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Best Thermal Socks Reviewed & Rated for Quality

last updated: Nov 16, 2020

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. Thermal socks are great for the outdoor guy facing harsh weather conditions as well as for any person who likes their feet toasty at any time during the winter and cold season.

There are so many thermal socks on the market that sometimes finding the right pair can be a bit of a buzz-kill. After taking a look at our list for the best thermal socks of 2020, 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!

In a Hurry? The test winner after 18 hrs of research

icon
 Heat Holders Original 2.3 Tog
95.8/100 our score
Materials
95
Effectiveness
96
Insulation
96
Protection
95
Fit
97
Heat Holders Original 2.3 Tog
Why is it better?

Machine washable

Color options

The looped pile to hold in more warm air

Warmer than cotton socks

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
 Heat Holders Original 2.3 Tog
Test Winner: Heat Holders Original 2.3 Tog
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
7
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
12k
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
18
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
15
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
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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.

Sorting Options
Materials Effectiveness Insulation Protection Fit By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.8
Materials
95 %
Effectiveness
96 %
Insulation
96 %
Protection
95 %
Fit
97 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (03.12.20)
Amazon Link
$16.99
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
Materials
94 %
Effectiveness
95 %
Insulation
94 %
Protection
93 %
Fit
94 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (03.12.20)
Amazon Link
$13.99
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93
Materials
93 %
Effectiveness
94 %
Insulation
92 %
Protection
93 %
Fit
93 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (03.12.20)
Amazon Link
$17.99
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
Materials
93 %
Effectiveness
91 %
Insulation
92 %
Protection
93 %
Fit
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (03.12.20)
Amazon Link
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.2
Materials
92 %
Effectiveness
91 %
Insulation
91 %
Protection
90 %
Fit
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (03.12.20)
Amazon Link
$22.00
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
Materials
91 %
Effectiveness
90 %
Insulation
92 %
Protection
91 %
Fit
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (03.12.20)
Amazon Link
$19.99
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.6
Materials
91 %
Effectiveness
90 %
Insulation
90 %
Protection
92 %
Fit
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (03.12.20)
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.2
Materials
90 %
Effectiveness
89 %
Insulation
88 %
Protection
90 %
Fit
89 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (03.12.20)
Amazon Link
$11.11
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.8
Materials
89 %
Effectiveness
90 %
Insulation
89 %
Protection
88 %
Fit
88 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (03.12.20)
Amazon Link
$11.99
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87.6
Materials
88 %
Effectiveness
87 %
Insulation
87 %
Protection
89 %
Fit
87 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (03.12.20)
Amazon Link
$22.99
#11
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.6
Materials
87 %
Effectiveness
86 %
Insulation
88 %
Protection
86 %
Fit
86 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (03.12.20)
Amazon Link
#12
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.8
Materials
85 %
Effectiveness
87 %
Insulation
86 %
Protection
85 %
Fit
86 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (03.12.20)
Amazon Link
$24.99
#13
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84.8
Materials
84 %
Effectiveness
85 %
Insulation
84 %
Protection
86 %
Fit
85 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (03.12.20)
Amazon Link
$11.95

13 Best Thermal Socks

1. Heat Holders Original 2.3 Tog

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.8
Heat Holders - Mens Thick 2.3 TOG Winter Warm Original Twist Thermal Crew Socks
Heat Holders - Mens Thick 2.3 TOG Winter Warm Original Twist Thermal Crew Socks 2
Amazon Link
Materials
95
Effectiveness
96
Insulation
96
Protection
95
Fit
97
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$16.99
Pros:

Machine washable

Color options

The looped pile to hold in more warm air

Warmer than cotton socks

Cons:

Poor customer service

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 color options, they’re sure to please everyone in the family.

Warmth
Of course, when you buy a pair of thermal socks, you want them to do the job – or it’s wasted money. With their advanced insulating yarn, these socks 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? The first time you put these socks on, you’ll be surprised at their softness. Heat Holders use an expert brushing process for that that 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 option is close in price to Carhartt’s 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 these socks are worthy every penny.

