5 Vegan Alternatives to Wool Socks

5 Vegan Alternatives to Wool Socks

When it comes to warmth, wool is usually the first thing that comes to mind. But, when you’re vegan, how do we figure out which alternatives to wool socks will keep our feet from freezing? Are we destined to wear ferns to cover our feet or plastic bags for protecting our tender toes? No way! You’ll get a kick out this list of five awesome vegan wool socks that we’ve compiled for you, just in time for winter.

Why Worry About Wool?

Some might say that wool is nothing to worry about, that it’s“natural” or eco-friendly. Though this may be true to some extent, sheep definitely have a different take on it.

While a sheep might not be killed for their wool, it’s usually a painful (and often fearful) process. Sheep are also bred to grow unnatural amounts of fiber, which their body has a hard time carrying–both the weight and heat of their wool cause daily distress.

If you’re confused about how wool is not cruelty-free, please see our article:
8 Reasons Why Wool Isn’t as Innocent as You Think.

Cruelty-Free Sock Materials

So you’re wondering, “What will keep my feet warm without being made of wool?” We’re glad you asked! The fabrics below are the perfect cruelty-free alternatives to wool socks.

  • All plant materials (bamboo, cotton, hemp, rubber)
  • All synthetic materials (polyester, nylon, spandex, acrylic, elastane)
  • Specialty materials (Coolmax, Lycra, Repreve)

Hikers, runners, and athletes should choose socks that are mostly synthetic or made of specialty fabrics. When you’re moving around for many hours on your feet, you need to steer clear of cotton-heavy fabrics since cotton holds in moisture and can lead to blisters and chafing.

For everyday wear, plant fiber fabrics are the better choice. They’re breathable, comfortable, and also more affordable. Remember to buy socks that are your size (or even a little bigger) to give your toes room to move. Tight socks prevent the warm air from moving around and can make your toes lose their toastiness.

Super Vegan Wool Socks for Serious Warmth

These five alternatives to wool socks will be wonderfully warm for the winter ahead. Choose your favorite fabric and fit to fill your shoes with snuggly softness. All of these socks are suitable for everyday wear with both sneakers and boots.

1. Bombas Hiking Socks

Why we like them: A Certified B Corporation* that donates a pair of socks for each pair that you buy. These socks will keep your feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter and come in calf & quarter sock lengths. They are fully cushioned on both leg and foot with major moisture-wicking properties and a nice, neutral color selection.

Materials: 62% Cotton, 31% Polyester, 3% Nylon, 3% Rubber, 1% Spandex

Price: $16 per pair (multipacks are available)

2. Darn Tough Coolmax Socks

Why we like them: This Vermont-based company guarantees their socks for life, no questions asked. Darn Tough is committed to uncompromised durability, comfort and fit with all of their socks. These super socks are made to satisfy with no slipping, bunching or blisters. Fast-drying, naturally antimicrobial, and can hold up most weather conditions. Though these socks are the priciest of the bunch, they’ve got rave reviews online and seem to be well worth the investment.

Materials: 39% Nylon, 34% Coolmax® Polyester, 19% Acrylic, 5% Polyester, 3% Lycra® Spandex

Price: $21-$24 per pair

3. Tentree Eco Friendly Socks

Why we like them: Another Certified B Corporation* that concentrates on sustainable materials, body inclusivity, and comfortable clothing. For each item you buy, Tentree will plant ten trees in an area of need. (You can even track where your trees are!) Their unisex socks come in both ankle and crew styles and are made from recycled water bottles. Though designed in Canada, the company ethically employs workers in China to create their products. These thick and attractive knit socks have a ribbed opening and are super cozy to wear.

Materials: 70% Repreve® Polyester, 25% Polyester, 5% Elastane

Price: $15-18 a pair (multipacks are available)

4. EcoSox Blue Flame E-Tech Bamboo Thermal Socks

Why we like them: EcoSox is a partner with the One Tree Planted non-profit organization and plants one tree for each stamped product that is sold. They not only offer socks for leisure and athletics, but also have specialized socks for compression and those with diabetes. With multiple leg styles—four types of low-profile, crew, and over-the-calf—you’ll easily find a type that’ll work for you. The bamboo material traps and holds in heat, while the arch support and moisture-wicking materials keep your feet dry, blister-free, and supported all day long.

Materials: 40% Bamboo Viscose, Acrylic, Polyester, Spandex

Price: $12 per pair

5. Sunew Warm Thermal Socks

Why we like them: Easily purchased on Amazon, these fantastic socks are filled with a furry fleece. The company guarantees their insulated socks will keep your feet warm and cozy, even in extremely cold temperatures. Super cute and great for gifts, these themed thermal socks are free from itchiness and irritation. They should not slide down during sports or while showing off, sashaying, or shimmying around.

Materials: 91% Acrylic, 8% Polyester,1% Spandex

Price: $11-18 per pair

*What is a Certified B Corporation? B Corp certification is awarded to companies that achieve much higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. B Corps are seriously committed to using business as a force for good in the world today.

What to Do With Old Wool Socks?

One thing that every new vegan wonders when making the transition to non-wool socks and other cruelty-free clothing is:

“What should I do with my old wool socks (and leather bags, leather boots, and all my other non-vegan items)?”

We discuss this question in-depth in our Vegan Clothing & Fashion episode of The Plant-Powered People Podcast. If you haven’t listened yet (though, I hope you will!), let me tell you that there are at least a few choices. Which choice you make is completely up to you, your comfort level, and your budget.

  1. Use your non-vegan items until they’re totally worn out, and commit to buying vegan items as you need to replace them.
  2. Donate them to a shelter where they will be given at no cost to someone who can’t afford to buy these items.
  3. Give or sell them to a secondhand shop (there are even online thrift stores like ThredUp) so that someone else can use them until they’re worn out.
  4. Give them to a friend who you know will get use out of them.
  5. Be crafty and cut up your old wool socks into squares. You can make these squares into pot holders, sew together to make small rugs, mug cozies or even a hot water bottle cover. Give them as gifts to your non-vegan friends.

Avoid Adding to Your Local Landfill

Please don’t just throw your non-vegan items away. While it may feel like you’re doing the best thing for the animals and for your ethics, these items will ultimately end up in the landfill and this does not help anyone. If you just throw them away, that animal will have suffered (or been killed) in vain. There are people in need who can’t afford clothing and to throw away something that’s in usable condition is needlessly wasteful.

Know that the vegan lifestyle cannot be 100% perfect (even though we wish it to be) and, from now on, do your best to make more conscious buying choices when it comes to clothing and wearable items.

What's Wrong With Wool? World of Vegan Art Illustration

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Cover image from Canva.com. Vegan wool art by Jeanne for World of Vegan. Article written by Gina House and edited by Amanda Meth. Please note that this Vegan Wool Socks guide contains affiliate links, and shopping through these links supports our work at World of Vegan. Thank you!

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