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Written By
Ben Romans

Updated Aug 7, 2023 2:28 PM

Prevention is key when it comes to cold feet, and quality warm winter socks are not optional when you plan to be outdoors for extended periods. Your activity, climate, and footwear all affect your ideal warm winter socks, but a few factors are consistent: material, fit, and sweat-wicking. And as for the factors that vary? We’ve done all the research for you. From hiking socks to cabin socks, merino wool socks to thermal socks, we’ve rounded up the best warm socks for winter.

Best Warm Socks: Reviews and Recommendations

Best for Men: Smartwool Men’s Mountaineering Heavy Crew Socks

Best for Men


  • Length: Crew
  • Materials: 74% Merino Wool, 25% Nylon, 1% Elastane
  • Thickness: Extra Heavy Cushion


  • Excellent moisture management
  • Snug fit
  • Odor resistant materials
  • Thick cushion for comfort and warmth


Are you searching for the best warm socks for men? The Smartwool Men’s Mountaineering Extra Heavy Crew Socks utilize a 3×1 knit for a close-but-comfortable fit. The extra-heavy cushioning, specific ankle and arch support, flat-knit toe, and 74% merino wool make for a truly excellent wearer experience. As should be the case for all cold-weather socks, these have superior moisture-wicking capabilities and the necessary levels of comfort and warmth. Smartwool does not specify these socks as men’s or women’s on their website, so fit can be assumed as unisex.

Best for Women: Smartwool Women’s Hike Classic Edition Full Cushion Solid Crew Socks

Best for Women


  • Length: Crew
  • Materials: 56% Merino Wool, 11% Nylon, 31% Recycled Nylon, 2% Elastane
  • Thickness: Midweight


  • True to fit
  • Ideal insulation for winter
  • Easy care instructions
  • Cozy padding
  • Excellent moisture wicking


If you are craving a sock you can wear on the trail or lounging at home, the Smartwool Women’s Hike Classic socks are a comfortable and versatile option. Made with 56% Merino wool, they maintain their warmth and odor-resistant qualities, but with the additional synthetic materials maintain more elasticity and durability. The mix of fibers also gives the wearer a soft, comfy feel with no itch. We like the fit of these socks, which are true to size. However, they tend to be looser than other hiking or wool sock options, so be aware that while snug, they may allow for more movement.

Best Wool: Danish Endurance Merino Wool Socks

Best Wool


  • Length: Crew
  • Materials: 30% Wool, 36% Nylon, 33% Acrylic, 1% Elastane
  • Thickness: Midweight


  • Affordable price
  • Durable materials
  • Versatile wear
  • Great customer service


  • Ankle materials should be tighter to avoid bunching

With all of the essentials of merino wool socks, the Danish Endurance Merino wool socks provide the softness, warmth, and moisture-wicking necessary for a cold-weather sock. On top of that, they have ventilation for added moisture removal. They are cushioned and tailored specifically to prevent chafing, irritation, and blisters from extended hiking or while working in boots. With all of those features, they manage to be a reasonably lightweight material that’s comfortable for all-day wear.

Best Heated: Snow Deer Heated Socks

Best Heated


  • Length: Crew
  • Materials: 55% CoolMax polyester, 25% elastic, 20% spandex
  • Thickness: Lightweight


  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Quick drying fabric
  • Three heat settings


  • Not a very thick material

With three heat settings (and easily accessible controls), four sizes for proper fit, and double-sided heating that covers the toes, these heated socks are consistently marked as meeting customer expectations, which may sound like a low bar. Still, when it comes to heated socks: it is not. The heating element will help combat chills, but it can help to wear a thin, ultra moisture-wicking liner sock underneath and pack extra batteries so you’ll never run out of heat.

Best Thermal: EcoSox Unisex Blue Flame Thermal Crew Boot Socks

Best Thermal


  • Length: Crew
  • Materials: 92% Acrylic, 6% Polyester, 2% Spandex
  • Thickness: Midweight


  • Durable materials
  • Good moisture management
  • Decently warm


A synthetic moisture-wicking option, the brand claims Blue Flame Footwear thermal socks as the world’s warmest socks. (We cannot confirm or deny, but they are certainly quite warm.) How, exactly? Per EcoSox: “It’s a combination of thick looped acrylic and an intensive brushing process.” Large looped fibers create the insulation needed to retain body heat, but the inner brushed fibers trap the air, using it as a source of warmth and a buffer zone to keep cold air out.