2. Dickies Dri-Tech Advanced

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
Dickies Women's Dritech Advanced Moisture Wicking Crew Sock
Dickies Women's Dritech Advanced Moisture Wicking Crew Sock 2
Amazon Link
Materials
94
Effectiveness
95
Insulation
94
Protection
93
Fit
94
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$13.99
Pros:

Dri-Tech technology

Machine washable

Fully cushioned for comfort

Reinforced heel and toes

Arch compression

Cons:

Some reviewers complained about the shedding

This option is made to keep you warm during winter days outdoors, whether you’re out for activities or work. The Dickies are great as sports socks as well as an everyday option for when it's cold outside.

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 for hiking, winter, and work footwear. 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 reinforced for added durability. This means that you’ll be able to wear these socks for literally anything. The socks also provide the wearer with arch compression for added support and durability.

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.

3. Carhartt Arctic Heavyweight

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93
Carhartt Men’s Arctic Heavyweight Wool Boot Socks 
Carhartt Men’s Arctic Heavyweight Wool Boot Socks  2
Amazon Link
Materials
93
Effectiveness
94
Insulation
92
Protection
93
Fit
93
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$17.99
Pros:

Thermal insulated

FastDry technology

Anti-odor technology 

Machine washable

Cons:

Some reviewers found that the sizing was not accurate 

Some reviewers did not feel that their feet were warm 

Carhartt socks are known for their warmth and durability, with this option being no exception. They are built to last as long as your boots, so are a great investment.

Warmth and Durability
Carhartt’s men’s boot socks are the best socks to wear in cold weather. These socks have been designed with thermal insulation for an unsuppressed warmth and are built so they nicely cover your calves. The mixture of wool, nylon, and spandex, gives these socks a soft cushioned surface, providing exceptional comfort. The use of tough yarn improves its durability. The cleverly engineered arch design also gives the wearer optimal support when wearing.  

Special Features 
The Carhartt socks have been built with FastDry technology that works by quickly moving sweat, so your feet stay nice and dry as well as comfortable. Built with proprietary technology, your socks will stay smell fresh all day long. 

Cost and Value 
When it comes to price, these are a great buy! These socks will keep your feet well insulated and are exceptionally durable. They may not be the most fashionable pair of socks to look at but you get your money's worth with these socks from Carhartt’s. 

4. Wigwam 40 Below Heavyweight

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
Wigwam Men's 40 Below Heavyweight Boot Socks
Wigwam Men's 40 Below Heavyweight Boot Socks 2
Amazon Link
Materials
93
Effectiveness
91
Insulation
92
Protection
93
Fit
92
best offer for today
Amazon Link
Pros:

13 colors

Low profile toe closure

Heavyweight wool blend

Fully cushioned

Cons:

A little tight

This Wigwam model is made in the United States and the yarn that they use is locally produced. These heavyweight socks are perfect for freezing cold weather as they will keep your feet warm throughout the day.

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. The nylon is here to give your socks a longer life and it helps in keeping their shape after you wear and wash them.

Added Features
The whole sock is reinforced with the natural and synthetic fibers and insulated thanks to the use of 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 socks, which is probably for the best as you can use the first pair as a test to see if you like them or not.

5. DG Hill Thermal Merino Wool

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.2
7. DG Hill Thermal Merino Wool
DG Hill 3 Pairs 80% Merino Wool Socks  2
Amazon Link
Materials
92
Effectiveness
91
Insulation
91
Protection
90
Fit
92
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$22.00
Pros:

80% Merino Wool

Reinforced heel

Built-in arch support

Cushioned heel

Cons:

Toe area can run too large for some

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.

Material
DG Hill steps out of the bunch on this list with how much wool they employ to design their socks. With 80%, that's plenty of wool to keep your feet warm.

General Comfort
You’ll be happy to know that you can wear them both indoors and 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 for support.

Cost and Value
These socks are in the medium price range scale. 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.

