Should You Wear Two Pairs of Socks When Hiking? The Two-Sock Method Explained

Last Updated on 03/04/2023

Should You Wear Two Pairs of Socks When Hiking

Should you wear two pairs of socks when hiking? In this article, you will learn why doubling up on socks for hiking can help to prevent blisters. We share the pros and cons of hiking in two pairs of socks as well as our own experience of doing it for several years.

Socks are believed to have been around since at least 1500 BC, and it would not surprise me if the idea behind wearing multiple pairs of socks has been around for just as long.

In the past, doubling up on socks was done to increase warmth, protection, and comfort. This is still true today, but now, people are wearing two pairs of socks for hiking, tennis, football, and many other athletic sports for different reasons.

Should You Wear Two Pairs of Socks When Hiking?

Every hiker knows that foot comfort is paramount when hitting the trails. By doubling up on socks, hikers can experience several benefits, including reduced friction, enhanced moisture-wicking, and improved cushioning.

So should you wear two pairs of socks when hiking or not? My advice would be to try both and see which works best for you. There are several factors that do come into play to be aware of, though. Things like the daytime temperatures, how tight your boots are, the type of socks, and so on.

Let’s explore the science behind this double sock strategy and learn how to apply it to your hiking adventures.

What is the Two-Sock Method?

As you hike, your feet move within your boots, creating friction between the skin on your feet and the boot’s interior. This friction can cause hot spots that eventually develop into blisters. However, when you wear two pairs of socks, the friction occurs primarily between the two layers of socks rather than your skin and the boot.

The two-sock method (as I am coining the term) is when you wear two pairs of socks while hiking. The inner sock is typically made of a thin, moisture-wicking material that fits snugly against your skin, while the outer sock is thicker, made from wool, and provides cushioning. This combination works together to minimize friction and protect your feet.

4 Benefits of Wearing Two Pairs of Socks for Hiking

hiking in two pairs of socks

The science behind wearing two pairs of hiking socks is simple. Reduce friction, improve moisture management, keep your feet warm, and get better comfort. Here are the benefits of the two-sock method:

1. Reducing Friction

Wearing two pairs of socks reduces friction by allowing the layers of socks to rub against each other instead of directly against the skin. This prevents the formation of hot spots and blisters caused by repeatedly rubbing the skin against the boots during hiking. It helps if the inner sock is synthetic and the outer sock is wool, as these two materials move against each other very smoothly.

2. Enhanced Moisture-Wicking

Should you wear two pairs of socks for hiking, the inner sock helps wick away moisture, keeping your feet dry and reducing the likelihood of friction-related issues. Look for inner socks made from moisture-wicking materials like merino wool, polyester, or Coolmax to ensure optimal moisture management.

Dry feet are less prone to blisters, as moist skin is more susceptible to damage from rubbing. The outer sock adds cushioning and absorbs some of the friction, further protecting your feet from blisters.

3. Improved Cushioning and Support

Hiking often involves traversing uneven terrain, which can be hard on your feet. I can still remember the underside of my feet being blue with bruises after walking in barefoot shoes for a few days without socks. A single pair of socks provide good comfort, but why stop at one pair?

Double-layering socks provide extra cushioning and support, helping absorb shock and reduce foot fatigue. Combining a thinner inner sock with a thicker outer sock can enhance comfort and support, particularly during long hikes.

4. Keep Your Feet Warm

Layering socks works the same way as layering clothing. The more layers you put on, the warmer you will be. With your feet, though, you are limited to how many pairs of socks you can wear before you need to buy bigger boots. Wool and wool blend socks work the best for the outer socks as they have incredible natural properties that insure your feet stay insulated no matter what.

Choosing the Right Sock Combinations

double socks for hiking

When doubling up on hiking socks, selecting the right sock combination of materials is crucial to make the most of the Two-Sock Method. Heres are two things to consider:


Synthetic materials like polyester or nylon are ideal for the inner sock layer, as they wick away moisture and dry quickly. I personally like the Bridgedale Coolmax Base Layer Liner Socks (below), which are super thin and comfortable with smooth seams and 4-channel construction for wicking moisture.

Bridgedale Men's Coolmax Base Layer Liner Socks - 2 Pack, Grey, X-Large

For the outer layer, choose wool or cotton/synthetic/wool blends, which provide warmth, cushioning, and moisture-wicking properties. If you double up on synthetic socks instead of choosing wool for the outer layer, your feet will overheat too easily and sweat far more than wanted.

Proper Sock Sizing and Fit

Ensuring a comfortable fit is crucial when wearing double socks. Both layers should fit snugly without being too tight or too loose. Poorly fitting socks can lead to discomfort, bunching, or blisters. Take the time to try on different sock combinations to find the perfect fit for your feet.

Socks that are too baggy will crease and have excess material that bunches – both of which are uncomfortable and will almost certainly lead to a nice blister on your toes. Socks that are too tight will cut off the blood circulation to your feet, and so by lunchtime, your feet will be in pain and may go numb  – which is bad because you can’t feel a blister forming.

3 Tips for Wearing Double Hiking Socks

Wearing Two Pairs of Hiking Socks

Here are three tips I have learned from hiking with two pairs of socks:

1. Breaking in Your Socks Before a Hike

Before embarking on a hike, break in your socks by wearing them on shorter walks or around the house. This will help you become accustomed to the double sock technique and identify any potential issues or adjustments needed during a hike. The benefit of the Two-Sock Method is that if it doesn’t work out for you, you simply take a pair off and carry on as if nothing ever happened. 

2. Keeping Your Feet Clean and Dry

Regularly rotating your socks during a hike can help maintain foot hygiene and prevent blisters. This means carrying extra pairs of both inner and outer socks and swapping them out when your feet become damp or dirty.

On long-distance hikes, I have two pairs of each as well as a pair of “sleeping socks that I keep dry inside my sleeping bag for wearing after a long day. Every day I try to wash the alternate pair in a stream or lake and then dry them out on my backpack throughout the day.

Something else I recommend is to wash your feet whenever possible. So if you are crossing streams regularly, then stop every 3 or 4 hours, take your boots and double socks off, and soak your feet 4 five minutes. Make sure they are completely dry and clean before putting your socks back on, and you will find your feet stay fresh and healthy for much longer than without.

3. Dealing with Common Foot Issues

If you notice hot spots or blisters forming during a hike, take a break to address the issue immediately. A hot spot is an area where your boot rubs and if you have ever had one, you will know what I mean.

Apply blister prevention products like moleskin, Compeed, or adhesive bandages, and adjust your sock layers as needed. Monitor your foot health throughout your hike to prevent complications.


Should you wear two pairs of socks when hiking? Each to their own, but I do and will continue to do so as long as it works. Thanks for reading.

Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

  1. […] can wear thick wool socks, which will help a little, or wear two pairs of socks for double the protection. Leg gaiters are the next level up in terms of protection and will save […]

Gear Assistant