Socks, Flip-flops and Gaiters


Socks perform three main functions: they cushion the feet, absorb perspiration and provide insulation against the cold.  Whether you prefer to wear one or two pairs in combination is dependant on how well they match with the boot. 

The crucial thing to consider is slippage: you want it to occur between the outer sock and the boot or between the socks.  You don't want it to occur between your skin and the sock, because this leads to a hot spot (friction burn) and that's how blisters start.  Also make sure the socks fit your foot and are in good condition and free from holes or darns. 

A mixture of merino wool and man made fibres (nylon/polypropylene) is a good material and although not so quick at drying as synthetics, is better at dealing with moisture vapour (sweat), bacterial build up (pong) and temperature variations. 

Frequent washing is necessary for them to function properly and at least one spare pair, and preferably a pair for each day of a short expedition should be carried.  In hot weather wearing two pairs of socks will probably soften the feet and increase the risk of blisters.  Modern waterproof yet breathable socks are available as are duel-skinned socks, but at a price.


A pair of lightweight flip flops should be carried for use around the camp site.  This will allow the feet to be aired without the danger of cuts and splinters from running around the camp in bare feet.


Gaiters help to keep socks and trousers clean and dry in muddy/boggy type ground.  They also stop stones and vegetation getting into boots.  They provide a link between boots and the rest of the clothing and help keep feet warm and dry in bad weather.  A zip at the side will enable you to put them on or take them off without removing your boots.  In wet conditions, gaiters are best worn underneath over-trousers to stop the rain being funnelled into the gaiter and on into the boot.