I am frequently asked what the best footwear is for rucking. This question invokes two different inquiries. First, what shoes or boots are ideal for rucking and, second, what socks are the best. For purposes of this article, I am focusing only on the latter inquiry - socks.
Technically speaking, any pair of socks in one's sock drawer could theoretically suffice for rucking, however, your feet may not be happy or comfortable if your going on rucks of any meaningful distance or if your rucking on any terrain other than flat asphalt.
When I began rucking, I did not initially pay close attention to what socks I wore. I simply pulled a standard pair of bulk athletic socks out of my sock drawer. Unfortunately, I found that 20-30 minutes into a ruck my feet began to give me problems. At times, my socks would get wet (from sweat or the elements) which resulted in my feet feeling raw from the trapped moisture. Other times, I would feel a blister beginning to form from socks bunching or constantly rubbing my skin. Aside from just being uncomfortable and annoying, my foot discomfort resulted in me either shortening my rucks or ensuring that I had multiple rest days in between each ruck to allow my feet to recover. Neither of these scenarios pleased me.
I then did what we all tend to do - I began conducting on-line research related to what the best and most comfortable socks on the market are. I figured that soldiers in the military or people who are in professions or trades that require them to be on their feet all day must wear socks that keep their feet at least quasi-comfortable for 10-12 hours per day. My research led me to various sock companies and the common denominator was the inclusion of merino wool in the construction of their socks. Having no allegiance to any particular company, I ordered several socks and over the course of multiple months I monitored the comfort level of my feet both during and after rucking. I also stayed attune to the fit and durability of the socks after numerous uses and washes because while all of these socks were comparably priced, they were significantly more pricey than my standard run-in-the-mill athletic sock.
The finalists in my sock research were Darn Tough Vermont, Smartwool, and Injinji. While all three of these brands produce quality socks, the hands-down winner for me was Darn Tough Vermont. First, these socks are made in the USA by a family-owned business that has, for almost 40 years, been knitting socks in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Second, Darn Tough Vermont socks come with an unconditional lifetime guarantee that, for me, was shocking to hear. This guarantee is simple and without strings or conditions. If your Darn Tough Vermont socks are not the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks in your drawer you can return them. Moreover, if your socks are ever damaged, you can also return them. The only instance where I believe you are prohibited from returning your socks for either a refund or new pair is if you lose them! Third, the fit and feel of these socks were superb in comparison to the competition. Fourth, these socks proved to be highly durable and continued to look and feel new even after numerous uses and washes. Fifth, and most significant for rucking (or any other fitness activity), since switching to exclusively wearing Darn Tough Vermont socks, I have not had any blisters or foot discomfort.
Regardless of which specific Darn Tough Vermont sock one opts for, they all appear to come with the following essential features:
· Performance Fit - no slipping, bunching or blisters;
· Fast Action Wicking - pulls moisture away from the skin and is fast drying;
· All Weather Performance - cool in the summer, warm in the winter;
· Naturally Antimicrobial - repels bacteria and odor;
· Merino Wool - the ultimate fiber for breathability and comfort; and
· True Seamless - undetectable seam fusion for smooth, invisible feel.
Within the various lines of Darn Tough Vermont socks, I feel the endurance line is perfectly suited for rucking and fitness training. The endurance line contains socks of varying thickness and height. For running, cross-training or general PT, I gravitate to the "no show light cushion" or "1/4 light cushion" socks. For rucking, I either wear the "1/4 light cushion" or the "press crew light cushion" socks since I frequently wear boots when I ruck.
Darn Tough Vermont socks come in lines for men, women and juniors. The men's and women's prices typically range from $15-$20 per pair. The junior are $13-$14. Setting aside the unparalleled construction of these socks, they also come in an assortment of trendy colors and designs that give them the added bonus of looking cool. Although the cost of these socks may appear high, they are worth every dollar. As the idiom goes…"buy cheap, buy twice."
Some people in the ruck community like to wear two pairs of socks while rucking. In this instance, I do like and recommend wearing the Injinji Toesocks as a base layer with a pair of Darn Tough Vermont socks as the outer layer. The two-pair of socks methodology is preferred by some as they feel it further prevents the potential for blisters. For me, I typically wear only one pair of Darn Tough Vermont socks for my daily/weekly fitness rucks and have never had any blisters. For extensive distances or challenges, I have worn two pair of socks and have also never had any blisters.
Given my unequivocal satisfaction with the Darn Tough Vermont socks, I have spoken to the company in an effort to offer select endurance socks for sale in the Ruck Shop. My expectation is that I will have a select and specialized inventory of socks in stock by the end of January, 2018.