You might want to rethink your next COSTCO pack of white athletic socks. They’re a convenient purchase, but they’re pretty terrible at what socks are meant to do. Here’s why: When your cotton-covered feet sweat or get wet, which they’ll inevitably do when your toes are shoved into a pair of hard-working shoes, there’s no place for the moisture to go. So it creates its own dank climate, causing problems like cold feet, chafing and blisters. And when you’re hiking, there aren’t many other things that kill the buzz faster than foot problems.
Blame it on your old shoes as much as you want, but the chances are high that your frustration is misdirected. Switch up your socks and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
This spring I’ve been switching between two pairs of Dahlgren socks, the Hiking and the Light Hiking pairs. While these socks are loaded with typical sock features, there’s not much I can say about what they do. Because it’s what they DON’T do that makes them a worthwhile investment: cause blisters.
Made in Iowa, Dahlgren socks are constructed from a blend of soft merino and alpaca wools. Wool, known for its organic and natural moisture-wicking technologies, is a smart choice for feet that are constantly hauling miles on and off the trail. Both types of yarn retain their insulating properties (cool in the summer, warm in the winter) even when they’re wet. And whether they’re wet or dry, the fabric isn’t harsh against your skin, which means chafing and blisters are avoided. Plus, the addition of tough alpaca wool to both the Hiking and Hiking Light socks helps to extend their lifespan in your sock drawer.
Dahlgren’s Light Hiking sock offers light cushioning underneath the foot for a cozier fit, and its waffle-knit weave around the cuff supposedly increases ventilation. While I couldn’t tell you the temperature of my foot at any point on the trail, the Light Hiking sock kept my feet (and thus attitude) noticeably cooler in comparison to the Hiking sock.
In its defense, the Hiking sock is not quite meant for hot summer hikes. Its moderate cushion throughout the foot and cuff is added not only for a soft, plush fit – it’s added for warmth. But don’t be afraid to pack ‘em in your bag anyways. You, your feet and your hiking companions will be happy you did.
For more information on Dahlgren, visit dahlgrenfootwear.com. The Hiking Light socks retail for $17.95 per pair, and the Hiking socks retail for $19.50 per pair.