Hey traveling guys and gals! I have just returned back to Tirana, Albania this week and one of the calls to action before I leave again is to sort out which types of socks I want to travel with on my next backpacking adventure! I currently have a selection of both wool (which is an animal based fiber), polyester (a synthetic fiber), and cotton, (a plant based fiber). All 3 have their advantages but all 3 have disadvantages to use.
Polyester Socks – my experience. Most recently, my polyester socks have developed holes in the heels after only 1 month of usage, walking in boots. Now these are cheapie socks TBH! I bought these for only 10 dirham ($1) in Morocco, actually 6 pairs total. I had the same problem with two pairs of polyester socks that I bought in Tirana Albania 6 months ago, unfortunately! These I bought for a price of $3 if I’m not mistaken, also cheap. So I think its probably necessary to switch. The advantage of polyester as a fabric is that the fabric acts as a good insulator and also is quick drying! however I guess my hiking as well as my feet are just too tough for these socks! Next! Weight 2.5 oz per pair! Price $1 to $3 per pair!
Wool Socks – my experience. Now wool is a really tough indestructible material, and I do love these for my feet! But I am now going to discuss some of the disadvantages of this material. Over in Spain I tossed two pairs of wool socks because of the stink! oops yes a little bit embarrassing, but at the time I had no way to clean or disinfect the socks because I was on the road. All 3 types suffer from this problem so this may be a different issue, related to my usage or cleanliness as opposed to the material.
Now on to the advantages of wool, it is a really good insulator if you are hiking in winter! Very good, I will be taking my wool hat to Sweden. its also good at wicking away moisture as opposed to cotton. Now for the disadvantages. Its heavy heavy! You may have seen my lighterpack blog post related to attempting to DECREASE the weight of my backpack, not increase obviously! Wool socks come in at about 5 oz per pair as opposed to 2.5 oz for polyester. Here’s another problem with wool socks, they are really expensive!!! Not good for a lowly budget backpacker like me who sleeps in a tent! Cost is between $5 and $25 a pair. Weight 5oz per pair! Cost $5 to $25 per pair!
Cotton Socks – my experience. Now cotton is kind of an in between choice. Its cheap enough to be easy to replace often, also it doesnt wear out like the polyester socks that I have been having trouble with. Cotton isnt really super expensive like wool, perhaps $3 a pair for boot socks. They are not as good an insulator as wool, but a few advantages are that they are tougher than polyester. In the past ive had a few pairs of cotton socks that have lasted more or less foreever, even with tons of constant walking and usage. The weight is more or less in between wool and polyester. Weight: 3.0 oz per pair, Price $3 per pair!
Conclusion, for my choice id like to get some socks that last me awhile, so ill definitely be looking to replace my polyester socks with Wool or cotton. I may take some of both on my next trip. Stay tuned!!!