How to Choose Walking Socks: Why Merino Wool Makes the Best Socks for Walking

Man seated on steps putting on converse and merino wool socks for walking

Walking for exercise has many benefits for the body and the mind and is one of the most convenient activities we can do for our wellbeing. While no membership is required, investing in some good quality basic equipment will help ensure you get to focus on your walk (or your pup, or friend, or podcast) and not your feet while you’re out there.

Socks that have a performance fit and are knit using a mix of Merino Wool, Lycra Spandex, and Nylon fibers are good for walking because they provide the best first line of defense against blisters, foot fatigue, and moisture. Here’s a simple guide on how to choose the right walking socks, with tips on what to look for and why good socks matter.

Features to Consider When Picking Walking Socks

Two people seated on bench with shoes off, taking a break on their walk, wearing merino wool socks

  1. Blister Prevention - socks with a performance fit won’t slip, bunch, or rub
  2. Arch Support - socks with arch support reduce foot fatigue and improve comfort
  3. Moisture Management - Merino Wool socks keep feet dry and fresh naturally
  4. Durability - socks that are made to last and will be with you for many miles
  5. Technical Features - technical sock features can help you adjust individual fit and function
  6. Personal Style - height, weight, cushion, and design help dial your walking sock style

Blister Prevention Is Worth the Hype

Trust us… blisters are the worst. Not only can they ruin a perfectly good walk by popping up at the worst time but, like any wound, they can end up infected and that’s bad news for your foot health. So, when it comes to blisters, prevention is absolutely worth it.

One of the simplest things you can do to prevent blisters is to choose the right walking socks. Socks that are knit with Merino Wool and a performance fit that features strategic amounts of elastic (like Lycra Spandex) and Nylon can reduce friction and control hotspots - making them great anti blister walking socks.

For more information, take a deep dive into Blister Prevention 101.

Closeup of feet walking on rocks in short merino wool socks with cushion, great for walks

Darn Tough Merino Wool socks intentionally incorporate Lycra Spandex and Nylon fibers to improve comfort and durability, and to hug feet so socks move with feet like a second skin.

Most of our styles also have True Seamless non-seamed toe closure, which is flat, invisible and smooth. A snug performance fit and seamless toe mean Darn Tough socks don’t slip, bunch or cause hotspots, making them the best walking socks to prevent blisters.

Comfy, Cute, and Protect My Feet From Blisters
I love these socks! I wear them hiking, and also anytime I go walking in the park. They are very comfortable. They also keep my feet from getting blisters on the heel, which was a problem with my old socks. - Tiffany A.

Socks That Support Your Step Goals

While walking is generally considered a gentle form of exercise, this doesn’t mean your feet won’t get tired. Foot fatigue is common and happens when the muscles of the foot become overly tired. It can affect anyone who spends a lot of time on their feet - walkers, hikers, workers, etc.

Person on a day hike wearing the sunset ledge socks from darn tough

The symptoms of foot fatigue can include swelling, achiness, cramping, and pain. And just like with blisters, prevention is key so you don’t get stuck out there in pain. 

We recommend pairing your walking boots or walking shoes with socks that have built in arch support. Our Merino Wool socks are designed intentionally with elastic through the arch of the foot to provide support that won’t let you down.

I Wish I Could Tell You That They Aren't Worth It...
I wish I could tell you that these socks weren’t worth the cost, but they 100% are. Arch support. Just the right amount of cushion. Perfect no-show height. Zero bunching up or sliding down while working out and running. I’ll definitely be investing in more pairs! - Cora R.

Sweat Happens, but You Can Manage It with the Right Socks

Fun fact: feet have more sweat glands per square inch than any other part of the human body. So, it’s pretty likely that your feet are going to sweat during your walk.

Whether you’re trail hiking or just walking briskly around the block, choosing the right socks can have a meaningful impact on your comfort and foot health by effectively managing moisture.

Sweaty feet and soggy socks make you more prone to blisters, and create conditions where feet get smelly and can’t stay at a comfortable temperature. Managing extra moisture, fighting foot funk, and thermoregulating (aka keeping your feet at the right temperature) are important features of a comfortable walking sock - and they are all things Merino Wool naturally does.

