Socks. Why are socks important in thru-hiking, or any long distance hiking? If you don’t have the right type of socks, you could develop hot spots that will form into blisters, and you will be miserable. For me (each person is different), this is what I’ve found that works best, at least so far, and is what I plan to do on our AT thru-hike. This is after MUCH research and talking to fellow thru-hikers. The best book I read in my research is called “Fixing Your Feet.”
I will be wearing two (yep, 2!) pairs of socks on my thru-hike.
The 1st pair is a very thin liner sock, that fits like a glove around my toes, called Injinji Toe Liner Socks.
Because the sock fits around the toes, it prevents your toes from rubbing against each other – both the toenails or the skin between your toes. After long periods of walking, slight rubbing will happen, and this is why hikers get hot spots which then form into blisters between their toes. This liner sock will prevent that.
Also, the liner sock is important for the same reason as being between the toes – it also acts as a “second skin” between your 2nd pair of socks (to be talked about shortly) and your foot. If you were to wear just one sock, it might rub against the skin of your foot, forming hot spots and blisters. The liner sock prevents this rubbing, acting as a barrier between your skin and the 2nd sock.
Tip: It’s hard to put these on at first! I put the toe part over my toes loosely, then fit onto one toe at a time (I start with my big toe, then the next toe, etc.), then put the rest of the sock over the foot and heel. It does get easier, the more times you do this.
Note: The first pair of Injini’s I bought were too thick, which are fine for a stand-alone sock, but not for a liner sock. Don’t make this mistake, use the link above to find the correct liner socks.
The 2nd sock I will be wearing (over the liner socks) is a wool sock made by my favorite sock company, Darn Tough. Darn Tough’s are awesome, because they really ARE tough. They last some hikers through an entire thru-hike of the AT (2,189.1 miles!). AND they have a LIFE-TIME warranty on their socks. So if you get a little hole, you just contact them (I’ve heard you don’t even have to have a receipt), and they will replace your pair for you.
This pair is my favorite so far because how cute are these colors and pattern? Also these are semi-thin (“light-cushion”), so not bulky at all.
And, a few more pluses: When they get wet, they dry off really fast. AND they do not retain odor (anything that does this for a thru-hiker is a HUGE plus). I even have my mom loving these socks now – she loves how they feel thin and snug, but not too tight, and keep her warm in the cold Wisconsin winters.
So, there you go – that is my sock-it-to-ya philosophy for blister prevention for my AT thru-hike. Will it work? I don’t know. But even if I get just a few blisters throughout my whole 6-month-AT-hike, I will be super happy. I’ve seen many hikers have it much worse (just trust me on this, you don’t want to see pictures).
NOTE: Greg will NOT be wearing the liner socks, because “he doesn’t like stuff between his toes.” So – we will see who fares better. A little competition is a good thing, right?
Happy Trials! — Jen