So you got your new fancy Salomon boots, a load lifter backpack and you did your daily workout. But after the first day of an exercise your feet just hurt. Even the thought of looking at your feet hurts, because you know that when you take off your boots you gotta press in your feet again.
What happened? You got wet feet, not because your shoes werent waterproof, but because you invested not a single thought into your socks. The exercise will end in a few days and the pain in a few weeks, but during a real mission you would have perhaps simply died of infection.
So before we talk about what you have to look for when buying socks, we will talk about the basics of foot hygiena: Cut your fucking toe nails, I’ve experienced guys that really suffered huge infections and got kicked from deoyments because of this. Always dry your feet. Desinfect and tape wounds, use foot powder. Spend as much time possible in flip flops or sneakers. Change socks as often as possible and carry at least one pair of spare socks with you.
So what do, or should, socks actually do? First of, they protect your feet from the chaffing of your shoe, so your casual or athletic socks dont work when hiking. They need to be padded and tight, because a loose sock will start chaffing by itself. Also look for socks that are at least one inch higher than the boots you are wearing. As always in the military or outdoors, don’t have “smart” ideas like putting another sock over the other. This will just create more moving “parts” and will provoke chaffing.
Socks should also keep your feet dry and at temperature. Your ideal body temperature is around 37,5 degrees Celsius during intensive tasks. So don’t head for “cool” feet, it’s about managing heat and not about cooling. I always advise to get yourself at least medium or heavy weight socks, because you will start sweating anyways and thin socks won’t manage to suck away all the sweat from your feet before they start chaffing and draining heat.
The next task of socks is compression, as your blood will tend to stay in your feet when doing long ruck marches. Those are the same problems older people experience when they are sitting in a plane to long. If there is to much blood in your feet, your vessels will expand an it will be hard to get out of or in your boots in time. So, again, try to opt for tight socks that have an anatomic, tailored cut. Speaking of anatomic cut, most genuine issued socks lack such a cut and also lack compression, they tend to be somewhat loose.
There are also things that you should look for: Avoid all kind of visible and rough seams as they will start to chaff. Also look for socks that are not just one color, but instead tell you how they are actually put on, what’s inside and what’s outside, creating Index points. This prevents putting on the socks the wrong way, it happens more often than you think.
When it comes to materials I clearly prefer merino wool with a small part of synthetic. Merino wool actually keeps your feet warm while wet and basically works like a air conditioning system for your feet. During hotter weather you can also change to less merino dominant socks like Falke. But I advise anyone to go with at least a small percentage of Merino as there is no real alternative at the moment. Also merino is antibacterial and will somewhat prevent infections.
Socks I actually like are Armadillo Merino Socks, Point 6 socks and Darn Tough. Stay away from neoprene socks and other socks that pretend to be waterproof. The only real use for neoprene socks is at the campsite to relax your feet.
Basically socks need to be the followimg:
- No hard seams
- At least medium thickness
I hope this article just did create some order inside the chaos of an often ignored topic.
You can get armadillo merino and point six socks at our partners @ S4 Supplies. Great products and great guys.
If you are bored from me talking about socks, visit our Instagram account for other rad shit.