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Cold feet make any outing miserable. Choosing the best men’s socks can go a long way toward keeping your feet warm in the winter. The first rule is to ditch the cotton socks. They have little insulation value and no ability to transport moisture away from your feet. Wool socks are well known for retaining heat when wet, and for wicking moisture away from your feet—and some synthetic blends are very effective at keeping feet warm and dry, as well. Choosing socks of the right length helps keep you warm, too. Crew socks are fine for shoes or short boots around town, but the added warmth and protection from chafing that taller socks offer can help make the difference between happy feet and frozen toes.

Best Warm Socks for Men: Heat Holders Twist Long Socks for Men

Best Heated Socks: ActionHeat 5V Rechargeable Battery-Heated Wool Socks

Best Moisture Wicking Socks: Darn Tough Hunter Over the Calf Extra Cushion Wool Socks

Best Socks for Waders: Cabela’s Knee-to-Toe Wool Wader Socks for Men

Best Cheap Men’s Socks: Pembrook Merino Wool Socks

How to Choose the Best Men’s Socks

Socks have to fit to function. There is no such thing as comfy socks that are too tight or too loose. If you’re serious about sock shopping, have your foot measured. Your foot size and boot size aren’t always the same.

If socks are too big, they will bunch and be bothersome at best, and cause painful blisters at worst. Socks that are too tight are uncomfortable and can cut off circulation, making your feet colder, not warmer.

Socks and boots form a system, and for them to work together, they have to fit together. If socks are so thick they don’t leave enough room for your toes to wiggle, you not only risk reduced blood flow, but the fibers of the socks and the insulation of your boots get compressed, preventing the system from trapping and warming air.

Save your gym socks for working out. Like any other item of outdoor men’s clothing, warm socks have a special purpose and features to help you stay comfortable, no matter the conditions. In cold weather, your body directs blood to heat your core, reducing circulation to your extremities, which is why your feet and hands get cold first and warm up last.

Your socks need to wick sweat away from your feet. If, say, you hike into the woods carrying a stand and bow, or you’re a skier, you probably work up a sweat, even on a cold day. If your socks hold that moisture instead of wicking it away, your feet will get colder faster than they would if they stayed dry.

Socks also warm feet by trapping body heat, so the thickness and loft of socks matters, too. You want to match the thickness of your socks to the intensity of your activity level. If you’ll be hiking all day, a thick sock might overheat your foot, even if it does wick moisture. Obviously, too, the taller the socks, the more protection they provide, which is why a waterfowler’s wader socks can extend all the way above the knee, while socks for hiking are much lower.

Do You Need Warm Socks for Sitting Still in Extremely Cold Weather?

When you take part in sedentary cold-weather activities like ice fishing and deer hunting, pure warmth, more than moisture wicking, becomes your primary concern. If you won’t be moving enough to start sweating, choose a very thick sock that insulates your feet from the cold ground and provides lots of air spaces.

Best Warm Socks for Men: Heat Holders Twist Long Socks for Men

Maximum Warmth

Synthetic socks can be warm, too. Heat Holders Heat Holders

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Looking for the best moisture wicking socks? Heat Holders are made of very bulky yarn in a long-loop knit that creates tons of air space to trap heat that would otherwise escape. Tests have shown these Heat Holders, the best warm socks for men, to be seven times warmer than cotton socks, and they breathe and wick moisture, too.

Do You Suffer From Poor Circulation?

For some people, no sock is warm enough. Smokers, diabetics and people living with Raynaud’s disease often have poor circulation in their extremities that makes staying warm outside a real challenge. If your body can’t pump enough blood to your feet to generate heat, maybe you need outside help. Compression socks for men, which are extra snug to take pressure off your leg tissue and increase blood flow, are one option. But electrically heated socks could very well be the answer—and you might be surprised at how far they have come in recent years.

