Is a ski sock an important piece of kit?

Ski socks are an extremely important piece of kit that are often overlooked. For sure they’re not as exciting as a new pair of skis. But they’re hugely important to ensuring a comfy and fun-filled day on the mountain. A ski sock provides warmth and comfort, whilst being the interface between your skin and your skiing equipment. So make sure you pay attention to your ski socks.

Why are ski socks so important?

A good ski sock can help to keep your feet warm. Feet can feel cold due to a variety of reasons.

It is cold!

Feet can feel cold because it is cold, on those days when it is minus 10 degrees the body is working hard to keep you warm. To do this it will burn through a lot of calories and when it gets too cold it will take the blood away from the extremities to the vital organs, hence cold feet. On days like this it is really important that you layer up your ski clothing, make sure you wear merino base layers and down jackets.

When it is this cold no matter how thick your socks are your feet will still get cold as the bodies natural instinct is to draw blood away from the feet. If you spend a large amount of time skiing in these conditions, or a large amount of time on the mountain (lucky you!) then you may need to consider heated insoles or socks. 

Snow covered chairlifts, Courchevel

The feet are wet

Feet can feel cold when they’re wet. Believe it or not we can sweat up to a cup of water through our feet each day, and this moisture is absorbed by the sock. When we’re in cold conditions this moisture can then lead to cold feet.

This is why we always advise that you wear clean socks each day. So if you’re short on luggage allowance we’d suggest reserving enough room for those all important socks! Putting on dirty socks will not only upset your chalet mates, but will also mean you’re putting on socks that already contain moisture.

The material that the sock is made from is very important to for keeping feet dry, but we’ll go into that later.

The feet are compressed

Feet can feel cold because the blood is cut off to them. When the sock is too thick for the ski boot it can compress the foot and the blood vessels, this will then lead to a cold feet. In this situation when the foot is removed from the boot the foot will often warm up quickly as the blood returns. You may also feel a tingling where the nerves have been under compression.

Poor circulation to the feet

Some of us suffer with underlying medical issues, but a sock could still help in this situation. If you have circulation issues then it is important that you see an experienced boot fitter. They will advise you on the best course of action. It may be that some form of boot heater would help, but we do need to be careful as sometimes this can increase the problems.

So what socks should I wear?

In a fitted ski boot we would advise a thin sock and we love the Smartwool Ultra Light. This is without a doubt our favourite sock. It is elasticated and shaped like the foot. Goodbye thick tube socks of the 90s. When you put on a ski sock you should still be able to see the shape and contours of your feet. A thick tube sock will look like a thick tube, whereas an elasticated thin sock will mould to the foot. This will aid blood flow and solve the problem of the foot being compressed.

The other great thing about Smartwool socks is that they finish at a comfortable point, high on the lower leg, where the elastication helps to keep the sock in place. A non-elasticated sock can sag or crease inside the boot, causing sore spots or blisters.

The Smartwool Ultralight sock also solves the wet feet problem. (We’re not sponsored, honest. They are just an exceedingly good sock!). Made from merino wool, the best natural wicking material, water is drawn away from the skin and into the fibres of the wool. Thus keeping your feet toasty warm…. And the best bit, because they’re merino wool your feet won’t smell! Always a bonus.

So there you have it. Hopefully you now appreciate the value of a quality pair of ski socks. And not just for keep your fellow chalet guests happy. They may not come with all the glamour of other pieces of ski gear but they can certainly make or break your day.

2 thoughts to “Ski Socks – Why they are important?

  • Robert Cushing

    Cold feet: change socks at lunch.
    Thin wool socks, such as Smartwool, are the best.

    • Gavin Fernie-Jones

      Hi Robert, yep changing the socks at lunch would help. And the Smartwool Ultralight PhD is our favourite sock, nice and thin, we wear nothing else…. even in the summer!


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *