In a hurry? Our favorite hiking liner socks are the Injinji Liner Toe Socks. They’re simply the best when it comes to exceptional comfort and blister prevention! Ever since we started wearing Injinji socks, we haven’t gotten a single blister!
We understand that these socks may not be everyone’s top pick, so we’ve also assembled our other favorite options, so you can pick the right pair that best fits your needs.
We highly recommend pairing your hiking socks with high quality pair of liner socks. We were skeptical at first, but after I first purchased my first pair of liner socks, I haven’t had a blister or hot spot since – and that was several years ago now. I can’t imagine going back to hiking without them!
So here’s our comprehensive buying guide for the best hiking sock liners currently available. We hope it will help you make an informed decision and select the perfect liner sock for you and your typical use. Below you’ll find information about each recommended sock, as well as a table comparing the key features of each pair.
Best Hiking Liner Sock Reviews
These are our picks for the best hiking liner socks:
- Injinji Liner Toe Socks – Best All Around
- Wick Dry Alturas Ultra-Lightweight Liner Sock by Fox River – Runner Up
- REI Co-op COOLMAX EcoMade Liner Socks – Most Affordable Sock Liner for Hiking
- REI Co-op Merino Wool Liner Socks – Best Merino Wool Sock Liner
- SmartWool Hike Zero Cushion Liner Sock – Best Sock Liner Warranty
- REI Co-op Silk Liner Socks – Best Silk Sock Liner for Hiking
- X-Static UltraLightweight Over-the-Calf Sock Liner – Best for Calf Height
Best All Around – Injinji Liner Crew Socks
If you’re open to the idea of toe socks, then we highly recommend giving these Liner Toe Socks by Injinji a try. They are incredible at preventing blisters all over your foot, including between your toes. Plus, they’re a great price and the fabric is one of the comfiest materials we’ve ever had on our feet.
The most obvious feature about these toe socks is the patented five-toe design, which lets your toes spread without the confinements of a fitted sock. This allows your foot to work naturally and optimizes performance by engaging your entire foot. It feels a little different at first, but once you get used to it you won’t want to go back to regular socks.
Plus, the toe design excels at preventing blisters. Whether you get blisters on your heel, the ball of your foot, or between your toes, say goodbye to those hot spots! In fact, we haven’t gotten any blisters since we started wearing these hiking sock liners.
The material is ultrathin so it can be used for warm weather excursions and the COOLMAX Ecomade polyester helps keep your foot cooler and more dry. You can use it on its own in warmer weather or pair with thicker socks for more cushioning and warmth. Most of the time we wear it paired with a wool hiking sock and we think that’s the optimal setup for ultimate comfort while hiking.
These liner toe socks have especially high ratings by all user accounts (including us), and they are the best hiking sock liners we’ve ever owned. They’re perfect for wearing with sandals, pairing with hiking boots or shoes that feature a wide toe box, or any hiker who struggles with blisters in that toe area. We wear them with Chacos and Tevas all the time and they’re super comfortable!
About the Brand
Injinji is based in California and was founded in 1999 by some passionate dreamers looking to change the way people thought about running footwear. Injinji means “to perform at your peak, leading to a state of euphoria.”
- 75% COOLMAX EcoMade polyester, 21% nylon, 4% Lycra spandex for comfort and wicking moisture
- COOLMAX material performs extremely well for moisture management
- Designed as a liner but can also be worn on its own
- Five-toe design separates your toes so your foot can splay without the restrictions of a sock
Editor’s Choice – Wick Dry Alturas Ultra-Lightweight Liner Crew Socks by Fox River
The Wick Dry Alturas Ultra-Lightweight Crew Liners are the perfect choice for your next hike and are a personal favorite of ours. They are one of the best options when it comes to using liner socks for blister prevention, and they’re remarkably comfortable to wear on those long day hikes.
