Many of us spend a great deal of time and thought over which shoes to buy (see my earlier blog) but what about socks? Often overlooked, they play a crucial role in ensuring our feet remain at their optimal temperature, blister free, dry and comfortable. So what should we think about for Nordic walking and what’s on the market?
The key thing to remember for us Nordic walkers is that our feet are doing a lot of work. We have a strong heel strike rolling through to a powerful push off. That, coupled with the speed we walk at will mean our feet are likely to get hot and sweaty.
- Consider a sock with good cushioning, especially around the heel and on the ball of your foot. I favour the more fitted socks, the ones with panelling. It makes my foot feel very well supported and springy.
- Ensure your sock has good wicking ability and odour management qualities. Top for this would have to be Merino Wool but synthetic materials can also be excellent.
- Don’t buy a sock that bunches up round your toes or has rough seams that will irritate your feet.
Most brands offer a range of weights to suit different temperatures so you will need to make sure you have the right pair for the conditions – it’s not much fun walking mid-summer in your winter warmers!
Also some people like wearing sock liners. These are thin, lightweight, wicking socks worn under hiking socks or waterproof socks. Their primary benefit is for blister prevention but those who wear them (and I believe it’s a Marmite thing) say they prefer the fit and general comfort that two pairs of socks give them. These are our tried and tested favourites from Bridgedale.
You can buy wool socks (pay the extra for Merino Wool here), synthetic socks or a mix of the two. You can buy ankle socks, short socks or long socks. You can even buy silk socks, bamboo socks or the famous Sealskinz waterproof socks. Basically, as one famous wizard said, “One can never have enough socks” and clearly there is plenty of choice out there.
You may have a preferred brand already. Mine are Smartwool and Bridgedale but the photo I took for this blog during today’s 14km Stanton Drew Stone Circle walk shows that our Bristol Nordic Walkers sport a variety of makes (spot which ones are sock liners).
One final suggestion - if you are going on an all day walk, take two pairs of socks and change half way round. I did this during my four walking marathons along the Cotswold Way last year and it felt utterly gorgeous discarding the old and putting on the new. I had an extra spring in my step and no blisters!