Best Wading Socks – 2024 Buyers’ Guide

Last updated on January 15th, 2024.

Leonard Schoenberger

Your fishing experience is nothing short of uncomfortable if you are not equipped with the appropriate gear and attire while out on the water.

Having the right set-up when you are facing various weather conditions while fly fishing will definitely help you have the best experience out there. One of the most important pieces of gear when fly fishing, are high quality wading socks. Since these socks can either be made of neopren when they are aimed at wet wading or made of materials such as merino when they are meant to be worn with waders and wading boots, I will cover both types of wading / fishing socks in this guide. In the first part I will tell you what you need to look out for before buying a pair and in the second part I’ll share a few product recommendations with you.

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Table of contents:

Best Wading Socks Quick Answer List

Why You Need Them

Important Features of Fishing Socks

Types of Wader Socks

Review of the Best Fishing Socks


Wading boots, waders and wading socks. Review of the best wading socks
Quality wading gear like socks, waders and wading boots will protect you from the elements. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

8 Best Fishing Socks Quick Answer List

1. Best Budget: Carhartt Men’s Arctic Heavyweight

2. Best for Winter: Sealskinz Unisex Cold Weather

3. Best Merino: Simms Merino Thermal OTC Sock

4. Best Nylon Socks: Orvis Wader Socks

5. Best Women’s: Simms Merino Midweight Hiker Sock

6. Best with Gravel Guards: Patagonia Yulex

7. Best Thin Neoprene: Korkers I-Drain Neoprene 2.5mm

8. Best Thick Neoprene: Frictionless 3mm Wader Socks

Why Do You Need Wading Socks?

While it is indeed fun to jump into the water and be one with nature while you are sportfishing, it’s actually quite dangerous to do so if you don’t have the right wading sock (made of neoprene) or if you opt to go bare feet. Most water bodies, especially rivers and streams, are stocked with debris, gravel, and stones, exposing your feet to abrasions and blisters. 

Some anglers prefer to use sandals without socks, but for the frequent wet waders, a wading boots and socks combo is recommended. It is a foolproof way to prevent chafing and it also helps in ensuring that you would have the perfect fit with your wading boot. It also helps prevent rocks and gravel from entering the top openings of your boot, so you can say goodbye to uncomfortable pebbles luring their way inside your shoes. 

In fly fishing, the best way to have great chances of catching fish in the spots that you are targeting would be to get into the water. Wading is a great way to cover every part of the water body you are fishing in, but in order to make it an enjoyable experience, you would need to have a good pair of wading socks to accompany you.

Important Features to Consider When Buying Fishing Socks

Fishing socks on the other hand are meant to be worn inside of waders and then you slip into your wading boots with your neoprene stockingfoot booties. Think of them more like hiking socks or socks you would wear for skiing.

Comfort: When choosing the best fishing sock to accompany you in your wading journeys, the comfort it gives should be at the top of your list. For longer wading times, choose a pair of wading socks that you would feel you are comfortable with so that you won’t be distracted by the uneasiness that you get when you are in the water. The best route to go is to choose a pair with flat seams and padded soles. 

Warmth: When there is water, there lies the presence of cold, so a great pair of socks should be able to keep you warm at all times. Note that the thicker the material, the warmer the sock would be. There are also other variations that could cater to your angling needs when you are in a place where the water temperature is freezing. From my experience, merino is tough to beat when it gets really cold.

Breathability: Materials aside, breathability is also important when you are choosing a suitable one for you. While it’s important to pick ones that will always keep you warm, it is also fairly essential that you choose one that will give you this but with adequate breathability. This will help ensure that you do not overheat during a long hike. 

Fly fishermen in the sea wearing waders, wading boots and the best winter wading socks
Wading socks are crucial especially when fishing in cold water over longer periods of time as in sea trout fishing.

Types of Fishing Socks

Grundens Boat Shoes Closeup with Fishing Socks
Patagonia fishing socks worn with a pair of Grundéns Boat shoes. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

Now that you have an idea of what are the essential features that you need to look for when choosing the right pair of socks, let’s talk about the types of fishing socks you might encounter while browsing. If you are a frequent fly fisher, then it’s important to own both types, especially when you fly fish all year round.

