Socks are an essential part of your Three Peaks Challenge kit, but one often overlooked or ignored, mainly because they can be fairly expensive. A couple of pairs of good quality walking socks can literally make the difference between finishing in style or sitting out the end of the challenge in the minibus nursing blisters while the rest of your team celebrate their success!
There are two schools of thought on whether you should wear one, or two pairs of socks whilst walking; proponents of the single sock theory would say that just one layer allows a better boot fit whilst those who prefer two socks argue that a double layer lessens the chance of blisters by reducing friction next to the skin.
Both arguments are valid and it really boils down to personal choice and experience.
Our advice is to try both before your Three Peaks Challenge and see which works best for you. Remember though that the success of either system depends on a well-fitting pair of boots. Oh, and avoid cotton socks at all costs! Cotton retains moisture. On a warm day your socks will be absorbing a great deal of sweat (from your legs as well as your feet!) and blisters are guaranteed. Many manufacturers, such as Smartwool use Merino Wool in their socks which helps to keep your feet dry on long walks.
When you find a sock that works for you, buy enough to have a fresh pair for each mountain. Putting on damp socks won’t help your feet. Bring a pair of flip-flops or sandals to wear in the minibus too – this will give your feet plenty of time to breathe between mountains.
The Three Peaks Challenge will punish your feet – even if you’ve never had a blister in your life it’s also worth carrying some Compeed blister plasters in your rucksack just in case! If your feet are soft, try planning ahead by putting a couple of these on your heels before you start (much valuable time is lost by stopping on the way up Scafell Pike to put one on!). Old school walkers swear by Zinc Oxide tape for this purpose, but we’ve found that it has a tendency to roll-up at the edges which can also cause a blister as it rubs the skin underneath.
So choose a good pair of socks to compliment a well-fitting pair of boots, try them out on a long walk and bring a couple of spare pairs on your Three Peaks Challenge and you won’t go far wrong.