We have been asked countless times by countless customers "What is better for my feet, cotton or wool socks?"
Sadly most are disappointed by our answer. It is not a matter of which product or material is better but rather what do you specifically need it to do?
This being the case we will attempt to quantify the value of each, and its respective role in the sock world. Let's first debunk some myths.
1. Wool socks are itchy and will make my feet sweat.
The fact is not all wools have to be itchy, in fact we carry fine merino and worsted wool blends that are as soft as felt. Wool socks in and of themselves do not make your feet sweat, in fact by nature (hollow core fiber) wool socks will actually wick moisture away from your feet and aid in keeping them dry.
2. Cotton socks can cause foot fungus because they don't wick moisture away.
Not true! Ultimately any socks worn in extreme situations (in water and extreme heat) will cause foot irritation if there is no proper foot care. This myth originated in the military believe it or not. Soldiers wearing boots and socks in all weather conditions for days and even weeks on end were developing foot infections and in some cases even fungus. This of course was in years past and we are happy to say that soldiers are now educated on proper foot health and many soldiers are now issued wool blend performance socks by such companies as Thorlo, Teko and Smart Wool.
Cotton socks will in fact act as a form of antimicrobial barrier and are still the first choice of many runners and athletes, especially when blended with such fibers as cool max which provide a wicking action.
The truth of the matter is that the most effective socks we have come across are usually a blend of both wool and cotton with man made fibers such as cool max. The percentage of said fibers and thickness of the sock would determine what activity or life style it is best suited for.
That being said we would like to point out that a 100% cotton or wool sock is almost always a poor choice as they are generally bulky and or coarse and usually have no ability to retain their shape. In other words you will end up with a dumpy looking sock that won't stay up.