How To Avoid Blisters: A Hiking Sock Guide.

Copyright © 2006 Marc Wiltse

Great hiking socks are critical for a comfortable . Do yours deliver in all the important areas? Learn how to pick the hiking sock that is best for your trip.

Your hiking socks are probably like you at work… they do a lot more than they’re given credit for. They must be comfortable, wick moisture, protect against shear, support your natural posture, keep your feet at a good temperature, distribute pressure, promote circulation, absorb shock, and be tough. That’s no small order.

Socks are almost as important as your boots and shoes when it comes to your comfort. Here are some things to consider before investing in your next pair…

Blood Flow- This is the circulation of blood through the foot. A decrease or cut-off in blood flow can be caused by unyielding fabrics in hiking socks. Acrylics in combination with other fibers and a terry weave can help with this and shear. Lack of blood flow can cause fatigue, numbness and leave your feet more susceptible to injury.

Moisture- With exertion one foot can sweat 1-2 pints of vapor/fluid per day. That’s like dumping a whole soda in each shoe! OK, so pop is stickier, but wet skin still has a tendency to stick to other surfaces which causes even more stress and trauma to your tissue. That’s why wicking technology in hiking socks is so important.

Keep in mind too, if your socks don’t wick well, bacteria and fungus can also become more of a problem. And we’ve all known that camp mate that had funky smelling feet. One of my friends actually resorted to burning his shoes in the campfire, but that’s another story… 😉

Position- If your hiking socks don’t help to maintain correct anatomical alignment it can cause premature fatigue. Correct posture also helps to correctly position your foot in your boot or shoe to make it feel like it’s an extension of your body. If you wore your dad’s shoes when you were a kid, or had a pair of shoes that were too large and floppy you know how important position is.

Pressure Areas- Pressure can cause discomfort and lead to damage if it’s not addressed. A good example of this is a bedsore. Most people hopefully won’t experience pressure to this degree, but it’s something you want to keep in mind when looking at hiking socks. Padding is especially important around bony areas like the heal and ball of the foot. Bony prominences as they’re called, don’t have the luxury of much padding. A good sock will provide just enough, but not too much cushion.

Shearing Force- This happens when your tissue is moving in opposite directions, like when jumping over a stream, or descending a steep slope. Part of your skin is moving one way and the tissue underneath it another, this causes a tearing action just under the surface of the skin. This is the most common way of getting blisters.

Temperature- Good hiking socks need to be appropriate for their intended use, from a warm weather day hike, to a week-long mountaineering trip. Once in that environment, they should help maintain a consistent comfortable temperature.

Like a shoe or boot your hiking socks should be matched to the type of hiking you’ll be doing. Whether you’re trail running or hiking the Appalachian Trail with a 50 pound backpack. Selecting the right tool for the job makes all the difference.

My website offers hiking sock reviews and recommendations as well as other gear information. I hope you found this article informative. Happy hiking. 🙂

About The Author:

Marc Wiltse began investing in quality gear after a flooded tent forced him to sleep in his tiny 2-seat Honda CRX. His hiking equipment & camping gear guides, reviews & newsletter save you time & money. Find reviews on hiking socks here: http://www.hiking-gear-and-equipment-used-for-camping.com/hiking socks.html
© Marc Wiltse. Reprint permission if author, copyright, links & this notice intact.

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