If you’re an adventure junkie like me – you’re not about to let the extreme cold, or any part of winter stop you from getting outdoors. But, that’s not to say us outdoor junkies enjoy getting cold feet.
Over the years I’ve used a tonne of different winter, cold weather and thermal socks for just about everything including:
- Hiking and Camping
- Mountain Biking
- Dirt Biking
- Snowboarding and Skiing
But, the best cold weather socks I’ve used would definitely be suited to any outdoor activity, including the likes of hunting and fishing.
Before we jump into some quick reviews and recommendations of the warmest socks I’ve used…
What Are The Best Types Of Sock Material For Extreme Cold?
Again, if you’re like me, you’ll have two separate sides to your kit drawer.
One side, you’ll have your warmest socks to be used in dry conditions. In the other, you’ll have extreme weather socks that are suitable for wet conditions.
The only difference here, is the what the socks are made of.
Materials that have moisture wicking properties are my favorite. They’re perfect for base layers, jumpers and of course; socks.
A typical example of a material with moisture wicking properties is merino wool.
Head down to any outdoor store, and you’ll see it bursting at the seams with products made from merino.
This material is layered. And that means when you get wet, there’s still a degree of airflow in the sock, allowing your feet to dry out quickly.
That’s also a big bonus if you’re prone to sweaty feet when you’re pushing yourself to the limit outdoors.
If your outdoor adventures are limited to the dry, then you don’t necessarily need warm socks that wick moisture like the merino wool ones mentioned above.
However, I’ll stress again that moisture wicking materials like merino wool, also help to provide air flow to dry out sweat (or prevent it).
Essentially, it’s like having a temperature regulator in your socks.
If you don’t get sweaty feet, and you want the warmest socks possible for extreme weather adventures, you’ll want thermals.
Which Type Of Extreme Weather Socks Do I Buy, And Why?
Let’s roll with a quick example.
Imagine your trekking and have to cross a knee-deep stream with jeans on.
How long does it take for them to dry? An hour, more?
Then do the same thing in hiking pants.
In normal conditions you’ll be dry in a few minutes.
And that’s the difference between thermals (jeans) and moisture wicking materials like merino wool (hiking pants).
Once you get thermals wet, that’s it, they stay wet!
Every minute they’re not dry, you’re losing crucial body temperature.
So, short story long, I prefer moisture wicking materials like merino wool.
You Want Merino, But You’re Worried They’ll Not Be Warm Enough?
If by extreme cold, you truly mean it, there might not be a sock on the market that has you covered.
I usually take a spare pair of socks on my adventures. One option here is to use merino wool socks (for temperature regulation and blister proofing).
If at any stage your feet get cold, slip your thermals on over the top and take them off when you heat up!
The Warmest Socks For Wet Adventures
So, you’re going for a set of cold weather socks that if you get wet, are going to dry quickly?
Good choice – here’s a recommendation, and a set I’ve got in my Vango pack right now.
Darn Tough Over-The-Calf Extreme Cold Socks
Darn Tough are a popular brand in the outdoor scene, and their over-the-calf socks are some of the best in the business – one of the warmest socks they’ve got on offer.
Don’t think you’ll be picking up 20 pairs for $20 like you would with cotton socks at Walmart.
You’ll be lucky to get one pair for that price.
Being cheap isn’t what this brand is all about. They’re about quality and providing a product with a specific function; warmth.
It’s worth checking out the construction of any cold weather socks you plan on buying.
A brand offering 1% merino and 99% nylon could call their socks “merino wool” and technically, they wouldn’t be lying.
With the Darn Tough pair, you’ll be getting 79% merino.
Why not 100%?
Darn Tough build-in the remaining 21% with both Lycra and Spandex.
This is what gives the sock some rigidity.
Without it, you’d spend half your day pulling them up as they bunch in your boots.
Now, this isn’t an official feature advertised by Darn Tough.
But, what you’ll find with any merino wool extreme weather socks (assuming it’s 50% or more merino), is that it helps to reduce blisters in comparison to normal socks.
The moisture wicking properties that dry sweat means that your feet won’t soften when your hiking, biking, running, or whatever else you do.
And, it’s usually this moisture + softening that lead to blisters.
Obviously, I don’t need to read reviews to know these socks are durable, comfortable and one of the warmest socks I own.
However, there are hundreds of reviews with adventure junkies saying the same thing, so go and check them out – don’t take my word for it.
Would I Buy Darn Toughs Again?
I’ve got a few sets of Darn Toughs, and they’re one of the warmest socks I own.
There is a cheaper option, being the Carhatt Extreme Cold Socks. However, whilst they feel slightly thicker, they’re certainly not as comfortable.
When my Darn Toughs wear out, I’ll be replacing them with the same set I own now.
The Warmest Socks For Dry Adventures
If you don’t suffer from sweaty feet, are unlikely to get wet and want the warmest socks possible, thermals are for you.
I’ve got thermals that I’ve used for snowboarding (although they got wet, so I used my merino wool socks after that) and even for work.
Heat Holders Extreme Cold Thermal Socks
I don’t own a tonne of extreme weather thermal socks. But after trying a few brands out, my kit bag now only contains Heat Holders.
They do what they say on the tin; they hold heat.
You’re looking at around ½ the price for the Heat Holder thermals in comparison to Darn Tough cold weather socks.
But I guess, that’s an apples and oranges comparison, given I tend to pick merino wool socks over thermals almost every single time.
The Heat Holders are put together with 91% Acrylic, 5% Nylon, 3% Polyester and 1% Elastane.
According to Heat Holders, we’re talking about 7x the warmth of your average cotton socks. Better still, you’ll be getting around 3x the heat in comparison to the average thermals.
The Darn Tough socks are more comfortable, but Heat Holders are the warmest thermal socks that I’ve used, that also have a reasonable level of comfort.
I hike and bike a lot – basically, I do thinks where my feet get abused.
Whilst you’ll get above average comfort with Heat Holders (when compared to everyday socks), it’s not enough to blister proof your feet if you’re like me and get a little sweaty.
Like Darn Tough, the Heat Holders have got 100s of positive reviews online.
Check them out before buying and see what other people have to say.
Would I Buy Heat Holders Again?
I always have a set of extreme weather socks that are thermals in my kit bag.
I’ve not come across another set of socks (certainly not in this price bracket) that offer the comfort, durability and warmth of the Heat Holders.
For that reason alone, when I eventually wear them out I’ll replace my Heat Holders with, well, Heat Holders.
Thanks for reading our quick review to the best and warmest socks for the extreme cold.
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