These ultra-lightweight hiking sock liners use Fox River’s patented Wick Dry™ technology to keep your feet dry and prevent moisture build-up – this is key for blister prevention. With these socks on your feet, you won’t have to worry about hot spots or blisters no matter how sweaty your feet get.
They have a smooth, flat toe seam, and a flat-knit construction for lightweight comfort. This means they are super comfortable from the start, and we never felt that weird hot spot you get from socks that have an uncomfortable toe seam.
These socks use a combination of synthetic and natural fibers for optimal dryness and to assist the foot with its own temperature regulation – this will help keep your feet the perfect temperature in both warm and cool weather conditions. We were able to use them in a wide variety of conditions and we stayed the perfect temperature every time.
All these features add up to really awesome hiking sock liners that are ready for all kinds of hiking adventures in a wide variety of temperatures. As a bonus, Fox River offers a guarantee that you’ll love it or they’ll replace the product for free.
About the Brand
Fox River has been making socks since 1900, which gives them over 120 years of experience in making lifestyle performance, sport, and outdoor socks. They use both US and imported yarns to make all their socks in the USA (in Iowa) and are committed to remaining American-made. We also love that Fox River is such a sustainable company – their mill is 100% powered by renewable energy and they use only sustainable fibers.
- 93% polypropylene, 6% nylon, 1% spandex for effective sweat wicking and comfort
- Wick Dry technology to avoid the moisture build up that causes blisters
- Flat comfort toe seam so it won’t rub
Most Affordable Sock Liner for Hiking – REI Co-op COOLMAX EcoMade Liner Crew Socks
These COOLMAX EcoMade Liner Crew Socks by REI Co-op are the best cheap sock liner for hiking. They are the most affordable option on this list but don’t sacrifice quality – so you can be sure you’re still getting a comfortable, sweat-wicking, blister-preventing liner sock that ready for all your hiking adventures.
These REI socks were one of our first pairs of hiking sock liners and we haven’t been the same since. We found that these hiking socks are durable, breathable, and work hard to keep your feet cool and dry. Once we started wearing them, we haven’t gotten a blister since, and they were a catalyst in our liner sock journey.
You can wear them as a liner, or by themselves on a hot day. We normally wear them combined with hiking socks, but have worn them by themselves once on a really hot day. The fabric is a moisture-wicking machine, so blisters and friction became a thing of the past.
The COOLMAX is made of recycled materials, and the nylon adds durability while the spandex offers shape retention and stretch. The materials all work together to create a sock that’s comfortable, durable, and good at its job.
Plus, the toe seam is smooth and flat, which ensures there won’t be any bunching or irritation near your toes. Because these are REI brand, you know they’re a high quality option that comes with REI’s 1 year no questions asked return policy. They’re consistently highly rated and we love wearing them on warmer hikes where they really thrive in moisture wicking and blister prevention.
- 50% COOLMAX EcoMade polyester, 49% nylon, 1% spandex for optimal sweat-wicking and friction-control to prevent blisters
- Two color options
- Made in the USA
Best Merino Wool Liner Crew Socks – REI Co-op Merino Wool Liner Crew Socks
If you’re looking for a pair of Merino Wool sock liners, look no further than the REI Co-Op Wool Liner Crew Socks. They’re 64% Merino wool, which means they’re comfortable, naturally odor-resistant, and itch-free for ultimate comfort and blister prevention.
We own several pairs of REI Co-op liner socks and these Merino wool ones are one of our go-to liner socks for our hiking adventures. They’re super soft and comfortable, and the high percentage of wool means they boast all the great features that material has to offer. It helps reduce friction and is incredible at wicking moisture, which in turn prevents blisters. It’s also naturally odor-resistant, so you’re less likely to have to worry about stinky feet and hiking boots.
As an added pro to this Merino wool sock liner, it comes with REI’s one year return policy that is one of the best in the industry. This means you can wear these hiking socks several times and can still return it if it’s not the right choice for you.
This sock is a great option for anyone who wants the natural properties of wool (like odor resistance and moisture wicking) or if you prioritize natural materials over synthetics.
