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Hiking Socks & Sock Liners

Hiking Socks and Sock Liners
Putting on my hiking sock over my toe sock liner socks – prevents blisters!

It may not seem intuitive, but wearing 2 pair of socks is the best method for wicking moisture away from your feet to prevent blisters. Not two hiking socks, but rather a synthetic or wool liner and a thick synthetic or wool outer sock.

    • Liner Socks: Wearing a liner sock is a great trick I have found useful to prevent blisters on the trail. They are very thin socks, and generally are made of wool, silk, or synthetic materials. Remember that cotton is your worst enemy on the trail, because it retains moisture, rather than wicking it away! My personal favorites are Injinji toe sock liners, which may look a little unconventional, but are designed so well that there are not any seams around the toes. This design provides further blister prevention!The drawback? They’re always sold out! All of my hiking friends are wearing them now, and the word is getting out that these funny looking liner socks are preventing a lot of blisters and unhappy feet on the trail :) REI sometimes has them in stock, otherwise try Amazon.com. A small fits women’s shoe sizes 6-8.5, and medium fits women’s 9-11.5.

The next best alternative are the SmartWool liner socks – these really work well too!

How I prevent blisters: my toe sock liners!
How I prevent blisters: my toe sock liners!
  • Hiking Socks: Your thick hiking socks are the outer layer, and provide cushion and insulation. The only thing you need to remember is that they must be synthetic or wool, so they wick moisture away from your feet. Over time, you may have established a large collection of socks like me, to suit various hiking needs. I wear thinner hiking socks for summer day hikes, thicker for backpacking trips when my feet want more cushioning, and super thick mountaineering socks when I’m snowshoeing. My favorites are the SmartWool socks, such as these SmartWool Light Hiking Socks for dayhikes and these SmartWool Mountaineering socks.

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  1. Heather Benoit says:

    I love the Injinji’s as an insert. REI has them again and I bought several pairs for changing out 1/2 through my day hikes.

    We are slowly training for our summer backpacking trip. I took the training tip on lacing my backpackers from the REI shoe salesperson and got blisters on blisters. I am looking forward to trying out your lacing method and see if that helps my low volume foot stay blister free.


  2. Robin Reid says:

    Further, the Injinis keep your toes from rubbing together or rubbing around inside your shoes which can cause blistering. Yeah great idea and they’re available on Amazon!

  3. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Robin! I’m so glad the toe sock/outer sock combo helped you! It truly is the best way I’ve found to keep my feet happy on long hikes and backpacking trips. Thanks for your comments.

  4. Alicia R. says:

    Hello Hiking Lady!

    My husband and I are getting ready to hike the Narrows and a few other places and I have a question about socks. I am not worried about sweaty feet as much as I am getting my feet wet in the river and THEN blistering. How do you suggest we handle this situation?

    Thanks and I love your blog!

  5. Hiking Lady says:

    Great question Alicia! If you’re going to be doing a lot of hiking in water, especially at the Narrows, you should rent or buy canyoneering shoes and neoprene booties, which will keep your boots dry. There is one outfitter I know of called Zion Adventure Company that rents that equipment for people hiking the Narrows.
    Have fun!

  6. Peter says:

    Have you ever used Tape Relief? I was exploring tape and moleskin last time to ease my blister pain, when I stumbled upon this stuff. It is a lotion you can put on the skin to protect it from friction and prevent blisters in the first place! It would be a good combo with the sock liners. You can get it on their website: http://www.taperelief.com/

  7. Hiking Lady says:

    Some feedback I just got via email from a reader named Shannon! :)

    Hi Hiking Lady,

    I’ve been reading all of your posts about the Injinji liners, and I
    FINALLY got some, and you’re SO RIGHT! I love them, they’re the most
    comfortable sock liners EV-er!



  8. Mini Piggies says:

    I have little short toes – unlike those long limb-hangers in your picture (so jealous) and wonder what impact individual toes will have in regard to blisters for someone like me? Will the un-used portion of sock wrinkle up at the ends of the toes and cause blisters?

  9. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Mini Piggies! Great question. I’m thinking you may be better off using regular sock liners like the SmartWool liner socks mentioned at the end of the article.

    If you do end up trying toe sock liners, I’d love to hear how they work for you. There is some stretch to the material, so you may be okay with your mini piggies because the toe openings are fully stretched when I wear them! 😉 It might just be okay for you…

  10. Susannah Garza says:

    I have trouble with blisters on my pinkie toes. I’m looking for seam free thick hiking socks. Any ideas? I have sock liners already.

  11. Charles says:

    Hi! Will I get blisters if I am wearing cotton socks in water booties? Any ideas? Do reply me as soon as possible. Thanks.

  12. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Charles,

    You are definitely likely to get blisters if you plan to hike or walk in water…generally people wear neoprene socks with water booties if they are hiking in a wet area.

    However, if you are referring to water shoes, and want to wear cotton socks and only wear them in dry areas, you should not get blisters.

  13. Charles says:

    Hi! Seeing the message you replied, I would like to ask what if I would wear cotton socks in water booties for dry activities? Would I get any blisters due to sweat trapped in my booties?

  14. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Charles, if you wear water booties for dry activities you *might* be able to avoid blisters with cotton socks, but that is no guarantee. Sweat gets trapped in cotton. If you’re feet tend to sweat, then I’d recommend avoiding cotton and purchasing synthetic or wool socks, since they wick sweat away from your foot.

  15. Melanie says:

    Hello! I’m about to buy Arc’teryx Bora Mid GTX for women online. I was wondering if I need to order a size up to wear the liner and hiking socks, or if I should get the right size for me and only wear the two socks if the boots are too big? I’ve had a horrendous time with heel blisters from hiking boot that aren’t narrow enough.

    Thanks :)

  16. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Melanie,
    I’d recommend ordering both, and returning whichever one is less comfortable as you wear it around the house. When I buy a new pair of boots, I often order 5 pair online, try them out on the carpet inside the house, then pick the one that is best. If you really want to just order one, then I’d get the one in your size.
    Good luck in the quest to be free from heel blisters! You’ll get there!

  17. Adria Ellis says:

    I am getting ready to hike the West Coast Trail and am breaking in my boots. I really tend to get blisters on my heels when I wear a higher boot. Always, a lot, no matter. ;-/

    1. I hear a light coat of Vaseline under socks?
    2. I have a pear of compression socks, the good ones ($70) There for athletes but I wear them on long flights and drives. What do you think about these for a base layer?

  18. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Adria,
    Great questions! First off, have you tried this lacing method with your hiking boots to prevent heel blisters?
    Regarding Vaseline, it will most likely just get absorbed into the socks. I haven’t tried this method myself but I don’t see it working well. If you try it please let us know!
    Regarding compression socks, they can be an okay liner sock, however, I prefer regular liner socks. I find that my feet sweat more with compression socks, so I primarily wear them after a hike and on airplane flights.
    Hope this helps. Please let me know if the lacing method solves the problem.
    Happy trails!

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