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#152938 - 10/23/08 04:32 PM Socks--one or two layers?
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
I only do casual day hiking but I remember a long time ago, when I would occasionally read about more serious backpacking and such, two layers of socks were often recommended. I was just wondering, with newer fabrics and blends being developed all the time, whether the more serious backpackers of today use one or two layers of socks?

The thread the other day about planning for walking 21 miles home got me to thinking about socks.

#152940 - 10/23/08 04:48 PM Re: Socks--one or two layers? [Re: Arney]
Grouch Offline

Registered: 07/02/08
Posts: 395
Loc: Ohio
I'm not a serious backpacker but it seems to me that the immediate benefit of wearing two layers of socks would be that much of the friction would be between the two layers of socks instead of between the socks and skin. <shrug>

#152942 - 10/23/08 05:27 PM Re: Socks--one or two layers? [Re: Grouch]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2005
Loc: NE Illinois
Its not fancy, nor is it very attractive, but ...

I wear two layers:

Inside I wear a pair of black nylon dress socks that I bought from the local Walmart - they come in 3-packs. Make sure they're not cotton. This is the odd and no-so-attractive part, but they are durable and dirt-cheap.

Outside I wear a pair of good Smartwool hiking socks - I think they were called "Hiker" (Smartwool has all sorts of different kinds of wool socks).

I like Smartwool socks because on those real cold nights I can also wear them without a liner at night in my sleeping bag to help keep my feet warm. Regular wool is so itchy to me that it drives me nuts - not so with the Smartwool. The wool socks make a huge difference when its cold and I'm trying to sleep.

I've also been known to wear the Smartwool by itself when just hanging around camp - not hiking, but I do worry it puts more wear on the wool sock than when using a liner.

#152943 - 10/23/08 05:53 PM Re: Socks--one or two layers? [Re: Grouch]
Yuccahead Offline

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 199
Loc: W. Texas
Back in the 1870's when I used to backpack a lot, 2 pair were worn to help reduce blisters and provide some more cushioning. The inner pair was supposed to be a thin sock. I never liked the feeling. It felt I was sliding around in my boots. Eventually, you could buy socks that were designed to reduce blisters by having 2 socks made into one unit but I never tried them. They seemed to be mostly designed for runners and I could not find them in styles high enough to wear with boots.

This article seems to be pretty good. The gist I got out of it after a quick skim was wear 2 acrylic socks -- one with good cushioning. But clearly in some situations, you are just going to get blisters.

The other day, I was watching some show called "Survival School" on the MOJO channel (I am not making this up). The show followed a bunch of students through the U.S. Air Forces' S.E.R.E school. During one segment the students had to hike many miles across mountainous terrain with heavy packs. Some of their feet took gruesome beatings. One student lost the entire bottom callus of a heal.
-- David.

#152944 - 10/23/08 05:54 PM Re: Socks--one or two layers? [Re: KenK]
Blast Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3560
Loc: Spring, Texas
+1 to KenK. I also wear thin, nylon dress socks from Walmart under my wool hiking socks (also from Walmart blush). I've found I'm pretty susceptable to blisters on my heel and on the edges of my toes no matter which boots/shoes I'm wearing. I never have this problem when I do the two-sock thing.

Blogging the Borderlands
Wild Edibles Blog
I miss OBG.

#152948 - 10/23/08 06:50 PM Re: Socks--one or two layers? [Re: Yuccahead]
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
"Back in the 1870's when I used to backpack a lot..."

REALLY??? If you were backpacking when you were fourteen, that would make you 145 now. And you can still see and type, not to mention think?

You need to contact the Guinness people at http://guinnessworldrecords.com/records/human_body/default.aspx

And I'd do it right away, if I were you... grin grin grin Right NOW, in fact.


#152950 - 10/23/08 06:56 PM Re: Socks--one or two layers? [Re: Susan]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 854
Loc: Colorado
I've done some serious hiking and the 2 pair solution works for me. Under sock is a Thermax wicking sock the outer sock is Fox River <something>. Buy your boots AFTER you figure out your sock standards.

I also wear combat boots and cushion-foot wool socks for long days afield but my feet are definitely less happy than in my 2 socks hiking boots setup.

#152952 - 10/23/08 07:05 PM Re: Socks--one or two layers? [Re: Susan]
Hikin_Jim Offline

Registered: 10/12/07
Posts: 1804
Loc: Southern California
I always do the two sock thing. Seems to work for me. I'm using Ultimax brand liner socks which are a bit thicker than dress socks. I haven't used Smartwool, but I've talked to a lot of people who have used Smartwool and really like it.

I actually carry at least two changes of socks (four pair in other words) of varying weights. Mainly, I carry the extra socks in case I get wet (always have a pair of dry socks in case you have to bivvy), but if I start getting a hot spot, I can try a different sock. Sometimes that's all it takes.

Oh, and duct tape works really well on hot spots. smile Note, however, that duct tape does not breathe which can be an issue on multi day trips.
Adventures In Stoving

#152954 - 10/23/08 07:23 PM Re: Socks--one or two layers? [Re: Hikin_Jim]
Nishnabotna Offline
Icon of Sin

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 512
Loc: Nebraska
Yup, pretty accepted notion.

#152955 - 10/23/08 07:36 PM Re: Socks--one or two layers? [Re: Blast]
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4776
Thin nylon dress socks are a great idea. I've always used sock liners under wool. These days I have REI branded Cool-Max liners under Smartwool. It's a good combination.

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