Best Heated Socks: ActionHeat 5V Rechargeable Battery-Heated Wool Socks

Rechargeable Warmth

Battery-powered carbon-fiber heating panels ward off the chill on the coldest days. ActionHeat

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Searching for the best men’s wool socks? Rechargeable lithium batteries power these socks for up to five hours at one of three settings, and the wool/cotton blend holds heat well, making these the best heated socks for men. The over-the-calf height means you can wear them with any boots.

Will You Be Active in the Cold?

Keeping your feet warm in cold weather presents special outdoor clothing challenges. You need socks that are heavy enough to trap your body heat, but also socks that wick moisture away from your skin. Otherwise, you risk soaking socks with sweat when you’re active, leading to cold feet once you stop moving. Merino wool socks combine several important qualities to help you stay warm: They offer good insulation, they wick moisture away from your skin, and the wool retains heat well, even when it’s wet. And they don’t itch, like normal wool can. Merino wool socks have become the industry standard for men’s thermal socks for all these good reasons.

Best Moisture Wicking Socks: Darn Tough Hunter Over the Calf Extra Cushion Wool Socks

Well-Named

High-density knitting makes Darn Tough merino wool socks durable and warm. Darn Tough

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In these best moisture wicking socks, the over-the-calf height warms lower legs and prevents chafing against tall boot cuffs. Extra cushioning on the bottom provides insulation against the cold ground, and the merino/nylon/spandex blend keeps you warm, wicks moisture and won’t sag.

Will You Be Wearing Waders?

It’s hard to hunt ducks or fish in rivers without wading in cold water. Socks that extend above the knee can provide critical extra warmth and ward off the clammy feeling. You also need socks that stay up beneath waders, as there’s not much you can do about bunchy socks without peeling off your waders.

Best Socks for Waders: Cabela’s Knee-to-Toe Wool Wader Socks for Men

Cold Water Comfort

Stay dry when you’re wading in the water. Cabela’s

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With a cuff extending above the knee, these are the best men’s socks you want for breaking ice and setting and picking up decoys in cold, late-season conditions. A blend of merino wool, nylon, polyester, and spandex gives these socks the right combination of warmth, moisture-wicking, and elasticity to hold them up.

Budget Men’s Socks: What You Get for Under $6.25 a Pair

Even socks that wick away moisture and sweat need washing sometimes. If you want to wear warm socks as cabin socks all winter long, and keep your feet toasty at work, too, it makes sense to find something less expensive than the pairs you save for the coldest outdoor adventures. Budget socks may not be as thick or as tall as some other pairs, but you can still get the benefits of merino wool in a less expensive package.

Best Cheap Men’s Socks: Pembrook Merino Wool Socks

Four Pack of Warmth

Wicking and warmth, without the cost. Pembrook

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Crew length Pembrook trail socks come in a versatile lower height that’s perfect for wearing around the house or to work. They are the best socks for men on a budget because they are made of a merino/synthetic blend that is warm, moisture-wicking and designed to hold up during repeated washings. These versatile socks can take to the trail, too. A four-pack won’t cost you much, meaning you’ll always have a clean pair of warm socks to wear almost anywhere.

FAQs

Q: Why are cotton socks bad for sweaty feet?

Cotton holds moisture, guaranteeing that your socks will turn wet with sweat, becoming clammy, cold, and uncomfortable.

Q: What are the best socks for sweaty feet?

The best socks for sweaty feet are made with merino wool, which is popular because it wicks moisture and has all the good qualities of wool without the itchy feel. Blended with synthetics that help it keep its elasticity, merino wool makes a great, long-lasting sock that keeps you warm and won’t sag.

Q: What brand of men’s socks are the best?

The best brand of men’s socks is not a one-size-fits-all answer. There are many good brands of socks that use merino wool to keep your feet warm and comfortable. Most of those companies make socks in several heights and thicknesses, so you can find exactly what you need.

A Final Word on Shopping for the Best Men’s Socks

The best men’s socks are the ones that are the right weight and height for your application. They will be warm and they will be made of material that wicks sweat and moisture away from your feet.

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