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What Are Thermal Socks?

Thermal socks might help someone avoid hypothermia and frostbite in very cold weather.
Thermal socks can provide a means of sweat reduction.
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  • Written By: Kelly Ferguson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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Thermal socks are socks made out of very warm materials, usually wool or similar fabrics, that are worn to keep the feet warm in cold climates. Often, they also provide some form of sweat reduction, lifting the moisture away from the feet to keep water loss, temperature loss, and discomfort to a minimum. The thick fabrics that most thermal socks are made of also cushion the feet, protecting them from blisters and other friction injuries. Many people pair these socks with a full set of thermal underwear for a full defense against cold weather.

Thermal socks keep the feet warmer than normal socks can by providing extra insulation. The insulating fabric traps in the heat that the body naturally gives off and acts as a heater for the feet. Many people enjoy using these extremely warm socks as slippers in the winter, and some people even wear them to bed. The extra heat provided by proper warm winter clothing can mean more than just the assurance of comfort for some people, however. Frostbite and hypothermia due to long periods of exposure in the cold can lead to tissue necrosis, the eventual loss of extremities, or death.

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Thermal socks are widely carried online and in stores that cater to outdoorsmen, such as hikers, hunters, and others that remain outside for long periods in the cold. Other stores also carry them, but the selection may not be as varied. As with regular socks, men’s and women’s thermal socks mainly differ in size, however some might find that more bright colors and patterns are available for women than for men. Many people who have purchased thermal socks recommend choosing a pair with sweat-minimizing fabrics. Some people complain that, without the moisture-wicking technology, the feet can begin to sweat after wearing the socks for a while.

For outdoor purposes, most thermal socks are long enough to be pulled up the leg and worn comfortably under winter boots. Some, however, are more intended for keeping the feet cozy while lounging around the house in the winter and are shorter in length. Often, these even have rubbery pads or treads on the soles of the socks to ensure that the wearer does not slip and fall when walking across slick floors. Some of the slip-resistant pads are thick enough to gently massage the feet while walking. The warmth, comfort, and no-slip pads frequently make thermal socks a must have for older individuals.

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