Outerwear 101: Which Socks & Why?


Smartwool PhD Ski Medium, Blister Gear ReviewLance Peterson: SmartWool PhD Medium weight

Socks are the one piece of gear that I don’t think about—unless I’m wearing the wrong ones.

In my experience, no other material can hold a candle to wool for socks. Early on in my riding career, the sticker shock of $20/pair for a good pair of wool socks was too much, and my feet and I suffered in synthetic and cotton blends.

Once I made the leap, however, I discovered wool’s ability to retain warmth while wet, its wonderful wicking characteristics, and its much better durability than other materials I’ve experienced. My go-to snowboard socks: SmartWool PhD Medium weight.

I like the thickness and soft texture of SmartWool merino. These are the warmest socks I own and tend to dry the fastest. They also sit over the calf, which helps keep them up and provides good coverage with 3/4 length base layers.

Dakine Highback

Another midweight wool sock, but the Highback is woven a little more densely than others. I like this because it minimizes the squishing sensation within the boot that often comes with thicker socks. Strategically placed elastic/spandex zones around the arch of the foot and the top of the stock prevent the sock from binding within the boot and from riding down over the course of the day, respectively. These get more use than any other sock I own.


Jed Doane: Burton Midweight

I wear a wide array of socks (they seem to be pretty common in contest prize packs and goodie bags), but in my experience, the Burton Midweight sock is my preference. I usually go with a midweight sock because it achieves a happy medium between warmth and feel. Thinner socks allow for more board feel, but are colder. The opposite is true of thick socks: warm, but clunky. Midweight socks generally give me close to the warmth I need without sacrificing feel and boot sizing issues.

One thing to think about that many people ignore is that when fitting boots, wear the socks that you are most likely to wear on the hill. Often shops will have some “try on” socks to use while trying on boots, but remember that a boot will feel completely different in two different pairs of socks.

I usually wear thinner socks during spring and summer shred as well…


Zeppelin Zeerip:

When I am looking for a fresh pair of snowboard socks, there are a few important qualities they must have to make it on my feet. First, they must—absolutely—be above the top of my boot, preferably to just below the knee. Another important quality is that they are essentially any fabric but cotton, be it wool, polyester, or hemp. I also prefer socks that are tighter in areas such as the top of the sock and around the arch in order to keep the sock in place without slipping around the foot. I currently alternate between a few pairs of Burton and ThirtyTwo socks, in addition to a new pair of merino wool socks that have quickly become my go-to sock because of their moisture wicking qualities and exceptional warmth.

I’ve tried wearing ankle socks or mid calf socks, but find that they will quickly become irritable at the top of the sock, particularly if there is any moisture in the boot.


Justin Bobb:

I have been using mostly SmartWool socks, which have always been great. I like the thicker ones for snowboarding boots and thinner ones for ski boots. I have never really felt that they ever got too wet, and can’t recall any situations where they have travelled and turned into a scrunched-up ball in the toe box or around the heel. They seem to go great with mismatched colors, as I can’t keep the matched pairs together.

I most recently have tried the Ecosox bamboo material. They seem plenty warm and feel nice and cozy as a sock should. Unfortunatly, the material, once wet and sweaty, has the strong ability to stench out the room. They seemed to get ridiculously stinky (kind of like cat piss). It must be the socks and not me, because it doesn’t happen with SmartWool. The bamboo are eco friendly and comfortable but not recommended for multiple days (as some other socks also are not but can get away with).

3 comments on “Outerwear 101: Which Socks & Why?”

  1. For what it’s worth, I openly admit to having pretty sweaty feet even when not working up a sweat. My feet have never felt drier throughout the day than when wearing Icebreakers. Warm is good – and they are that – but dry is key to daylong comfort.

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