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Socks to keep dry while snow hiking

Hi,  pretty experienced hiker here but not a winter/snow hiker.  I will be hiking in very wet and possibly some snow.    I hike in low cut nylon hiking shoes.   What kind of socks could I use to keep my feet dry enough that they wouldn't blister?    I know I could use gators but even then snow would get past them enough to wet my traditional shoes and socks.   I am using wool socks or some other synthetic that are wicking,    Thanks for any help you could be.  


8 Replies

Are your low cut nylon hiking shoes waterproof? Have you tried hiking in waterproof shoes or boots? They make waterproof socks but your feet might get cold from trapping moisture depending on how long you're out and depending on the temp. I have gone winter hiking in leather hiking boots and Smartwool socks but I can't promise no blisters. Good luck 🙂

Hey @timskrbelieve check out Seal Skinz ( socks if you want a waterproof sock for hiking. They have a few different lengths / amounts of insulation. While they are pretty spendy, they come with a lifetime waterproof guarantee. 


Those indeed are rather spendy.  I would recommend just carrying a spare set or two of the socks you are using.  With low cut boots, moisture is bound to infiltrate.  That doesn't mean you will automatically blister.

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@hikermor true they are, but smartwool and darn tough socks aren't cheap either at roughly $18/pair. Depending on how wet someone expects their feet to be and their ability to dry out socks overnight will determine if the investment is worth it. 


Eighteen bucks is a bargain, compared to the $55 for the Seal Skinz, and I usually carry a spare pair of whatever socks I am wearing anyway.

As a certified geezer, I routinely suffer sticker shock.  My first climbing rope from REI (nylon, 120' in length)cost twenty bucks.  That was big money back in the Pleistocene.....


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@hikermor different strokes for different folks. Someone in Florida that wears sandals year round may think that $18 for a pair of Smartwools is highway robbery. Where we recreate often determines ones perceptions of a bargain. Seal skinz range in prices from $35 to $55 and that is for full MSRP. I live in SE Alaska where it rains an average of 220 days a year. To access many areas I have to hike through muskeg. There are a few options: 1) rubber boots with less than idea ankle support, 2) putting grocery bags on my feet before putting on my boots (ok in a pinch after flooding a boot but not ideal), 3) multiple pairs of socks, 4) waterproof socks. I used to bring multiple pair of smartwools, but with the high relative humidity here, nothing really dries out. Despite gortex lined hiking boots, I always plan on having wet feet by day two of most hikes. Last year while camping on a ridge it got unseasonably cold (not predicted by the weather service) and my boots were so saturated that they completely froze. They were blocks of ice. I couldn't even untie the laces. I ended up pouring hot water on my boots to defrost them enough to wiggle my feet in. The rest of the morning my feet were cold but dry. 


Great info from a very different environment.  I am an old desert rat and that much moisture is almost beyond comprehension.  In that situation, $55 for the right socks is much more reasonable.....

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@timskrbelieve you've already gotten some great responses/suggestions from members of our community - we'll weigh in with just a few other things to consider:

  • As @aimc444 suggests, are you willing to consider different shoes/boots for the cold, wet weather, namely ones that are waterproof? If you know you're going to be in winter snowy conditions, we do not recommend venturing out with shoes that won't provide protection from the wet and cold.
  • If you are accepting that water is going to be in your shoes/boots, the SealSkinz socks that @PatrickB mentioned are an option for keeping your feet dry in wet surroundings - these are typically a bit bulkier than regular socks so you'll want to account for additional tightness and possible chafing inside your shoes.
  • No matter what, as @hikermor suggests, you'll definitely want to take an extra set of socks with you - it can be pretty risky to allow your feet to remain wet and cold for extended periods of time - maybe even considering bringing an extra pair of shoes?
  • We have an article on how to prevent blisters - much is about eliminating moisture but also about eliminating movement of the sock material next to your foot - you could consider a double-layered sock or adding a liner sock for this reason.
  • And finally, avoid cotton socks (which it sounds like you already know!) - we do recommend wool for cold and wet conditions, although we don't recommend relying on a sock alone to keep your foot warm and dry in cold/wet/snowy conditions.

Hope this helps - let us know if you have additional questions!

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