be able to fold them over the top of your hiking boot. Doing this will help prevent them from slipping down into your boot and potentially bunching up and creating a blister.
On the other hand, people who seek out wool cycling socks don’t need them to be as long. Thermal sleep socks will be very much up to the preference of the individual as there really aren’t any performance issues to consider. Regardless of the specific use you have in mind or what brand you find (hopefully you’ll find a thermal socks sale that offers you a wide selection), if you go with quality wool socks, especially if they are merino wool socks, you will have very happy feet in nearly all kinds of weather conditions.