Having the best socks for sweaty feet is one of the, if not the most important aspects of combating wet sweaty feet. Whether you are diagnosed with Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) or not chances are you have some degree of it. In today’s world there are literally thousands if not millions of different materials and fabrics. Some materials absorb moisture while others repel or wick away moisture.
After the list of recommended socks you will find in depth information about socks, sock material and much more.
List Of The Best Socks For Sweaty Feet
The Best Socks For Sweaty Feet – What really works!
As I said earlier there are a lot of fabrics in today’s world economy and socks come in all different sizes and shapes. As you will see having the correct sock will make all the difference in the world when it comes to preventing sweaty feet and its effects. Design and fit are important but moisture wicking ability is the most prevalent characteristic of a quality sock that will make or break your overall comfort and dryness.
Lets first take a look at what wicking ability really means and how it works.
Moisture Wicking Fabric: Why and how it works
Moisture wicking fabrics are the best material for socks if you have sweaty feet for one big reason, they pull moisture away from your feet quickly by capillary action.
Capillary action is defined by:
Capillary action (sometimes capillarity, capillary motion, or wicking) is the ability of a liquid to flow in narrow spaces without the assistance of, and in opposition to, external forces like gravity.
Fabrics like cotton and cotton blends will hold much more moisture than synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon. The pattern in which synthetic fabrics are sewn in also play a large part in the wicking advantage over cotton. Not all synthetic fabrics are best suited though.
Some of the best moisture/sweat wicking socks are made from or are branded as:
- Polyester – Man made fiber
- Wool – Scratchy and can come from any type of sheep
- Merino Wool – Soft, extra fine wool from the prized Merino sheep
- Coolmax – Specially engineered fibers made from polyester
- Drymax – A synthetic fiber engineered to wick moisture
Best types of moisture wicking material
Now that you have a basic understand why and how a moisture wicking material/fabric works let’s take a look at which materials make the best socks for sweaty feet.
Merino wool socks
Merino wool is amazing and some of the best socks for sweaty feet are made from it. Merino wool refers to a specific breed of sheep that is prized for its extremely high quality wool. You may see the word Merino used to describe clothing and socks but it is very important that you get socks made from a high percentage of Merino wool. Don’t let the marketers of the world trick you into buying a false product that will not work.
Here is why Merino wool is possibly the best socks for sweaty feet:
- Temperature – Excellent at regulating body temperature even in warm weather. Lighter weights are cool enough for summer and medium to heavy weights can keep you warm in sub zero temperatures.
- Wicking – Merino wool is very unique in that it wicks moisture away very efficiently but is also somewhat water resistant. This allows for the sweat on your feet to be pulled away from your skin and the slight water resistance properties will force the moisture to the outside of the sock. Because of this you will not feel any or little wetness on your feet.
- Comfort – Merino wool is very soft and makes for very comfortable socks. You should not be comparing Merino to standard wool products as they are not similar in comfort or function.
- Antibacterial – Merino wool has a very unique property, it is antibacterial. Lanolin is produced and secreted into the sheep’s wool to protect it from harsh climates and to also keep the sheep healthy. Lanolin contained within the socks will attack bacteria in your sweat and on your feet thus keeping them healthier and odor free. Yes… Your feet and socks will not stink!
All Polyester is not the same and different polyester socks perform differently. Saying polyester is similar to saying apple, as in there are many different types of the fruit like Red Delicious and Granny Smith . Each type of polyester acts and wicks moisture differently than the other. This is why some brands of polyester socks will perform better for people with sweaty feet than others.
Unfortunately clothing tags will only tell you what percentage of the sock is made from polyester and not the exact type. Polyester socks are the second best material for socks when you have overly sweaty feet. Some people find that wearing a polyester sock liner within a Merino wool sock to be helpful.
Standard wool socks
Wool is sheared from sheep and has been used for thousands of years for socks and other articles of clothing. Wool socks have excellent moisture wicking capabilities making them great socks for sweaty feet. The downside is that wool in general can be scratchy feeling and not very soft. With that being said there are many different types of wool from several different species of sheep with the Merino sheep being the highest quality particularly for socks.
CoolMax is a brand of socks that offer some decent socks for sweaty feet. Not every sock they make is compatible or good for sweaty feet though. There good socks are 64% Polyester, 17% Thor Lon Acrylic, 14% Nylon and 5% Spandex. Most of their sock lines are geared toward for runners.
