Do you plan to trek along the rugged and rough terrain of a mountain or remote desert? If so, you should buy (at least) one pair of compression socks for yourself.
This post will explain why compression socks are helpful for hikers and which compression socks to choose. Also, we will share some tips on choosing the best compression socks for hiking.
Benefits of using Compression Socks for Hiking
Selecting the correct type of socks when hiking is of foremost importance. The right socks can make all the difference between a pleasant, memorable hike and an uncomfortable one that you would want to forget. When in the middle of a wonderful nature hike, the last thing you want is to have feet and legs problems.
Compression socks offer firm protection from the ankle to the upper area of the legs, and they provide much-needed support during travel, exercise, and long hikes. You can look at our selection of compression socks for flying here.
The socks compress the legs, improving blood flow in the leg area. This, in turn, leads to a reduced risk of leg injuries. Moreover, this type of socks minimizes the risk of swelling and discomfort when hiking.
Veins that drain deoxygenated blood to the heart have to work against gravity, and they have valves that prevent the pooling of blood towards the ground. As you hike along trails, the veins will have to work extra hard to pump blood from your feet to the heart. Compression socks help the veins in returning deoxygenated blood to the heart. This reduces the risk of medical conditions such as deep vein thrombosis and blood clots.
Selecting the Best Compression Socks
1. Graduated Compression Socks
Compression socks with graduated compression are ideally suited for long hikes. Wearing these socks will result in optimum blood flow to the leg region, allowing you to perform at your best when hiking. You will recover faster and feel more at ease wearing this type of sock.
Graduated compression socks apply more pressure near the ankle area, and the pressure becomes gradually less towards the upper portion of the leg. The pressure gradient allows the blood to flow upwards towards the heart.
These socks are also used in physical therapy in a clinical setting. The socks are commonly prescribed for treating certain medical conditions that involve venous insufficiency in the lower leg.
2. Moisture Wicking Compression Socks
Hiking involves a lot of sweating. It would be best to buy a sock that will keep your foot and the calf area dry.
Moisture can result in discomfort and also lead to the formation of blisters.
A compression sock with anti-moisture properties will help you remain comfortable throughout the long hike. It would be best to buy a sock with moisture-wicking properties to ensure that the feet remain dry and comfortable as you hike along the trail.
3. Proper Cushioning in hiking compression socks
It would be best to buy compression socks that will offer the right amount of cushioning. The best cushioning amount depends on the route you will take and the expected weather conditions.
Thicker socks offer extra protection when backpacking or running. However, thick socks cause more sweat as compared to lighter compression socks.
You should try different socks to find out what will work best for you. You have to strike the right balance of warmth and cushion.
Socks with heavy cushions are the warmest and thickest. The socks are ideal for a long hike in cold temperatures. They can keep your feet warm and protected during cold-weather hiking. However, these socks are not great for hiking in warm weather conditions.
Socks with light and medium cushioning are the best for warm weather conditions, and they come with moisture-wicking properties that will keep your feet warm throughout the trip. The best quality compression socks offer cushioning in crucial places such as the ball and heel of the foot.
For scorching weather, you should go for compression socks with no cushioning. You need to ensure that your feet and leg don’t get too warm in hot weather.
4. Over the Calf Socks
Over-the-calf compression socks are also recommended for hikers. The socks are considered a relic of the 19th-century Victorian era fashion that looks aesthetically pleasing even today.
Also known as knee socks, the over-the-calf socks cover the entire calf. The socks offer a much-required circulatory boost. This is great for hikers who require extra efficient circulation to avoid complications such as foot injury or ulcers.
The height of the over-the-calf socks allows sufficient traction due to which the socks remain in position instead of dropping around the ankles. Wearing the socks will also prevent blistering, which can result in an infection.
5. Hiking Compression Socks Material
You should also carefully select the compression sock material. Make sure that you buy a compression sock made of nylon and polyester material. The materials will pull moisture away from the feet and calf and keep the area dry.
Socks made of synthetic polyester and nylon can easily be washed. They dry up quickly as well, making them ideal for long hikes.
In addition, you should look for compression socks with spandex material. Spandex is a lightweight material that feels comfortable, smooth, and soft. The material is also abrasion resistant and resists lotions, perspiration, and body oils. Probably the best thing about socks made of this material is that they can retain the original shape. As a result, the socks will remain in position without dropping towards the knees.
6. The Best Fit
Whichever compression socks you buy, make sure they fit perfectly on your feet. Buying socks that are too tight will prevent proper circulation. On the other hand, compression socks that are too loose will increase the risk of chafing and blisters.
In addition, socks that are too high and reach the knees will make your feet too warm during summers. Socks that are too low will offer less protection when hiking.
When selecting socks, you should look for a snug fit, not an overly tight one. Make sure that the heel cup of the socks lines perfectly with the heel of your feet. Also, you should consider the size of your foot instead of the shoe to buy the right size socks.