After we first got married, Katy periodically referred to me as the eternal tightwad. I told her that I wasn’t a tightwad, that I didn’t have much as a kid and that I’m just thrifty. She put both hands on her hips and said, well, you’ve carried it to a new level. You’re not a kid anymore and have a good job. Quit buying cheap stuff. OK, maybe I had carried it to a new level. Then one of my good buddy’s was of the same mindset as Katy. They soon had me persuaded.
So with the above said, over time I’ve learned that for our outdoor activities you don’t want cheap gear. It’s stupid to buy a cheap rifle that will malfunction isn’t it? You spend a lot of money, effort, vacation time and hard work to get in a position to be able to take that one shot and then if it misfires or is inaccurate all that hard work is in vain.
When I first started hunting in the mountains, I had cheap boots and socks. I have long since changed that. Now I wear good hiking socks. If your feet are aching, you’re sunk and can’t hunt hard.
I remember years ago hearing about good hiking socks but never gave it much mind. Then I tested some. Wow! I was sold. I don’t want to exaggerate and say that it is like walking on carpet BUT … it almost is.
I remember one elk/deer hunt decades ago in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area that was a tough one. By the time I made it out I could hardly walk due to all of the blisters. Two horses and a mule had rolled down the mountain into the river so I had to walk more than was planned — over 40 miles in five days in bad country.
For hiking I don’t like super heavy weight socks, just medium weight. Super heavy weight socks make my boots fit too tight. But I do like heavier wt. socks like last week when we were duck hunting with Knives of Alaska and the High Road With Keith Warren crew. My wading boots are a little more bulky fitting than my hiking boots and I’m wading in cold water. Same with fly-fishing. So for these situations I wear heavy weight socks to keep my feet warm and so my boots don’t fit so sloppy. But for hiking I like medium weight socks.
So why is it so important to wear good hiking socks when hiking in the mountains? A couple of reasons:
1. You want socks that will wick away moisture so you don’t get blisters.
2. They pad your feet and are more comfortable.
Another trick that will help. If you’re going to be hiking in the mountains all day throw an extra pair of socks in your backpack. When you stop to eat lunch slip them on. You won’t believe how that will refresh you. It’ll feel like you took a break and a shower.
When backpacking I keep a clean pair in my tent to sleep in at night. Even in the summer it gets a little chilly at 4 a.m. so wearing a pair of XGO base layers and a pair of hiking socks helps take the edge off of the cold.
You may erroneously think hold on, why worry about moisture wicking socks? My boots are waterproof. While you’re correct that your boots won’t leak water, where you err in your thinking is that your feet are going to be sweating and making themselves wet. So, you want to wear good hiking socks to wick away the moisture so you don’t get blisters.
If you’re of the same mindset that I was 30-40 years ago, change your thinking and break down and buy a good pair of hiking socks. I guarantee you that you will love them and next time you see me that you’ll thank me for twisting your arm. There are a lot of options on the market. But buy some good ones. Right now I’m testing some Browning socks that are testing out great. You’ll want to wear them year-round for all of your outdoor activities. Happy Trails!