Best Thermal Socks Reviewed & Rated for Quality

So let’s start at the start: What exactly are we talking about when we talk about things being thermal? Simply put a thermal garment is something that is worn under your outer layer of fabrics for the purpose of retaining heat. Makes sense, what with the word thermal and all, but when it comes to picking the right gear it can become insanely complicated. But it’s worth digging into if you live or are headed anywhere where the temperatures are moving beyond cold to brutal cold.  With an eye towards moisture wicking material and maximum heat retention, we offer this look at the best of thermal socks.

We want to make sure that thermal undergarments are part of our daily dress-up time in the morning, especially when it’s freezing cold outside. Thermal undergarments are as important as your coat, gloves, and scarf; they’re meant to keep you warm. Thermal socks (also called ‘Thermo socks’) shouldn’t be ignored, as they provide your feet with warmth and, as they are offered in various colorways, add a little something to your winter fashion ensembles. There are so many thermal socks on the market that sometimes finding the right pair can be a bit of a buzz-kill.

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By Kevin Enochs:

We've added some new products here and we've also updated the FAQ with some (we hope) interesting information on Merino wool. And while we're still in the dog days of summer, winter is on the way, so get prepped.

Featured Recommendations

Under Armour Heatgear
  • Under Armour Heatgear
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Anti-odor
  • 97% Polyester
  • Price: See Here
Dickies High Bulk
  • Dickies High Bulk
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Boot length
  • Machine Wash
  • Price: See Here
Wigwam Men's Below
  • Wigwam Men's Below
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Pull On closure
  • 50% Wool
  • Price: See Here

Here are a few tips to help you out during your shopping:

  1. Your socks should have maximum warmth and should keep your feet snug, without cutting your blood circulation. Just like boots, if you buy them too tight and the blood circulation is reduced or cut completely, your feet will freeze.
  2. A good pair of thermal socks will give you the temperature information during when their performance is best noted. They are normally situated between 5F° and 25F° (-4C° to 15C° for those who aren’t familiar with Fahrenheit degrees).
  3. Look for socks that can dry-out fast, which means that socks made out of synthetic fabric will dry-out the moisture in no time.
  4. If your feet tend to get clammy or humid fast during winter, make sure not to pick a sock with cotton, which is a natural fiber that will keep the moisture in.
  5. Fabrics and textiles are important while choosing your thermal socks. While Merino wool keeps your feet at a proper temperature (cooler when hotter and warmer when the temperature is colder), synthetic fabrics dry faster. A wool-blend would be ideal.
  6. If you want to wear the socks outdoors, make sure that they are long enough to cover your legs up to your knees and make sure that your feet aren’t too snug once you put your boots on, but if you plan on wearing them indoors, a shorter sock would be just fine.
  7. Finally, if you’re a bit fancy like me, you might want to check for the slip-resistant pads that can not only keep you safe while indoors, but that also massage your feet while you walk.

After taking a look at the top 10 best thermal socks, choosing a pair really won’t be that complicated. And if for some reason, the choices below are not your cup of tea, you can just follow these 7 simple tips to help you find a good pair of thermal socks!

 

15 Best Thermal Socks

 

1. Under Armour HeatGear Crew

1. Under Armour HeatGear Crew
Under Armour is known worldwide for their base wear, and even ventured further by providing their clients with mid and outerwear. Their popularity and ever-growing business are because they produce high-quality pieces that work just how they describe them. You know you can never go wrong with Under Armour, and these Crew Socks just prove it once again.
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Special Features

These athletic crew socks arrive at the mid-part of the calf, providing you with enough protection against boot chaffing. The moisture wicking feature keeps sweat away from your feet and adds to the overall comfort. The anti-odor technology that is used in these socks prevents the arrival of bad odor at the end of a day, and the inserted arch support helps cut foot fatigue. For the comfortable fit that you want, the seamless toe and Y-heel design is perfect.

