There are lots of good options on the market, but one pair consistently wins our tests
Since I started as Outside’s Gear Guy three years ago, I’ve tested dozens of ski socks. There are lots of great options on the market—from SmartWool’s PhD line to Darn Tough’s nearly indestructible over-the-calf models—but season after season, I find myself turning to just one pair: Fits Ultra Light Ski OTC. I’ve found these merino socks to be comfortable for everything from big backcountry tours to resort hot laps, and I honestly believe they are the best snowsport socks you can buy. You, dear reader, might scoff, assuming there isn’t much difference between one $20 sock and another. (Hey, performance isn’t cheap.) But I’ve found there is a surprisingly big gap, for the reasons outlined below.
As its names suggests, Fits pays a lot of attention to how its ski socks hug your feet. Each ski sock has up to 18 different patterns and technologies to ensure your foot, ankle, and calf are comfortable, locked in, and chafe-free. (As a comparison, cheap tube socks take about one minute to knit, while Fits ski socks take more than six.) Here’s a more specific breakdown of the design.
The toe piece is designed like a trapezoid, which is important because the narrow part of the trapezoid wraps around your toes without any seams, which often cause blisters. I’ve used these socks on dozens of tours and in-bounds days and the toe has never bunched, nor have I ever gotten a blister, even when my toes were rubbing my boot while skinning.
All Fits ski socks have a particularly deep heel cup that locks in your foot. The company creates this secure cup by combining just the right amount of Lycra, nylon, and wool to create a construction that compresses yet moves with your foot as you ski and hike. In other socks, I’ve found the heel cup to be too tight, but Fits nailed the design so your heel stays in place but never feels constricted.
The arch in all Fits ski socks is constructed to conforms to the curvature of your foot while simultaneously pulling in the toe and heel so the socks don’t bunch up and cause blisters. This elasticity also makes the socks easy to pull on. While you have to yank some ski socks to get them over your feet, the Fits slide right on.
The leg on the Ultra Light Ski OTC—and all of the company’s ski socks—has graduated compression. That means the sock is tightest at the ankle and gets looser as it moves up your calf. The socks always stay up but don’t leave your legs feeling choked for blood. I take off other ski socks as soon I’m done skiing because they feel like vises on my legs. With Fits, I’m happy to wear the socks to dinner.
For all of its ski socks, Fits uses high-end 18.5-micron merino wool, because it wicks sweat, fights odor, and creates a lot of warmth. Other companies, such as SmartWool and Darn Tough, also use merino, of course, but Fits says its wool/synthetic blend is unique and part of what makes them fit so well.
Ski boots need to fit tightly and securely around your foot to allow direct power transfer from your boot to the ski. To ensure its socks aren’t interfering, Fits knits the Ultra Light Ski OTC only two millimeters thick. Other brands offer similarly thin socks, but I always return to Fits because I think the fit is superior.