Right now most of the country is enduring a cold snap. We were out in our backyard bird blinds this morning in sub zero temps, and part of enjoying photography in cold weather is staying warm. The first thing that gets cold for me is my feet. For boots I use my Sorel Glaciers, I’ve found nothing warmer, and I have used these at 35 below with toasty feet. But almost as important as the boots are your socks. And not all socks are made equal!
I’ve tried countless socks through the years, and had plenty of cold weather time to try them out. Sub zero blizzards on Denali as a climbing guide taught me a lot, including what socks to wear. But honestly sitting in our backyard bird blinds at minus 5 feels even colder since we are just sitting. Here is my experience with the warmest socks I could find.
Wigmaw. Wigwam gets the prize for having two pairs of socks I have used in the coldest weather. First, their 40 Below socks (middle pair above) are great all around warm weather socks. These socks keep your feet warm, are great for hiking or lounging around the house. I have two pair I’ve been using for at least three years, they just last really well. But despite the name, these are not the warmest socks Wigwam makes. That distinction goes to the Canada II socks (far left pair above). Thicker, more padded and definitely warmer than the 40 Below. When I want a durable super warm sock, this is what I wear. I used these at 20 below on our last Fairbanks Northern Lights Workshop and my feet were toasty all night.
ThorLo. Thorlo has also been making socks for a very long time, and make long lasting durable socks. Their warmest is the Extreme Cold Maximum Cushion Over-Calf-ST. These socks were tested on Mt Everest, and they are about the same as the Canada II socks in warmth. Built for hiking, cushioning and keeping your feet warm, these are a good choice for extreme cold temperatures.
Heat Holders. For something different, and very warm, try a pair of Heat Holders (far right pair above). Unlike the previous socks which use blends including a lot of wool, Heat Holders are mainly acrylic. Hands down these are the most comfortable socks of the bunch. And being lower of your calf means they don’t restrict any blood flow into your feet (many socks are too tight at the calf which creates colder feet). They are very warm socks. But they are not good for hiking, and tend to pill up and shed pretty quickly with use. They are just so comfortable I wear them around the house, but when I go outside on walks I generally prefer a more durable wool blend sock.
Here is one more bit of advice. Every year before I guided in Alaska I always bought new socks. New socks always seem warmer than socks that have been through the wash cycle and compressed from years of use. So before your next cold weather photography trip, treat yourself to a new pair of super warm socks. Enjoy photographing this frosty weekend!