Anyone who wears work boots or any other type of boot should ideally pair them with quality boot socks. A good pair of boots is made better with a good pair of socks, and a great pair of boots will only seem average if your socks are likewise.

After all, if you're going to invest in a pair of serious work boots, you might as well get some great socks to go with them. That way, you get the best out of wearing them.

What makes for great socks for work or outdoor pursuits?

Great Boot Socks Don't Just Cover Your Feet

work boots and the socks to wear with them

Ultimately, what you're looking for in boot socks is a balance of factors. Obviously, they must be comfortable above all else, but there are a few other attributes as well.

First, they have to provide a bit of cushioning, as part of quality working footwear is supposed to be shock absorption.

Secondly, they should ideally absorb sweat and moisture without becoming truly disgusting by the end of a workday. Granted, only so much can be done on that score...but it's better if you can take off your work boots without having to wear a gas mask.

Lastly, they should be appropriately warm. Your feet shouldn't get overly hot, but neither should they get cold. It's one thing to get "cold feet" on your wedding day; it's another entirely to literally have them while working. Cold, wet feet are misery.

Boot socks should also be longer than the boot shaft itself. You don't have to wear leggings, but it's a good idea for your socks to extend just above the top of the boot, if not further.

Not that complicated, really, but it's definitely something you don't want to overlook.

What Are Good Boot Sock Materials?

what kind of materials are in wool work boot socks

Socks, including boot socks, are made in a wide range of materials. Cotton, wool, Lycra and many permutations and blends in between. Materials are neither good nor bad; it's more that each has positives and negatives, and it's good to know what's probably the right choice for you.

Cotton is soft, and thick cotton socks have a pillow-like feel to them...when you take them out of the packaging. They tend to shear a bit thin with moderate wear, but the thicker they are the more cushion they'll retain after "breaking in" so to speak.

The upsides to cotton socks are the comfort and reasonable cost. After all, a bag of boot socks isn't terribly expensive. The downside is while they are absorbent, they stink like crazy from sweat, and don't retain heat very well. Cotton socks are less than useless when wet, so they're no good for winter conditions in cold climates if you're going to be outdoors.

Wool socks are often touted as the best for many applications, and they have a lot going for them. Wool does absorb moisture, but unlike cotton retains heat even when wet. Depending on the type of wool used, they can even block odor. However, the hitch with wool is that - again, depending on the type - they can get wickedly warm.

You probably don't want to wear argyle socks with work boots, but merino wool on the other hand...that would be a dandy choice. Merino wool has become THE go-to material for serious outdoor sportspersons for good reason: it's warm, it doesn't lose warmth when wet, and it takes days of heavy use of a merino wool garment before it starts to stink.

With wool socks, a good rule of thumb is to go lightweight in the spring and revert back to heavyweight for winter.

As it happens, there are a number of merino wool boot socks on the market that are excellent for the working person. Darn Tough is one of the brands we recommend.

Acrylic wool blends are another great material to look for. You get the warmth of wool, and the lightness and form-fitting nature of acrylic fabrics. Getting wet isn't a problem, either. High-quality wool acrylic blend socks are typically a little less expensive than merino wool, and verge on the same quality when it comes to comfort.

Regardless of what footwear you take to work, investing in quality socks will only make them more comfortable, keeping your feet warm, dry and in good health.