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Five tips for choosing the right socks for outdoor wear

best cold weather socks, buffalo down socks, bison socks
481 400 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

Socks are often an afterthought. But really, your sock choices can determine how warm or cool your feet stay, if you develop develop blisters or (in extreme cases) lose toes to frostbite. 

Here are some tips for making the best socks choices. 

by Leon Pantenburg

Disclaimer: Buffalo Wool, Heat Holder Socks and Dachstein supplied products for review. Nobody had any input in the reviews. All I ever promise in any review post is a fair shake.

Really, what’s the big deal about socks? You can get a bundle of six pairs of cotton athletic socks at Walmart for about seven bucks. I think socks are really important.

Bushcraft Basics: A Common Sense Wilderness Survival Handbook got hammered by an Amazon reviewer for spending several pages on choosing socks.

To quote  “Amazon Customer” (completely anonymous: no ID name, no avatar, no website, no credentials and  this was his/her only review.) Troll?

best cold weather socks, buffalo down socks, bison socks

The white cotton athletic socks may be the worst choice, while the Buffalo Wool may be the best. I wore this mis-matched combo as part of a product review field test.

“If you’re a newb to the outdoors and need good advice on buying wool socks (5.5 pages!) or making charcloth (6 pages!), this book may work for you. Overall, seems to me the term “Bushcraft” is being misappropriated here.”

On the other hand, survival expert Jim Cobb, editor of  “Backwoods Survival Guide: Practical Advice for the Simple Life” and  other several preparedness and survival periodicals and books commented on the Bushcraft Basics:

“One of my favorite sections is Chapter 4 – Choosing Clothing. This is an area that far too many survival texts overlook or maybe give just a page or two of discussion. The reality is that the clothing we choose to wear when we head outdoors is one of the most important decisions we can make.

There was a reason so much space in the book was devoted to socks. The correct socks for the environmental conditions are survival essentials, IMHO. Consider your socks as part of  buying hiking footwear.

A common scenario is the reverse – a person invests in some quality hiking boots/shoes but doesn’t  give much thought to socks. Worse case scenario: they buy footwear with a moisture barrier liner and wear thick cotton athletic socks. Since the boots don’t breathe and the cotton retains moisture the result is perpetually soggy socks and inevitably, sore, cold feet. This will lead to blisters, chaffing and possibly really, really sore feet.

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