Warm socks are the key to conquering winter cold, whether you’re staying cozy by the fireplace or hiking through the snow. You can have the most high-tech boots on the market, but if your socks—the most important insulating layer—fall short, you still might end up with cold feet.
To help you stay warm this winter, we’ll show you what to look for and guide you to the warmest socks you can get.
How to Choose the Warmest Socks
There are a few important factors to consider when choosing winter socks. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’ll point you in the right direction.
When it comes to warm winter socks, there’s one fabric you should avoid: 100% cotton. Cotton retains moisture (like sweat) and the last thing you want is wet feet inside your boots. It’s a quick way to not only get damp, but chilled. (And once your feet are cold, the rest of you quickly follows.)
Instead, choose socks made from wool or wool blends. Wool has small air pockets within it that pull away moisture from your skin. If, by chance, it does get wet (leaky boots happen to everyone), it will continue to insulate and keep you warm.
Socks that are 100% wool can sometimes be itchy and bulky. To avoid this, choose socks made from a wool/synthetic blend or go with Merino wool. Merino wool is a type of wool that comes from Merino sheep. Because it’s thinner and softer than other wool, it’s a preferred fabric for many cold-weather clothing brands.
It’s also a good idea to look for socks that have a bit of spandex or elastic fabric. This type of material not only helps socks retain their shape, it’ll prevent them from slouching down into your boots or shoes.
Always pay attention to sock size and fit. If socks are too loose on your feet, they won’t insulate properly. Too tight and they’ll reduce your circulation and lead to cold feet. You also want to pay attention to how socks fit around your ankles and calves. If they’re too loose, you’ll have to constantly be tugging at them. And again, too tight and they’ll reduce your circulation.
Socks—especially those sold by outdoor retailers—are often designed for specific purposes. Think about where you plan to wear your socks. Are they for winter hiking? Ice fishing? Lounging? It can be helpful to shop for socks that are labeled for these specific purposes.
The Warmest Socks
With all this sock knowledge in mind, we’ve rounded up our favorite warm socks for women and men that’ll keep you frostbite free on winter days and nights.
WomenSmartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Crew Socks
With their festive snowflake pattern, these socks from SmartWool look like winter socks. But they don’t just have seasonal style, these socks are designed for cold-weather adventures. With a seamless toe, medium cushion, and slight arch support, you can comfortably wear these socks for all your winter activities. Their Merino wool blend is both lightweight and insulating.
Materials: 54% Merino wool / 45% Nylon / 1% elastane
Best for: running, hiking
Carhartt has a reputation for its rugged clothing and they don’t skimp on socks either. Their women’s cold weather boot socks are possibly the most heavyweight option on our list. These ultra-thick socks are fully cushioned in both the foot and ankle, making them the perfect pair for boots and lots of time on your feet. The wool/synthetic blend means they’re not only warm, but machine-washable too.
Materials: 66% acrylic / 21% Merino wool / 12% nylon / 1% Spandex
Best for: winter camping, hiking, ice fishing
If your winter plans include fresh powder and ski slopes, try these performance socks from Darn Tough. Their over-the-calf design will keep out the snow and insulate your legs along with your feet. The fine-gauge knit is lightweight and comfortable yet warm thanks to a big dose of Merino wool. Even better? Darn Tough socks have a lifetime guarantee—so if you wear them out or tear them, the company will replace your socks for free!
Materials: 68% Merino wool / 28% nylon / 4% Lycra Spandex
Best for: snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing
Duluth Trading Co. Heavyweight Merino Wool Socks
These plush socks from Duluth Trading Co. are equally at home curled up indoors or on a snowy hike. Their substantial weight and cushion makes them comfy and insulated while the Merino wool provides itch-free warmth. And if you’re concerned about misshapen socks or socks that sink into your boots, you won’t have to worry about that with this pair. A bit of Spandex keeps them stretchy.
Materials: 46% Merino wool / 46% acrylic / 7% nylon / 1% Spandex
Best for: fireside lounging, hiking
L.L. Bean Campside Wool Socks
L.L. Bean’s Campside wool socks are perfect for people who like their socks on the playful side. These warm socks come in 5 colorful patterns—including a ski gondola design. But these socks aren’t just fun, they’re functional. Made from a Merino wool blend, they’re naturally anti-microbial and odor-resistant while keeping your feet warm.
Materials: varies based on pattern
Best for: hiking, snowshoeing
MenSmartWool PhD Run Cold Weather Crew Socks
For some people, running season never ends. If you still hit the streets and trails when the snow flies, these cold-weather running socks from SmartWool are your ideal companion. Their mid-crew cut is lower than a standard boot sock meaning they pair well with running shoes and trail runners. These socks are also made from a lightweight wool blend that’s been designed with mesh zones to increase breathability.
Materials: 56% Merino wool / 41% nylon / 3% elastane
Best for: running, hiking
Hunting in winter weather can mean a lot of time waiting in the cold or on your feet. Darn Tough designed these socks especially for hunters with their needs in mind. Their heavy-duty terry loop construction gives the socks added bulk and insulation while their over-the-calf height provides the cold weather coverage you need.
Materials: 79% Merino / 19% nylon / 2% Lycra Spandex
Best for: hunting, ice fishing, outdoor adventure
When you’re on the slopes, you need socks that will keep you warm and give you the support and structure you need. These socks from snowboard giant Burton offer all that and more. Their reinforced footbed ensures long-lasting wear and strategically placed elastic in the arches, ankles, and legs offers substantial support. Their wool blend fabric is machine-washable and includes sections of abrasion-resistant NanoGLIDE for better heel hold.
Materials: 38% Polyamide-Nylon / 31% Merino wool / 11% acrylic / 10% Polyamide Nan Glide / 8% Polypropylene / 2% elastane
Best for: snowboarding, skiing
For warm, rugged socks with extra cushioning, try Carhartt’s cold weather crew socks. A fully cushioned footbed provides comfort and insulation while the socks’ fast-dry technology keeps your feet dry by wicking away sweat. The reinforced toe and heel will prevent your socks from getting worn out before you do!
Materials: 44% polyester / 23% acrylic / 22% nylon / 9% wool / 2% Spandex
Best for: everyday use, outdoor work
These boot socks from Under Armour are—like many socks—a unisex design. They’re fully cushioned and made from a wool synthetic blend so they’re comfortable enough for everyday wear. Yet since they’re lightweight and breathable, they can also be used for winter camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
Materials: 68% polyester, 16% wool, 15% nylon, 1% Spandex
Best for: everyday use, hiking, camping
Once you’ve bought a few pairs of winter-ready socks, you should probably think about boots! Check out our 12 Best Boots for Winter Activities to find the footwear that’ll work best for you.