Material

With 49% polyester, 35% cotton, 14% nylon and 2% Spandex, if you’ve read the rest of the blog post, is a good fiber blend. You will have the breathability that you want your feet to have (aka no nasty odors too), the Spandex will snug your feet and ankles for stability, and the polyester will make these socks washable and will make them keep their shape.

Cost and Value

These socks are on the higher part of the price range, especially since there are only 3 pairs of socks in the package. There are three neutral colorways though, to please more than just the black-lovers (you also have grey and white). Make sure to take a look at them as reviews boast about their quality and durability!
Pros
  • Seamless toes
  • Moisture wicking feature
  • Athletic crew sock
  • Anti-odor technology for a fresh smell
Cons
  • Some reviewers found them too tight

2. Dickies High Bulk Acrylic Crew

2. Dickies High Bulk Acrylic Crew
Once again, Dickies is on our best thermal socks list, and it’s not surprising. Their thermal collection, with a moisture-wicking feature, provides the wearer with support and comfort. These socks are designed for those who want durability and quality all through the day and months. Dickies offer a wide range of work clothes, covering their consumer needs to the fullest. Take a look at these ones!
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Material

These socks are made of 84% acrylic, 13% nylon, and 3% Spandex. This means that not only will your feet remain at a regulated temperature, but the drying time is greatly reduced compared to all-natural fiber socks. The Spandex will give you support and stability that is much needed during outdoor activities.

Other Features

We all want more than just a regular pair of socks that will wear off quickly and end up giving us blisters. That’s how Dickie’s stands out: These socks have moisture wicking fibers that will keep your feet warm and dry and will keep the bad odors away from your feet and nose. The bulky acrylic provides the wearer with extra cushioning in the feet and legs for added comfort, and the reinforced heel and toes provide added durability. What more could you ask for?

Cost and Value

For what they’re worth, the price is a bargain. With these socks, you get so much quality with the comfort, support, stability and breathability given from the fibers they used. You get two pairs of socks in the package, so if, by some mysterious occurrence, one would wear off quickly, then you’d have another pair to save you and your feet!
Pros
  • Moisture wicking fibers
  • Reinforced heel and toes
  • Booth length – perfect for winter
  • Machine Washable
Cons
  • Heel seems to wear off quickly

3. Wigwam 40 Below Heavyweight

3. Wigwam 40 Below Heavyweight
This Wigwam model is made in the United States and the yarn that they used are from yarn spinners in the same state as they are. They want to make sure that their clients are pleased by its quality and build and you’re sure to have warm feet as the socks can keep them so even at 40 below (honestly, I think they’re talking about Celsius degrees).
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Material

With a wool blend of 50% wool, 48% nylon and 2% Spandex, you can be sure that you’ll be getting warmth and breathability. The Spandex will procure your feet and leg with a snug feeling, making your feet feel comfortable and stable in your boots. The nylon is present in the blend to give your socks an extension period in their life and it helps the socks keep their shape after you wear and wash them.

Added Features

These heavyweight socks are perfect for freezing cold weathers as they will keep your feet warm throughout the day. The whole sock is reinforced with the natural and synthetic fibers and insulated thanks to the wool. The socks are also cushioned, adding comfort and support if you have to be up on your feet for long periods of time.

Cost and Value

The price is between the lower range scale and the medium price scale. The pack offers only one pair of sock, which is probably for the best as you can use the first pair as a test to see if you like them or not.
Pros
  • 13 colorways
  • Low profile toe closure
  • Heavyweight wool blend
  • Fully cushioned
Cons
  • Some reviewers didn’t feel like their feet were warm even at -40°

4. Loritta’s Vintage Style Thick Knit

4. Loritta’s Vintage Style Thick Knit
Loritta is known for their originality in design (I mean, just take a look at these socks!), but also for their quality of used fabrics and durability. Although these socks, in particular, might seem thin when you receive them, I have to assure you that they are meant to keep you warm throughout the cold weathers of winter.
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Material

These socks are made out of a wool blend, with 35% wool, 29% cotton, and 36% polyester. Basically, each third of the sock fabric provides you with positive qualities: the wool regulates your feet’s temperature, the cotton help your feet breathe through the socks, and the polyester keeps your socks from creasing, and the drying time will be faster.

