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5 Best Socks for Cowboy Boots: Tried & Tested by Me

William Barton
Expertise:

Boots, Leather, Heritage Fashion, Denim, Workwear

William founded BootSpy in 2020 with a simple mission: test and review popular men’s boots and give a real, honest opinion. Since then, we've welcomed over 5 million readers on our boot reviews and boot care guides. Reach out to him for your own personalized boot recommendation at william@bootspy.com. Or join 50,000+ subscribers on the BootSpy YouTube channel, or send him a message on the BootSpy Instagram. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Apr 3, 2024
13 min read

You won’t notice a good pair of socks, but you’ll certainly know if you picked up a bad pair of socks. With cowboy boots, if you get the wrong socks, you can get blisters quick—sweaty feet, heel slip.

That’s why I tested over a dozen different sock brands to find the best socks for cowboy boots, period.

“You’re wearing a plastic bag on your foot, son.”

I was 16 and working a summer up in Kirkwood, California renovating ski-resort condos in the offseason. We would pull 12-14 hour days, 7 days a week.

And I showed up the first day with Vans. Well, luckily one of the guys took pity on me and took me to get a real pair of boots I could work in—if I remember, they were Ariats

But when I got nasty blisters and my feet were sweating relentlessly in the 95-degree heat, that’s what the lead contractor told me: you’re wearing a plastic bag on your foot. 

At the time, I didn’t know how important it was to get a great pair of socks for your cowboy boots. 

Now, I just want to make sure no one else goes through the same trouble I did. 

I tested dozens of brands and found the best cowboy boot socks there are. These socks reduce heel slip, keep your feet dry, prevent blisters, and they actually stay up. 

How Did I Come Up With My List?

pulling up camel city Mill cowboy boot socks
Rocking the Camel City Mill Lightweight Work Socks

A good cowboy boot sock should stay up on your calf, it should have some padding in the heel to reduce heel slip, and it shouldn’t make your feet sweaty and swampy. 

Also, one thing I look for in cowboy boot socks is that they’re a bit thinner—unlike other boot socks, I’ve found that a thick sock in a cowboy boot usually just makes my feet feel really cramped. 

I do have a few bulkier socks on this list in case you have some extra room in your boot, but in general, I like a thinner sock that still has padding in the heel and toe. 

image
Did I think I’d grow up to be a boot sock tester? Absolutely not, but I’m not mad about it

To narrow this list down to five socks, I tested 9 different brands:

  • Camel City Mill
  • Darn Tough
  • Fox River
  • Carhartt
  • Ariat
  • Dickies
  • Wigwam
  • Mirmaru
  • KMM

I’ve been wearing at least one pair of socks from these brands with my western boots, rotating them regularly over the past few months, and there have been a few that really stand out as great (and a few that I don’t recommend for cowboy boots). 

My Recommendations

Best Overall: Camel City Mill Lightweight

chisos boots with camel city mill lightweight socks

The Camel City Mill Lightweight Work sock is my top recommendation, and it’s the one where I went back and got more. 

To me, this is the perfect cowboy boot sock for a few key reasons: it comes up to mid-calf and stays up for at least 12 hours, it’s made with a high percentage of Merino wool so it doesn’t make your feet sweat, it has some padding in the heel which reduces heel slip, and they don’t crowd my feet in my boot. 

Plus, from what I can tell so far, these socks are really durable. I haven’t had any issues with holes or thinning fabric, and Camel City Mill also has a 10-year guarantee on their socks. 

pulling up camel city Mill cowboy boot socks

The Camel City Mill Lightweight also has a bit of compression in the calf and around the arch, so I found that my feet recovered a little faster after those long work days where I spent a lot of time standing.

What I Like

  • The 53% Ironside Merino wool makes these socks really durable, but they’re still soft and they keep my feet dry all day. I can’t stand having sweaty feet. 

  • These performed the best on my “12-hour” test—they stayed up all day, no problem.

  • I love the 10-year durability guarantee Camel City Mill offers. 

  • USA-made. 

What I Don’t Like

  • They’re a bit pricey—you can get a discount and free shipping if you buy multiple pairs, but stocking your drawer is an investment. 

  • They only have black at the time of writing. 

What Other Reviewers Say

Of the few reviews on the Camel City Mill site, some say they liked the compression that the Lightweight offers. Plus, because it has padding in the toe, your big toe doesn’t bust through. Reviewers say these socks were ideal for hot days, too.

The Verdict

If I could only recommend one cowboy boot sock, it’d be the Camel City Mill Lightweight

To me, this has everything you’d want in a cowboy boot sock: it’s breathable, doesn’t make your feet sweat, has some padding in the heel to reduce heel slip, it stays up for at least 12 hours, and Camel City Mill has a 10-year guarantee, which is nuts. 

