This is the first in a few short posts that will highlight a few of my personal favorite things. Just because they’re my favorites, doesn’t mean they’re your favorites, which by the way you can feel free to post in the comments. Remember, don’t trust people with blogs, especially if they recommend things or give you the “best of”! It’s all opinion and conjecture, and most bloggers are just people trying to make those pennies rain down. With that said, these are the socks, undies, and tees that I immediately go-to for every trip.
Favorite Hiking Socks
Socks are the cornerstone of happy feets. I have a few favorites and these are all Merino + Synthetic blends…
- Darn Tough Hiker: These are just great socks. The fit is excellent, they’re durable as hell, and they have a lifetime warranty. Who else has that??
- Smartwool PhD: I do like the fit of these socks and have owned more than a few pairs. The reason for that is they lack durability unfortunately. Smartwool has recently improved them (or so they say… Smartwool stuff a pair or two into your laser guided sock launcher and shoot them this way!!) but we don’t have any experience with the new ones yet, so the opinion is the opinion for now.
- Bridgedale XHale Trailhead: This is really a tie with the Smartwool PhD. These are also very nice fitted socks (right and left even!) and they’re as durable if not better, but they tend to lose their shape and elasticity too soon, then that great fit doesn’t feel as awesome.
My R2D2 Underoos from back in the day were the haute sauce, but maybe not the best selection for hiking in. I really prefer a boxer-brief these days. Here are my current go-to choices…
- Smartwool Boxer Briefs: These are 150 weight, 100% Merino. Great underwear. They combat stink and chaffing like no other. I have not had any issues with durability. The obvious downside is the cost, but I am willing to pay.
- Ex Officio Boxer Briefs: A synthetic boxer brief with a great fit, good durability, but without the steep price of Merino wool. A clear second place for me.
As a quick foreword – I am doing this thing now where I wear a light t-shirt under my normal shirt. Here’s why… with a pack on, it’s more comfy. A little more padding and a lot less friction on the shoulders. As a benefit, my synthetic and synthetic blend hiking shirts stink much less with a light wool shirt underneath. Anything that inhibits bacterial growth helps in that regard. This works so well that I have a few of these shirts now and I wear them as part of my street clothes to keep my other shirts nice and fresh. I really only have one favorite here…
- Smartwool NTS 150 Micro: A great t-shirt for the above stated reasons. I own 3 of them now, all purchased on sale (they’re pricey for a tee). The oldest is going on 5 or 6 years now with zero holes. Maybe I just take good care of my stuff (mostly hand wash, NEVER machine dry) but that is good value in my book.
Women – keep in mind that these products are available to you too. Most of these garments are wool, or wool blends. Wool doesn’t bother me, and the more it’s worn, the softer it gets, but I know a few people that just can’t stand it. In that case, you’re left with synthetics, and that’s ok too. Synthetics will stink faster simply because they provide a better substrate for microbial growth. So if someone gives you a hard time about how bad you smell, just tell em “it’s not me, it’s my bacteria!”. On the plus side, synthetics wear a little cooler than wool, and will dry somewhat faster. Synthetics also tend to be more durable, but I feel like a little care goes a long way and all my wool clothes (aside from socks) have lasted me years. Truth be told, even cotton can be ok in the right conditions. The main thing with cotton is, it takes forever to dry. When you wet it out with sweat you’ll need to have a dry backup ready when you start cooling down and the temperatures are falling… like the end of the day when you’re setting up camp. Nothing is set in stone and “rules” can be bent or broken as long as you’re sufficiently prepared. Welp, that’s all I got. So, what are your favorite undies? Hike It. Like It.