Funny how something as simple as a sock can make such a big difference in the wintertime. While you could use your old gym socks this winter, there are good reasons not to — and not just to keep from offending your friends’ noses.

Ski and Snowboarding Socks

So how are these socks any different from your everyday cotton socks? Ski and snowboard specific socks are superior to those socks in their ability to keep your feet warm and dry, as well as keep the socks from getting bunched up in your boots.

Most use a complex combination of natural and synthetic fabrics to provide warmth while wicking moisture away from your feet, keeping them dry. For colder conditions, you can choose socks that have additional padding in the toe area. Ski specific socks sometimes even have padded areas over the shin and heel to prevent bruising and keep your feet locked inside your boots.

Materials and Thickness

Ski and Snowboard socks typically come in four thicknesses- ultra-light, light, medium, and heavy. Although it may seem contrary to your common sense, a thicker sock does not necessarily mean having a warmer foot. A thicker sock can lead to restricted blood flow inside your boot, which will cause your feet to be colder. Wearing two socks will produce the same issue and increase the likelihood of rubbing and blisters. Boot fitters often recommend an ultralight to lightweight sock to prevent blood flow restriction and to ensure an accurate and responsive boot fit. There are two primary materials used in a good ski/snowboard sock, merino wool, and synthetics.

  • Synthetics – These are materials like polyester,lycra, nylon, and acrylics. Unlike cotton, these materials have properties that move or wick moisture away from the body. Moisture-wicking is an essential element in maintaining dry feet. If your sock does not wick moisture away from your feet, then the socks become damp from sweat, increasing the cold feeling.
  • Merino Wool – unlike any other wool material, merino wool has much finer fibers enabling a much softer and itch-free product. Like synthetics, merino wool moves moisture away from the body. Instead of just wicking this moisture away, merino wool evaporates the moisture ensuring the socks can keep your feet dry and warm. An added benefit to merino wool socks is their antimicrobial properties that repel odor-causing bacteria.

Heated Socks

For those days where a traditional sock isn’t quite enough or for those that just never can keep their toes warm, heated socks provide a welcomed answer. These socks have a heating element in key areas either above, below, or sometimes both. The heating element is powered by a battery pack near the top of the sock and typically have 3-4 heat settings.