View Full Version : Any experience knitting hiking socks?

10-26-2007, 02:38 PM
Hi all. My son has asked me to try knitting him some hiking socks. He's quite an experienced hiker, so I know I've got to get it right. Other than 'knots are anathema', I'm finding precious little info about what makes for a good hiking sock.

If you knit socks that stand up to long hikes, would you please share info such as what yarn you use, what needle size you use, what pattern you use, and any other hints you've learned? If it helps, I believe he usually wears liner socks under his hiking socks.

Thanks so much!

10-26-2007, 05:34 PM
My mum says red and thick, fairly absorbant yarn like cotton. She's hiked since '68 and remembers her socks being soft wool of some sort.

10-26-2007, 05:58 PM
No offense to your mum, but NO cotton! It absorbs sweat and makes it rub around on your foot and NO! Cotton Kills, as they say, but anyhow.

SmartWool is a company that makes great hiking socks, and they use Merino wool mixed with other stuff (don't ask me what). Wool in general is good because it doesn't absorb moisture, and merino is great because it's not itchy. Silk would also do well, if you can find some that you really want to use on hiking socks, but if he uses liners they're probably already silk. I don't have any other advice, really.

10-26-2007, 06:31 PM
Thank you for the SmartWool recommendation. It has been very helpful to study their performance socks, especially the ones that have won awards from Backpacker Magazine. The 75% wool, 24% nylon, 1% spandex seems very popular.

Just off-hand, it seems easy to find 75% wool, 25% nylon sock yarn. I wonder if any of the yarn companies have added a little spandex. I'll keep looking.

All info from experienced hikers is welcome. I have heard that a little cotton in the mix is helpful for warmer climates, so I am interested in hearing any experience with cotton as well. Thanks!

10-26-2007, 06:34 PM
There's a tickle in my head saying there's a sock yarn brand named Trexx or something like that with elastic something... I'll have a look.

What climate does your son usually hike in? That does make a difference.

10-26-2007, 09:01 PM
He usually hikes in the Southeastern US Appalachian area. Thanks!

10-26-2007, 09:35 PM
Remember that cotton is not going to have the "spring back" that wool does, so it is more likel to stretch out of shape and sag.

10-26-2007, 09:44 PM
To avoid blisters it is important to wick away any moisture in the shoe - especially while hiking. Wool is excellent to wick the moisture and if the sock does get wet (rains in Appalachian area!) wool will still keep the feet warm. Cotton dries very slowly - think about line drying a pair of jeans/bath towel. Yes, the hiking word is "cotton kills" since it stays wet and cold pulling heat from your body. ok, back to knitting. :)

10-28-2007, 12:26 PM
Well, it's been a quiet weekend and I've had plenty of time to research this hiking sock thing. Using all of your suggestions about fibers and plenty of google searches, I think I'm going to go with a fingering weight, wool blend, machine-wash yarn that has some stretch to it.

Here are some yarns that seem suitable for hiking socks like SmartWool retail brand socks:
--Soxx Appeal from Knit One Crochet Too [96% superwash merino/3% nylon/1% elastic]
--Regia Stretch [70% new wool/23% polyamide(nylon?)/7% Elite(stretch polyester)]
--Lana Grossa Meilenweit Mega Boots [70% virgin wool/23% polyamide(nylon)/7% Elite]

The cost is similar for all three yarns because the ones that seem less expensive will require 2 balls for a pair of socks, instead of 1 ball per pair for the more expensive yarn.

One person on the web who knits hiking socks for her husband says that she uses 2 strands of yarn for the areas that need extra cushioning.

Any thoughts on these yarns or the direction I'm going?

Thank you!

10-28-2007, 01:51 PM
I've never made hiking socks, but I've often used two strands for the areas that will receive the most wear. Makes them last much longer. Right now I have 2 pair to darn because I did NOT use the double strands.

10-28-2007, 06:00 PM
Right now I have 2 pair to darn because I did NOT use the double strands.

Interesting... so there's more to this extra cushioning than I thought. It actually helps ensure that the sock will still be there when the trail ends!:figureditout:

Thank you!