Waterproof socks are a relatively new concept for outdoor enthusiasts. Their addition to the feet of those hardy souls, who don’t let a bit of water get in the way of their adventures, has been a bit of a game changer. From frostbite to trench-foot prevention, the best waterproof socks offer protection against the weather that is hard to replicate in other combinations of footwear.Waterproof hiking boots, or trail running shoes worn underneath waterproof gaiters are certainly a superbly effective option at keep your twinkle-toes dry. However, they have their downsides. For those looking for a fuss-free dry-footed set up that is lightweight and highly effective, waterproof socks might just be the way forward.
- The best waterproof socks in 2021
- FAQ’s about waterproof socks
- What to look for when choosing waterproof socks
- The benefits of waterproof socks
- Uses of waterproof socks
- Materials and fabrics
For more information on what to look for when choosing the best waterproof socks for hiking, biking, running and other wet weather and wintery adventures, skip to our buying guide. Otherwise, read on to see our top picks waterproof socks available in 2021.
Summary of the best waterproof socks in 2021
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|Product||Inner fabric||Best for||Length||Cost|
|Bridgedale StormSocks||54% Merino, 36% Polyester, 7.5% Nylon, 2.5% Elastane||Hiking, cycling and running||Mid calf||$$$|
|Showers Pass Crosspoint WP Waterproof Wool Crew Sock||40% Merino Wool, 40% Acrylic,17% Polyester, 1% Nylon, 2% Spandex||Running, hiking and cycling||Mid calf||$$|
|DexShell Ultralite Bamboo Waterproof Socks||60% bamboo rayon (viscose), 40% polyamide||Everyday wear||Ankle||$|
|SealSkinz 100% Waterproof Sock||35% Merino Wool, 35% Acrylic, 23% Polyester, 3.5% Elastane, 3.5% Nylon||Mountain biking and cycling||Knee||$$|
|Randy Sun Waterproof Socks||64% coolmax (anti bacterial), 3% lycra, 33% elastane||Skiing and snowboarding||Knee||$$|
|Dexshell Hytherm Pro Waterproof Socks||38% Merino wool, 38% Anti-pilling acrylic, 24% Nylon||Cold weather||Mid calf||$$$|
The best waterproof socks for 2021
Best for: Hiking, cycling and running
Bridgedale are well renowned for their top class hiking socks, consistently delivering some of the best socks for hiking in the world for over 40 years. So it’s not surprising that the Bridgedale StormSocks are among the best waterproof socks for hiking, too. The lining contains 54% merino — the highest percentage of all the merino sock options on our list. This provides the greatest moisture wicking and odour resistant properties, and helps regulate the temperature of your feet. These fully waterproof mid weight boot socks are ideal for long treks in wet conditions, and owe their waterproofness to the tough nylon outer layer and breathable PU membrane.
As well as hiking, the mid calf-length StormSocks are also suitable for cycling, trail running in cold weather and general outdoor wear in wet weather.
- Very durable outer layer – 95% Nylon, 5% Elastane
- Very comfortable
- High merino content
- Feel stiff to start with
Best for: Running, hiking and cycling
As with all of the best waterproof socks, the Showers Pass Crosspoint WP Waterproof Wool Crew Socks comprise three layers to protect your feet from the elements. The merino content of the inner layer is less than the Bridgedale StormSocks, making these a slightly lighter weight waterproof sock without loosing moisture wicking properties. In combination with the highly breathable, ultra-thin Artex waterproof membrane, and ergonomic fit, the lighter construction makes these the best waterproof socks for running on our list. That said, they are also very well suited to hiking and biking, providing mid-calf waterproof protection.
- Highly breathable
- Excellent fit
- Tight fit may not be for everyone
Best for: Everyday wear in wet weather
Dexshell use a Porelle membrane to line their waterproof socks. The breathable membrane is constructed of polyurethane (PU) which provides a waterproof lining that backs up the polyamide outer layer. What’s unique about these DexShell Ultralite Bamboo Waterproof Socks is their inner layer which is made of 60% bamboo rayon (viscose). This makes the socks feel much more supple and flexible than the other waterproof socks on our list. The result is a soft and cosy sock that feels much more like a ‘normal’ sock. It lacks the technology of the other options, making it an ideal lightweight waterproof sock for everyday wear.
- Feels more like a normal sock
- Soft and supple inner fabric
- Good for warm weather
- Not as durable as other options
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Best for: Mountain biking
With a similar 3-layer construction to the ShowersPass, Dexshell Hytherm and Bridgedale socks, the SealSkinz MTB Mid Knee Waterproof Sock offer a highly technical option that is one of the best waterproof socks on our list. With a Hydrostatic Head (HH) rating of 20,000mm, the socks deliver reliable waterproof protection that is also windproof and breathable. The knee length cut make these mid weight waterproof socks ideal for mountain biking and cycling in wet and cold conditions. Add to that the moisture wicking comfort from the merino lining, and a padded heel, toe and footbed, and you’ve got yourself one of the best waterproof socks for cycling available in 2021.
- Windproof and waterproof
- Highly breathable
- Extra long
- Lower merino content than other options on the list
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Best for: Skiing and snowboarding
These highly cushioned knee length socks are the best waterproof socks on our list for skiing and snowboarding. Their seamless construction and extra length make them ideal for wear inside stiff ski boots. Plus, their heavy weight adds protection, warmth and padding for happy snow feet! Although they don’t have a merino lining, the Coolmax fabric provides antibacterial properties to help with odour control. Breathable, warm and with extra coverage — the RANDY SUN Skiing Socks are a versatile waterproof sock for winter adventures.