Height and Weight

These socks arrive at mid-calf, so I would recommend you use them with work or hiking boots, or even if you have shorter winter boots. You could use them with knee-high boots, but this might cause chaffing if your activities are somewhat hardcore. They are midweight socks, so they are perfect for colder weather.

Cost and Value

With so many designs and colorways, there’s no wonder why their socks are ‘smack’ in the middle of the price range. Loritta offers quality fabrics, support, and comfort. Some packs of socks might be shorter than the others, I’d suggest you take a close look at the pictures before picking the one you want to buy (it’s just a little tip!)
Pros
  • Vintage and trendy look
  • Risk free guarantee
  • Wool blend for warmth and breathability
  • Machine washable
Cons
  • Some reviewers found them to be on the thinner side

5. Dickies Dri-Tech Advanced

5. Dickies Dri-Tech Advanced
Dickies is known internationally for their worker uniforms. Their pants, shirts, and boots are as sturdy as it's necessary for the field of work these clothes are worn in. There is no difference with their socks; these ones are made to keep you warm during winter days outdoors, whether you’re out for activities or work.
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Material

With 55% polyester, 43% cotton, 1% nylon and 1% Spandex, you are sure that your feet will be able to breathe. The Spandex will keep your feet snug without blocking the blood circulation. The sock is thick, but not bulky, and they are meant to fit hiking boots, regular winter boots and work boots/shoes. They come in black or light grey, with toes and heels in nice popping colors.

Comfort

The heel and toes are fully cushioned for comfort, and they are reinforced for added durability. This means that you’ll be able to wear these socks more than just a few outings. The socks also provide the wearer with arch compression for added support and durability. Overall, you won’t be regretting it if you decide to purchase these socks!

Cost and Value

These are the cheapest of the bunch if you price them individually. They come in a pack of 6 socks, and you can choose if you want them in black or light grey. With all of the qualities that they have to offer, I am certain that you won’t be sorry or second guess your choice.
Pros
  • Dri-Tech technology to wick away moisture
  • Machine washable
  • Fully cushioned for comfort
  • Reinforced heel and toes
  • Arch compression for added stability and support
Cons
  • Some reviewers complained about the shedding

6. Heat Holders Original 2.3 Tog

6. Heat Holders Original 2.3 Tog
Everyone knows Heat Holders for their quality products. They’re sold internationally and it’s not a wonder why they’re so popular. These socks are thick and chunky, perfect for outdoor activities, and because they have more than just basic colorways, they’re sure to please everyone in the family.
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Warmth

Of course, when you buy a pair of thermal socks, you want them to do the job – or it’s wasted money. With these Heat Holders, be sure that their description is what they are. With their advanced insulating yarn, they are seven times warmer than cotton socks.

Expert Brushing Process

Don’t you love it when your socks can hold in warmth and still be super comfortable and soft? I know I love that. The first time you put these socks on, you’ll be surprised at their softness. Heat Holders use an expert brushing process for that, but it also helps you take full advantage of the amount of warmth inside the socks, making your feet warmer for a longer period of time!

Cost and Value

This pair of sock is close in price to Carhartt’s Extremes Cold Weather Boot Socks, especially since both of these models only have one pair of socks in the packaging. But you’re buying quality with Heat Holders, so if you have a bigger budget for your socks, then I’d suggest you take a closer look at these ones.
Pros
  • Machine washable
  • Many colorways to please everyone
  • Looped pile to hold in more warm air
  • Warmer than cotton socks
Cons
  • Poor Customer Service

7. DG Hill Thermal Merino Wool

7. DG Hill Thermal Merino Wool
Most thermal socks have 50% or 60% Merino wool in their fabric blends. DG Hill went further by providing its clients with an 80% merino wool blend. The interior lining is made of brushed fleece, so don’t be surprised if you find the interior texture a little ‘slippery’. The comfort that they provide is undeniably amazing.
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Material

DG Hill steps out of the bunch on this list with the quantity of wool there is in their socks. With 80%, you are sure to take advantage of all the qualities of wool. They will regulate the temperature of your feet, getting warm during colder days and cooler during warmer days.

