Short answer: no Even with the perfect pair of socks, the wrong shoes will still generate blisters and ruin your life. Long answer: well maybe The reverse is also true. You could find the most amazing pair of shoes, yet you end up second guessing them because you’re rocking $3 cotton dress socks from Walmart (no, this isn’t unheard of in the hiking community, I just don’t support it). Humans have been wearing socks since the Greeks started wrapping their feet in leather animal skins with matted hair for insulation. The Romans started to sew different fabrics together to make fitted socks. Fast forward to today, the sock industry is booming. There is a sock for every activity, shoe type, toenail size; you get my point. There is an endless list of options and textile combinations. So, without further ado, my sock picks and tips for healthy, happy feet. The Injinji Trail Midweight Crew and Mini Crew are a blast from the past. Injinji is famous for bringing the toe sock out of the 7th grade time capsule and into the active realm. Before you decide toe socks are creepy and “not for you” let’s start with the technical advantages. First, “total foot utilization.” With your toes separated, they are free to move the way toes are intended to move. If you pair these with some Altra Lone Peak trail-runners, you’ll hit the jackpot for foot freedom without sacrificing any protection. Second, “blister prevention.” There is no skin on skin contact or friction between your toes. This is an enormous advantage in blister prevention. I had one nasty blister under my big toe on the entire AT, and it developed when I decided to hike without my beloved toe socks. Third, “moisture management.” Each toe is cocooned in fancy fabric, meaning there is more sock surface area per toe. With more wicking power, there is less moisture lying in between and around toes. Talk about happy feet. If you have bunions, BUY THESE SOCKS. My bunions force my toes to occasionally overlap and always rub against one another. Having material to physically block this rubbage has turned my bunions into a complete non-issue when it comes to hiking. My sock system: When I first started hiking I heard a lot of good things about wearing sock liners. I used Injinji liners under Darn Tough socks. This was a good way to get used to wearing toe socks. It is a strange feeling at first. Once I found the midweight injinji’s it was nice to be able to simplify my system. I only had to keep track of three pair of socks instead of five. This doesn’t seem that exciting until you lose a $20 sock while doing laundry with other hikers. Now, I use two pair of Injinji socks for hiking and one pair of Darn Tough socks for sleeping. I rotate the hiking socks, so they have a chance to air out on their day off. It’s also nice to have the extra pair for when you misjudge that log and go sinking into the muddy bog. Each day, upon arriving at camp, I made sure to “wash” my feet. This meant rinsing them with water or using a baby wipe. It is important to remove the dirt, sweat and grime to reduce agents that will create friction and potentially cause blisters. Then, I would hit them with the Gold Bond foot powder. This dries your feet out and makes them smell much better. I also added a bit of power to each shoe. Be careful not to over-do it. Too much powder will create a cakey mess when you inevitably sweat the following day. Sometimes, I would even take my socks and shoes off at lunch to give them some time to breath. Don’t worry about this seeming unappetizing, you’ll be hungry regardless! Lastly, the moment you feel the slightest hot spot, stop and address it. I think the best solution is a thin coat of Vaseline directly on the hot spot and another coat in the same spot on the outside of the sock. This reduces friction between the both the shoe and sock and the sock and your foot. Finally, be sure to buy socks with a fun design! *Note: Injini sells socks with and without merino wool. If worn them both and didn’t develop a preference for one over the other. If you specifically want the wool content, look for NuWool in the product name and fiber content.
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