I wish they were a bit less expensive, because stocking up can cost a pretty penny—thankfully they do offer a discount and free shipping when you bundle a few pairs together. In my experience, they’re worth the price, though.

Best Overall
Camel City Mill Lightweight Wool Work Sock
Free Shipping $50+

Made in the USA from Merino wool, these work socks really are something else in terms of quality. They feature compression through the arch and calf which helps your feet recover after a long day. Plus, because they're Merino wool, they're breathable and help reduce foot sweat.

Check Price Read Our Review

Best Knee High Cowboy Boot Socks: Darn Tough Paul Bunyan

darn tough over the calf paul bunyan sock putting on western work boots

The Darn Tough Paul Bunyan is one tough sock. It’s also pretty thick, so you need to have a little extra room in your cowboy boots if you’re going to rock these. 

The Paul Bunyan comes up under the knee, and it’s also the only other sock besides the two Camel City Mill socks I tried that actually stayed up for 12+ hours. 

I can only wear my Darn Tough Paul Bunyans with my Tecovas Bandera work boots—I bought those boots a half-size larger than I normally would to account for my feet swelling while working outside in the North Carolina heat. 

So I have a little extra room. I think if I wore the Paul Bunyan’s with their thick padding with my other cowboy boots, I’d never be able to get my boots off.

What I Like

  • They’re 17 inches from heel to cuff, so they sit right below the knee and they stay up all day. 

  • They’re full cushion all the way throughout, so they’re great for colder weather or if you want to fill out your boots a bit more. 

  • Darn Tough has a wide variety of sizing available (S-XXL).

What I Don’t Like

  • Because they’re full cushion through the entire sock, they add too much volume to my feet when wearing with regular cowboy boots. They feel more comfortable when I wear them with the boots I picked a half-size larger than what I usually get. 

What Other Reviewers Say

Even reviewers with larger-than-average calves said these over-the-calf socks still fit comfortably. Plus, many of the reviewers were repeat buyers—Darn Tough socks can last for years and years.

The Verdict

The Darn Tough Paul Bunyan sock is a beast. If you want an over-the-calf sock with full cushion, there’s none better than this. I like them best for getting through the winter—especially if you’re in the northern parts of the US. They’re a bit bulky if your cowboy boots already fit snug. But if you have some extra room, the Paul Bunyan is a great cowboy boot sock.

Best Knee High
Darn Tough Paul Bunyan OTC Socks

Made mostly with Merino wool, these socks wick away moisture and stay surprisingly breathable in warmer weather. And in cold weather, they're your best friends. Darn Tough is the business.

Check Price

Best for Steel Toe Western Boots: Camel City Mill Heavyweight

camel city mill heavyweight wool boot sock on model

If you’re rocking a steel toe cowboy boot on the jobsite, having a little extra padding around the toe is a must. Especially when it’s cold outside. That’s not a good feeling. 

I really like the Camel City Mill Heavyweight for cowboy work boots with a steel toe (or any kind of safety toe). Compared to the Lightweight, the Heavyweight has more padding throughout the calf, toe, heel, and arch. 

They’re not quite as thick as the Darn Tough Paul Bunyan’s on the top of the foot, so I didn’t feel like they took up too much room in my cowboy boots, but they still offer good protection around the ankles—that’s where I usually get hotspots in my western boots from kneeling down.

What I Like

  • The heavy cushion in the heel and toe make these a great option for safety toe western boots. 

  • They have less cushion on top of the foot so they don’t add a ton of volume and crowd your boots. 

  • Even with their amount of padding, my feet stayed completely dry when wearing them. 

What I Don’t Like

  • There’s only one size available (L, for boot sizes 9-13).

What Other Reviewers Say

A few reviewers noted that they can wear these socks several days in a row without them smelling—that’s because wool is naturally breathable and doesn’t hold moisture.

The Verdict

If you’re wearing steel toe western work boots—or really any safety toe cowboy boot—then getting a pair of socks with proper padding in the toe is a must. 

I like my Camel City Mill Heavyweights because they offer that thick padding around the toe and heel, but they don’t take up a ton of room in the boot and they also keep my feet dry because they’re so breathable. 

Overall, I still prefer the Camel City Mill Lightweight, but for colder days, or for when I want the protection of a steel toe boot, the Heavyweight does the trick.

Best for Steel Toe Western Boots
Camel City Mill Heavyweight Wool Work Sock
Free Shipping $50+

The Heavyweight from Camel City Mill is the best work sock you can get for a steel toe boot. The padding is heavy in the heel and toe, but since it's made with Merino wool, this sock is also very breathable and won't make your feet sweaty.

Check Price Read Our Review

Hot Weather Sock: Fox River Hike MX1 Lightweight

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It might come as a surprise to you, but wool is the best material for socks, even in hot weather. I always thought wool was for cold days, but that’s not the case. 

