Women's gear, up first
Once you’ve been waylaid by a painful blister or hypothermic toes, you'll never again settle for a six pack of discount cotton socks. Synthetic socks can literally save a trip.
I've had success with Dahlgren’s “Dri-Stride” technology, a system that transfers and evaporates moisture through wicking rings and channels. The socks are made from a mixture of superfine alpaca and merino wool, which feels soft next to the skin, helps regulate temperature, and minimizes stink. That means you can reliably bring only two pair on a trip into the backcountry. For hiking, their women’s Light Hiking Stripe ($18; dahlgrenfootwear.com) is a good choice.
Teko just unveiled a new “EVAPOR8 Ultralight” technology, which is an ultra-fine polyester made from 100 percent post-consumer waste. To add comfort, warmth, and breathability, they blended the recycled polyester with North American merino wool to create both a light- and mid-weight hiking sock, both of which debut this September. Try the lightweight version in “Gray Lipstick” ($16; tekosocks.com).
The Stoic Merino No Sho (backcountry.com) trail sock doesn't come in women’s-specific sizes, but they're a good deal at $34 for four pairs, and come in a low-cut hiking style. They're made from roughly one-third each of merino wool, acrylic, and nylon, with a little elastine thrown in to make them stretchy.