Best Hiking: Smartwool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew

Best Hiking


  • Length: Crew
  • Materials: 63% Merino Wool, 35% Nylon, and 2% Elastane
  • Thickness: Midweight


  • Ample cushion for warmth and impact absorption
  • Performance fit
  • Durable materials


  • Sizing can be inconsistent

The Smartwool PhD hiking socks provide a versatile sock experience that fits the needs of most hikers. A fundamentally seamless toe and some of the best ankle support—and mobility—we’ve seen in a sock keep you moving in comfort, while the durable merino wool blend pulls moisture away. And the medium cushion level provides great support without excessive bulk that will interfere with the fit of your hiking boots.

Best Cabin: Tibetan Socks Hand-Knit Wool Fleece-Lined Long Slipper Socks

Best Cabin


  • Length: Knee High
  • Materials: 100% wool shell and fleece lining
  • Thickness: Extra cushion


  • Handmade
  • Slip-resistant sole
  • Fun designs
  • Thick, slipper-like design


Style gets to match substance with cabin socks, but with these fleece slipper socks, you don’t have to sacrifice: These offer hand-knit-in-the-Himalayas New Zealand–wool exterior and super cozy fleece interior—with non-skid bottoms, to boot. Five unisex sizes of these comfy socks allow for a precise fit, and the sturdiness of their construction means they won’t droop but also won’t constrict. The challenge here will be leaving the cabin, as it were.

Best Budget: Pembrook Merino Wool Trail Socks

Best Budget


  • Length: Crew
  • Materials: 60% Merino, 15% Wool, 15% Acrylic, 10% Nylon
  • Thickness: Midweight


  • Comes in a 4-pack
  • Mostly Merino wool
  • Comfortable enough for daily wear
  • Decently durable for the price


The price tag is the only thing “cheap” about these merino wool socks. Pembrook has been making outdoor socks since the ’70s, and their accessible expertise shows in these 60% merino wool socks with arch support, a reinforced toe and heel, and cushioning.

Related: Three Other Great Pieces of Cold-Weather Clothes to Shop For

What to Consider When Choosing Warm Socks

From the top, let’s debunk some common questions and myths when it comes to choosing socks for cold weather. Like: Are two layers of socks better than one? (No, with the exception of quality liner socks designed for the job. In all cases, it’s mostly about sock and footwear fit, in addition to material.) Are cotton socks good for cold weather? (Also no. Cotton holds moisture and will cause chill.) With that in mind, consider your primary use, climate, and duration outdoors—and we’ll help guide you to your best warm socks for this winter.

Material and Sizing

The best winter socks overall are made from a merino wool blend so they are soft , warm, and moisture-wicking. They should be fitted enough that they’ll stay close to your skin, not bunch up under your boots (those air pockets invite in cold, as does adjusting your socks, besides being a nuisance), and not make your boots too snug (a too-tight fit will inhibit blood flow, and therefore warmth). At the same time, you don’t want your socks to be too tight, for comfort and circulation.

Many sock designs are unisex, and if you’re attentive with sizing—and, FYI, numerical sock sizes are not shoe sizes, they’re the measurement of your foot in inches—there’s no reason to limit yourself to pairs labeled either men’s or women’s. Remember that the sizing piece matters, though, as fit is an essential piece of sock performance, so if they are labeled one way or the other, check the numbers on both, particularly if you need a wider calf (men’s socks tend to have a looser top opening) or a taller or shorter tube (varies by sock).

Moisture-Wicking Capabilities

Both of our picks for overall best warm socks are made from merino wool, and that’s no accident. Merino wool socks are excellent for moisture-wicking, and if you’ve been stuck in a tree stand or on the trails in bad weather, you know that moisture is a quick path to freezing cold. The wool keeps skin from becoming (or staying) clammy or sweaty, which then stops that chill factor. Cotton, on the other hand, pulls moisture from your skin but holds onto it, trapping it in rather than wicking it away. And the thickest socks in the world won’t keep you warm if water gets in.

Merino is also an efficient insulator, and you can get more warmth with less thickness than with most other sock materials. Likewise—and not frivolously for a layer that’s going to be against your skin all day—merino wool is soft, particularly when you buy from a reputable brand that’s sourcing quality wool.


