Best merino wool walking socks for UK hiking

From Darn Tough and Smartwool to Bridgedale and Danish Endurance – check out our top recommendations for the best merino wool walking socks to wear on your next hike. 

Merino Wool Walking Socks

When you get into the details, the world of the walking sock is surprisingly wide, complex and honestly, a little overwhelming at times. From the high-tech waterproof walking socks to the sturdy all-rounders that we’ve all got tucked away in a bedroom drawer. Choosing which pair to wear for a day of peak-bagging isn’t always easy.

However, if you’re looking for the absolute best in the hiking sock department, it’s hard to beat old faithful – the merino wool walking sock. Merino wool socks have long been the gold standard among hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers. The seemingly “magic wool” is great at just about everything thanks to its unique set of properties:

  • Moisture-wicking 
  • Warm and cool 
  • Odour resistant 
  • Soft and luxurious feel 
  • Naturally elastic 
  • Stain resistant
  • Easy to care for

The only real downside to merino wool, whether you’re looking at socks, a baselayer or just about anything else, is the price. Compared to its synthetic counterparts, merino wool is a little more expensive – but it’s also more effective than man-made properties. 

To cut a long story short, merino wool still stands tall as the number one material for walking and hiking socks. New synthetic materials, such as Nylon blends and CoolMax aim to imitate merino properties, but there’s nothing on the market right now that can beat the natural wool. 

So we’ve established that merino wool is the best option for walking socks. All that’s left to do is work out which merino hiking socks are right for you!

Author’s notes

Merino socks are almost always the best-performing walking socks and are perfect for the often-changing British weather. The best socks are made with a blend of materials and anything over 60% merino is rated as very good in our book!

Reading in a hurry?

Haven’t got the time to read our recommendations? Not to worry, check out our round-up of the top merino walking socks to suit every occasion.

1. Best warm weather merino wool socks  

One of the main benefits of merino wool hiking socks is that they adapt to the temperature that you’re hiking in. If it’s a warm day, they’ll help you keep cool. If it’s a cold day, they’ll help you keep warm.

But not all blends of merino wool socks are designed for this all-weather zone and if you’re really wanting to make the most of your socks, it’s best to buy with a season in mind. A warm-weather merino wool sock is likely to perform well in spring and autumn, but things may get just a little too cold in the wintertime. 

If it’s a warm-weather / 3-season walking sock that you’re on the hunt for – it doesn’t get much better than the Darn Tough Vermont Merino Wool Hiking Socks. An American company with quality in mind, Darn Tough are famous for its lifetime guarantee. If a pair of hiking socks fails, they’ll replace them, free of charge, no matter where in the world you may be. 

With that kind of customer service, it’s no surprise that the Darn Tough team have a serious sock that they have real confidence in. A blend of merino wool (64%), polyamide (33%) and elastane (3%) makes for a fantastic, long-lasting hiking sock that’s packed full of benefits.

Darn Tough Merino Wool Boot Cushioned Hiking Socks

Best for warm weatherDarn Tough Vermont Merino Wool Boot Cushion Hiking Socks

With the famous lifetime guarantee, the Darn Tough Merino Wool Cushioned hiking socks are fantastic warm-weather walking socks perfect for hiking in spring, summer and autumn. 

  • Fine gauge merino wool for all-day comfort
  • Cushioned toe box and non-slip, blister prevention
  • A huge range of colours and styles are available 
  • Lifetime guarantee (International)
  • A smaller range of women’s socks
  • Size: S-XXL
  • Materials: Merino wool (64%), polyamide (33%) and elastane (3%)

2. Top cold weather merino wool hiking socks

Whether it’s the middle of winter, you’ve got a 6,000+ peak coming up, or you’re simply prone to chilly toes – a cold weather merino wool walking sock may be the best for you. 

A cold-weather merino wool hiking sock differs in weight from a standard all-weather sock. Instead of utilising the benefit of the fine merino wool, these heavyweight socks use a blend of both merino and synthetic wool to create a warm sock that doesn’t break the bank. 

Our recommendation is the Bridgedale Explorer Heavyweight Boot Sock. The heavyweight walking sock blends merino wool with Coolmax® synthetic fibres for a naturally soft, robust, moisture-wicking fit. A zonal padding system and flat-toe seam offer great comfort whilst minimising the bulk and abrasion that may otherwise be caused. 

The socks also use a Thermo Fit Lycra® construction, ensuring that they return to the correct size after each machine wash. There’s no fear of shrinking or deforming the socks with each cycle.

Bridgedale Explorer Heavyweight Merino Wool Boot Sock

Best for cold weatherBridgedale Explorer Heavyweight Boot Sock

The Heavyweight Bridgedale Explorer Boot Sock is a fantastic cold-weather sock that blends merino wool with Coolmax® synthetic fibres for the perfect winter solution. 

  • Zonal padding system and flat toe seam
  • Elasticated arch and 3D heel cup
  • Thermo Fit Lycra® construction 
  • Available in men’s and women’s fits
  • Size: S-XL
  • Material: Merino Wool (30%), Coolmax® (45%), Nylon (24%) and LYCRA® (1%)
  • Volume: 25L
  • Dimensions: Length 41cm x Height 44cm x Depth 31 cm
  • Weight: 3.6 kg

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3. All-weather merino wool socks for hiking

All-weather merino wool hiking socks are the perfect choice if you’re searching for a high-quality pair (or two) that perform exceptionally well across all seasons. 

