Winter comes and the first place you feel the crushing cold is in your feet. Most people will immediately direct their attention to obtaining a good winter coat, a scarf, a beanie, mittens/gloves and thermals.
It is also important to direct this attention to finding a good pair of thermal socks to get you through the cold winter months.
This is a significant endeavour, as a lack of insulation and warmth in your feet can sometimes lead to problems such as pneumonia, hypothermia or frostbite.
However, warmth does not always mean thick, woolly or scratchy. There are plenty of warm, yet comfortable options for cold weather socks, that are also budget friendly! Some are waterproof too.
You can find these options below in our list of the best thermal socks, that a guaranteed to keep your feet toasty all throughout the wintertime.
The 5 Best Thermal Socks
1. SEALSKINZ Waterproof Socks
With a body knitted in part from the best quality wool in the world, Australian Merino, SEALSKINZ knee-length waterproof socks are perfect for outdoor activities involving water and wind. They're excellent for use under boots for hiking, horse-riding, skiing, climbing etc.
They combine the comfort, warmth and breath ability of the Merino wool with the wind and waterproof characteristics of Stretch dry fabrics which are blended with the wool.
The body of the socks is made from a blend of the Merino (38%), Acrylic (38%), Polyester (22%) and Elastane (2%). These materials provide the warmth, comfort, breath ability, moisture-wicking and stretch for extended wear in tough conditions.
The socks then feature a Hydrophilic Membrane which is a SealskinzStretchdry fabric, which is a combination of Nylon (90%) and Elastane (10%).
This is the key to the waterproof and windproof features of the socks. The instep and ankle of the sock are elasticised for support, comfort and durability. And the heel, toe and footbed are padded for protection against friction (reducing the possibility of blistering) and for shock-absorption.
Overall, the socks improve circulation in cold conditions.The socks come in Black/Anthracite and in sizes Medium, Large and X-Large but do run small.
2. Heat Holders Warmest Thermal Sock
Heat Holders use a specially designed thermal thread to create thermal socks which are not only insulated against the cold but also water-proof and breathable for superior comfort and moisture wicking when you’re exercising.
The yarn is a blend of Acrylic (91%), Nylon (5%), Polyester (3%) and Elastane (1%).Their thermal socks are ideal for wearing when cycling, walking, hiking, skiing, and otherwise out and about in the coldest of weather conditions.
The unique fibre used is a Japanese-inspired knitted long looped cushion pile which traps the warm air of your legs and feet and maximises its retention for all-day comfort and warmth.
These are designed for men particularly and are a crew length. They’re thick and chunky with the bulk of the heavy-duty yarn used. The bulk of the material used also provides support and cushioning for the feet. The interior surface of the feet of the socks is brushed to feel extremely soft and to trap the warmth inside for longer.
They are helpful for those with circulation issues, such as diabetics as well as when you’re outside in the cold of winter. The socks are available in four different thicknesses: Original, Thick-Knit, Lite and Ultra-Lite, all of which are warmer than traditional cotton socks. Several colour choices are available and the sizes are Men’s 7 through 12.
3. Global Vasion Heated Socks
Needing something that will really keep your feet and legs warm in the coldest of winter weather? That cold winter commute to work has suddenly got easier! The electrically-heated socks from Global Vasion are a wonder sock!
No thicker than a normal winter-weight cotton sock and made in fact from cotton and spandex these are perfect for slipping on whenever you’re needing warmth in winter, or if you have circulation problems.
Each sock has a small 3.7V rechargeable Lithium-ion battery which heats the front instep area. The padded reinforced toe and heel and recessed carbon fibre heating element keep your feet warm.The heating element is safety standard approved and durable.
The knitted cotton is also breathable and absorbent, keeping your feet dry and comfortable.
There are three temperature settings: High (Red), Medium (Orange) and Low (Green).
You can opt to turn the battery off completely if you like. Your feet won’t feel overheated, simply warm.
These are a one size fits all sock. The battery charger is included with purchase. They do need to be charged for 12 hours or so before their first use. And they cannot be water-washed as that will damage the battery and heating element. Brush cleaning is recommended.
4. Heat Holders WRK Boot Socks
Featuring both warmth and dryness the Heat Holders WRK work boot socks are a great solution for those who work in construction or other outdoor occupations in cold weather.
They’re also a great sock if you suffer from circulation issues or simply want a warm pair of socks for everyday winter wear, or outdoor activities in the cold.
Made from their specially developed thermal yarn these socks have a Thermal Overall Grade (TOG) of 2.3, or 7 x warmer than an ordinary cotton sock.
The fabric of the yarn is a blend of Acrylic (91%), Nylon (5%), Polyester (3%), and Elastane (1%). All these materials combine to give warmth, elasticity, breath-ability and softness.
Heat Holders use a Japanese-inspired knitting technique of extra-long looped cushion pile which traps the warm air from your feet inside the sock.
The inside of the foot of the sock is then brushed to increase the heat retention even further and to provide added softness and support.
The heels and toes are reinforced for anti-friction, support and durability. The length is over the calves for warmth that extends up to the knees.
The socks come in Men’s sizes US 5-9, 7-12 and 13-15 but do run on the small side. Overwhelmingly popular these heat socks are a winner on all counts.
5. Sunew Thermal Socks
Seven times warmer than traditional cotton socks the Sunew thermal socks will keep your feet and legs warm in pretty well any weather winter can throw your way.
With unique high-tech fibre blend (Acrylic, Polyester and Spandex) these compression socks are also ideal for those who need assistance with circulation issues such as diabetics or those with neuropathy problems.
Or anyone who simply gets cold feet, which is probably most of us! Both comfortable and fashionable the boot socks are mid-calf length and suitable for wearing under boots and trousers by both men and women.
The thermal yarn is elasticised to stretch comfortably over any foot or leg size and also not fall down. It has a breathable quality to allow moisture wicking for added dryness despite the warmth it gives the foot. And yet they are a heavyweight construction with thick padding around the sole for extra comfort and support for the foot and heel.
Brushing of the inner side of the socks provides softness and heat retention.
The socks come in a red/black plaid design in sizes Women’s 7-9 and Men’s 10-13. They do run on the larger side. They can be machine washed and tumble dried.
Gone are the days of doubling up your socks on cold winter mornings or when heading out to the slopes skiing. You can now buy thermal socks that are crafted using the best quality materials such as merino and acrylic.
Some thermal socks such as 'Heat Holders' claim to be up to 7 times warmer than basic cotton socks with massive tog ratings such as 2.34 compared with 0.33 tog which is what you'd expect from standard socks.
Others even come with extra features such as being 100% waterproof or even powered by small batteries to keep internal warmth and blood circulation for up to 4 hours.
Here in Australia, the temperature rarely gets so cold that you'd need electric powered thermal socks, but if you're heading over to a foreign country skiing, maybe Canada for example, they would definitely be beneficial.
Be sure to check the reviews on any thermal socks you're considering buying. Most models tend to run on smaller sizes, so if you're torn between two sizes because you're in between sizes, you should opt for the larger range.
Vicky is from Melbourne and studied overseas. She loves to write about health, wellness, fitness and student topics. When she’s not at work, you’ll find her drinking craft beers and hiking.