Pro-tip: REI usually runs a sale on socks where you save 10% if you buy three or more full price.
- 64% Merino wool, 34% nylon, and 2% spandex for an optimal balance of the benefits of wool with other materials for durability and stretchiness
- Seamless toe seam so it won’t rub
- Made using Merino wool certified to the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), which requires that sheep are treated in accordance with leading animal welfare standards
Best Warranty – Classic Hike Zero Cushion Liner Sock by SmartWool
They are made from mostly Merino wool (59%), which is softer than traditional wool, making it more comfortable to wear. As discussed earlier, wool is also naturally odor resistant, meaning it will help keep odors and bacteria at bay on long hikes or even multi-day treks.
It’s also partially made from recycled products (30% recycled nylon), which provides more strength and durability while reducing environmental impact. A bit of elastane offers stretch, and the wool works to fight odor and wick moisture.
All these materials mean this sock is perfectly engineered to be optimized for everything you could need in a liner sock. They’re comfortable, soft, strong, and prevent blisters so you will love wearing them time and time again.
Plus, this liner sock is the only one on this list that has an elasticized arch brace for a more secure fit, and it also has a flat knit toe seam like others on this list.
About the Brand
SmartWool is easily one of the most well known brands when it comes to socks and underlayers. With ‘wool’ being in their name, you can bet that these wool based liner socks will be a good product. Plus, we love that they have an extensive 10-year sustainability plan and are moving towards 100% of their products being climate-positive, which is a step above achieving net-zero carbon emissions.
- 59% Merino wool, 8% nylon, 30% recycled nylon, 2% elastane, 1% polyester for the perfect combination of materials for optimal comfort and blister prevention
- 2 year manufacturer warranty so you are covered if anything happens to these liner socks
- Two color options
Best Silk Liner Sock for Hiking – REI Co-op Silk Liner Socks
For the ultimate lightweight and comfortable liner socks, these REI Co-op Silk Liner Socks are our go-to. The silk material is super soft and it has many benefits for use during both cold and warm weather.
During hot weather hiking, these sock liners can be worn on their own. They have a natural cooling property while also being moisture-absorbent and strong. This makes them perfect for hot days on the trail when you want a minimal amount of layers on your feet.
When hiking in cold weather, pair them with thick wool hiking socks for warmth and they will work to reduce friction and moisture for blister prevention. This is how we usually wear them, and we feel like they perform really well in a wide variety of conditions. You can pick thicker socks to wear with them, or a more lightweight version for moderate temperatures.
They are made in the USA from durable silk (and other materials) and you get the awesome REI one-year return policy with these hiking sock liners. While some people may say that silk can be less durable than some other materials, we’ve haven’t had any issues with these even after years of use.
- 51% silk, 47% nylon, 2% Lycra® spandex for soft and durable socks
- REI brand offers great return policy so you can try them worry-free
- Thin sock liners that can be worn by themselves on a hot day or paired with thick hiking socks during cooler weather
Best for Calf Height – X-Static Ultra-Lightweight Over-the-Calf Liner Sock
The X-Static Ultra-Lightweight Over-the-Calf Liner by Fox River is perfect for anyone looking for hiking liner socks to go under taller, calf-height or knee-height socks. They’re super tall and still provide all the same benefits like moisture wicking, friction reduction, blister prevention, and comfort.
Besides the taller height, the first thing that stands out about these hiking sock liners is that their X-Static nylon material is silver-infused. This helps them have outstanding performance when it comes to temperature regulation and odor resistance during long and difficult hikes.
This means that not only will your feet be less smelly, but they will stay cool and less sweaty even when you’re working hard. Less sweat leads to less blisters, so your feet can be comfortable, dry, and blister free on all your adventures.
P.S. – if you like the silver infused material but want a shorter liner sock, these come in crew height as well.