Merino wool is the ideal material for all-weather solutions as its properties allow the socks to perform well in both warm and cold temperatures. If it’s a reliable sock that you’re wanting to use throughout the seasons, we’d recommend the Full Cushion Crew Hiking socks from Smartwool.

When it comes to merino clothing, Smartwool needs no introduction. Founded in 1994, the company was the first to create merino wool ski socks and has been making quality merino clothing ever since. Our favourite creation from the elite-level manufacturer is the hike full cushion crew socks – a merino wool solution to all-weather hiking. 

The merino wool socks utilise a high (62%) merino composition in their virtually seamless sock design to create a super high-quality fit. The full cushion socks offer a fantastic solution for preventing blisters and specific men/women fits offer a snug fit for both wide and narrow feet.  

Smartwool Full Cushion Merino Hiking Socks

Best for all-weatherSmartwool Hike Full Cushion Crew Socks

Established in 1994, Smartwool is one of the leading global merino wool manufacturers. The Hike Full Cushion Crew Socks showcase the best of the brand’s ability with a mighty all-weather sock.

  • Full cushion, blister alleviation construction
  • Virtually seamless toe and soft, comfortable fit
  • High (62%) merino wool composition
  • Three colours/styles are available
  • More expensive than other listed options
  • Size: M-XL
  • Materials: Merino wool (62%), Nylon (36%), Elastane (2%)

4. Budget merino wool hiking socks 

Merino wool socks are, typically, expensive. With such a high demand for the “wonder wool”, it’s easy to see why – but not all merino wool socks need to break the bank. 

If you’re searching for a pair (or three) that you can throw on before a hike, run, or even a day at the office, an optimum blend isn’t always necessary. If you’re happy to sacrifice a little bit of performance in the name of saving a tonne of cash – it’s the Danish Endurance Merino Wool Outdoor Walking Socks that we highly recommend. 

Danish Endurance is a company that stands up for what it believes in. Unlike other budget brands, all socks are designed in Copenhagen, Denmark and are produced in Portugal under fair working conditions. Plastic packaging is replaced by recycled materials and the team is focused on sustainability and charity work in Denmark. 

The Merino Wool hiking socks are produced with a lower merino wool composition (38%) compared to our Darn Tough (64%) and Smartwool (62%) alternatives in an effort to cut costs to the consumer. However, this lower percentage still offers the merino benefits we know and love – just at a slightly reduced performance level. 

Each pair of socks feature anti-blister cushioning an anti-slip top and an anatomically shaped design as well as cruelty-free merino wool. If you’re in need of more convincing – the socks are also recommended by the first Dane to summit Everest without supplementary oxygen, Rasmus Kragh!

Danish Endurance 3-Pack Merino Wool Walking Socks

Budget PickDanish Endurance Merino Wool Outdoor Walking Socks (3-Pack)

Made with the lower 38% merino wool composition, the Danish Endurance outdoor walking socks sacrifice a little bit of performance for a huge cash saving. Great for budget-conscious outdoor enthusiasts!

  • Fantastic budget all-weather merino wool sock
  • Anti-blister cushioning, anti-slip top and anatomically shaped design
  • Cruelty-free merino wool 
  • Six different colour/style options are available
  • Lower merino wool (38%) composition
  • Size: 2-15
  • Materials: Merino wool (38%), Polyamide (35%), Polypropylene (24%) and Elastane (3%)

FAQ: Best merino wool walking socks for UK hiking

Have a question about merino wool walking socks that you’re searching for the answer to? Take a look at our FAQ below where we aim to answer some of the most popular questions surrounding the “wonder-wool” footwear.

The best merino socks can be decided by choosing exactly what it is that you’re looking for in a sock. 

If a pair is primarily for cold use, we’d recommend the Bridgedale Explorer Heavyweight Boot Sock. If you’re searching for a warm-weather sock, it’s the  Darn Tough Vermont Merino Wool Boot Cushion Hiking Socks that we’d recommend. 

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a pair of merino socks that you can use on every walk, regardless of the season, we’d opt for either the  Smartwool Hike Full Cushion Crew Socks or, if you’re on a budget, the Danish Endurance Merino Wool Outdoor Walking Socks.

All merino wool socks should be washed in accordance with the guidance offered on the label and/or packaging. 

The majority of merino wool socks can be machine washed at 30/40 degrees, but some brands do recommend handwashing.  

One of the benefits of merino clothing is the antibacterial and anti-odour properties that the wool offers. 

This means that merino wool walking socks don’t technically need to be washed as often as their synthetic counterparts. The guidelines state that merino wool socks should not be left more than 2-3 wears before washing.

Merino wool socks should not be tumble-dried as this runs the risk of shrinking the socks. All sock should, instead, by air-dried to avoid any unfortunate laundry mishaps.

Still not managed to solve your issue? Don’t be afraid to reach out and send us a message on one of our socials – we’re always happy to help!

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