Many hikers swear by the two-sock system. They never hit the hiking trail without putting on two pairs of socks. But does this make a significant difference in the hiking experience, or is it more of a myth? That is what we are here, you find out!
New, inexperienced hikers have asked me if they should wear one or two pairs of socks on a hiking trail. All the questions tempted me into trying this two-sock layering system for myself. I was pleasantly surprised by how refreshing the experience was and how helpful it proved to be. So, I want to tell you all about it and help you decide if you want to go with this two-sock layering system yourself.
To learn all the advantages and disadvantages of wearing two pairs of socks on trips, stick around for the duration of this guide. I do not doubt that by the time you reach the end, you will know if you want to try this system out or not. So, let’s get right into it and see what the layering system is all about!
Advantages of Wearing Two Pairs of Socks When Hiking
Wondering should wear two pairs of socks when hiking? I can help you make that decision fast by telling you all about the advantages you can get from wearing two pairs of socks. The layering system comes with a ton of great benefits that you must be aware of, so let’s get right into those advantages and see what they are all about:
When you have two pairs of socks with you, you have more options. For example, if the outer layer gets dirty or wet, you can take it off and wear the inner layer. If the inner layer gets sweaty, you can take that layer off and wear the outer layer. You have your options laid out for you, so you can do whatever you like.
Also, if you wash one pair of socks, you can wear the other pair while the first one dries. Then, you can do the same with the second pair of socks and have both pairs clean and dry in a few days.
If you wear shoes with bad insulation properties, adding an extra pair of socks can change your life. Having two pairs of socks on can also prove helpful during winter hikes when you want your feet to stay as warm as possible.
I recommend always investing in insulated boots for winter hikes because socks cannot make too big of a difference. The snow can also get to them and cause them to get wet. In that case, you will have to revert to using one layer of socks instead of two.
The extra warmth can also come in handy when sleeping outdoors, as you can use both layers of socks to stay warm. In the morning, you will only need to put on your shoes and be ready to hit the trails again.
Blister prevention is very important. No one wants to walk around and have their feet hurt from blisters or abrasions. You will need to do your best to avoid blisters and what better way than to wear two pairs of socks!
If you combine a layer of compression socks with a layer of wool socks, you will have zero blisters on your feet. This goes for all kinds of trips. Even if you need to hike some of the longest trails, that will be no problem if you wear two pairs of socks.
Still, you should consider taking some Band-Aid because you never know when you might need it. If you find that some part of your foot is more prone to blistering, add the Band-Aid to that part as extra protection.
The second layer of socks can also protect your feet from becoming wet. The outer sock will usually be thicker and water absorbing. So, when you walk into a stream or encounter rain, this outer sock will get wet.
This is not a bad thing since you can take that sock off and stick it to the inner sock that will be dry. That way, you can leave the outer layer to dry and put it on once fully dry. In the meantime, you can stick to the inner sock and still be quite comfortable.
Bug and plant protection
Having two pairs of socks on is like having padding on your feet. This can sometimes feel uncomfortable and cause your feet to sweat, but it can protect your feet quite a bit.
Should you go on a trail that has too many bugs or too many plants sticking out from the sides, you will need that added protection. Plants, with their pointy parts, can cause cuts on your legs. As for bugs, hiking in areas with many ticks or mosquitos is never a good idea.
So, wear the extra layer of socks if you want additional protection during the trip.
If you mistakenly got a pair of hiking boots that are too large for you, you can fill the extra space with an added layer of socks. That will make you feel much more comfortable in your hiking shoes and will not cause your feet to move around in the shoe. The merino wool socks are the most comfortable option, but you can wear other modern socks if you want to.
Disadvantages of Wearing Two Pairs of Socks When Hiking
If you are still wondering should you wear two pairs of socks when hiking, I can add a few things to help you decide. Yes, I have covered all advantages of this layering system. Still, you might expect there to be some disadvantages as well. You are not wrong – there are a few disadvantages you should be aware of, so let’s see what they are:
Too much warmth
I mentioned that two pairs of socks can warm your feet during winter trips. Still, these socks can make your feet sweat in the shoes, especially if you are wearing insulated boots. You might take one layer off as soon as you start the trip.
I do not recommend adding an outer layer of socks during trips in hot weather. If you are hiking in hot weather, you should consider wearing a pair of regular socks or some modern socks made for hiking. You can find the latter in most gear stores around your city.
Not always comfortable
Wearing two pairs, so socks are also not always comfortable. If you have hiking shoes in the right size, you might find that having two pairs of socks on can hurt your feet. The extra layer can cause abrasions on your feet, which can lead to blistering.
If you want zero blisters on your feet, consider the shoe's size and if it allows you to have that second layer of socks on. If that is not possible, stick to a single layer of socks. I wear special hiking socks on most trips and find that there is often no need for a second layer.
If you have two layers of socks on, no matter what type of socks they are, they will add to your weight. Some demanding trips will not allow you to have extra weight. So, you will have to throw that second off sooner or later.
I recommend wearing just one pair of socks during your hike. You can add the additional layer if you need to make your feet warmer or if the first layer becomes wet. Unless you have to, do not add the additional layer of socks and make it weigh you down.
Contribute to bad smell
Finally, you should know that two pairs of socks can make your feet sweat, making the socks smell bad. If you do not take your feet out of the shoes, you can risk making the entire shoe smell bad. Sweat is never pleasant, so you should do your best to avoid smelling like that.
If you are getting too hot or sweaty, remove the second layer of socks and stick to the first only. Try washing the socks in a stream and drying them in the sun before putting them on again.
How Many Pairs of Socks Should You Wear When Hiking?
There is no right or wrong answer on this topic. Whether you wear one or two pairs of socks during your hiking trips is up to you. I personally wear just one pair during the summer, but I wear two pairs when the weather is cold. You can do the same and see if you like it!
But it is not all about the number of layers you wear – it is also about the type of socks. Even most gear stores will tell you a huge difference between regular cotton socks and those suitable for hiking. If you get specialized hiking socks, you will spend a lot of money, but you will get the comfort and protection you need.
I cannot say the same for cotton socks. You should not wear them when hiking because they will only make your feet sweat more. I recommend wearing a single layer of compression socks with an extra layer of thicker woolen socks. The combination is amazing and will make you feel like you are walking on clouds.
The compression socks should be nylon, polyester, or even spandex. The second layer should be woolen socks. The merino wool is the most expensive one. Still, it offers durability, comfort, protection, dryness, and enough warmth. So, if you can, I recommend getting a pair of merino wool socks to wear on your hiking trips.
You need to know everything about the two-sock system, its advantages, and its disadvantages. Do not forget to review the points made above and decide if you want to try this two-sock system or not. I recommend trying it once to see if it is a good fit. You can always throw one pair of socks off if you find it uncomfortable.
Would you ever consider wearing two pairs of socks on a hiking trail, or have you tried that out yet? Let me know in the comments below. I cannot wait to read about your experience wearing two layers of socks when hiking!