For most of us, socks aren’t exactly the first thing on our mind. Any old pair of white socks will do, right? Not really. If you’re big into the outdoors, being active and hiking, running or biking frequently, you’re going to need something a little more substantial on your feet. Us…we like wool. Especially merino wool. And while merino wool socks may be expensive . . . once you experience the soft, comfy, breathable and moisture-wicking comfort of merino wool socks, you may never go back to those ratty cotton ones you got in a pack of 8. Here’s our pick for some of the best wool socks you’ll find, for any activity you need.

darn tough socks

Darn Tough No-Show Ultra-Light Athletic Socks

Perhaps our single favorite pair of socks, these ankle socks from Darn Tough are built to last, woven in Vermont from 51% Merino Wool and 45% Nylon, with 4% Spandex for some stretch. This gives is it some natural anti-microbial properties, and ensures it to be both warm and breathable. These things are thick, too; Darn Tough provides a hefty amount of padding on both the heel and the toes, both for comfort and reinforcement. To top it all off, Darn Tough backs up all their socks with a lifetime guarantee; get a hole in them, and they will send you a new pair. Perfect for running and everyday wear, though you will want something taller for hiking, such as….

darn tough micro crew cushion

Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushion

The taller, heavier-duty big brother to the No-Show’s above, the Micro Crew Cushions are 61% merino wool, 36% nylon, 3% spandex. They’ve got medium cushioning for comfort, and a fine, dense weave all over. The height is perfect for both hiking boots and everyday boots, and these socks are all-around versatile for just about anything – the perfect blend of warmth and breathability warmer seasons. They are, like the No-Show’s, naturally anti-microbial, and of course, come with a lifetime warranty.  You will want something heavier for the dead of winter, but otherwise – our pick for crew socks.

smartwool phd light

Smartwool PHD Outdoor Ultra-Light 

Before Darn Tough came along, Smartwool was considered the king of merino wool socks. That may not be the case anymore, but they still make some dang good socks. The Phd Outdoor Ultra-Light Crew socks are the perfect socks for spring and summer hiking and casual wearing, made from a 49% merino wool and 46%/ 5% spandex blend. This makes them light and cool, while remaining adequately thick and comfortable. With that said, Smartwool socks don’t always hold up to things the way Darn Tough and other brands do; in fact, we’ve put a few holes in ours, and they don’t back them up with the same lifetime guarantee that Darn Tough does. Still, that doesn’t mean they aren’t great socks.

dg hill crew socks

DG HILL 80 % Merino Wool Crew Socks

These crew socks from DG Hill are a good budget buy, a set of 3 pairs of 80% merino wool socks for roughly the same price as a single pair of any other brand. They’ve a reinforced heel for extended wear, with cushioning and built-in arch support. They’re pretty thick and warm, and definitely more appropriate for winter; perfect for skiing, hiking, camping, or even just wearing when shoveling and digging out the car.

patagonia midweight socks

Patagonia MidWeight Merino Hiking Socks

The most expensive pair of socks on this light, these Midweight Merino socks from Patagonia are the perfect middle ground for just about everything; they’re adequately padded, but light enough to keep your feet cool when active. Patagonia made from a merino, nylon and spandex blend that is 100% chlorine-free and guaranteed to be itch-proof, and they made them with what they call a Looped Lintoe construction, which ensures the smallest and flattest seam they possibly can. Good height for hiking and boots, stretchy for comfort, an all-around solid choice. If only they had a lifetime guarantee at that price…

wigwam merino comfort hiker

Wigwam Merino Comfort Hiker

Wigwam is a veteran when it comes to wool socks, so we would be remiss to not include at least one pair of theirs. These midweight crew socks are 67% Merino wool, 21% Stretch Nylon, 7% Elastic (rubber), 5% Acrylic, meaning they have stretch and comfort to keep you going. The entire sock is fully cushioned, and they’re built with a seamless toe closure that makes them as comfortable and durable as possible.  They’re also made right at home in America. 

darn tough mountaineering socks

Darn Tough Mountaineering Socks

For real cold, you need real warm socks. These Mountaineering socks from Darn Tough will do the trick; they’re the brand’s thickest, heaviest socks, made of 74% merino wool and 24% nylon, with 2% spandex, and cushioned all over. The performance fit keeps them from bunching up on you, while the Over The Calf height ensures they will keep snow and cold on the outside of your boot. They’re ultra-warm, but still ultra-breathable and moisture-wicking and can double as a summer sock as well. And of course, they have built-in anti-microbial properties and are backed up by Darn Tough’s lifetime guarantee. Our choice for cold weather expeditions.

smartwool city slicker dress socks

Smartwool City Slicker

If you spend most of your time indoors, in the office maybe – then you probably want something more akin to the Smartwool City Slickers. These socks are 77% Merino Wooland 21% nylon, and perfect for wearing to work everyday, or during formal occasions in cold weather. They’re available in four colors and the best wool socks for a combination of sleek dress style and wooly warmth. And they are from Smartwool, so what’s not to like?