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I think it’s ingrained in us from an early age. That sinking feeling that hits as you realise that Mum’s hit two birds with one stone; the annual Lowes trip and the Chrissy shop. Socks, again.
Socks are traditionally a pretty bloody boring present but, after countless hours mucking around in the bush and some fairly extensive mental reconfiguration, I’m wondering if I just wasn’t getting the right ones.
If you’re into hiking, the right socks can be make or break.
Wait, What Are The Wrong Socks?
Cotton ones. Cotton socks are the devil. They might feel soft and padded when they’re dry but a lick of sweat turns them into a soggy mess. Instead of wicking moisture away they bunch up and rub, leading to blisters and sadness.
And The Right Ones?
Merino or synthetic. Both wick moisture away from the foot, managing both temperature and comfort. Synthetic is cheaper than wool and dries a bit more quickly but oh boy, does it get stinky. Merino wool on the other hand, is naturally antibacterial and will pass the smell test even after a couple of wears (ever seen a sheep take a shower? Thought so).
Merino Wool Socks Are The Business
Merino wool hiking socks might not be the best business socks, but for hiking, they’re definitely the business. The fibre can naturally soak up heaps of water and thanks to little air pockets, they work like a wetsuit to keep your feet warm even once they’re completely soaked. Radical dude.
But Isn’t Wool Itchy and Weak And Bad?
Merino wool is prized by hikers specifically because it doesn’t itch but on its own it’s not strong enough to hold its shape or cope with you rudely stepping on it all the time. Brands like Smartwool, Lé Bent and Icebreaker weave their hiking socks with other fibres, like synthetics or even rayon made from bamboo, so that their socks last (and can deal with a normal wash cycle).
Don’t worry, I have it on good authority that there’s enough bamboo left for the pandas.
Sock & Sandals
Before you turn your nose up in disgust at this questionable fashion choice, have you actually tried it? Didn’t. Think. So. Socks & Sandals is a best of both worlds situation, but any old sock won’t do. A warm and well-fitted merino wool hiking sock will hug you tight as you strut your stuff on the frosty walk to the camp dunny.
The Ultimate Koozie
Why should feet have all the fun? Those comfy, insulating properties are ideal for optimising your hand-beer interface. Or if you’re in the habit of making yourself a hot water bottle to get through those chilly nights, a merino wool sock will keep that heat evenly distributing allll night long.
Place Your Orders!
Think of the relief your friends, family and loved ones will feel as you declare socks back on the menu. Careful though; be sure to let them know of your evolved taste and discerning toes. You’re a sock connoisseur now and only the best will do. Hell, maybe just buy them yourself.
Feature photo by @_yasminloraine_