I am a huge fan of wool socks. I’ll admit that right off the bat. I’d rather own 2 pairs of wool socks than 20 pairs of cotton. I know, wool is pricey, but you get what you pay for. Wool doesn’t stink (I wash after 4-7 days), it wicks moisture, it feels cool in the summer, and it feels warm in the winter. People are usually surprised when I tell them I wear wool socks in the summer, but the thin wool socks feel fantastic even at 110 degrees F. I am now so loyal to wool that I get *really* disappointed if I don’t have any clean ones to wear.
I honestly can’t think of anything good to say about cotton socks. They make my feet hot in summer, cold in winter, they bunch up, they stink after one day, and they hold moisture like a sponge. Cotton socks (and underwear), we’re through.
So which socks do I wear and when? Let’s get right down to it:
- over 50 degrees F = thin wool, usually Smartwool brand, like this but whatever is on sale
- 30 to 50 degrees F = thicker wool, like these or these
- under 30 degrees F = thin alpaca wool, like these, or thick sheep wool socks
Wool does have a few caveats though:
- 100% wool usually needs special washing care and detergent
- moths like to eat it, so store it with mothballs, cedar wood, or essential oils
- 100% wool can stretch if you wring it out to dry
- If you play guitar in a wool shirt, your belt buckle will wear little holes in the shirt (believe me, I wish someone had warned me about this)
The 80/20 wool/synthetic blends prove very durable, you can typically launder them with the other clothes, and they don’t loosen up and stretch out like full wool. Hence the huge popularity of smarwools, wigwams, and other 80/20 blends. Maybe they’re slightly less warm in the cold, but I really don’t know for sure.
Shoe caveat: obviously, the type of shoe you’re wearing is hugely influential on foot temperature. If I wear airy sneakers, my feet will still get a little cold under 30 degrees even with wool socks. If I wear leather shoes, they hold in the heat much better.