Keep your feet comfortable and cool all summer long with these lightweight merino wool hiking socks.
Last year, I stopped thinking of wool as a winter fabric, and just an all-around awesome fabric. The properties of merino wool sometimes sound almost too good to be true – how could a fabric keep you both warm and cool, wick sweat without absorbing a lot of moisture, and be so incredibly soft, yet durable. All of these properties make merino wool the perfect fabric for summer, whether it’s for a t-shirt or lightweight hiking socks.
Why wear wool in summer?
If you aren’t already convinced that merino wool should be your go-to fabric for summer, here’s a quick breakdown of why you’ll love it.
Merino wool is odor-resistant and naturally antimicrobial. If it’s warm outside and you’re working up a sweat, you’ll appreciate merino wool’s stink-resistant properties. Many people have put this claim to the test with multiple wears of their merino wool clothes before putting them through the wash. While merino wool socks tend to be one of the items you need to wash most often, you can still go through a few wears before you notice the smell (this makes them really great for multi-day backpacking trips!).
Merino wool is moisture wicking and quick-drying. Did you know that merino wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture? This means that even those with the sweatiest of feet will still feel dry thanks to a pair of merino wool socks.
Merino wool keeps you cool in warm weather. Thanks to its fiber construction, merino wool is a master at temperature regulation. The outer layer of merino wool repels water, helping you stay warm, while the inner layer absorbs moisture, keeping you cool and dry.
These are all reasons why we love hiking in merino wool t-shirts too, especially in summer. Find a quick list of our favorite merino wool tees here.
What to look for in merino wool socks for summer
Lightweight – Thick wool socks are great for winter, but no one wants extra bulk and warmth in the summer. We’re listing the best wool socks below that are lightweight for summer weather.
Durable – If you’re like us, you’re planning on a lot of miles in these socks, which means they need to put up with a lot of wear. A wool blend that has small percentages of spandex and nylon will make the socks more durable and create a better fit as the stretch across your feet.
Mostly, but not all merino wool – A 100% wool sweater is nice, but the durability and fit of your socks will be compromised if they don’t include some spandex or nylon. Most of my favorite socks are usually 70% or more merino wool. A few companies make socks that are about equal parts nylon and wool, and they still maintain the advantages of merino wool. Just don’t be fooled with socks that are labeled as merino wool blend, but wool only makes up a few percentages of the overall fabric.
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The Best Merino Wool Socks for Summer
1 Bombas Merino Wool No-Show socks
Materials: 76% Merino Wool, 20% Polyester, 2% Spandex, 2% Nylon
Bombas has a two-fold mission: to create clothes you’ll never want to take off and to help those experiencing homelessness. After a little research, the founders at Bombas learned that new socks are one of the hardest things to come by at a homeless shelter, so they decided to donate a pair of socks for every pair sold.
The Bombas merino wool no-show socks quickly became my favorite for everyday. The stay-put heel grips mean I don’t have to worry about them slipping down. They’re great for sneakers or casual shoes where you don’t want your socks peeking out. Plus, these socks are so much softer than cotton, and my feet feel way less sweaty compared to a regular cotton sock.
2 Bombas Merino Wool Ankle Socks
Materials: 80% Merino Wool, 18% Polyester, 2% Spandex
Bombas makes really great socks, so we had to include their lightweight merino wool ankle socks on this list too. They’re super soft and provide a little more coverage than the no-shows. All Bombas socks have a carefully finished seamless toe, which means there’s no annoying bump at the top of your toe. Bombas also has lifetime returns, so it’s easy to return or exchange a pair that doesn’t fit.
3 Wildly Good Lightweight Merino Wool Crew Socks
Materials: 86% Extra-Fine Merino Wool, 10% Polyester, 3% Nylon,1% Spandex
If you want the most comfortable, lightweight crew sock made of super soft merino wool, then look no further than Wildly Good socks.
We broke these socks in with a seven plus mile hike on a warm and sunny day and kept talking about how comfy they were. These socks are cushy and soft without being bulky, with just enough extra cushion in the heel and toe. The lightweight weave means they’re breathable and great for spring and summer. I like the mid-calf cut for hiking dusty trails since it keeps all the dirt off my ankles, but Wildly Good just launched a low-cut option too. They’re a member of 1% for the Planet, which means they donate 1% of their annual revenue to environmental charities.
4 Smartwool Outdoor Light Hiking Mini Socks
Materials: 58% Merino Wool, 40% Nylon, 2% Elastane
Smartwool has spent over the last twenty years perfecting their merino wool socks, creating their own proprietary sock tech like the 4 Degree™ Elite Fit System for a performance oriented fit and Indestructawool™ to improve a sock’s durability and comfort.
The Outdoor Light Hiking Mini socks include all these features, plus all the benefits of merino like odor and moisture resistance. These Smartwool socks also have mesh ventilation areas to make them more breathable, another reason these are one of the best socks for summer.
➳ Shop Now: Smartwool | Backcountry
5 Darn Tough Hiker No Show Light Cushion
Materials: 55% Nylon, 42% Merino Wool, 3% Spandex
Darn Tough socks are legendary for their performance and their lifetime guarantee – if they’re not the most comfortable socks you’ve ever worn, you can return them for another pair. The Darn Tough socks use more nylon than merino wool in their blend, but there’s enough wool in there to wick moisture and maintain a comfortably cool temp in the summer.
Darn Tough has a range of light cushion socks, which means the cushion is focused on the base of the foot, and there is extra bulk to cause slipping or bunching.
➳ Shop Now: Darn Tough | Backcountry | REI
5 Icebreaker Hike cool-lite™ Low Cut Socks
Materials: 38% Nylon, 30% Merino Wool 30% Lyocell 2% Elastane
Icebreaker makes merino wool based apparel, including socks. The ultralight micro hike socks feature Icebreaker’s cool-lite fabric, which combines merino wool, and Lyocell, a wood fiber. These natural fibers keep your feet cool even when it’s hot and humid, making these great summer hiking socks. All Icebreaker clothes and socks come with a lifetime guarantee, which means if you ever wear them out, they’ll send you a new pair.