General Comfort

You’ll be happy to know that you can wear them as much indoors as outdoors (because of the wool). The reinforced heel will provide you with extra support and will add to the durability of the sock. DG Hill even added a built-in arch support to give you comfort and support.

Cost and Value

These socks are in the medium price range scale for our thermal socks. Their price is rather low, but compared to other companies that offer four, five and even six pairs in the packaging, these only offer three pairs. This can still be a positive point if you’re only planning on going out for outdoor activities once or twice a week.
Pros
  • 80% Merino wool
  • Reinforced heel
  • Built-in arch support
  • Cushioned heel
Cons
  • Toe area can run too large for some
  • Some reviewers noted that the socks slipped during their activities

8. Soxnet Eco Friendly Heavyweight

8. Soxnet Eco Friendly Heavyweight
Soxnet came out with a pair of socks that will blow your mind with its quality features and with its eco-friendly recycled cotton. If you’re an earth-hugger like me and care about the environment, you’ll be pleased with these socks. All of their socks are made in the United States but their sales travel the world.
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Cushioning

Yes! These socks have fully cushioned feet and legs to absorb shocks every time your foot lands on the ground, making the impact easier on the lower part of your body. You’ll be surprised by the comfort that these socks can provide, as well as the much-needed support for winter activities.

Thickness

These socks can be worn under your regular winter boots or under your work boots/shoes. The fact that they are midweight makes them temperature variable, meaning that you’ll be as comfortable with them in cold weather as in warm weather. What more could you ask for?

Cost and Value

These socks are on the lower scale of the thermal socks price range. Compared to Carhartt’s sock (#2), that only have one pair of socks in the packaging, with Soxnet, you pay less for 4 pairs of socks!
Pros
  • Don’t slip
  • Cushioned foot and leg
  • Eco Friendly (recycled cotton)
  • Quality Guarantee
Cons
  • Some reviewers found that their feet were still cold with these socks

9. Carhartt Extremes Cold Weather

9. Carhartt Extremes Cold Weather
Carhartt’s socks are made in the United States and are recognized for their overall quality. Made with a wool blend, these socks are sure to keep your feet warm during cold weather. Carhartt wants to make sure that these socks last as long as your most beloved work boots/shoes.
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Cushioning

You don’t just want a pair of socks that can keep you warm all day long. You want a pair of socks that can offer you warmth, comfort, and support. Carhartt’s boot socks arrive at the highest part of the calves for added snug and prevent chaffing with the boot. Also, the fact that they are fully cushion will bring your comfort all through the day.

Odor-Control

I’m sure that you don’t appreciate the smell of sweaty feet and socks at the end of a day outdoors. This model of Carhartt’s socks fends off the toughest odors with its exclusive technology that will keep your feet smelling good throughout the day.

Cost and Value

If you have a bit of wiggle room in your budget and want to purchase a pair of thermal socks that can blow your socks off, then I’d suggest that you take a good look at them. They are at the higher price range of thermal socks scale, but they have so much to offer that it can’t be wasted money.
Pros
  • Odor control
  • Go up to calf to prevent chaffing
  • Fully cushioned
  • Ankle vents reduce bulk
Cons
  • Some reviewers found that the socks fall down on the leg

10. People Socks Premium Merino Wool

10. People Socks Premium Merino Wool
People Socks are known for their quality of material and build, and they also guarantee their products, so you know they mean business. All of their socks are knit in America, which means less profit for them, but happy customers all around. With a medium thickness, you’re sure to keep your feet warm during colder weather.
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Material
These socks are made of a wool blend, with 71% wool, 21% nylon, 7% polyester and 1% spandex. This is probably one of the best blends you can get. The wool will keep your feet at a good temperature, while the nylon will add some breathability. In addition, since it’s a mix of wool and nylon, your feet won’t be itching from the rawness of the wool material. The spandex offers you a little gage when it comes to fit, and will keep your feet snug without stopping the blood circulation. Don’t forget to check the sizing chart!