I always struggled with sweaty feet. They’d look wrinkly and get stinky after a long day. And that’s because I was wearing polyester and cotton socks. 

Cotton is a little better than polyester, but neither are very breathable. The problem is, so many brands claim that their socks have sweat-wicking fabrics, which just isn’t true. 

Wool is the best sweat wicking fabric there is for socks. So if you’re getting a hot weather cowboy boot sock, my top pick is actually still the Camel City Mill Lightweight, but a good runner up is the Fox River Hike MX1 Lightweight

Yes, it’s a hiking sock, but it’s got 22% Merino wool, which helps add breathability to the sock. It’s also thinner, so you won’t overcrowd your cowboy boots.

What I Like

  • These socks have vent zones on the instep which allows for the top of your foot to release more moisture. 

  • They’re quick drying because of the Coolmax fabric and the Merino wool keeps them more breathable.

What I Don’t Like

  • They stay up for several hours, but I had to lift them up a few times throughout the day. 

What Other Reviewers Say

Fox River is known for their quality, and while most of the reviews focused on how these performed on hikes, I think a lot of what holds true for a good hiking boot sock also holds for cowboy boots—at least when it’s hot outside.

The Verdict

The Fox River Hike MX1 sock is an excellent hot weather sock for cowboy boots—I think they’d be better for roper boots than traditional cowboy boots, though. They had a hard time staying up for 12 hours. And I like the higher percentage of Merino wool on the Camel City Mill Lightweight

But I think the Fox River Hike MX1 is a fantastic runner up for a hot weather cowboy boot sock if you’re looking for a more affordable option.

Best for Hot Weather
Fox River Hike MX1 Lightweight

The Fox River Hike MX1 sock is an excellent hot weather sock for cowboy boots---I think they’d be better for roper boots than traditional cowboy boots, though. They had a hard time staying up for 12 hours. And I like the higher percentage of Merino wool on the Camel City Mill Lightweight. But I think the Fox River Hike MX1 is a fantastic runner up for a hot weather cowboy boot sock if you’re looking for a more affordable option.

Check Price

Best for Roper Boots: Ariat Mid-Calf Cotton

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These Ariat Mid-Calf socks are the only cotton socks on my recommendation list. I’m a Merino wool man, all the way. 

And I think once you try wool, you’ll feel the same way. 

But I still wear cotton socks from time to time, especially when I know I’m only going to be wearing my socks for a few hours and I shouldn’t be working up a sweat. 

The Ariat Mid-Calf Cotton socks are great for shorter roper boots. They don’t come up far enough on the calf to cut it for traditional cowboy boots, but if you’re rocking a 6-inch boot and want an inexpensive, comfortable pair of socks, these Ariats are a great choice. 

What I Like

  • The ring spun cotton feels soft and thick—very cozy. 

  • They’re reinforced in the heel and toe for greater durability. 

  • They come in three sizes (M, L, and XL).

What I Don’t Like

  • They’re the only socks on this list that aren’t made in the USA. 

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviewers seem to like that the socks stay put and don’t fall down. They are a bit shorter than some of the other socks on this list, so I think they’re better fit for shorter roper boots. But the high percentage of nylon and spandex helps these socks stay up for longer periods of time.

The Verdict

Let’s face it, Merino wool socks can be expensive. And while they’re the best material for cowboy boot socks, it can sometimes be hard to justify that cost when you need to fill up your drawer. 

So if you’re looking for a few inexpensive socks, the Ariat Mid-Calf Cotton pack is a great option. 

Typically, I like to buy American-made when I can, and that’s one of the major reasons I like Camel City Mill, Darn Tough, and Fox River so much. 

But for the price, the Ariat Mid-Calf Cottons are solid.

Best for Roper Boots
Ariat Mid-Calf Cotton

Let’s face it, Merino wool socks can be expensive. And while they’re the best material for cowboy boot socks, it can sometimes be hard to justify that cost when you need to fill up your drawer. So if you’re looking for a few inexpensive socks, the Ariat Mid-Calf Cotton pack is a great option.

Check Price

5 Things to Consider Before Buying

1. The Socks Need to Stay Up

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I don’t care how great a sock’s material is, if they don’t stay up on your calf for at least 8 hours, they’re not going to make a good cowboy boot sock. 

To me, that’s the most important factor to consider for a sock destined for cowboy boots. 

I actually tested 9 different brands (even though you only see 4 here on my list). The Carhartt, Dickies, Wigwam, Mirmaru, and KMM didn’t pass the 8-hour test, and I could feel the calf of my cowboy boots rubbing against my leg halfway through my work day. So they’re out. 

The best performers were the two Camel City Mill socks and the Darn Tough Paul Bunyan. The Fox River’s also did pretty well, but started to fall down between hour 10 and 12. 