Wet wading socks are best for summer fly fishing when the water temperatures are hot. These ones are made from neoprene, a material that’s great for keeping you warm and comfortable in the water during hot seasons.

Wader socks are worn with a wader and are essentially great for fishing in waters that are too cold to wet wade in. Fly fishing seasons are usually set on weather conditions like this, so it’s important to have a pair for good measures.

If you are wondering what material to choose, merino wool is a great choice and it’s one of the best. It dries fast, blocks odors, is soft and comfortable, and has natural moisture-wicking properties.

My Favorite Wading Socks and Fishing Socks of 2024

Now, without further ado, here are some of the best pairs of socks for fishing on the market today. Scroll through and discover what you think is best suited for you and all your angling needs! In the first part I’ll be looking at fishing socks to be worn with waders and in the second part at neoprene ones.

Best Budget: Carhartt Men’s Arctic Heavyweight

Carhartt Heavaweight socks
Carhartt Men’s Arctic Heavyweight: Some of the best wading socks

Right off the bat I want to introduce you to one of my favorite pairs of fly fishing socks, particularly when it’s really cold but these are also great for spring and fall fishing: the Carhartt Men’s Artic Heavyweight socks. Now most of you will most likely associate the name Carhartt with work wear. That’s what they are good at: producing quality, high-performing gear at affordable prices. At only $26.99 you get a pair of fishing socks that about 2/3 made from merino and virgin wool. The rest of the material is nylon and acrylich which is great for adding some flexibility to the sock.

I like the reinforced toe and heel caps. These socks are medium high and will reach just under your knee. One thing you always need to pay attention to when choosing a pair is their stretch top. It shouldn’t be too tight but also not too lose (so the sock won’t slide down your leg). In my eyes, Carhartt got it just right with the Arctic Heavyweight.



Best Winter Wading Socks: Sealskinz Unisex Cold Weather

Sealskinz Unisex Cold Weather
Sealskinz Unisex Cold Weather

When it comes to fly fishing gear, I love to pick other fly fishermens’ brains. This is how I came across the brand Sealskinz. When chatting with a friend of mine who’s an experienced Hucho Hucho fly fishermen (a salmon species that you fish for in the Alps region of Europe mostly during the freezing cold winter months), he recommended Sealskinz wading socks as the way to go. And he sure was right.

The Unisex Cold Weather sock is made of 90% Nylon and 10% Elastane on the outside and a blend of Merino, acrylic and polyster on the inside. I can’t tell you exactly what the Sealskinz secret is but what I can tell you is that these socks will keep you warm even in the coldest conditions.



Best Merino: Simms Merino Thermal OTC Sock

Simms Merino Thermal OTC S
Simms Merino Thermal OTC S

Merino wool is the best option out there when it comes to the kind of material you need to consider in choosing the right pair of wading socks. It offers all-around thermal regulation and moisture-wicking properties, as well as it is lightweight and breathable—the features that you need to keep in mind when you want a pair that’s great during the winter months. Not only that, but it is also perfectly capable of keeping you cool and comfortable during warm days. The Simms Merino Thermal is a sock that ticks all these boxes in my eyes. It is also odor-resistant and features reinforced midfoot support. Plus, it has excellent moisture management and ensures an itch-free experience wherever you are fishing.



Best Nylon Wading Socks: Orvis Wader Socks

Orvis Wader Socks
Orvis Wader Socks

If you’re not fully sold on a merino sock, then try these Orvis Wader Socks that are built with just the right merino to wool ratio. It also holds a hint of Spandex unite in its knitted construction, with padded soles that will keep you comfortable during long journeys. The nylon material is strategically placed at the heel and toe, which adds to its durability. From my experience, these socks are great for the seasons in between such as spring or fall (not the right choice for the coldest months of the year though).



Best Women’s Socks: Simms Merino Midweight Hiker Sock

Simms Merino Midweight Hiker Sock
Simms Merino Midweight Hiker Sock: Best wading socks for women

For all the lady anglers out there, you might be drawn to the Simms Merino Midweight Hiker Sock, a stylish and comfortable pair that offers cushion in high-impact areas. (Just like it’s male brother – see further up) It has natural wicking features and is also odor resistant. It’s built with merino wool as well, the best material to choose when you want a premium fly fishing experience while out and about in the water. Keep in mind that this has a shorter cut that will only reach to the upper part of your shin but not all the way up to your knee. On the flipside this makes this a great sock for summer fishing as well.



