There are a few well-known big hiking sock brands that most thru-hikers swear by. I was one of those loyal people until I tried out Cloudline socks and learned about the no-hassle lifetime warranty.
I tested the Cloudline Switchback Hiking Socks in three different cushion weights: Ultralight, Light, and Medium. I sampled each weight while running, walking, and hiking in Colorado. During the test period, there was a 50-degree swing in temperature and I hiked through snow, rain, and heat. Equally as important, I tested the “are these cozy enough for me to watch Nextlfix in” factor.
Cloudline sock features:
- Machine washable
- 63% Ultra Soft Merino Wool, 33% Nylon, 4% Spandex
- Reinforced cushion zones for durability and comfort
- Vibrant color options
- 3 weights: Ultralight, Light, and Medium
- Lifetime warranty
Weight (women’s medium size):
- Ultralight: 1.89 oz
- Light: 2.56 oz
- Medium: 2.95 oz
Fit and Feel
Each weight has a different feel and meets a different need (on and off-trail). I will rate them on the Goldilocks and the Three Socks scale:
Ultralight cushion: Goldilocks says, “These socks are too thin for hiking!”
The ultralight cushion is sleek and does not take up any extra room in my shoes. The ultralight socks feel similar to a compression sock with a snug fit all over. For me, this weight is a little too thin for long-distance hiking. However, the structure and wool weight is great for running in the heat. The ultralight cushion keeps my feet dry and cool while working up a sweat.
Medium cushion: Goldilocks says, “These socks are too thick for hiking!”
The medium cushion was a nice weight to wear in my hiking boots when it was snowing. However, this weight felt too thick and hot when I wore my usual trail runners. Where this sock performed the best was in the “cozy on the couch” test. Anytime my feet are cold at home, these are the socks I grab to lounge in. These socks are the ones I would want to put on in my tent after a long day of hiking before I curl up in my Enlightened Equipment quilt.
Light cushion: Goldilocks says, “These socks are just right for hiking!”
The light cushion socks are my go-to for hiking in my trail runners. I can hike, run, and walk in these wool socks comfortably without feeling restricted or overly hot. I’d bring 2 pairs of these on a long-distance hike and swap out daily.
Things I Like About Cloudline Socks
Comfort: All of the cushion weights I tried were comfortable and sweat-wicking. There is extra cushion where it counts in the heel and toe box.
Warranty: All Cloudline socks are guaranteed under a lifetime warranty. Unlike other brands, you do not need to return the socks and wait for inspection and a verdict on your warranty claim. Cloudline just asks that you send an email detailing the issue and they will send you a fresh pair. As a thru-hiker, I always struggled to get my socks replaced while on the trail from other companies, because mailing in my socks meant I had no socks! Cloudline’s guarantee solves that problem and saves time and money.
Size Range: The women’s sizes are small to extra-large encompassing shoe sizes 4 to 15. This is a large range and is inclusive beyond the standard women’s footwear range. I have wide feet thanks to years of excessive walking and these socks fit around my feet nicely. If you wear wide shoes, these socks will still fit comfortably!
USA Made: Cloudline socks are designed and manufactured in the US. (Note: the fabric is sourced from responsible suppliers overseas.)
Ethical Supply Chain: Cloudline only sources from suppliers that treat their workers ethically and the sheep humanely. All of the wool sourced for the sock manufacturing is from non-mulesed sheep. I spoke to the owner of the company regarding this issue and was told that since the inception of Cloudline, the ethical treatment of the sheep used to produce the wool has been a priority.
Things to Note
Fit: I am a size 9 in regular shoes and a size 10 in hiking shoes. I sized these socks for my regular shoe size and tried the medium; this was the correct size for me. I would take your regular size in the light and medium cushion and go one size up in the ultralight cushion if you do not want a compression-like feel.
Design: The Cloudline Switchback Hiking Sock is a crew-length that comes up a little farther on my calves than the other wool socks I own. I have pretty large calves and the top band of the ultralight cushion tends to flip over. Even though the top band flips over, the rest of the sock stays in place, which is a big plus. An easy solution to this is to get the Cloudline 1/4 Running Sock, which has an ankle-length top vs the full crew length.
The Cloudline Switchback Hiking Socks are comfortable and come in a variety of cushion weights (and colors) to meet all of my outdoor activity needs. The no-hassle warranty is what really makes these socks stand out above the rest. I love knowing that I can take Cloudline socks on a long hike with me, and if anything goes wrong with my socks, my feet and I are covered!
Rachael DeLano aka “Rabbit” is a long-distance hiker and outdoor enthusiast residing in Colorado. She left behind a career in corporate America to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 2016, and this journey ignited her passion for backpacking. After completing the Appalachian Trail she went on to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2017 and the Continental Divide trail in 2018 completing the triple crown of hiking. Then in 2019, she went on to section hike portions of the AT, PCT, and CDT and pursued hiking abroad in England completing the Hadrian’s Wall walk.
Rabbit’s other passions include yoga, bike-packing, and caring for the two most adorable bunnies in the world. She is a certified yoga instructor and finds joy in teaching and practicing yoga. You can find out more about her adventures on Instagram @rabbithikes and on her website www.rabbithikes.com.