We’re not here to convince you socks in general are important. If you can read and you don’t already feel that way, we’re certainly not going to change your mind! But we can guarantee that before slipping your foot into a ski or snowboard boot to hit the slopes, you’re going to want a sock- and not just any sock- adorning your tootsies. Here are a few reasons you should invest in ski-specific socks and how to choose the right pair!
Why Socks Matter on the Slopes
Your boot is designed for them.
Try on a ski or snowboard boot without a sock and you’ll most likely agree- boots are just not comfortable sans socks. Multiply that discomfort by all the hours you’re about to spend shredding. Just trust us, wear a sock with your ski or snowboard boot.
They keep you warm.
This may be a no-brainer but socks are a crucial layer of insulation. The feet regulate much of our body temperature. Like our hands, they have a large surface area as well as specialized blood vessels which can be opened up to pass high volumes of blood through them and therefore offload heat quickly when required. When not required, the blood vessels are constricted. Feet also don’t have much muscle (and muscle=heat) which means that they cool down much more than other regions of the body. So cover those tootsies up!
Choosing the Right Ski Sock
The right sock fit in your boot plays a huge role on your comfort going down runs. This is so important, in fact, that we recommend choosing your sock before even seeking out a new boot and trying said sock on inside each boot to ensure a match made in boot fit heaven.
First, you’ll want to choose a snug fit, but not so snug it interferes with circulation. A snug fit will prevent the sock from moving around and bunching up which often leads to blisters. If you’re shopping a ski sock brand that offers sizing and are in between sizes, it’s always better to go smaller. Most socks are designed for “men” or “women” but this is only due to the width and instep fit. Womens’ socks tend to have a narrower footbed and heel and offer more support around the arch. There should be minimal to no difference in warmth and cushioning.
There are a couple of good options when it comes to the material of your ski socks. Merino wool is a material that retains its warmth when wet and is naturally odor resistant. Wool also breathes more easily and is known for its ability to wick moisture away from your skin, ensuring your feet stay dry & warm.
Synthetic blends such as nylon-polyester are becoming increasingly popular, especially as an alternative for people who are allergic to wool or have skin sensitivities. Synthetic yarn typically features fibers that trap warmth as well as wick moisture away, giving the material many of the characteristics naturally found in wool. Most synthetics also come with an antimicrobial coating for odor control. Whether you choose wool or a synthetic blend, when it comes to cotton, just say NO. Cotton is unable to wick moisture like wool and merino, leaving your feet vulnerable to wetness, cold, and blisters.
A thicker sock does not necessarily constitute a warmer sock. Socks that are too thick can restrict circulation, your body’s nature-made mechanism for staying warm. With advancements in sock technology, a thinner sock can pack a lot of warmth and keep your blood flowing. In the same vein as thickness is cushioning. Ski socks can range from no cushioning to heavy cushioning, and the “just right” amount of padding for you will really depend on personal preference as well as environment. Pro skiers, for example, may opt for little to no cushioning because aggressive boots have a tighter fit and these individuals tend to like to feel the terrain beneath them. Snowboarders sometimes opt for a thicker sock because some snowboarding boots fit more loosely than ski boots.
Note: if you are prone to blisters, make sure there are no seems no matter which level of cushioning you prefer.
Ski Socks vs Snowboard Socks: What’s the Difference?
Generally ski socks are thinner than snowboard socks so they can easily pair with tighter-fitting ski boots without bunching up. They are also often longer to ensure that they extend beyond the ski boot for a comfortable fit and protection for your shins.
Snowboard socks tend to be a little bit thicker and have more padding than ski socks because snowboard boots don’t fit as tight as ski boots do. Therefore, snowboard socks are thicker to fill in the empty space in snowboard boots and maintain insulating properties, keeping your feet warmer in a looser-fitting boot.
Shop ski & snowboard socks at Christy Sports.