Toe and Heel
Since you’re probably going to be wearing these socks often if you’re an enthusiast of outdoor activities, you will want a pair of thermal socks that can handle a lot of wears. Well, People Socks reinforced the heel and the toes of this sock to make sure that they last more than just a few times.

Cost and Value
For the quality and lower priced socks (compared to other companies that tend to boost the prices up because their socks are made with wool), there’s no question as to why it’s our #1 in this list. People Socks have vowed to keep their prices low so that everyone can enjoy a pleasant winter outside.
Pros
  • Toe and heel reinforced for cushioning
  • Cheap price
  • Wool Blend material
  • Perfect for cold weather
Cons
  • Some reviewers found that their feet were too hot

11. Buttons & Pleats Premium

11. Buttons & Pleats Premium
A good hiking sock is one that is thick enough to keep your foot warm and dry but also light enough to fit comfortably inside a boot and not bunch up. Button & Pleats Merino Hiking socks do just that.
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Best of Both Worlds

Merino wool is harvested from the Merino sheep. It's well known for its ability to keep your feet warm as well as dry because of the wools innate ability to wick moisture. These Button & Pleats socks are 65% Merino wool. The other 35% is made from synthetic materials that contribute even more to keep feet warm. Because of the wool/synthetic blends, these socks will not suffocate your feet and also keep them warm.

Tough and Versatile

Socks that are made primarily out of wool often times have to be hand washed and may fall apart after some use. But not Button % Pleats. These socks can be thrown in the washer. They also feature extra fabric where its needed most. The toes and heels are reinforced so you won't have to worry about holes quickly forming.

Cost and Value

These socks are sold in pairs of threes at a price that some socks cost for one pair. If you're looking for dependable socks at a fair midrange price look no further than the Buttons & Pleats Merino Hiking Socks.
Pros
  • Reinforced toes and heels
  • Protect your feet from chafing 
  • Machine washable
  • 65% merino wool
Cons
  • Loose yarn stitching inside of sock

12. Darn Tough Merino Wool Hiker

12. Darn Tough Merino Wool Hiker
The Darn Tough textile company is known for having socks that are just that. Tough. They manufacture products that they stand behind with their unrivaled unconditional lifetime guarantee. The Merino Wool Hiking Socks come in a variety of color schemes and feature a seamless construction for added comfort. These socks also offer dense padding for increased shock absorption where you need it most.
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Antimicrobial

As feet sweat, a typical sock may either collect the moisture or remove it from the foot to be evaporated. Even if it does the latter, trace amounts of moisture can be left in the fiber. This is when problems start. Where the fabric collects moisture microbes such as, bacteria or fungus' can find a home and begin to grow. This makes for a smelly foot, sock, and shoe. Darn Tough socks feature fine gauge fibers that keep bacteria from collecting.

Seamless Construction

One of the most annoying things you can find in a sock is the seam fibers on the inside. Not only can these fibers snag on toenails but they can also cause blisters if it happens to be in just the right spot. Darn Tough socks have a unique seamless construction that gives an added level of comfort and durability.

Cost and Value

In terms of price, Darn Tough socks, in general, are on the higher end of the scale. You pay for one pair of socks what you might be able to get for 3 or 4 pairs of other socks. Of course, Darn Tough's reasoning behind this is that you won't need the other socks because this one is virtually indestructible. With the company's lifetime guarantee, you can rest a little knowing that if you don't like them or something happens you can get your money back.

