When it comes to winter essentials, perhaps one of the most important but also overlooked items is thick, wool socks for men.
I get it – when you've got an entire closet to switch out for the colder weather, the last thing you think about is how effective your thinner socks are at keeping out the cold when the temperatures drop. After all, those bulky coats and thermal shirts should do the job just fine, right?
You'd be surprised. When it comes to heat retention, socks can actually make up for a 10-degree difference in temperature just by insulating your feet.
In today's article, I'm breaking out why and how a man should invest in good quality wool socks for men.
What Style Of Wool Socks Are Best For Winter?
Saying “wool socks are great for winter” is like saying “shirts are great for black tie events”.
It's a general term that can be misleading because there are a lot of different types of wool that a man can choose from.
So, here's my break out of the 4 best types of wool socks you should invest in this winter.
This is a finer, softer type of wool that is ideal for men who don't like the feel of thicker, coarser wool against their skin. Merino wool will also retain its shape and not pill as easily as other types of wool.
When it comes to socks made from Merino wool, I recommend going for a thinner style that can be worn with dress shoes as well as sneakers. Oftentimes, these will have a higher wool content (80% or higher) and be blended with materials like nylon or Lycra to increase durability and stretch.
Lambswool is another type of fine wool that is ideal for those who don't like the feel of thicker wool socks. The main difference between lambswool and merino wool is that lambswool is less expensive and not quite as durable.
When it comes to Lambswool socks, I recommend sticking to a thicker, more casual style that can be worn with boots or sneakers. These socks will usually have a lower wool content (60-70%) and be blended with materials like acrylic or polyester.
These include Shetland, Icelandic, and Peruvian wools, which are great at insulating against the cold and can often be found in heavier-weight socks. If you live in a particularly cold climate, or if you're someone who feels the cold more than others, these might be the best type of wool socks for you.
Why? Simple – Coarser wools are better at trapping heat, which means your feet will stay nice and toasty even in the most frigid of temperatures.
When it comes to socks made from coarser wool, I recommend sticking to a thicker, more casual style that can be worn with boots or sneakers. These socks will usually have a lower wool content (60-70%) and be blended with materials like acrylic or polyester.
This is one of the most luxurious, and expensive, types of wool you can buy. Cashmere is made from the fine undercoat of cashmere goats, and is prized for its softness, warmth, and durability.
When it comes to socks made from cashmere, I recommend going for a thinner style that can be worn with dress shoes as well as sneakers. Oftentimes, these will have a higher wool content (80% or higher) and be blended with materials like nylon or Lycra to increase durability and stretch.
You can find socks that are made from 100% cashmere. These are the height of sock-wearing luxury and will make you feel as though you're walking on clouds. However, exercise caution when wearing them. They're not as durable as socks made from other types of wool, and they can easily develop holes.
What Brands Make The Best Wool Socks For Men?
When it comes to finding the best brands that make wool socks for men, there are a few key names that come to mind. However, before I break them out, let consider what makes a good wool sock for the colder months.
For starters, the socks should be made from high quality, durable wool that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. Ideally, they should also be well-constructed, with reinforced heels and toes, and they should have a comfortable fit that doesn't slip down your leg during the day.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's take a look at some of the best brands making wool socks for men this winter.
Johnston & Murphy
This American brand has been around since 1850, and they know a thing or two about making quality footwear. Their wool socks are no exception. Made from a Merino wool blend, they're ultra-soft and comfortable, and they come in a variety of colors and designs.
The great thing about Johnston and Murphy wool socks is that they're designed by one of America's best know shoemakers. That means they're designed by people who know about the stress shoes put on socks and have designed them accordingly.
This Vermont-based brand is known for making some of the most durable socks on the market. And their wool socks are no exception. Oftentimes made from a Merino wool blend, they're comfortable, breathable, and designed to last. In fact, Darn Tough backs up their socks with a “no questions asked” lifetime guarantee.
What that means is, if you ever have any issues with your Darn Tough socks, even if it's years down the road, you can send them back for a replacement – no questions asked.
The great thing about Darn Tough is that they categorize their socks according to usage. They make Hiking Socks that are suited for those wearing walking boots outdoors, or Lifestyle Socks for more everyday wear.
This New Zealand-based brand is another great option for those looking for quality wool socks. And, like Darn Tough, they also categorize their socks according to usage.
They make Hiking and Trekking Socks that are designed for those spending long days outdoors or Everyday Socks that are perfect for, well, everyday wear. Their wool socks are made from a Merino wool blend and are soft, comfortable, and breathable.
What Are The Best Ways To Care For Wool Socks?
Now that you know a bit more about wool socks and have seen some of the best brands that make them, let's take a look at how to care for them. After all, if you're going to invest in a quality pair of wool socks, you want to make sure they last.
How To Wash Men's Wool Socks
The first thing you need to know about washing wool socks is that you should never put them in the dryer. The heat from the dryer can break down the fibers in the wool and cause them to shrink.
Instead, always air-dry your wool socks. The best way to do this is to lay them flat on a towel or drying rack. Once they're dry, you can store them in a drawer or sock organizer.
When it comes time to wash your wool socks, you have a few different options. The first is to hand wash them in cold water using a mild detergent. This is the best way to preserve the fibers in the wool and keep them looking their best.
If you don't have time to hand wash your socks, you can also machine wash them on the delicate cycle in cold water. Just be sure to use a mild detergent and avoid using fabric softener, as this can damage the fibers in the wool.
Once your socks are washed, it's important to not leave them soaking in the water. Wool is a natural fiber and it can shrink if left soaking in water for too long.
How To Remove Stains From Men's Wool Socks
If your wool socks get stained, there are a few things you can do to remove them. The first is to treat the stain with a pre-treatment solution like OxiClean or Zout.
Let the solution sit on the stain for a few minutes before washing the socks as you normally would. If the stain is particularly stubborn, you may need to repeat this process a few times.
Another option for removing stains from wool socks is to soak them in vinegar or lemon juice. Again, let the socks soak for a few minutes before washing them.
And, as always, be sure to air-dry your wool socks after washing them to prevent shrinkage.
How To Store Men's Wool Socks
When it comes to storing wool socks, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, always store them in a cool, dry place. A drawer or sock organizer is ideal.
Second, if you're going to be storing your wool socks for an extended period of time, be sure to put them in a breathable bag like a cotton pillowcase. This will help prevent them from developing musty smells.
Finally, if you're going to be storing your wool socks for more than six months, be sure to wash and air-dry them before putting them away. This will help prevent any pests from damaging the fibers in the wool.
Why Are Wool Socks So Much Better Than Regular Cotton Socks In Winter?
What would keep you warmer in the colder months – a cotton sweater or cable-knit wool sweater? The answer's a no-brainer, right?
The same goes for socks.
While cotton socks are comfortable and breathable, they're not the best choice for winter weather. That's because cotton is an absorbent material, which means it will soak up moisture from your feet and become wet. And wet socks are cold socks.
Wool, on the other hand, is a more hydrophobic material, which means it repels water. This means that your feet will stay dry – and warm – even if you're walking through snow or slush.
Plus, wool is an excellent insulator. It traps heat, keeping your feet nice and toasty even when the temperature outside is frigid.
So, if you're looking for the best socks for winter weather, wool is the way to go. And if you're looking for the best wool socks for men, we've got you covered above.