The Benefits of Neoprene Socks: When and Where to Use Them


Should you get neoprene socks? Are they worth the added expense? There are some really interesting uses that might be surprising to you, let’s dive into it.

Neoprene socks primary benefit is keeping out moisture, but they also provide additional insulation, and can be used to reduce friction in combination with other socks. Because of these reasons, they are best used in situations where you might get your feet wet and in high friction scenarios such as hiking, backpacking, kayaking or canyoneering.

There are more benefits to learn about when it comes to neoprene socks. You’re sure to find that they can be useful in a variety of ways. Continue on and you’ll learn all about the benefits and uses of these super cool socks.

Why Use Neoprene Socks?

Maybe you’re wondering why neoprene socks would even be necessary. After all, your regular socks have worked just fine for years, right?

That may very well be true, but think about how much nicer it would be to be able to cross a stream or walk through snow and having an extra layer of effective insulation to keep your feet warm in those critical situations.

Neoprene is an effective insulation material. It’s because of this that it’s used in wetsuits worn by those who place their whole bodies into cold water.

Here are just a few more benefits neoprene socks can provide.

Added Warmth

Neoprene socks are a great choice when you know you’re going into a situation that leads to cold feet. Think crossing cold water or traveling through snow, or slogging through the rain. The warmth provided by Neoprene socks will keep your feet comfortable, which is incredibly important when you want to keep walking on them.

At a bare minimum, without the right preparation you may end up with cold, wet feet and cold, wet socks, which can cause blisters and discomfort. If your feet are going to be wet for long periods of time, you increase the risk for hypothermia, and if you’re spending a lot of time walking through snow, it can even lead to frostbite. If you’re in a cold location, you can’t over-prepare your foot care.

Versatility

There are so many ways you can use neoprene socks. Whether you’re backpacking, hiking, traveling through cold snow or creeks, canyoneering or even swimming, these socks can keep your feet from getting too cold. In my research, I found that there are even some campers who enjoy using them as shoes around the campsite.

Because neoprene socks are a bit more slippery, they also can work amazingly as a liner under your wool socks and shoes.

Water Blockage

If you opt for the closed-cell design of neoprene, you also get the benefit of waterproof socks.

Some neoprene socks go up the ankle which gives a layer of protection if you’re hiking in damp conditions. If it’s pouring rain or you’re crossing a river, there is no staying dry, but, similar to a wetsuit, the water can be insulated inside the socks keeping your feet warm. Wool socks lose a lot of their insulation abilities as soon as they get wet.

If you’re crossing a river, sometimes it’s wise to not cross in your normal shoes and instead have a shoe made specifically for crossing a river.

If you’d like to see some more ideas for great crossing shoes, we found some simple and easy options in another article we wrote. Take a look at it here!

Foot Protection

There are a lot of different thicknesses of neoprene socks out there–the neoprene socks I’m talking about right now that can be used for hiking are the thinner socks.

When you’re planning to walk long distances, your feet can be at risk for all kinds of damage. Foot soreness, blisters, and the uncomfortable rubbing of shoes creating raw spots can all leave you wishing you had stayed home. Even worse, sometimes shoes you normally consider to be reliable can prove to be less comfortable when you’re hiking mile after mile.

Water moisture increases the friction on your feet as well as softens the skin making blisters more common. A neoprene sock liner underneath your normal hiking socks acts as a slip that prevents some of this friction.

Aside from problems with shoes, debris like small rocks and splinters can sometimes make their way into your soles. If you bring along some neoprene socks to at least use as a cushion, you can avoid the pain that debris can cause.

Hiking or Backpacking With Neoprene Socks

There are many hiking trails out there that can allow you to avoid the effects of wet feet pretty easily if you want to. However, that may not be as easy to achieve when you’re backpacking. Unless you know every twist and turn of the trail, you’re likely going to hit water.

If that happens, it’s much better to be safe rather than sorry. Wet, cold feet can make a beautiful hike absolutely miserable. With a pair of neoprene socks on, you can get through the water with a little less friction on your feet. At the very least, any water that gets into your shoes will become warm enough that it won’t be too much of a problem.

