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Popular brands in this section... Socks - Footnotes
An often neglected piece of kit, walking socks are vital to the success of any trip. Different scenarios demand various qualities to ensure maximum performance and comfort, particulary if spending long days on the move. Your footwear needs a sock that complements it to be at its most effective - for example, a Gore-Tex liner will not be as breathable if the sock underneath is not allowing moisture and vapour to escape.
Walking socks are usually made from blends of materials including high quality wool and synthetic materials. The way these materials are combined dictates the feel, comfort and performance of the sock. Wicking synthetic fibres are the best for moving sweat away from the skin, making them perfect for really sweaty feet and energetic activites. They are quick to dry and very durable and they hold their shape well. Wool's chief benefits are two-fold: it keeps feet warmer in cold weather than synthetic fibres; and, because it is naturally antibacterial, it doesn't get an smelly as synthetic fibres. X-Static fibres are used in some synthetic waling socks to keep socks smelling fresh by controlling bacteria growth. The best walking socks use a blend of all these different fibres, with the proportions adjusted to suit the particular activities. To make it easy, manufacturers usually state on the packaging what a sock is designed for.
Squeeze the sock material between your fingers. Some walking socks offer a dense knit with plenty of volumne so they aren't easily compressed. If the fibres are also durable, that resistance to compression will remain over time. Others offer little resistance and are low-density or low in volume. Some materials duch as wool are less durable so they tend to collapse over time. High-density and high-volume walking socks are warmer and offer more cushioning, making them ideal for winter use and when carrying heavy loads. Low-density and low-volume socks offer less cushioning and are not as warm, so these are better for summer use, walking with lighter loads, or running or biking. High-density areas are more durable and offer increased padding too, so look for dense padding at the heels, toes, arch and under the laces for hill walking socks. Tight loop-knit is best as it delivers cushioning and anti-blister effects. Extra padding improves durability too.
Getting the Fit Right
The sock should fit closely around the toe, and the only way to find out if it does is to put it on. There should be no baggy material and no seams under the toes. The seams should be on top of the toes and set back from the ends, while the fit should be close but not restrictive. When pulling the sock up, the lef of the walking sock should fit closely and should not work it's way down as you move, so walk around for a bit to check performance. Spandex or knit ribbing may be used to hold the sock in place. With the walking socks on, put on the boots you intend to wear with them. Socks fine-tune the fit of footwear , with thick socks padding out loose-fitting boots and thin socks allowing tighter footwear to fit better. The sock should protrude above the ankle cuff to protect the skin. This means that shorter socks are better for low-cut running and multi-activity shoes, while longer socks are best for walking boots with high cuffs. Now examine the heel - a heel pocket should ensure a close fit arounf the heel without being loose, creased or baggy.