Person in the desert seated with shoes off, taking a break from the heat

Keep in mind that more Merino fibers = more Merino benefits. For high intensity or long distance walking, consider wearing cushioned walking socks made with Merino Wool to better handle excess moisture and offer extra padding. Our midweight and heavyweight socks have more Merino fibers, which can naturally handle more sweat and keep your feet dryer, fresher, and more comfortable.

Very Comfortable!
My primary exercise is walking. So, I walk a lot. I needed comfortable socks that also absorb the sweat. I own several pairs of Darn Tough socks and I love them all. Very comfortable to walk in for long periods of time. I won't buy any other socks! - Eric M.

Durable Socks Won't Let You Down

Durability might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re choosing a walking sock. But, rest assured that performance and durability are closely related. Socks that are designed intentionally to hug the foot and not shift around will last longer because there is less friction wearing them down.

At Darn Tough, we know that durability goes beyond socks just lasting a long time. We believe truly durable socks should stay comfortable and maintain their supportive performance fit day after day - mile after mile. When you’re really racking up the miles (we’re looking at you long distance walkers), this is the kind of durability that won’t let you down.

Great Fit, No Team Seam
Great fit, no toe seam rubbing, decent arch support, and cute to boot. I have had a pair for about 5 years with regular weekly use and they are still going strong! No color fading, fraying, or hole in sight. - Christine P.

Level Up Your Walk with Technical Features

We’ve already covered why socks knit with moisture wicking Merino Wool and a performance fit (which includes arch support) are the best choice for foot health, freshness, and comfort while walking.

But are there other things to consider as well? Sure! Darn Tough socks offer technical features, like flex windows, mesh zones, and padding that help you dial in the right fit and function for you.

Woman seated on steps tying sneakers on over white padded walking socks

Flex windows and breathable mesh zones help ensure feet can move and breathe easily. Our socks for running have plenty of options with these two movement-friendly tech features.

Targeted padding over the ankle and Achilles tendon can help protect delicate areas and add comfort and durability. Our socks for hikers offer a variety of targeted cushioning combinations that deliver their own kind of trail magic.

Walk Your Walk with Personal Style Elements

At Darn Tough, we don’t have socks outright labeled “walking socks,” but in every activity category (hiking, running, athletic, every day, skiing, hunting, work, and tactical) you will find socks knit with moisture wicking Merino Wool and a snug, supportive performance fit that are great for walking.

Sock Height

Do you like your socks to stand tall, fly below the radar, or hover somewhere in between? Our size chart is the go-to for detailed info on our sock heights that range from No Show Hidden all the way to Over-the-Calf.

Be sure to consider what shoes you’ll be wearing when you select your sock height - generally speaking the taller the shoe or boot, the taller you’ll want your sock to be.

DYK: Across the clothing industry, sock heights tend to be pretty universal. But Darn Tough felt there was something missing between the quarter and crew sock heights so we invented the Micro Crew height - a mid crew sock that sits just above the top of a standard hiking boot.

Cushion and Yarn Weight

Different cushion levels and yarn weights can affect everything from how the sock feels inside a walking shoe to how much moisture the sock can absorb without feeling wet.

Generally speaking, lighter weight socks are ideal for short, lower intensity activity. Thicker, padded walking socks can manage more moisture and keep feet comfortable during strenuous activities and in changing temperatures.

PRO TIP: A lightweight sock with cushion underfoot is a sweet combo that provides extra sweat absorption, durability, and lasting rebound during walking, while the overall sock composition is light, airy, and less bulky.


Feet hanging down wearing sandals with green socks with a white daisy pattern

Now for the fun part - choosing your favorite design(s)! Strictly speaking, the design elements on your socks will not directly affect your walking abilities. But it doesn’t hurt when your socks put a smile on your face. Here is some design inspo for you:

Love My Socks!
Keeps my feet warm and dry and I love the arch support. Plus I love the designs and colors and really love that they are made in America! - Susan P.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the choices, our Sock Finder quiz can help. Answer a few simple questions and let us suggest what we think you might like.