2. They Need Padding in the Heel

Camel City Mill heaveyweight

Cowboy boots can have more heel slip than other boots. And that can either be a minor nuisance, or a major problem, depending on just how much that heel slip rubs. 

All of my top picks on this list have padding in the heel and basically eliminated the heel slip I have in my cowboy boots. The Darn Tough Paul Bunyan has padding throughout the entire sock, so I’d be careful with that one if you don’t want to overcrowd your cowboy boots. 

But if you have lots of extra room, then that might actually be the perfect sock for you. 

Darn Tough Paul Bunyan OTC Socks

Made mostly with Merino wool, these socks wick away moisture and stay surprisingly breathable in warmer weather. And in cold weather, they're your best friends. Darn Tough is the business.

Check Price

3. They Need to Be Breathable and Not Make Your Feet Sweat

wearing camel city mill lightweight socks with cowboy boots

This isn’t just true for cowboy boots—it’s true for all boots. I learned years ago that basically every brand markets their socks as sweat wicking, even though very few actually use the right material for that. 

If you want to avoid sweaty feet, you need Merino wool socks. It’s the best fabric currently available for breathability in socks. They might invent some crazy space fabric in the future that does a better job, but for now, Merino wool is the ticket. 

So make sure whatever cowboy boot socks you’re getting have at least 30% Merino wool, though more is usually better. 

4. They Can’t Be Too Bulky

closeup fox river socks steel toe boot sock

Cowboy boots don’t have much margin for error when it comes to sizing. So I try to avoid bulky socks or anything with too much padding in it when I’m getting a sock specifically for my cowboy boots. 

If you’re wearing your boots and starting to feel your feet tingle, or they just feel uncomfortably cramped, then try a thinner sock.

In my opinion, all of the boot socks I recommended above are thin enough to fit comfortably into a pair of cowboy boots. Though the Darn Tough Paul Bunyan’s might have a bit too much padding if your boots are already snug. 

If your cowboy boots are snug as it is, then something like the Camel City Mill Lightweight won’t overcrowd your toes. 

5. They Need to Be Durable

Cowboys do cowboy stuff. And that’s not easy on your clothes. Especially not on your socks. So durability is key. 

Natural fibers are generally more durable than synthetics, which is why my list is all Merino wool or cotton socks. 

Wool beats out cotton for durability, and with socks, you get what you pay for. 

I like that Camel City Mill offers a 10-year guarantee on their socks, and Darn Tough even has a lifetime guarantee, both of which I think are pretty wild. 

Bonus: They’re Made in the USA

close up camel city mill work socks with boots in background

I like to shop American when I can. Camel City Mill, Darn Tough, and Fox River are all made in the USA, which I appreciate. 

This isn’t a must have when I was shopping for cowboy boot socks, but I did find that the socks made in the USA just ended up performing better anyway. 

Hit the Ranch

When you love your boots, a second-rate pair of socks won’t do. 

My favorite cowboy boot sock is the Camel City Mill Lightweight. For me, it checks all the boxes: it doesn’t make my feet sweat, it stays up for 12 hours, it has padding in the heel that reduces heel slip, it doesn’t overcrowd my boots, and the Ironside Merino wool is durable and has a 10-year guarantee on it. Plus they’re made in the USA. 

Best Overall
Camel City Mill Lightweight Wool Work Sock
Free Shipping $50+

Made in the USA from Merino wool, these work socks really are something else in terms of quality. They feature compression through the arch and calf which helps your feet recover after a long day. Plus, because they're Merino wool, they're breathable and help reduce foot sweat.

Check Price Read Our Review

For more heavy duty socks that go over the calf, the Darn Tough Paul Bunyan is hard to beat. It’s pretty thick and padded, but it also stays up for 12 hours and is basically indestructible. 

Best Knee High
Darn Tough Paul Bunyan OTC Socks

Made mostly with Merino wool, these socks wick away moisture and stay surprisingly breathable in warmer weather. And in cold weather, they're your best friends. Darn Tough is the business.

Check Price

Overall, I think it’s totally worth investing in a few pairs of excellent socks. Because I’d rather not notice my socks at all when I’m wearing cowboy boots. Usually there’s too much to do. 


FAQs

What kind of socks are best for cowboy boots?

Merino wool socks that are either mid-calf or over the calf are the best options for cowboy boots. Wool is breathable so it won’t make your feet sweat and they’re durable so you won’t get holes in your socks.

Is it OK to wear cowboy boots every day?

Yes, it’s absolutely OK to wear cowboy boots every day. In fact, it’s encouraged. A good pair of socks will ensure your feet don’t get banged up from wearing your boots often.

How do you keep socks up when wearing cowboy boots?

The only way to make sure your socks stay up when wearing cowboy boots is to get a good pair of socks with some nylon and spandex woven into the fabric. You can also try sock gaiters, though I find those uncomfortable, and good socks won’t fall down.

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