Believe it or not, socks are one of the most important pieces of hiking gear you’ll invest in. From preventing blisters to avoiding soggy feet, a quality pair of high-performance socks will wick away moisture, protect abrasion-prone areas on your foot and stand up to wear and tear while adventuring outdoors. No matter if you’re hiking, biking or running, the socks you have on your feet can make or break your outdoor experience.
Tennessee-based sock company Swiftwick makes a diverse lineup of socks for every kind of adventure sport — from mountain biking and trail running to hiking and skiing. I’ve used the brand’s Pursuit Two socks for two years and wear them on basically every adventure.
Perfect for hikers, bikers, runners and all types of outdoor enthusiasts, Swiftwick Pursuit Two socks keep feet dry and blister-free, thanks to their durable design and moisture-wicking merino wool. These high-performance socks provide durability and comfort during every season.
What we liked about them
Swiftwick’s Pursuit Two come in black and heather gray and are made of a blend of 65% merino wool, 33% nylon and 2% spandex. Their high-performance and technical design promise to keep your feet warm in the winter, cool in the summer and sufficiently cushioned while exploring outdoors. In the time I’ve spent testing the socks, they’ve been super versatile and comfortable, and they’ve kept my feet ventilated and protected on all types of outdoor adventures. Whether I’m hiking, camping, biking or just taking a casual walk in the park, they’ve become my go-to sock.
Extremely sleek and comfortable
Comfort is one of the true tests of a quality sock. It’s safe to say the Swiftwick Pursuit Two are some of the most comfortable athletic socks I’ve worn while hiking. Designed with a reinforced and cushioned heel and toe box, a “Flex Zone” at the front of the ankle and a snug (but not too snug) elastic fit on all sides of the foot, these socks exceeded my expectations on both comfort and performance.
Sometimes I find that hiking socks are so cushioned you have to go up a half size to make sure your foot fits inside your boot or shoe. That wasn’t the case for the Pursuit Two. These have just the right amount of cushion to absorb impact without unnecessary bulk. They are super flexible, lightweight and sleek with moderate compression. In fact, most of the time when wearing them, I forget I even have them on.
Like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” these socks are not too tight, not too cushioned, but just right.
These socks are also ideal for keeping debris out of my boot. While hiking on dusty and rocky trails in Sedona last spring, the snug (but not too snug) fit around my ankle meant no unwanted sand or pebbles could slip underneath my sock.
Breathable and moisture-wicking
Merino wool reigns supreme for outdoor sock performance. That’s because it provides all of the technical benefits of a traditional wool sock without the itch. Merino wool socks, including the Pursuit Two, help repel odor and are extremely long-lasting and breathable in the heat but insulated in the cold.
I wore these socks on both 30-degree hikes in Wisconsin and on 75-degree hikes in Arizona and found that they kept my feet warm in the cold weather, cool in the hot weather and dry no matter what temperature I was hiking in. The merino wool fabric on these socks is super soft, and the integrity of their comfort hasn’t changed at all despite going through dozens of laundry wash cycles since I first opened them.
These socks also have a thin channel design on the top of the foot, which adds ventilation, increases breathability and ensures dryness in all types of conditions. The Pursuit Two’s channel design especially came in handy when hiking during summer months. I found that even though my boots trapped in extra heat in hot weather, my feet were able to breathe without becoming waterlogged. Unless my entire foot got wet from a stream crossing or torrential downpour, my socks stayed completely dry all hiking season.
The perfect height
The Pursuit sock collection comes in six different cuff heights: Zero, One, Two, Four, Seven and Twelve. I typically wear mid-cut hiking boots because I find they provide ample ankle protection without too much bulk. The Pursuit Two fit this size boot perfectly — not too short and not too tall.
If you’re looking for a slightly taller sock that still sits close to the top of your ankle, the Two cuff height is ideal. The top of the cuff sits about 2 inches above the base of the ankle and just above the top of a mid-cuff boot.
What we didn’t like about them
It’s hard to peg any major deal breakers with the Pursuit Two socks, but if you’re considering wearing these socks in more extreme conditions or on lengthy outdoor adventures, there is one key quality to consider before throwing them on.
Maybe not enough cushion
As I mentioned earlier, most of the time when I’m wearing these socks, I forget I even have them on. They’re so comfortable and perfectly snug, they seamlessly become part of my foot.
However, I wouldn’t recommend these socks for long-distance hiking. Since the Pursuit Two offers only medium cushion, you may run the risk of irritated toes with repeated banging against the front of your boot or shoe on long hikes. Instead, for long-distance journeys on the trail that go well into double-digit mileage, I would opt for Swiftwick’s other hike-specific versions of the Pursuit series, like the Pursuit Hike. The Pursuit Hike socks come in two different weights (lightweight and medium weight) and offer more thickness and cushion around the toe box and heel.
How they compare
Outdoorsy folks have many high-performance merino wool socks to choose from on the market, and each comes with its own unique selling proposition. But do they all perform the same?
The Swiftwick Pursuit Two stand out against competitors in three main categories: material, price point and fit.
Merino wool sock brands like Smartwool and Darn Tough also make high-quality hiking and outdoor socks. However, these brands tend to sell comparable socks at a higher price point and use slightly less merino wool than Swiftwick. Smartwool’s Light Cushion Crew (56% merino wool, 11% nylon, 31% recycled nylon, 2% elastane) and Darn Tough’s Light Hiker Micro Crew (54% nylon 43% merino wool, 3% lycra spandex) both retail for $24 but are made with slightly less merino wool than the Pursuit Two. The Pursuit Two boasts 65% merino wool and retails at $18.99 per pair.
I’ve also found the Swiftwick Pursuit Two have a much more snug and sleek fit around my foot than the Smartwool and Darn Tough hiking socks. Do they tend to have less cushion? Yes. But do they rival other socks in terms of comfort and fit in my boot? Definitely.
One major selling point for Darn Tough socks versus other sock manufacturers like Swiftwick is the brand’s lifetime warranty. Darn Tough will replace any damaged socks with a brand-new pair of socks, no questions asked. The only exception is if your animal chews them up, if they get burned near the campfire or if you if happen to lose one in the pair. Swiftwick, on the other hand, doesn’t have a warranty but does claim to work with customers who are unsatisfied with their socks on returns.
For hikers, bikers and adventurers of all interests looking for a new and reliable pair of outdoor socks, look no further than Swiftwick. The Pursuit Two are my go-to hiking and outdoor socks because of their unmatched durability, sleek comfort and fit, and versatility and performance at a fair price.
Not only will these socks keep your feet insulated and dry during cold weather, but they’ll also keep your feet ventilated and moisture-free when hiking in warm weather. You can rest assured your feet will feel supported and protected — no matter where your outdoor adventures take you.