- 60% polypropylene, 20% nylon, 19% X-Static nylon, 1% spandex means they’re comfortable, soft, and durable
- Silver coated nylon helps eliminate odor and inhibit bacteria growth so you can wear them for multiple days
- Helps with temperature regulation, which can control moisture to help prevent sweaty feet and blisters
How do Hiking Sock Liners Work?
The primary purpose of a hiking sock liner is to decrease friction and moisture, which are the two major causes of blisters. When you add a liner sock, friction will happen between the liners and your regular hiking socks instead of between one pair and your skin. To decrease moisture, wear liner socks that are made of the best moisture wicking materials available so they can get rid of sweat for you.
Wicking away sweat also helps to regulate temperature, and some hiking socks can even be worn on their own during warmer summer hikes. In cold weather, they can be used as an added layer of warmth for cold weather hiking. They can also help extend the life of your outer hiking sock by reducing wear and tear on them.
Things to Take into Consideration
When purchasing the best hiking sock liners, consider materials, fit, durability, and compatibility with other hiking gear. You can use the information and the table below to compare different brands and models to make an informed decision.
Each sock on this list has different compositions regarding the materials used, but they all come down to their effectiveness at wicking moisture, decreasing friction, and providing comfort.
Polypropylene is the majority component in our #2 Choice Fox River Alturas, but what exactly is polypropylene? The second-most widely produced plastic, it’s part of the patented formula for Fox River’s highly-rated liner socks. It’s a synthetic fiber deemed safe, non-toxic, and has no known carcinogens. It’s lightweight, highly durable, and quick-drying, and is also resistant to abrasion, stains, odors, and moisture. All these properties make it an ideal materials for liner socks that are built to be comfortable and prevent blisters.
COOLMAX / Polyester
Many of the best hiking sock liners on this list feature COOLMAX fabric and it’s typically the most significant component of all the ingredients. COOLMAX is a family of polyester fibers designed for moisture-wicking performance, and is eco-friendly and is made from recycled sources like PET bottles or 100% textile waste. The performance benefits are “permanent,” meaning they won’t wash out when following proper care instructions.
Compared to other materials, it can be more affordable but also retains odors much easier than the natural fibers below. It makes for a great option for materials in the hiking liner socks above, and is great at its job of preventing blisters. The Injinji toe sock liners and the REI COOLMAX are both mainly made from this COOLMAX material and are extremely highly rated hiking sock liners.
Merino wool is a natural material obtained from a specific group of sheep breeds with delicate and soft wool. It is known for its odor-resistance, warmth, and moisture-wicking properties. Merino wool is commonly used in functional clothing since it provides the benefits of regular wool without the itchiness. There’s two Merino wool sock liners on the list above: REI Merino Wool liner socks and the SmartWool Classic Hike. Both of these hiking sock liners do a stellar job of optimizing the benefits of Merino wool to reduce friction and prevent blisters while being sock and comfortable to wear.
The main downside of silk sock liners is their durability compared to other materials. That being said, silk offers a smooth texture against your skin while lightweight, comfortable, temperature-regulating, and moisture-wicking. As a natural material, it’s gentle on sensitive skin. We love our REI Silk Liners and haven’t had any issues with durability. We think they’re remarkably soft and comfortable to wear, plus we like how they can excel in both warm and cold conditions.
Nylon is a synthetic material and can appear in these hiking liner socks anywhere from 50% to only 6% of the materials used. It adds durability and stretch, and can improve drying time. Plus, it doesn’t absorb oils and is soft to the touch. On the downside nylon isn’t very breathable, so it should be paired with a material to balance out that property. All the best hiking sock liners on our list have a component made of nylon, so you can see how it definitely benefits the composition of the sock.
Elastane or spandex should only comprise about 1-2% of the materials in sock liners, which is the perfect amount for it to offer its stretchiness. This helps improve fit using elasticity, but it can be less durable and lose its stretch over time. Elastane also has several trade names like Lycra.
Fit, Comfort & Cushioning
The hiking sock liners on this list come in various sizes, so use the size chart for each product to determine the right fit. They shouldn’t bunch up or slip around – they should be snug but not overly tight.
