It used to be that running and walking socks were simply something to put on between your skin and shoes. So long as they didn’t rub and the fit was fairly snug – that is, the heel was in the right place – most outdoors people were fairly happy. But “fairly” happy isn’t enough for the makers of outdoor clothing anymore. The walking and running clothing designers and manufacturers want consumers to be really very happy indeed about their walking and running socks.

An amazing range of walking socks

If you take a look at today’s running and walking socks stands, shelves and on-line departments you could easily be overwhelmed by the number of different socks for sale. We’re not talking simply colour, sizes and male and female-specific but socks that also offer such details as wick-away materials, reduced bacteria products, arch support, heel reinforcements, half-cushioning and full-cushioning, tough durability, 1000s of miles, super-heel comfort, mid ankle height, shin height, mesh cooling channels, instep and ankle panels for maximum ventilation…  

There are even socks that promise insect-repellent and antibacterial treatment. And baselayer undersocks for “healthier feet with moisture-wicking performance for dry feet. As well as socks with Coolmax microfibres to help to prevent blisters, soreness and allergies. What more could you ask for in a sock?

We’re not about to recommend one sock or brand over another because the choice is yours. We do, however, advise that you do not choose simply based on colour and price. It’s important that you think about what you really want in a sock.

Walking socks to suit different outdoorsy people 

The sweaty feets: Some people find that their feet perspire just a little more than others seem to. A walk in the hills can turn into what feels like a hike through a puddle. But walkers still need a good degree of comfort so the sock to go for is one that offers good wick-away qualities. If your feet seat then they will also have a tendency to be a bit smelly so a bonus would be socks with anti-bacterial properties to see off the bacteria that cause smelly feet in the first place. Another feature to look out for is some kind of cooling or ventilation detailing, such as mesh cooling channels. 

The long-distance walkers: You'll want long-lasting and durable socks. Socks called 1000s of Miles one would hope will be made to last. We hear reports from walking addicts who claim that 1000s of Miles socks do indeed last a very long time, but no-one has actually worn one pair for 1000 miles and kept a record. If you have please do tell us.

The comfort seekers: There can be little worse than socks that spend their whole time falling down and creating annoying creases under the foot or at the toes. If you find socks are uncomfortable at best then look for such features as arch or ankle support. These socks will be more likely to stay in place and cause you less hassle while enjoying your outdoor pursuits. 

Boots or shoes: Choose different heights of socks to suit your footwear. Socks need to rise higher up your legs than the height of the boot or shoe. 

Women, men and kids: Women tend to have slimmer feet. Men are more likely to have longer and wider feet. Children’s feet come in all shapes but mostly in smaller sizes. It's a good idea to choose walking socks to suit you. Designers have put a ot of thought into walking socks for men, women and children and it's not just about the colours!

Our advice is to try a number of different socks to find out the ones that suit your feet and activities the best. Most pairs of socks are priced at less than £10 so you can afford to buy a few different types at once and try them in different outdoors situations.