merino wool socks
None of these links are affiliate links. They are just products I’ve used personally or other people have recommended to me.

Nothing quite makes me go ‘ahhHHH‘ quite so much during a long hike or a grueling bike ride as the perfect pair of socks.

OK, OK, I’m exaggerating.

But the fact is that the right pair of socks can make or break you.

And as far as I’m concerned, the right pair is a pair of merino wool socks.

Merino wool comes from Merino sheep that originated in Spain but were domesticated in New Zealand. Merino sheep have soft fine wool that performs well for modern athletes, hikers, and sportspeople.

This guide will help you decide whether you should invest in merino socks and which pair you should buy.

Why you should consider merino wool socks

You might need a little time to get over the initial sticker shock the cost of merino wool socks.

But once you do, it’s just possible that you’ll never go back to cotton socks again.

Merino wool socks have the ability to wick away moisture from your feet. Combine that with their antibacterial properties, and you’ll cut down on stinky socks.

Also, merino wool retains warmth even when wet and they don’t feel as sticky when wet.

That’s perfect whether you’re hiking, cycling to work or cycling around the world.

Survivalist types like to keep merino socks around in case the world takes a step back to the stone ages.

It might sound slightly weird. Shucks, it may BE weird, but people get kinda of addicted to merino wool clothing!

Top Brands

Some of the big players in the industry are SmartWool, Icebreaker and, my personal favorite, Darn Tough socks.

You’ll also find merino wool socks at Costco. They offer good quality and unbeatable prices as low as $11.99 for 4 pairs.

If you’re looking for value, you can keep an eye at Sierra Trading Post and REI outlets for discounts.

What height should you buy?

Socks come in all sorts of heights with names such as crew, 1/4 length, no-show and so forth. It can be a little confusing, so here’s a guide to understanding the different sizes:

Sock height chart

Fabric: Blends or 100% wool?

Typically, you’ll find that most socks are a blend of merino wool with nylon and Spandex/Lycra/elastane. The reason is that merino by itself is often not as strong as cotton. By blending merino with other fabrics, you can get a more durable sock while keeping the positive characteristics of merino.

A higher percentage of merino wool in the blend isn’t necessarily a sign of quality. Darn Tough socks – some of the strongest I’ve ever used – have a lower percentage of merino wool, but make up for it with durability.

However, I’ve found that a higher % of Merino wool does mean that they feel softer to wear.

Everyday Wear Recommendations

For every-day office usage and cycling to work:

WOMEN: Darn Tough Vertex Tab No Show Ultra Light


Material: 54% Nylon, 40% Merino Wool, 6% Lycra® Spandex
Cushioning: Ultra-Light
Advantages: incredibly durable, works well for everyday shoes thanks to no-show sock height.
Drawbacks: The merino is a little coarser than other merino socks.

See Darn Tough Tough Vertex Tab No Show

MEN: Darn Tough Vermont Merino Wool Dress Crew Light Sock


Material: 49% Nylon, 46% Merino Wool, 5% Lycra® Spandex
Cushioning: Light
Advantages: incredibly durable, works well with dress shoes or sport shoes due to the light cushioning
Drawbacks: The merino is a little coarser than other merino socks.

These socks are crew socks, so they come to mid-calf length. They have a thin layer of cushioning, so you’ll find that they work well with dress shoes or sport sessions.

I’ve worn a pair of these weekly for four years before I finally retired them.

See Darn Tough Dress Crew Light Sock

Hiking Socks

Darn Tough Men’s Vermont Hiker Boot Full Cushion Sock

  • Material: 69% Merino Wool, 27% Nylon, 4% Lycra® Spandex
  • Rating out of 5 stars: 4.8
  • Price range (estimate): $21.49 – $36.95
  • Designed for: hiking and outdoors

One of the most popular merino wool socks, ever. These socks are a great choice for long hikes, but also if you spend a lot of time on your feet. One tester said these socks kept his feet in great shape despite walking 10 miles a day at his job. While not super thick, they are very warm, thanks to the 59% merino wool, which is quite high for a sock. Finally, these have very cushioned soles, which makes they a little bulkier.