13. Arctic ExtremeHeat Thermal

13. Arctic ExtremeHeat Thermal
When it comes to insulating your feet and retaining heat, nothing beats synthetic fibers. The Arctic ExtremeHeat Insulated socks are made primarily from acrylic materials. Unlike wool which is breathable to a certain extent, socks that are made completely out of synthetic fibers offer very little air flow which means you keep the heat on your feet!
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Active Arctic Socks

Arctic ExtremeHeat socks are great if you are planning on doing any kind of outdoor activity when the temperatures drop. These socks are designed to extend up to your calf and not slip down. Whether you are skiing, hiking, sledding, or camping these insulated socks will keep the chill away from your feet.

Color Options

There are four different varieties of colors to choose from. Including purple and blue stripes, classic black, black and grey, and black and grey stripes.

Cost and Value

The Arctic ExtremeHeat insulated socks come in a two pair package and are around the mid to high price range. Socks that are primarily synthetic materials such as these do an amazing job at trapping heat so the price might be worth it. However, if you have chronically sweaty feet synthetic socks may not do a whole lot to wick moisture and therefore become damp.
Pros
  •  Padded comfort
  • Great for sports
  • All synthetic materials
  • Variety of colors
Cons
  • Sizes reported to run big

14. Debra Weitzner Ultra Warm Thermal Socks

14. Debra Weitzner Ultra Warm Thermal Socks
A new name for anyone that buys outdoor apparel. But one of the big selling points here is that you're getting a 12 pack of socks. There is some cotton in here, but the cotton/poly blend gives the wearer the best of both worlds in terms of heat retention and moisture wicking.
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Best of Both Worlds
These socks are made from a cotton, polyester and acrylic blend. The polyester will mechanically move moisture away from the foot. This keeps sweat from collecting in the sock and causing foul odors and foot fungus.

Designed for Comfort

Weitzner designs their products with the consumer in mind. They know the kind of people that are wearing their socks are active and will probably be on their feet for the majority of the day. That is why they incorporate features to make the sock as comfortable as possible. Extra padding and reinforced areas give you comfort where you need it.

Cost and Value
These socks are really cheap considering they come in a 12 pack. But we think they might be just the right fit for some folks.
Pros
  • Synthetic/Wool blend
  • Covers the calf
  • Odor resistant 
  • Durable
Cons
  • Bulky

15. Wigwam Snow Sirocco Knee-High

15. Wigwam Snow Sirocco Knee-High
Wigwam seems to make multiple appearances on just about any list that discusses socks. It's easy to see why when you take into account their lifetime guarantee and obvious superior designs. The Snow Sirocco Performance socks are no different. They combine aspects of athletic socks and cold weather socks to create a highly versatile, durable, and warm product.
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Complex Fabrics

These ski socks have one of the most complex blends of fibers on this list. These Wigwams are 42% wool, 24% stretch nylon, 21% polypropylene, 7% stretch polyester, 5% Olefin, 1% Spandex. Olefin is a material that is commonly used in athletic socks because of its moisture wicking capabilities. These socks also feature fibers that offer great insulation which makes this sock one of the best for intense recreation.

Hit the Slopes

The Snow Sirocco Knee-High socks are specifically designed for skiing and snowboarding. From the reinforced shin to its foot and ankle hugging features, these socks are perfect for wearing ski boots. However, you don't have to be a ski bunny to reap the benefits. These socks are comfortable and come in a variety of colors, making them also good for casual wear.

Cost and Value

Wigwam has been in the textile game for over 100 years. They make socks that become people's favorites. That being said their price tags are often high. However, these socks run a little less than other Wigwam socks. The company has faith in their manufacturing and offer a lifetime guarantee so paying a little extra will not seem as risky.
Pros
  • Seamless construction
  • Guaranteed for life
  • 67% Merino Wool
  • Dense cushioning
Cons
  • Reported as being constricting

 

To conclude, thermal socks really are a necessity if you live in colder regions, or if you just can’t feel your toes because of a slower blood circulation. You have all sorts of thermal socks that haven’t been mentioned in the list (like battery-working thermal socks for example), so you can only imagine how wide the thermal sock ‘world’ is. If you just follow the simple steps I gave you earlier in the blog post, I am positive that you will be able to find the perfect pair for your outdoor winter activities!

