With all of the fun toys we get to play with to go skiing, socks usually fall last on people’s list of priorities. You spend lots of time and money to research the perfect boots, or the best skis or which new jacket, pants, helmet, goggles or gloves to invest in. It amounts to a lot of time and resources to perfect your gear.
So when all of that stuff is out of the way people don’t usually put too much time into thinking about socks, but a great pair of socks can make a huge difference in how your ski boots will fit, whether you develop blisters and keep those feet warm, dry and happy. Foot care is one of the most important tenets of self care that is critical for a successful day or days out on the mountain. If you develop large blisters on your feet, successive days will be a struggle when it comes to putting your ski boots on in the morning and skiing happily and pain free.
All of this comes down to a good pair of socks which insulates, wicks moisture, reduces friction and gives you all of the support you need to keep going out day after day. Let's be honest, socks may be the most exciting item on the surface, but with a little bit of attention you'll be amazed at what an excellent pair of socks will do for you.
It really does make a difference and it will be a small gift to give yourself day after day as you see your skiing or riding progress to new heights.
Best Overall Ski Sock: Smartwool Ski Full Cushion
Smartwool is one of the premier brands leading the outdoor industry and foot comfort. They make high quality wool socks in various lengths and thicknesses, for all sorts of outdoor activities.
These socks are simply the industry standard when looking at a solid ski sock. The material is a merino wool and nylon blend, with a little bit of elastane for stretchiness.
Wool is also known for maintaining insulation, even when wet, which makes it an ideal choice for wearing in ski boots all day. These socks have a seamless design so as to not lay uncomfortably or bind over any part of your foot or ankle. They are a tall height, over the calf, which means this sock will rise up over the top of your ski boot to ensure the best protection against friction in the calf area, in addition to keeping your feet nice warm by insulating everything below the knee.
These are Smartwool’s full cushion model, which means that while it is thick for a ski sock it is not too thick as to sacrifice fitting into your snug ski boots or cutting off circulation to the toes. This sock has that sweet middle ground of cushion to give you the comfort and support you need to stay on your feet from sunrise to sunset, but not being too bulky to fit comfortably in your ski boots.
Best Value for Money: REI Co-op Powderbound Midweight
The REI Powderbound socks are an excellent option for those skiers looking for lots of features in a quality sock which won’t cost $30.
These socks go all the way up to your knees to prevent chafing, rubbing and promote warmth and insulation.
Although these aren’t quite as padded as the full cushion smartwool socks, these have a medium amount of insulation with reinforced padding around the toes and heels. This means that they are padded where your foot makes the most contact to help aid in all day comfort.
The blend is 49% nylon and 48% wool to allow an even mix of warmth, moisture control and comfort. Not to mention the wool is produced according to the Responsible Wool Standard so you can be comfortable in your socks knowing that they are not only warm and dry, but also produced sustainably.
Best for a Tight Budget: Fox River Telluride Medium
The Fox River Telluride is certainly the best ski or snowboard sock for its price point.
At $15 MSRP the tellurides represent an ideal mix of quality features at a price point that will allow you to save a decent chunk of change. These are about $6-$10 cheaper per pair than most other high end wool socks on the market.
This means that after you spend all of your money on expensive skis, boots and outerwear; you will still be able to have a solid sock in your drawer to complete the set.
These socks are a merino wool, acrylic and nylon blend which offers its own benefits and drawbacks. The merino wool only makes up about 18% of the blend, which means it will still insulate when wet and have the warmth retention properties that wool is known for.
With a lesser amount of wool in the sock, these won’t wick moisture quite as efficiently as either of the above models. This means that over the course of a very long day, or if you ski in a wet climate like the Pacific Northwest, your feet may feel wet after prolonged periods of extended use.
For the price however, there is no better sock to fill your drawers with or replace if one or two were to develop a hole. For the price these are a durable sock tailored specifically for skiing and snowboarding and should be the first choice of anyone who spent a little too much on those skis and needs some socks as well. Never fear because this is the perfect sock to get you onto the hill and keep those feet warm.
Best Ultralight Sock: Smartwool Zero Cushion
Weight always matters in the mountains. Being lightweight allows you to be maneuverable, flexible and ultimately mobile. This is no different while skiing.
When going on long ski tours you don’t need a heavy sock to fill up your boots. You want something thin and agile, but still be warm when the wind starts howling and the thermometer plummets.
This is where the Smartwool zero cushion really shines. Sometimes we fit our ski boots extremely tight, the tighter you can fit them without pain, the more responsive each motion we make is towards the skis.
If you fall in that camp of having your alpine ski boots buckled up to the hilt, a lightweight, thin sock is ideal to reduce excess space in your boot and bring your skiing to the next level. Still, sometimes not everyone needs extra comfort at the soles of your feet, or perhaps when going on a long expedition you are trying to cut ounces to save weight for days on end into the mountains.
The zero cushion is perfect for those situations, and still operates as an excellent ski sock. These socks have 41% merino wool which is a lower percentage than the full cushion. That means these will be slightly less adept at wicking moisture, which makes sense for a thinner material.
That being said they go over the calf, and end just below the knee in order to lock in warmth and reduce rubbing or chafing in the legs or against your ski boots. A thinner sock will also promote blood flow to your toes and allow you to thermoregulate effectively at your feet.
I’m always impressed with how much thought and consideration can go into making any piece of gear. Even something as seemingly simple as a sock can be loaded with impressive construction, materials and features. These socks are all produced with the top minds in the outdoor industry focused on how to make the best products to maximize our performance.
No matter which you choose you can be guaranteed that these socks will fit well, won’t bunch or bind and will help keep you warm for as long as you’re wearing them. Learn your own gear, how your boots fit specifically and see what sort of fit is best for you. A tight boot will warrant a light or zero cushion sock, whereas someone with a slightly roomier or softer boot might benefit from a higher cushioned sock.
Remember that thickness doesn’t always equal warmth and if you put a thick sock in a tight boot you may cut off circulation and end up with colder toes than you might otherwise. So find you perfect sock to help you find those perfect turns.