Blister Prevention: Liner Socks

Hiking Liner Socks
Hiking Liner Socks

My old boots have finally died and I’m spending this week and next breaking in a new pair of leather Asolo boots before my next section hike over Mt. Mansfield and it’s surrounding peaks. My goal is to hike about 100 miles in a variety of terrains to get the leather nice and soft.

Normally, I just wear a single pair of REI merino wool socks when I hike, but during the new boot break-in process, I decided to wear liner socks, as well, to prevent blisters. The theory behind liner socks in simple. They help wick away sweat from your feet and prevent the friction between your skin and your outer socks that would otherwise turn into a blister.

The liners I’m currently using are REI Liner Socks and so far they’re working great. I’ve day hiked about 25 miles in the past 3 days with them without even a hot spot. They’re made out of a polypropylene, stretch nylon, and lycra blend and have a very porous, almost mesh-like weave that is very effective at wicking water away from my skin and into my outer wool sock layer. Flat seams at the toes and heels also help prevent bunching.

Given the normally wet conditions on the Long Trail, it is likely that I will be taking these socks on my section hike. It will be interesting to see how well they perform under extremely adverse conditions if my new boots get soaked through like my current pair.


  1. I used to have problems with blistering and was never able to feel a hot spot until it was too late. Then I started wearing sock liners. Now I never get them in dry conditions. However, in my last trip it was raining all day of the final day and I got some. My socks and liners were wet from the rain and sweat and I pushed myself for about 14 miles to get the the trail's end before dark. It was too hot for rain pants, but I'm considering wearing gaiters in the future to keep some of the rain out of my boots. What's your experience with gaiters?

  2. I mainly use gaiters in the winter to keep snow from getting my socks wet when I'm snowshoeing. The rest of the year, I don't bother with gaiters anymore because I sweat too much in them, saturating my socks. Instead, I wear Golite rain pants or regular hiking pants that are long enough to keep the rain and mud off of my socks.

  3. My sock system usually consists of a wicking liner sock inside of a heavy wool sock that serves to insulate and absorb shock. Only on very rare occassions would I consider going without a liner sock. I have not had any blisters while doing the Long Trail.

  4. (Ooops, I hit Post before I finished my last comment.)

    I have not had much success with gaiters. They are too heavy and get hot. I have zipped on the nylon legs of my pants to slow the water from soaking through to my socks, but that can also be too hot. The last time I had the problem of soaked socks I just put up with it until we came to a regular stopping point at a shelter. I put on dry socks and then slipped each foot into a plastic bag from a loaf of bread. We did another five miles or so to the trailhead. My feet were clammy from sweat, but the socks were not soaked.

  5. Could knee high nylons work as a sock liner with synthetic wool socks ?

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