 

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Thermal Socks

 

Materials Used

Sock-Material-Best-Thermal-Socks

Not all socks are created equal. How your socks will stay warm depends on several different factors. Perhaps the most important is what materials are used in the design. While some material is better suited for insulation it may not do much for moisture management. Obviously wet feet and cold weather are a horrible combination.

Wool and cotton used to be the go-to materials when making socks. But advancements in the creation of synthetic material and weaving technology have made it possible to blend material so you can make a sock for a specific use.

When it comes to thermal socks some materials like Wool, polyester, polypropylene, acrylic, nylon, spandex, or olefin. Each material has its own attributes that add to the overall functionality of the sock. Wool is warm and great at removing moisture from your foot, but it stretches and loses shape over a short amount of time. So wool is often blended with another material such as nylon. Nylon is a stronger fiber that does not stretch easily.

A good thermal sock will have a mix of both natural and synthetic materials. Natural materials offer a lot more comfort than synthetic materials do. Acrylic, which is a material that closely resembles wool, has a lot of the same properties of its natural counterpart. It does a little bit better of a job at retaining heat. However, wool removes moisture quicker.

Some of these materials go by trade names. Olefin, which is a material used in a lot of athletic socks, is often called CoolMax. Nike uses Dri-Fit in their athletic socks. Dri-Fit is polyester which is a durable fabric that keeps its shape and absorbs moisture better than nylon.

Cotton is a very common natural material. Cotton is very comfortable but it is not very functional. While cotton is good at absorbing moisture it does very little in getting rid of it. As moisture collects in the sock so does bacteria and other microbes. This causes the infamous foot odor. Wet socks not only make a great breeding ground for microbes but can also cause blisters.

Activity Level

Activity-Level-Best-Thermal-Socks

The right thermal sock for you depends largely on why you need them. Of course, you need them to keep your feet warm but what are you going to be doing? Do you have a cold floor at home and just need some lounging socks? Will you be engaged in an intense activity like skiing? Or are you going to be in a deer blind where there is less movement? Ask yourself these questions and know what you need the sock for before making a decision on the right thermal sock for you.

If your plans for the socks involve any kind of physical activity you are going to want a sock that can both keep your feet warm as well as be able to absorb and remove moisture. There is usually a give and take aspect to this. Obviously, if you are constantly moving as your body is going to produce more heat and also perspire. This means that you might need to sacrifice heat retention for moisture management.

Inversely if you’ll be in a deer blind all day, you will not need to worry as much about the amount of perspiration as you will about heat retention. With little movement, the body does not produce as much heat so you should try to hold on to as much of it as possible with your apparel.

The sock length can also depend on what you will be doing. Typically, thermal socks for outdoor use extend to the calve or even the knee. This adds a layer of insulation to the lower leg. This is great for socks meant for low temperatures outdoors but lower cut socks might be preferred if your wearing them primarily inside.

Respect the Cold

Respect-the-Cold-Best-Thermal-Socks
Picture by Mattbuck

Cold weather brings about unique challenges and complications. The human body typically reacts to the cold by constricting capillaries in the extremities to push blood towards the center of the body. Less blood to the feet and hands means less warm, oxygen-rich blood. This is why the first things that get unbearably cold are the hands and the feet.

The problems that come with cold-induced vasoconstriction is magnified in people that have already poor circulatory systems caused by illness or lifestyle. Smokers are included in this group. Smoking causes hardening and narrowing of veins in the extremities. When people quit smoking they sometimes experience tingling in the fingers and toes when the body is finally able to deliver blood properly. Individuals such as diabetics or people with the peripheral artery disease are at an increased risk of cold injuries in their hands and feet.

The Iceman, Wim Hoff, has set many world records in cold exposure. He often climbs icy mountains with limited gear. This includes being shirtless and wearing shorts. But even he will be wearing a hat, gloves, socks, and boots (most of the time).

