Sweat, pressure points, and shearing forces can lead to blisters. Your socks are your first line of defense against these enemies. They must fit correctly so they don't bunch up and lead to pressure and shearing forces. They must wick sweat away from your skin. Forget cotton socks. Forget tube socks. Invest in wicking, anatomically designed walking socks and your feet will thank you.
Luckily, you can find such socks designed for walking, jogging, and light hiking from several manufacturers.
Thickness and PaddingSocks designed for walking will have light padding in key areas - heel, ball of foot, toes and in some cases the instep. Some socks forgo the padding. My feet do best with a medium-thickness sock, but tend to blister with a single-layer non-padded thin sock.
Double Layer SocksDouble-layer socks prevent blisters by providing wicking and decreasing friction, as the sock layers move against each other rather than your foot moving against the sock. Some find them the key to blister prevention, although I have done best with a single-layer sock. WrightSock is a leader in this type of socks.
Anatomic DesignTo keep the sock in place and prevent bunching, it needs to be shaped like your foot. Many designs have elastic or ribbing to keep them snug. Men's and women's feet differ in shape, so a gender-specific sock is wise. For those of us with bunions, you may find your sock is the culprit for irritation rather than the shoe and need to shop for a sock that doesn't bunch your toes together.
Wicking FabricsSay no to cotton. Look for a sock in wicking fabrics such as CoolMax, Dri-Fit, Sorbtek and many others coming on the market. Smartwool uses wool for its moisture management system. The wicking fabrics are the key to preventing blisters.