Even if you don’t cross any water, if you opt for a thicker neoprene sock, the extra cushion that neoprene socks offer can make the journey that much easier on your feet.

Those who are new to hiking may not always be sure how long of a trail they should choose, or what a good pace looks like. To guide you through finding your perfect pace, we’ve done some research on the subject available here.

Canyoneering With Neoprene Socks

Canyoneering is an extreme outdoors activity where you experience many different landscapes. “Swimmers” are canyons where you have to wade or swim through pools of water. Holy mackerel… this is such a fun experience. The water is so amazing to swim through, but it comes with the price of now your clothes are wet as you’re climbing down a canyon.

Golden Cathedral Neon Canyon Escalante National Park Utah

Canyoneering is by definition tough on your feet. You’re scrambling, wall walking and using all hands and feet to get safely through the canyon. Neoprene socks can be a great asset here to keep your feet if your feet get wet and to reduce friction.

Neoprene socks provide comfort in the canyons due to the extra cushion they provide. When it comes time to deal with water, they assist in keeping your feet warmer and drier than they would be otherwise. Depending on your own preferences, you may decide to wear them for the whole trip or just bring some neoprene socks for when you actually need to deal with water.

Either way, it’s beneficial to have them on hand.

Kayaking With Neoprene Socks

It’s only natural to expect a little bit of wetness to occur during a kayaking trip. However, that doesn’t mean you want cold, wet feet all day. Neoprene socks will really help to keep your feet nice and cozy, even if water does end up getting everywhere.

Quality neoprene is designed to help with at least warming up that water. Your feet may still get wet, but at least they won’t be freezing. According to an article on different kinds of socks written by Joyce Smith for The Ohio State University Extension, neoprene socks make use of a specially-designed core made to keep your body heat in as much as possible.

Things to Consider When Buying Neoprene Socks

Neoprene socks are undoubtedly a great choice in a variety of situations. That said, they aren’t perfect. Unfortunately, the technology doesn’t yet exist to create the perfect, warm, waterproof sock, but neoprene socks get pretty darn close!

If you’re looking to try out some neoprene socks for yourself, our article on the best neoprene socks for hiking can help you to find the ideal pair. Check it out here!

The Fit

Neoprene socks are designed for different purposes than standard socks. Typically, people don’t expect to wear their neoprene socks on a daily basis. As a result, you’re likely to find that they don’t offer the same fit as the socks you’d normally buy.

You just might find that they are less comfortable, have thicker seams or feel suffocating in your shoes. It’s because of this that it’s important to shop around to find the neoprene socks that fit you the best. It’s natural to expect the fit to be tighter inside your shoes, but you do want to make sure your feet are still comfortable.

You might have to experiment with different sock thicknesses before you find what you need.

Your Feet May Still Get Wet

While neoprene socks are incredibly useful, they aren’t an end-all solution to avoid wet feet. There are still situations in which your shoes can end up waterlogged. If the shoes you’re wearing aren’t waterproof, neoprene socks can only do so much. Also, some neoprene is designed with open-cell foam, which means it will allow the water in without hesitation.

Additionally, shoes that are too short for a water crossing will result in water flowing over the tops and into your shoes and socks. As a result, it’s a good idea to bring along some taller boots if you’re going to be crossing a lot of water. Some campers even recommend the use of waders to really make sure you don’t end up soaked.

They Can Take Time To Dry

Although neoprene socks can be quite effective for avoiding waterlogged feet, this can mean they end up soaking up a lot of that water. If you’re familiar with using a wetsuit for diving or other water-based activities, then you’ll have a good sense of how these socks will work.

Once you have gotten through the water, you might find that your neoprene socks take quite a while to get dry. If they remain in your shoes for a while after the trek, it can become difficult for them to dry out effectively. Consequently, it might be worth having a backup pair, or at least a pair of dry regular socks you can switch into if you get uncomfortable.

Waterproof anything takes longer to dry–so it’s good to be prepared.

Peter

Peter is a software developer who loves to take every opportunity to go outside that he can get. Peter grew up going on long backpacking excursions with his family every Summer and now enjoys staying at the beautiful Texas State Parks and swimming in the amazing Texas Rivers.

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