6. Alvada Socks

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
Alvada 80% Merino Wool Hiking Socks
Alvada 80% Merino Wool Hiking Socks 2
Amazon Link
Materials
91
Effectiveness
90
Insulation
92
Protection
91
Fit
90
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$19.99
Pros:

Made from 80% premium merino

Build with superior fit technology

Breathable moisture control

Mesh ventilation channels 

Cons:

The sock sizing between men and women is confusing 

Alvada socks are known for keeping your feet warm during the coldest months of winter. Made from 80% Merino wool, these socks are brilliant for hiking because they offer you thermal warmth and are extremely supportive.

Designed for Comfort 
These hiking socks from Alvada have been specially designed for comfort. Made from a premium 80% Merino wool fabric, you can expect the softest feel on your feet with these socks. They a built with a superior fit technology, creating a soft and snug fit against your foot. A layer of padding on the base of the foot provides cushioning and offers extra protection. The socks are made from a medium material that is itch-free. They have stay up cuffs, so they do not fall when wearing boots. The socks also have a reinforced heel and toe for extreme durability.

Added Features
We all want a warm sock but do not underestimate the importance of having an option that allows your feet to breathe. The Alvada hiking socks are made with breathable moisture control fibers that keep your feet dry when working up a sweat. Added mesh ventilation channels also help your feet to breathe and improve airflow. 

Cost and Value 
If you want a quality pair of thermal socks, Alvada hiking socks are the way forward. Offering plenty of features, you get a lot in return for your money with these socks. Plus, they come in a pack of 3.

7. Under Armour HeatGear Crew

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.6
"Under Armour Men's Heatgear Tech Crew Socks
"Under Armour Men's Heatgear Tech Crew Socks 2
Amazon Link
Materials
91
Effectiveness
90
Insulation
90
Protection
92
Fit
90
best offer for today
more shops
Pros:

Seamless toes

Moisture-wicking feature

Athletic crew sock

Anti-odor technology

Cons:

Some reviewers found them too tight

Under Armour is known worldwide for their base wear. You know you can never go wrong with Under Armour, and these thermo crew socks just proves it.

Special Features
These athletic crew socks come to the mid-part of the calf, providing you with enough protection against chaffing. The moisture wicking feature keeps sweat away from your feet and adds to the overall comfort. The anti-odor technology that is used prevents 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 are perfect.

Material
With 49% polyester, 35% cotton, 14% nylon and 2% spandex, this is a good fiber blend. You will have breathability, a snug feel as well as stability.

Cost and Value
These socks cost a little more, especially since there are only 3 pairs in the package. There are three neutral color options to choose from though!

8. Muk Luks Thermal

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.2
Muk Luks Men’s Thermal Insulated Socks 
Amazon Link
Materials
90
Effectiveness
89
Insulation
88
Protection
90
Fit
89
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$11.11
Pros:

Gusseted design

Available in a variety of colors

Machine washable on a cold gentle cycle

Affordable 

Cons:

Some reviewers thought they looked cheap

When it comes to keeping your feet warm and cozy, there is nothing better than wearing a pair of Muk Luks socks. Wearing these thermal insulators in cold winter temperatures will keep you nice and warm when braving the outdoors.

Material
Muk Luks thermal socks stand out for being high quality and hardwearing. Made from 91% acrylic, 8% polyester, and 1% spandex, these socks may look slightly daintier than some of the others in our collection, however, they are sure to keep you warm and cozy. These showcase a gusseted design, making them softer and well fitted. When it comes to washing, for best results wash on a cold gentle cycle and dry flat. 

Colour Options 
There are four different color options to choose from including black, grey, brown, and navy. The design features a solid color on the heel and toe, whilst the rest of the sock showcases a slightly different shade. 

Cost and Value 
If you have a tight budget, this option is a bargain buy! Extremely affordable, if you need a pair of thermal socks that will do the jobs, these are a great pick.