Sock liners should have flat toe seams, as your outer sock likely has a seam that can cause friction. Make sure the liner feels right before hitting the trail for longer periods of time.
These liner socks should have little to no cushioning – that should come from the hiking socks you’re wearing. They’re simply an extra layer that adds a lot of benefits, so they should be quite thin.
Most of the hiking sock liners on this list are crew height, meaning they fit most hiking socks. We have included an option for calf height (up to your knee) as well in case you prefer taller sock liners.
For these liner socks, expect to pay anywhere from $9 to $17 USD. Most of the options above are right in the middle of this range, with some outliers for the most affordable (REI COOLMAX) and most expensive (REI Silk) socks. Price can have something to do with brand, but it’s mostly about the materials used. Natural fabrics like wool and silk will be more expensive while synthetic materials (like COOLMAX/polyester and nylon) will be slightly more affordable.
This table compares different hiking sock liners based on their materials, design features, and pros/cons. When comparing, look at factors like moisture-wicking ability, breathability, durability, and comfort. Consider your typical hiking adventure and pick some liner socks that best fits your needs.
|Liner Sock Height
|Injinji Liner Crew Socks
|75% COOLMAX EcoMade, 21% nylon, 4% Lycra
|-Patented five toe design for optimal performance
-COOLMAX is great for moisture management
-Blister prevention between toes and entire foot
-Three color options
|-Toe design may not be comfortable for everyone
|Best All Around
|Wick Dry Alturas Crew Liner by Fox River
|93% polypropylene, 6% nylon, 1% spandex
|-Supreme blister prevention
-Four color options
-Made in USA
|-Mostly made of plastic materials (polypropylene)
|REI COOLMAX EcoMade Liner Crew Socks
|50% COOLMAX EcoMade polyester, 49% nylon, 1% spandex
|-Most affordable hiking sock liners on this list
-Great for blister prevention
-Made from recycled water bottles
|-Flat toe seam still sticks up a little
|REI Co-Op Merino Wool Liner Crew Socks
|64% Merino wool, 34% nylon, 2% spandex
-Merino wool is perfect for blister prevention
-One year return policy
-Made in USA
|-Wool can be more difficult to wash and keep its shape
|Best Merino Wool
|SmartWool Classic Hike Zero Cushion Liner Crew Sock
|59% Merino wool, 8% nylon, 30% recycled nylon, 2% elastane, 1% polyester
|-Wool is naturally odor-resistant
-Perfectly engineered for comfort and preventing blisters
-2 year warranty
|-A little pricier
|REI Co-op Silk Liner Crew Socks
|51% silk, 47% nylon, 2% Lycra spandex
|-Silk is super soft and ultra light
-Can be worn by itself
-REI brand offers great return policy
|-Silk is less durable
-Higher price tag
|X-Static Ultra-Lightweight Over-the-Calf Liner by Fox River
|60% polypropylene, 20% nylon, 19% X-Static nylon, 1% spandex
|-Superior temperature regulation to keep your feet cool
-Silver infused material helps with odor resistance and inhibits bacteria growth
-Great for keeping blisters away
|-Slightly more expensive
|Best for Tall Socks
How We Tested, Reviewed, And Rated These Hiking Liner Socks
We love outdoor gear, and we love recommending gear that adds value to our outdoor adventure. We know and understand the importance of having gear that’s worth every penny, so we thoroughly research and test every product we recommend. No matter how we procure an item, our goal is to remain as unbiased as possible, and we put it to the test against its competitors to find the best and worst features.
We also understand that each adventurer is different, and our favorite hiking liner socks may not be yours. That’s why we rate and review a wide variety of products currently available, so you can see a breakdown of all the features and pick what’s best for you and your situation. We don’t recommend anything we wouldn’t personally use, so whether you’re looking for highest quality, an affordable price, superior weather resistance, a certain brand, or any other desirable feature, there’s sure to be a pair of hiking socks on our list that’s perfect for you.