No matter what activity you’re doing, nothing will ruin it like having hands and feet that have become numb due to cold exposure. Not only is it painful but it can also be dangerous. If you choose to ignore the symptoms such as hypothermia or frostbite, cold injuries can occur before you even have time to realize it.

The cold can be unforgiving. The best thing you can do is to dress appropriately and take steps to keep warm. Especially, the most vulnerable parts of your body such as the hands and feet.

 

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are thermal socks made out of?

A: Heat retention is the name of the game when it comes to thermal socks. Materials that retains heat the best are usually synthetic materials. While wool and cotton are considered more natural materials, they also do a great job of keeping feet warm. However, wool and cotton are more useful when it comes to eliminating moisture. Materials like polyester, nylon, and acrylics do more to retain heat but will not do much to keep feet dry if you have naturally sweaty feet. Fortunately, most of the best thermal socks are designed with a blend of synthetics and wool. This gives you the best of both worlds.

Q: What are the important characteristics of thermal socks?

A: Really it all depends on what you are looking for and what you are going to be doing in the socks. For those of you who are going to be doing active things such as hiking or working outdoors, it may be a good idea to get the type of thermal socks that have arch support and added cushioning. For athletic endeavors such as skiing, climbing or winter motorsports moisture wicking might be at the top of your priority list.  If you’re looking for a sock to keep your feet warm in more casual setting socks with a higher percentage of synthetic blends may be a good idea for their sheer heat retaining ability.

Q: Do thermal socks make you itch?

A: A lot of people associate wool and synthetics with the coarse “grandma made me this” type of sweaters that can be very irritating to your skin. While some people may have a higher sensitivity to some materials socks, especially wool socks, do not make you itch or irritate your skin. This is due to how the fiber is processed as well as the difference of the sensitive skin on your torso and the naturally tougher skin of your feet.

Q: Who benefits from thermal socks?

A: Literally, anyone who wants to keep there feet warm. A lot of people who spend time outside can testify that often the first things that get cold are your feet and your hands. This is due to simple physiology. Your feet and hands are farthest away from your bodies core. Their location makes them more susceptible to rapid cooling due to peripheral temperatures. Cold feet and hands are the cause of many people to cut a hunting trip short or for a construction worker to pause and take a break to wait for his feet to warm up. Also, individuals with a medical history that includes cardiovascular disease and diabetes can cause decreased blood flow to the feet which make them more susceptible to cold. But such extremes are not the only reason to get thermal socks. Sometimes, especially in winter months, just lounging around the house can have your feet feeling frigid.

Q: How long are thermal socks?

A: Thermal socks come in a variety of sizes. The right size for you depends on when you are wearing them. Most thermal socks are made to be worn outside and in boots. Because of this thermal most thermal socks are longer and can even be made to reach your knees to help insulate your lower leg. However, there are ankle and no show socks for when you just need to keep your feet warm while inside.

Q: What is Merino Wool?

A: It’s one of those things right. “Oooh Merino wool,” you think. “Must be awesome. ” Well it is, but what is it?  Merino wool, which will shock you not at all, comes from Merino sheep which were domesticated in Spain back in the 12th century. The Australians got a hold of them and with Aussie and Kiwi efficiency gave us the Merino sheep that we know today. And more importantly, gave us the Merino wool that is so good at doing so many things. First of all Merino wool sits really easily against your skin. Wool can be insanely uncomfortable but Merino doesn’t seem to have this problem. It’s also strong, it wicks water really well, resists odors and dries really quickly. So, give it a try if you’re wool averse and see if it works for you. We think it will.

Sources

  1.  Socks Addict, Best Socks for Sweaty Feet, March 8, 2017
  2.  The Sock Drawer, Let’s Talk Socks
  3.  REI Coop, How to Choose Socks
  4.  NCBI PubMed, Human Responses to Cold, 2007
  5. Readers Digest, 12 Ways Your Body Deals With Freezing Weather
  6. The Weather Channel, How to Dress for Snow Sports, October 24, 2012
  7. American Heart Association, Cold Weather and Cardiovascular Disease, July 2015
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