DryMax is a brand of socks that offer a few options when it comes to sweaty feet. Their socks that are made from 63% olefi, 22% polyester, 6% elastane and 9% nylon will help keep your feet dry. Most of the DryMax socks are geared towards runners and other active people.
Socks to avoid at all costs
Here are a few types of socks you want to avoid at all costs!
- 100% Cotton Socks – The United States is obsessed with cotton, particularly cotton socks. Cotton is cheap, easy to make into fabric and is soft and comfortable to wear. The huge downside to cotton is that it likes to hold and absorb water, like a bath towel or washcloth. A common saying within the outdoor community is “cotton kills” and it surely does. Cottons inability to shed water or dry quickly makes it a terrible material for outdoorsmen and people with sweaty feet. This is why it is the worst type of sock for sweaty feet.
- Cotton Blend Socks – Cotton blended socks are nearly as bad as 100% cotton socks. While they my wick moisture away they will still underperform and hold moisture.
- Rayon Socks – Rayon is a man made material that is just the opposite of cotton. It will absorb almost no sweat or moisture at all and is almost waterproof. Raylon socks would be similar to wearing plastic trash bags on your feet.
Here is an interesting fact about cotton:
“Polyester holds on to only about 0.4 percent of moisture; cotton 7 percent.”
Source: How Stuff Works
As you can see the difference between the maximum moisture content of a synthetic sock when compared to cotton socks is enormous.
Using a polyester sock liner
A polyester sock liner is a lightweight sock that is worn under your normal socks. This does not mean that you can wear a cotton sock on the outside though! The polyester liner sock can be used in combination a Merino wool, polyester dress or other types of high quality wicking sock. This will help to keep your feet as dry while also protecting against blisters. T is a excellent option to try if you have extremely sweaty feet and are planning to be walking long distances.
Proper sock fitting
The best socks for sweaty feet should fit just as good they wick moisture. Your average mens socks in the six pack at walmart will differ in size from sock to sock and therefore do not fit like they should. It is important to buy high quality socks that fit well if you sweaty feet because the sock material needs to be as close to your skin as possible so it can properly wick away the moisture from your feet.
When you try on a pair of socks it is critical that they are very snug to your skin. If the sock is not snug, or there is a gap between the sock material and your skin the sock will not be able to absorb and wick away the moisture.
Also pay close attention to the toe box. You should not be able to feel any seams, have any wrinkles and be comfortable to move your toes feely.
How to properly clean your socks when you have sweaty feet
Keeping your socks clean when you have overly sweaty feet is extremely important for a number of reasons. When you have moisture contained within a warm confined area like your shoe or boot bacteria and funguses can breed very quickly. This is what causes your feet to smell or stink.
The other issue to consider is the salt build up on or within your socks. On average there is about 1,000 milligrams or more of salt in a single quart of human sweat. When your feet are sweating inside your socks you will be depositing a lot of salt into the sock fibers. After your socks and feet dry out there is thin salt residue left over that can not evaporate.
This residue can irritate your feet and will also break down the fibers within your socks causing them to wear out prematurely. Salt will also hamper the socks wicking ability by “clogging” it up.
Using a quality antibacterial laundry soap like Defense Soap will help not only keep your socks clean but also kill any bacteria living within the fibers. If you have white socks it is also very helpful to bleach your socks from time to time. This will cause minor damage to the socks overtime so you should only use bleach occasionally or as needed. With that being said if you are having a major foot odor issues then start bleaching your socks every time you do laundry until the odor is under control. You may also want to wear Merino wool socks since they will not absorb odors and have antibacterial properties.
I do not recommend using fabric softeners or dryer sheets on your socks.
Shoes matter almost as much as socks
When you have sweaty feet shoes come in a close second to socks in the list of importance. It is very important to buy shoes that are ventilated as much as possible. Having vented shoes will allow moisture to evaporate much faster than traditional styles of shoes.
You will find that most hiking style shoes and boots will offer as much ventilation as possible. Merrell makes a great line of fully ventilated shoes that are great for people with sweaty feet. Please take a look at my article about the best shoes for sweaty feet or the best boots for sweaty feet.
Please remember that the best socks for sweaty feet should also be accompanied by proper foot care and shoes.