9. Soxnet Eco Friendly Heavyweight

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.8
Soxnet Eco Friendly Heavy Weight Recycled Cotton Thermals Boot Socks
Soxnet Eco Friendly Heavy Weight Recycled Cotton Thermals Boot Socks 2
Amazon Link
Materials
89
Effectiveness
90
Insulation
89
Protection
88
Fit
88
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$11.99
Pros:

Anti slip

Cushioned foot

Eco-Friendly (recycled cotton)

Quality guarantee

Cons:

Some reviewers found that their feet were still cold with these socks

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 US.

Cushioning
Yes! These socks have fully cushioned feet 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.

Thickness
These socks can be worn under your regular winter footwear. The fact that they are midweight makes them temperature variable, meaning you can wear them both during winter and summer.

Cost and Value
This option is on the lower scale of the thermal socks price range. Compared to Carhartt’s socks (#2) that only have one pair of socks in the packaging, with Soxnet, you pay less for 4 pairs of socks!

10. Debra Weitzner Ultra Warm Thermal

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87.6
Debra Weitzner Thermal Socks
Debra Weitzner Thermal Socks 2
Amazon Link
Materials
88
Effectiveness
87
Insulation
87
Protection
89
Fit
87
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$22.99
Pros:

Synthetic/Wool blend

Covers the calf

Odor resistant

Durable

Cons:

Bulky

One of the big selling points here is that you get 12 pairs 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.

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 its 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 all day long. Extra padding and reinforced areas give you comfort where you need it.

Cost and Value
This option is really cheap considering you get 12 pairs of quality socks in one single pack!

11. Degrees Below Thermal

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.6
35 Degrees Below Thermal 2 pairs – Thicker Insulated Socks
35 Degrees Below Thermal 2 pairs – Thicker Insulated Socks 2
Amazon Link
Materials
87
Effectiveness
86
Insulation
88
Protection
86
Fit
86
best offer for today
Amazon Link
Pros:

Enhanced with woven aluminized fibers

Lightweight and flexible material

Versatile

Machine washable and dryer safe

Cons:

Sizing not accurate

When you are outdoors exercising or working in cold weather it is important to keep your feet warm as this helps regulate the temperature of your entire body. Specially designed with Aerospace Fabric Technology, 35 Degrees thermal socks, will help keep your feet warm and comfy in the cold.

Warmth 
Enhanced with woven aluminized fibers, these socks will ensure your feet stay warm and cozy, particularly during snowy weather. The fascinating thing about these thermal socks is that they are made using the same fabric technology developed from aerospace. Aluminized fibers are positioned in the foot and toe areas, helping to keep your feet lovely and warm. While keeping your feet warm, these fibers also let air circulate so your feet stay dry and do not sweat. 

Added Features 
The socks are made from a thicker insulating material that provides cushiony padding, making them suitable to wear both indoors and outdoors. They have ribbed stitching detail and are made from a lightweight flexible material that is extremely soft to touch. These socks are suitable to wear with hiking boots, running shoes, or winter boots. They can also be worn on their own as socks around the home. Machine washable and dryer safe, they can be conveniently washed and dried without much hassle. 

Cost and Value 
Sold for a mid-price you would be silly not to buy these thermal socks. Designed with aerospace fabric technology, with aluminized fiber, your feet will never be cold when wearing these socks. Lightweight, flexible, soft, and extremely versatile, we found it tricky finding something not to like. 

12. EnerWear Trail Crew

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.8
EnerWear 4 Pack Women’s Merino Wool Outdoor Hiking Trail Crew Sock 
EnerWear 4 Pack Women’s Merino Wool Outdoor Hiking Trail Crew Sock  2
Amazon Link
Materials
85
Effectiveness
87
Insulation
86
Protection
85
Fit
86
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$24.99
Pros:

86% Merino wool

Ventilation zones that improve air circulation

Max cushioning in the heel

High-quality spandex

Cons:

The socks stretch too much when wearing

The EnerWear Merino wool outdoor trail crew socks have been blended with 86% extra-fine Merino wool, creating a warm, soft, and breathable pair of socks that you will not want to take off.