- Thick and comfortable in ski and snowboard boots
- Extra long
- Good for winter wear
- Thickness makes then tight in regular shoes/boots
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Best for: Cold weather
The Hytherm Pro Waterproof Socks are the warmest waterproof socks from Dexshell. Their thick 3-layer construction includes a merino and anti-pilling acrylic inner that is blended with nylon to create a durable yet soft on-the-skin fabric. They have a Porelle membrane which provides breathable and waterproof protection, and their tough nylon outer layer adds to the waterproofness of these mid calf length socks.
If you’re looking for reliable waterproof and windproof socks that will also keep your toes toastie (and dry!) in all but the most extreme conditions, then these are the best waterproof socks for the job! Wear them hiking, biking, fishing, trail running, camping, hunting and snow-shoeing.
- Very warm
- Highly durable
- Too warm in some conditions
FAQ’s about waterproof socks
What to look for when choosing waterproof socks
Gone are the days of placing your wool sock covered feet in plastic bags to keep them dry. Yes, I have actually done this when hiking before! That was in the days when synthetic hiking boots really weren’t as waterproof as they claimed to be, and leather ones were just too darn pricey.
Thankfully, most modern hiking boots and shoes actually do a pretty great job at keeping your feet dry. They also don’t turn your feet into sweaty balls of mush at the first sign of hard work. Breathable membranes that line waterproof footwear allow the moisture out whilst preventing water from getting in.
So this begs the question of why do I need waterproof socks? And are they any good anyway?
The benefits of waterproof socks
There are certain scenarios when waterproof boots or shoes and gaiters will do a perfectly good job at keeping your feet dry. However, this combination isn’t always a good option. That’s when waterproof socks really come into their own. Here’s why:
- Waterproof boots and shoes don’t stay waterproof forever. Wearing waterproof socks with old footwear means you don’t have to upgrade your boots so often.
- You can’t prevent water from entering your boots or shoes through their tops, unless you are wearing waterproof gaiters.
- Waterproof gaiters can be a faff, hot, and annoying. They will also lose their waterproofness with time.
- Waterproof socks are just as comfortable as normal socks, though not quite as breathable.
- The best waterproof socks provide pretty decent levels of breathability.
- Trail runners tend not to wear waterproof shoes. This is so that water can drain easily out of the shoes. In cold conditions, wearing waterproof socks allows water to coming in and out of the shoes whilst keeping your feet dry and frostbite-free.
- Waterproof socks are a lightweight and easy way to keep your feet dry.
Uses of waterproof socks
As mentioned above, waterproof socks really excel in wet conditions when your hiking, biking and running footwear are not as waterproof as they used to be.
Waterproof socks are also great for a whole range of other activities, including:
- Mountain biking
- Road cycling
- Trail running in winter
The best waterproof socks comprise three layers that aim to keep water from getting in whilst letting moisture from sweat get out. Much like any waterproof clothing, the breathability of the fabric is almost as important as the waterproofness. Afterall, what’s the point in preventing water from reaching your feet if they’re going to sweat so much that they become saturated anyway?
So when looking for the best waterproof socks, it’s essential to consider their breathability, too.
The three layers of waterproof socks aim to do the following:
This layer is in direct contact with your feet providing comfort and insulation. Fabrics such as merino, bamboo, wool and polyester are used.
The middle layer is usually where all the magic happens. The layer is a waterproof and breathable membrane that prevents water from getting in, whilst letting water vapour get out. Some membranes are more effective at this than others.
Usually made from nylon or other synthetic blends, the outer layer of waterproof socks is designed to be durable, and provide support and comfort to the wearer.
Waterproof socks have a Hydrostatic Head (HH) measurement. This indicates how waterproof the fabric is. The higher the HH, the more waterproof they are. The most waterproof socks have an HH rating of around 20,000mm. But socks with an HH rating of 10,000mm still provide good levels of waterproofness. Unfortunately, not all brands provide an HH rating and simply state that the socks are 100% waterproof.
Breathability is a tricky one to measure. But, as mentioned, it is an essential feature of waterproof socks. Look for socks with a breathable PU membrane as their middle layer.
Not all waterproof socks claim to be windproof. However, if you can get your hands on waterproof socks that are also windproof your feet (and ankles, calves and shins!) will be well and truly protected from the elements. The outer layer will contribute to wind protection, as will the middle lining.
Believe it or not, the best waterproof socks are almost as comfortable as regular socks. This is down to the triple layer construction that ensures soft fabrics are touching the skin. Just like regular socks, the inner layers of waterproof socks have reinforced areas that provide padding and support. They are also fitted to minimise friction between the sock and skin.
The length of the waterproof socks that you choose comes down to personal preference and what you intend wearing them for.
Long waterproof socks are excellent for river crossings and hiking in long grass, and are essential for wear with high ankle hiking boots. They are also a good option for cyclists in cold weather who want to tuck in their tights and add an extra layer of warmth to their calves. Winter trail runners appreciate extra length to provide protection and warmth to their calves.
Short waterproof socks are best for wearing in warmer conditions that are inescapably wet and soggy. If it’s warm enough to wear shorts then it won’t matter if your legs get wet. However, feet getting wet is another matter, especially when hiking or cycling for hours on end.
As with all new and innovative outdoor gear, just because it’s available, doesn’t mean it’s the best for the job. In most scenarios, a good pair of regular hiking, biking or trail running socks will be the best option for your adventure. However, as soon as the rain starts to fall, the temperature drops, or the terrain becomes soggier than on your average adventure, a pair of the best waterproof socks will make life SO much more comfortable. And we all know that more comfort = more fun!