QUESTION: What are liner socks and do I need them for backpacking? If so, why?
ANSWER: Liner socks for backpacking or hiking are thin moisture-wicking socks that help pull the moisture away from your foot and out into the thicker hiking or trekking socks.
In other words, you should use two layers of socks, being the liner sock is the closest to your foot, to help avoid friction and rubbing of the hiking sock. The smooth wicking liner socks will fit snugly on your feet and provide a safety layer, allowing the liner sock to move inside the hiking sock while avoiding friction against your skin.
Some experienced hikers and backpackers choose not to use liner socks, while others don’t dare go on a hiking trip without them. You will need to experiment and decide for yourself, but you really should do your experimenting while walking a few miles in your own neighborhood well in advance of going on a backpacking trip.
I’ve consistently used liner socks, beginning with my first backpacking trip several years ago, and I’ve never developed a serious blister. So, I’m convinced that they work for me and I highly recommend liner socks to everyone!
For more information about avoiding blisters, see our full article on How to Prevent Heel Blisters While Backpacking.
What’s your opinion? What socks have you used on the hiking trail that you like and recommend? Leave your comments and suggestions at the bottom.