Best with Gravel Guards: Patagonia Yulex

Patagonia Yulex Wading Socks with Gravel Guards
Patagonia Yulex

Now that you have a few recs regarding fishing socks to be worn with waders and wading boots, let’s jump into checking out some neoprene wading socks. If you want to choose something that’s already built with gravel guards, then consider the Patagonia Yulex Socks. Patagonia’s line uses about 87% recycled materials, with this one made with 85% natural rubber and 15% synthetic rubber by polymer content, a greener alternative to the neoprene rubber that they initially used way back in 2015. 

The gravel guards are styled fold-down and attached to the boot laces with hooks. It’s perfectly comfortable and lightweight as well, featuring a minimalist style with durability that is great for wet wading.



Best Thin Neoprene: Korkers I-Drain Neoprene 2.5mm

Korkers I-Drain Neoprene 2.5mm
Korkers I-Drain Neoprene 2.5mm

The Korkers I-Drain Neoprene 2.5mm is perfect if you are looking for something that’s on the lighter side but is still well made with quality materials. It’s form-fitting, comfortable, lightweight, with a perforated footbed that excellently and instantaneously drains water out—just the perfect thing to have to say goodbye to swamp foot. Be aware though that these neoprene socks are not only on the thinner and lighter sight (perfect for wet wading on hot summer days) but also don’t feature gravel guards which will make it more likely that gravel or sand might enter your foot.



Best Thick Neoprene: Frictionless 3mm Wader Socks

Frictionless 3mm Wader Socks
Frictionless 3mm Wader Socks

Although not waterproof, these Frictionless 3mm Wader Socks are your best bet if you want something with a frictionless exterior that could slide easily in or out of boots without chafing or bunching up. It offers a 3mm neoprene core along with its three layers of insulation that can provide you comfort under any weather conditions. The Frictionless 3mm Wader Socks are made with a heavy-duty poly grid for maximum protection and comfort that balances heat and insulation, even without waterproofing abilities—the best choice for wet wading when you need a bit of extra warm (for example if you intend to spend the entire day out wet wading).



Conclusion on the Best Wading Socks

Now that you know all about these socks and the features that you need to keep in mind when choosing one, it also all boils down to how frequently you go fly fishing and what are the usual conditions you are angling in. When you try to put all these factors together and see what suits you best, it’s going to be easy for you to figure out which one to choose. Nevertheless, I recommend to have a pair of both wet wading and wader socks ready at hand all-year round.

FAQs: Best Fishing Socks

What makes fishing and wading socks different from regular socks?

Fishing socks are designed with specific features such as moisture-wicking, durability, and comfort to meet the demands of anglers who spend extended periods in aquatic environments.

Can I use any type of sock for wading, or are there specialized wading socks?

While some anglers may use regular socks, specialized wading socks are recommended for their moisture-wicking properties, durability, and features designed to enhance comfort during fishing and wading activities.

What material is best for fishing and wading socks?

Merino wool and synthetic blends, such as nylon and polyester, are popular choices. Merino wool offers natural moisture-wicking and odor-resistant properties, while synthetic materials provide durability and quick-drying capabilities.

Are there specific considerations for sock thickness when fly fishing and wading?

Yes, the thickness of the socks should be chosen based on water temperature and weather conditions. Thicker socks provide more insulation for colder conditions, while thinner options are suitable for warmer weather.

Do I need to wear wading socks with specific wading boots, or are they interchangeable with regular boots?

Wading socks are designed to be worn with wading boots, which provide the necessary support, traction, and protection for fly fishing. Regular boots may not offer the same features needed for wading in aquatic environments.

How do I prevent blisters when wearing fishing socks?

Look for socks with flat seams or seamless designs to minimize friction. Additionally, ensure a proper fit to avoid unnecessary rubbing, which can lead to blisters during prolonged fishing and wading sessions.