As I write this, a bitter Canadian blizzard howls outside. It’s par for the course here, but I am thankful for the roaring fire in front of me that’s keeping my toes nice and warm. What better time to talk about the warmest socks on earth?
The warmest socks on earth use premium yarns from specialized wools with very high insulation properties. Synthetic materials still can’t rival premium wool socks for warmth. The socks we’ll be talking about today are a step above consumer-grade offerings found in most stores. While you can expect to pay more for these pro-grade socks, they will not be scratchy, last longer, and keep your feet much warmer.
If you don’t have time to read the whole article here are my top recommendations for the warmest socks available. If you want to know why then stick around.
1. Warrior Alpaca Socks: Ultimate Toasty Toes (on Amazon)
|Alpaca wool is warmer, softer, and lighter than sheep’s wool, plus it isn’t scratchy.||Check Price on Amazon|
2. Darn Tough Socks: Merino Mountaineering Hiker
|Warm, Thick premium Merino Wool socks |
Unconditionally guaranteed for life.
(Made in the USA)
3. Patagonia: Classic Fitzroy Heavyweight Performance Knee Length
|Professional Merino wool mountaineering sock. |
(Made in the USA)
4. Fox River Gibraltar Frontier
|Solid 85% Merino socks from one of America’s oldest and most respected sock makers.|
(Made in the USA)
5. Bison Advantage Trekker
|40% Bison down/40% Merino insulates even when wet.|
(Made in the USA)
Are All Wool Socks Scratchy?
Traditional wool socks do have a reputation for being scratchy, but there are some very notable exceptions. Smooth, fine-grade wools like Merino and Alpaca wool can be almost as soft to touch as cashmere while insulating just as well.
Scratchy socks are made from the cheaper coarse wool (above left). They are warm, but stiffer and more scaly which is why they tend to be itchy and uncomfortable.
Sock Wools Compared
Synthetic materials are still no match compared to natural wool when it comes to insulating properties in socks. Even when wet, wool can continue to insulate you against the cold This is why wool blankets were used in the trenches of WW2.
Wool fibers have crimps and twists in them. When these zig-zag fibers are tightly packed together they create trapped air pockets which is the key to wool’s incredible insulation properties.
Don’t ask my why, but wool is far more odour resistant than synthetics. It’s nothing to wear a pair of wool socks for multiple days without any smell.
One drawback to wool socks, in general, is that they tend to pill more than synthetics and usually require air drying to avoid shrinkage.
Alpaca wool is generally warmer than Sheep wool for two reasons:
- Alpaca’s have intermittent hollows in the center of the wool fibers which adds a greater insulating factor
- Alpaca wool, in general, is finer than sheep’s wool and thus the yarns are composed of up to 3 times more fibers thereby trapping more air within the yarns which leads to a warmer fabric.
- Alpaca Wool is allergen free. It does not have the lanolin found in sheep’s woo.
Merino is a premium grade wool noted for its exceptional warmth, softness and odor resistance. Since the fibers are so fine, the yarns can be light, non-bulky, and most of all, non-scratchy.
Merino wool is a favorite in outdoor base layers, travel T-shirts and socks especially for folks who travel light on multi-day adventures.
In the winter, bison grow a “down” or fine soft undercoat that they then shed out in spring. This fiber is so efficient that it only takes 6-8 oz to keep a bison comfortable in temperatures down past -60F.
Bison wool is much more scarce and labor intensive to produce than sheeps wool which, in turn, renders a much more expensive product. While Bison down is much finer/softer than other wools, which means it felts/pills more easily than other wools. Finished products tend to be fuzzy.
Bison wool is often best combined with other fibers/wools for added durability.
Warrior Alpaca Ultimate Toasty Toes
Warrior Alpaca’s Ultimate Toasty Toes are the warmest socks out there. These super-soft terry-lined Alpaca wool socks hug your feet in a cocoon of warmth even on the very coldest winter nights.
I own a pair of Warrior Alpaca Ultimate Toasty toes and I’m very impressed. They are warmer, more comfortable, don’t scratch and don’t bunch up like the coarse winter wool socks I endured for years.
As is the case with thicker winter socks you should factor about a 1/2 size up for whatever footwear you use them with.
Darn Tough Socks Heavy Weight Mountaneering Hiker
I make no secret of being a big fan of Vermont-based Darn Tough Socks(see the full review) In my opinion, they make the highest quality Merino wool socks in North America.
I have worn them for years.
Darn Tough’s Heavy Weight Mountaineering are serious pro-grade socks of the kind worn by climbers summitting Everest or by workers drilling oil in the high Arctic.
The plush, non-itchy merino wool terry lining is remarkably odor-resistant and can be worn multiple days in the field without laundering. These are very hardworking expedition-ready socks and will keep your feet comfy in the hunting stand, snowmobile, or offshore oil rig.
Darn Tough Socks come with an unconditional lifetime warranty. Even if you wear them out they’ll replace them for you!
Patagonia Classic Fitzroy Heavyweight Performance
Patagonia is an apex brand in the outdoor apparel arena. They make some of the highest quality outdoor gear on the planet.
Patagonia’s Classic Fitzroy’s are equally capable and warm as Darn Tough’s Mountaineering socks. It is really a toss-up. They are made from similar high-grade Merino wool as Darn Tough and are every bit as expedition-worthy.
The Fitzroys are only available in knee-length so if you’re looking for something shorter I’d look at the Darn Toughs instead.
Patagonia has an unrivaled green reputation with very stringent ethical sourcing practices. Environmentally conscious folks can source gear from them in good conscience.
Fox River Gibraltar Frontier Extra Heavyweight
Fox River’s Gibraltars have one of the highest Merino wool blends out there at 85%! A mid-calf rise and thick cushioned foot bed make these socks ideal boots socks for extreme weather.
A smooth top toe seam keeps you comfortable in steel toed boots and the reinforced heal toe and heal extend the life of these hardworking socks.
Fox River, socks have been American-made for over 120 years out of Iowa and are often contracted by other brands to manufacture their socks.
Buffalo Wool Co Advantage Trekker
The Advantage Trekker is a calf-high sock with a thick terry looped foot bed and gently ribbed construction up the calf to prevent it slipping down. These are very hardworking socks that will keep your feet warm all day in sub-zero weather.
These socks are also the lowest maintenance socks on this list. Unlike all the others, these come pre-shrunk so you can throw them in the dryer.
The Advantage Trekker boasts a very unique 40% Bison/40% Merino blend. Buffalo Wool Co claims it is “most likely the warmest sock on the planet except for electric.
While I can’t easily verify the claim, nonetheless they do deserve to be ranked in among the top 5 warmest socks for sure. Keep in mind, Bison wool is expensive which also makes these the priciest socks on this list at around $38.
If you want the abosolute warmest socks, go with a pair of Alapaca wool socks like the Ultimate Toasty Toes.
If you prize durability and forever warranties, then the Darn Tough Mountaineering socks are the the ticket.
If you’re an adventurous noncomformist, get the Advantage Trekkers from Bison Wool Co.
Ultimately, you can be sure of this, your feet will be cocooned by the warmest and finest socks ever made. If it were possible for everyone else’s feet to feel jealousy, you would have to hire private security every winter.
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