Check Price on Amazon

Check these socks at Darn Tough’s site

Darn Tough Women’s Vermont Hiker Boot Full Cushion Sock

  • Material: 69% Merino Wool, 27% Nylon, 4% Lycra® Spandex
  • Rating out of 5 stars: 4.8
  • Price range (estimate): $19.99 – $24.99
  • Designed for: hiking and outdoors

For women looking for a pair of premium quality hiking socks, Darn Tough is the #1 choice currently. The thick cushioning will keep your feet comfortable on long hikes or working on your feet all day long.

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Check these socks at Darn Tough’s site

Budget Choice Merino Wool Socks

Fun Toes Men’s Lightweight Merino Wool Socks

  • Material: 50% merino wool, 40% nylon, 9% polyester and 1% spandex
  • Rating out of 5 stars: 4.4
  • Price range (estimate): $27.95
  • Designed for: everyday wear

Darn Tough and Smartwool can be pricey (although arguably good value for money). Therefore, if you’re looking for a budget option when it comes to merino wool socks for men, these fun toes offer remarkable value.

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Check these socks at Fun Toes’s site

Enerwear Women’s Merino Wool Trail Socks

  • Material: 86% Extra-Fine Merino Wool, 10% Polyester,3% Nylon,1% Spandex
  • Rating out of 5 stars: 4.6
  • Price range (estimate): $23.99
  • Designed for: everyday wear

These 86% extra-fine merino wool socks will keep your toes very comfortable while going easy on your wallet.

Check Price on Amazon

Working Out and Exercise Merino Wool Socks

Smartwool Men’s No Show Socks

  • Material: 63% Merino Wool, 36% Nylon, 1% Elastane
  • Rating out of 5 stars: 4.4
  • Price range (estimate): $13.95
  • Designed for: exercise and sports

No-show socks are perfect for running or working out. These SmartWool pair work very well as a pair of travel socks, and testers found that they fit exceptionally well.

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Check these socks at Smartwool’s site

Darn Tough Women’s Vermont Women’s Merino Wool No-Show Ultra-Light Cushion Athletic Socks

  • Material: 40% Merino Wool, 54% Nylon, 6% Lycra,
  • Rating out of 5 stars: 4.5
  • Price range (estimate): $16
  • Designed for: exercise and sports

My wife swears by these Darn Tough no-show ultra-light socks. As ultra-light socks, they have very little cushioning in the sole, so they work well in sports shoes.

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Check these socks at Darn Tough’s site

Darn Tough Men’s No-Show Light Cushion Athletic Socks

  • Material: 51% Merino Wool, 45% Nylon, 4% Lycra
  • Rating out of 5 stars: 4.7
  • Price range (estimate): $16
  • Designed for: exercise and sports

These are Darn Tough’s most popular athletic socks for men. While not cheap at $16 dollars a pop, Darn Tough also gives a 100% money back guarantee. Testers loved the tabs, which let you put them on just a little faster. They have a form-fitting fit, which is important so they don’t slip while working out or hiking.

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Check these socks at Darn Tough’s site

Ski and Snowboarding Merino Wool Socks

Minus33 Men’s Ski and Snowboard Socks

  • Material: 78% Merino wool, 15% Spandex, 4% Nylon, 3% Polyester
  • Rating out of 5 stars: 4.4
  • Price range (estimate): $16
  • Designed for: sking and snowboarding

Minus33 is a US-based company that has exploded onto the merino wool scene in recent years. They combine high quality with reasonable prices, and these ski socks are no exception. They offer full cushion for comfort and 78% merino wool to keep your feet warm and dry no matter how many runs you get in.

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Check these socks at Minus33’s site

Darn Tough Women’s Flowers Over the Calf Light

  • Material: 58% Merino Wool, 39% Nylon, 3% Lycra
  • Rating out of 5 stars: 5
  • Price range (estimate): $25
  • Designed for: sking and snowboarding

Darn Tough offers a great ski sock that is light enough to also wear on hikes in Spring or Autumn on cooler days. Darn Tough adds in neat extras such as seamless design for less chafing and more comfort.

Check Price on Amazon

Check these socks at Darn Tough’s site


Do you have any recommendations? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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