If your setting is such that keeping body warmth in and external cold out will not suffice, you may be in the market for heated socks. Designed for extremely cold weather—and often most necessary when you’re not actively moving, and therefore not generating additional blood flow or body heat—most heated socks have a small, rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack at the top of each sock tube, with heating elements woven into the socks.

This is where pairs diverge: voltage/power, and the quantity and placement of the heat-source layer. Your best best will be heating that wraps the foot, rather than just being on the top or bottom. As far as power, opt for sufficient strength for the climate you’ll be in. Duration of power depends on heat level (e.g., will last longer on low heat than high), but our advice: Buy, and carry with you, extra batteries. It’s a small additional investment—and they’re rechargable—to make sure your heated socks keep heating as long as you need them to.

Want thick warm socks without wearing electric wiring? Try quality thermal socks, instead.


A good pair of warm, winter hiking socks demands all the features of warm winter socks at large, but with activity-specific considerations, too. Particularly: How the sock fits the foot.

With hiking socks, you’re looking for fit at least as much as warmth for a couple reasons. One, you’re going to be moving, so your blood is going to be flowing and you’ll be generating body heat (and sweat, so don’t skimp on moisture-wicking, adding a thin liner sock for that purpose if you tend to run sweaty). Second, loose, ill-fitting socks with too much bulk make boot conditions ripe for blisters, and too-tight socks will restrict blood flow, and therefore warmth and comfort.

Look for thoughtfully designed seaming—especially in the toe and heel, as bulky or thick seams will quickly become irritating with movement—as well as support through the arch and ankle, as those muscles, fascia, and tendons are under a lot of strain while hiking.

Think, too, about your specific boots. You don’t want too much compression, and you do want the sock to protect you from chafing at the top of the boots.

At some point, you’re coming inside, and your feet are not going to magically transport to someplace where it’s not winter. Both as a transition from outdoors-in or a 24-hour sort of indoor footwear, cabin socks (a.k.a., slipper socks) do the trick.

You want comfort, above all else; the “slipper” part of the title is there for a reason. This will mean a looser fit with flexibility in the ankle and footbed, but not so loose they’re falling down your legs. And while you still want moisture-wicking, since you’ll be sheltered from the elements, priority here on the materials goes toward comfort. That is: warm, super thick socks you both won’t want to take off, and are so comfortable you’ll forget they’re on—with some grip on the soles to keep you steady on hardwood and tile floors. There’s no better choice when it comes to comfy socks than this pick.


The good news about the ubiquitous need for warm winter socks is that quality pairs can be found at affordable prices. The complicating factor: To get that great price, you’ll generally be buying a pack of several pairs. The still very okay news: You’ll use them, and have back-ups when you’re behind on laundry, lose one, or a pair gets wet out in the field.

Beware, though, before scrounging to the bottom of the price barrel: Quality materials don’t come free, even if you can find them affordably. Check the material list (we’d look for a merino wool blend), the fit, and that the socks have a reinforced toe and heel.


Q: What type of socks keep feet warmest?

The most important factors looking at what type of socks keep feet warmest are fit (snug, not tight; thick, not bulky) and material (moisture-wicking, e.g., merino wool is non-negotiable.) From there, consider activity: hiking socks vs. heated socks vs. cabin socks, for example.

Q: Who makes the best warm socks?

Who makes the best warm socks depends on your specific needs, the best brand of winter socks must have a long, positive track record making comfortable, durable winter socks a variety of fits and functions, as reliable customer service. In general, we’re confident saying that you’re in very good hands (er, feet) with Smartwool socks.

Q: Are merino wool socks good for cold weather?

Yes. Merino wool socks are good for cold weather because merino wool is a highly efficient moisture-wicking material, keeping feet warm and dry in winter conditions. Also, wool keeps you warm even when it’s wet. Merino wool is soft, and doesn’t itch. and tends to offer a good, flexible fit.

Best Warm Socks: Final Thoughts

When it comes to the best warm socks, the key is fit (snug but not tight), material (moisture wicking, and merino wool when it’s an option), and construction (particularly with seaming) for comfort and durability.

Once you buy, keep your super warm socks in super good shape by heeding the manufacturer’s guidance for laundering, which often means inside out, with a wool-friendly cycle and detergent, and air-drying.

Why Trust Us

For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.

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