When we start skating, doing derby, most of us wear socks in their skates. You wear socks in your shoes, so why wouldn't you when skating, right? But when you start to think about it, there are a lot of sports where it is very common not to wear socks in whatever footwear is appropriate for that sport. Ice speed skating, roller and ice hockey and climbing are all done mostly without socks.
Skating with socks can give your feet a little bit of extra comfort, the sock will absorb some sweat and can minimise friction that can lead to blisters or chafing. But on the other hand, socks can also cause blisters because there is more movement of the foot in the boot.
If you go for socks, there are some pro's and con's to consider. Synthetic materials like nylon, acrylic, polyester and spandex are non-breathing materials that can make your feet sweat more. At the same time they are also materials that do not absorb water, so your sweat will be wicked away from your feet more. Cotton has a nicer feel on your skin and will have your feet breathing, but it will also store your sweat in its fibers. Thin(!) wool socks will breath, won't absorb your sweat and will regulate the temperature of your feet. Specially Merino wool has these amazing qualities all rolled into one.
As a general rule, thin socks are better than thick socks, because they give you more control.
Skating barefoot will give a lot more grip vs skating with socks. Your feet won't slide around in the boots and you will have a high level of control because of that. Your stops and edge work will greatly improve when you have more control. Even though your bare skin is directly against the inside of your boot, it can really prevent blistering and chafing! And not sliding around will give you control and your feet will stop trying to 'grab' the boot and will relax. So skating barefoot can even prevent cramping sometimes. A lot of skaters will never go back to socks once they skated barefoot.
Because your ankles will always be moving against the rim of the boot instep, using so called “barefoot booties” is highly recommended. Barefoot booties are little, neoprene socks only for your ankles. They are tight and sort of stick to your skin. Any rubbing therefore is between the boot and the bootie, not your skin.
Whether you skate with, or without socks, your feet will sweat. The combination that causes sweat-stink is moisture, bacteria and a temperature around 30 to 40 degrees Celsius. So your skates are the perfect environment for producing that familiar stink. And because nobody is a fan of sticky feet or skates, it's always good to use something that prevents this odour to develop. The Stink Suckers from TDS do just that. The bags have little beads specifically made to suck up moisture, bacteria and stink. Just stick them in your boots right after training and they will do the work for you! Check them out here.