Material
As well as 86% Merino wool, these crew socks feature 10% polyester, 3% nylon, and 1% spandex. Designed for extreme weather conditions, the women’s socks are perfect for wearing whilst taking part in outdoor activities because they will keep your feet nice and warm. Max cushioning positioned in high impact areas, like your heel and toes will reduce pain during daily activity. The choice of high-quality spandex material also gives these socks a good stretch, ensuring they are a perfect fit. The socks come as a pack of 4 in a multicolored variety, consisting of stripes and block colors.  

Added Features 
These women’s thermal socks have been designed with ventilation zones that help improve air circulation, keeping your feet dry and cool. The socks feature an ankle arch, ensuring they stay in the correct place during high impact activity. They also have to stay up tops that prevent the socks from falling when wearing shoes or boots. The thermal socks have 72 hours odor control so your feet will stay fresh and smell beautiful. 

Cost and Value 
One of the more affordable thermal sock options, these come in a pack of 4, making them an exceptional buy. Made from 86% Merino wool, you can expect a high-quality pair of socks that will not only keep your feet warm but will last a long time. 

13. Columbia Medium Weight Thermal 

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84.8
Columbia men’s Medium Weight Thermal 
Columbia men’s Medium Weight Thermal  2
Amazon Link
Materials
84
Effectiveness
85
Insulation
84
Protection
86
Fit
85
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$11.95
Pros:

Medium weight 

Affordable 

Available in a variety of color options 

Cons:

Hand wash only

Reviewers found that they wear easily 

Columbia is known for being an industry leader in outdoor apparel and products. From cutting-edge technology to an innovative heritage, they are known for producing a range of outdoor clothing including these medium weight thermal socks.

Material
These Columbia thermal socks consist of 90% acrylic, 8% polyester, and 1% spandex. The socks offer a basic design, making them versatile so they can be worn with nearly anything. They also come in a variety of color options including black, assorted, blue, brown, and grey. 

General Comfort 
This option offers a medium weight, so they are not too heavy to wear when exercising outdoors. They have a soft brushed interior, and they retain a good amount of heat, making them cozy and comfy to wear. 

Cost and Value 
These socks from Columbia are another of our more affordable thermal sock options. Available in a variety of colors, you have plenty to choose from when it comes to design. However, these socks do lack a high spec in comparison to some of the other socks in our collection. They also must be hand washed which may be inconvenient for some wearers.  

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Materials

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 is not a good 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 is often used. 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.

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.

Effectiveness

The right thermal sock for you depends largely on why you need them for.

Of course, you need them to keep your feet warm but what are you going to be doing? 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 remove moisture. There is usually a give and take aspect of this.

Insulation

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 in the feet and hands means less warm and 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 peripheral artery disease are at an increased risk of cold injuries in their hands and feet.

Protection

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 you're wearing them primarily inside.

Fit

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.

That is why making sure that your socks fit properly is important. Why? Because you want to make sure they are long enough to cover all areas of your skin to protect against the cold and harsh weather.

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Tips to Help You Choose Thermal Socks

Your socks should have maximum warmth and should keep your feet snug, without cutting your blood circulation. Look for socks that can dry-out fast, which means that socks made out of synthetic fabric will dry-out moisture in no time.

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:

It all depends on what you are looking for and what you are going to be doing. 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 sports such as skiing, climbing or winter motorsports, moisture wicking might be at the top of your priority list. If you’re just looking for a sock to keep your feet warm, 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 course “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, keep in mind that 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 between 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.

People with a medical history that includes cardiovascular disease and diabetes can experience decreased blood flow to the feet which makes 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 requires for comfy warm socks!

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. Because of this, 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:

Merino wool comes from Merino sheep which were domesticated in Spain back in the 12th century. First of all, Merino wool sits really easily against your skin. Wool can be insanely uncomfortable but Merino is super soft. It’s also strong, it wicks water really well, resists odors and dries really quickly.

Sources

  1. Jordan Stokes, Socks Addict, Website
  2. Editorial Team, The Sock Drawer, Website
  3. REI Team, REI Blog, Website
  4. Lauren Gelman, Reader's Digest, Website