Anyone who’s experienced the outdoors or lived somewhere cold will tell you that the key to proper layering is having insulating inner layers, and the right socks go a long way in keeping you warm. After all, it doesn’t matter how warm your upper half is if your feet are cold and wet. And while the boots are responsible for keeping your feet dry, it’s your socks that actually keep your feet warm. That’s why it’s always worth having a good pair of boot socks.
Boot socks don’t necessarily refer to one specific kind of sock — you can have boot socks in different cuts, materials and weights. But in general, boot socks will be tall enough to bridge the gap between the top of your boot and the break of your pants. Boot socks obviously need to be warm, but there is a caveat. If they’re not breathable, sweat will build up in your socks as you walk, making your feet damp and cold.
That’s why many boot socks are made from moisture-wicking materials, including synthetics like polyester and natural fibers like wool. These fabrics can keep you warm while also keeping sweat from saturating the fabric and making you miserable. Merino wool is an especially popular option because it offers the natural benefits of wool without the itchiness that’s typically associated with the fabric.
There are other details to consider when looking for boot socks. Style is worth considering, although in many cases, the socks will be hidden by the shaft of your boots. And while all boot socks are designed to keep you warm, there’s considerable variance in weight. Some boot socks are on the thinner side, while others will be almost as heavy as your favorite winter sweater.
We’ve rounded up some of the best boot socks to buy right now. Even if you’re not planning to go anywhere this winter, the best boot socks are still a great investment; you can wear them as you shuffle along on cold bathroom tile and hardwood floors.
1. Carhartt Multipack Performance Work Socks
Carharrt is well-known for its warm beanies, but they also make great socks. That means that Carharrt can be trusted to keep you warm from your head to your toes. These socks are made from a polyester-spandex blend which wicks moisture away from your feet to reduce odors and keep your feet dry. The socks also have panels in the soles and ankles to provide support and compression.
2. American Trench Cashmere Marl
For something truly luxurious, consider these cashmere/merino boot socks from American Trench. They’re made in the US and come in simple colors like dark brown marl and solid green. The socks are made from a blend of different fabrics. The 70% superfine merino wool keeps your feet warm but dry, while the 30% cashmere blend adds unparalleled softness and comfort. But before you fret about dry cleaning your socks, don’t worry — they recommend machine washing and hang drying or tumble drying on low.
3. RealTree Boot Socks
MERINO WOOL BLEND
These socks are made in the US by RealTree, a brand that specializes in outdoor camouflage equipment. And much like the way camouflage is designed to disappear from sight, these socks are comfortable enough that you can forget you’re wearing them. They’re made from a blend of merino wool, which provides warmth and moisture-wicking, nylon, which adds durability and spandex, which makes the socks stretchy.
4. Wrangler Men’s Western Boot Socks
We’re not sure why they call these socks Western — there’s no fringe or pearl snap buttons — but at least these boot socks are up to the kind of tasks a cowboy would put them through. These American-made socks are made with a blend of polyester, nylon and spandex, making them moisture-wicking and stretchy enough to easily pull on and off. Ribbed panels provide support to the arch of your foot as well. They come in a pack of three and are available in white, black or gray.
5. Darn Tough Hiker Boot Sock Cushion Socks
These boots from Darn Tough are made from a blend of merino wool, nylon and spandex. Merino wool is a popular performance fabric because of its moisture-wicking abilities and the fact that, as a natural fiber, it’s more durable and environmentally-friendly than polyester. These socks have a moderate level of cushioning for comfort and are designed to not slip in your shoes. Best of all, these boots are made in the US.
6. Dickies Men’s Work Crew Socks
These boots from Dickies are made primarily from cotton, making these a good option if you find wool and polyester uncomfortable. It features compression panels on the insteps for all-day comfort, no matter how long you’re on your feet. The socks are also cushioned to provide warmth and protection from stiff boots.
7. LL Bean Merino Wool Ragg Socks
LL Bean is best known for its legendary duck boots, and the Maine-based brand also makes great socks to along with them. The socks come in a few classic colors, and they’re made in the US from a blend of merino wool, nylon and spandex. The merino wool keeps you warm without being itchy or overheating. Each order includes two socks, and they come in sizes that suit both men and women.
8. Uniqlo Heattech Fair Isle Socks
These socks from Uniqlo feature Heattech, which is designed to not only retain warmth but generate it, keeping your feet warm but dry throughout the day. These are regular length socks, so they’re best suited for ankle-height boots, rather than tall boots. They feature a stylish Fair Isle pattern that’s available in red, blue, black and gray.
9. Weatherproof Boot Crew Socks for Women
BEST WOMEN’S SOCKS
These women’s socks come from Weatherproof Vintage, a brand that makes stylish and affordable wet-weather gear and casualwear. The socks have a stylish marled look, and each order includes four socks. You can choose gray socks or a mix of black, gray, oatmeal and burgundy colors. The socks are a cotton blend.