To give you a better understanding of how different hiking sock liners perform in various categories, we conducted a series of tests and gathered data on their moisture-wicking efficiency, breathability, and durability. Here’s a summary of our findings:
In our moisture-wicking test, we compared the performance of sock liners made from polypropylene, COOLMAX, wool, and silk. We found that COOLMAX sock liners were the most effective in wicking moisture away from the skin, followed closely by wool and polypropylene. Silk sock liners demonstrated good moisture-wicking properties as well, but were slightly less effective than the other materials. Socks that are great at moisture-wicking make for good summer hiking socks.
To assess breathability, we conducted a series of tests in different temperatures and humidity levels, simulating various hiking conditions. Our results showed that wool sock liners offered the best breathability, closely followed by COOLMAX and silk. Polypropylene sock liners were slightly less breathable but still provided adequate ventilation for most hiking conditions.
Durability is another important factor to consider when choosing a sock liner. In our tests, we found that polypropylene, wool and COOLMAX sock liners were the most durable, showing minimal signs of wear and tear even after extended use. Silk sock liners tended to wear out more quickly, making them a less suitable choice for long-term use or frequent hiking.
User Ratings & Reviews
Overall, users reported high satisfaction with hiking sock liners made from COOLMAX and wool, praising their comfort, moisture-wicking properties, and ability to prevent blisters. Polypropylene sock liners also received positive reviews for their durability and blister prevention, while silk sock liners were praised for their lightweight and smooth texture against the skin. All the socks above are highly rated by users, and we enjoyed wearing them enough to recommend them to you.
When it comes to design features, sock liners usually offer seamless construction to enhance their performance and user experience. Seamless construction can help to reduce friction and prevent blisters, so the sock stays comfortable and minimal.
In conclusion, the performance of hiking sock liners varies depending on the material and design features. COOLMAX and wool sock liners tend to excel in moisture-wicking and breathability, while polypropylene sock liners offer better durability. Silk sock liners provide a lightweight and comfortable option, but may not be as durable as other materials. By considering these factors and evaluating user satisfaction data, you can make a more informed decision when choosing the best sock liner for your needs.
Getting blisters while hiking sucks, and sometimes you have no choice but to throw some duct tape or moleskin on it and keep going. (While duct tape for blisters may not be ideal, it can actually be a great option when you’re in a bind.) The best way to avoid this situation all together is to properly break in your hiking boots, and the second best thing you can do to avoid this is by wearing the right kinds of hiking socks paired with the best liner socks for hiking.
Usually, your hiking socks would rub against your skin, creating unwanted friction. Add in sweat, and you have yourself the beginnings of a blister. These problems are a thing of the past when you use hiking sock liners, and we couldn’t recommend them more.
Are sock liners good for hiking?
Sock liners are perfect for hiking! They are extremely effective at wicking moisture and reducing friction, and therefore greatly reduce the risk of blisters. Pair them with wool hiking socks or wear them by themselves on a hot day.
Why wear sock liners for hiking?
Sock liners are great for hiking because they help decrease friction and moisture, which is the two leading conditions for blisters. Your feet will stay dry longer and you’ll be happy since you’ll be blister free!
What material is best for hiking sock liners?
Most hiking sock liners are either wool, silk, or COOLMAX as the majority ingredient, and each option has its own pros and cons. That being said, they are all great at wicking sweat and reducing friction, so it just comes down to personal preference.
What is a hiking sock liner and do you need them?
Hiking sock liners are ultra-thin socks that you wear underneath your thicker hiking socks. They are useful when it comes to preventing blisters because they reduce friction and help wick away moisture. While they aren’t necessary, they are a great addition to your hiking gear, especially if you frequently experience blisters.
Do sock liners really work?
Yes sock liners really work! We haven’t had a single blister since we started wearing them. They help prevent blisters by decreasing moisture and friction, and they also provide an extra layer of warmth in cold weather or wick away sweat in warmer conditions.