Never underestimate the importance of socks in nature

Nature-themed socks definitely help me track butterflies and flowers in the field (Photo by Megan Quinn/NCC staff)

Nature-themed socks definitely help me track butterflies and flowers in the field (Photo by Megan Quinn/NCC staff)

January 25, 2019 | by Megan Quinn

Life is too short for boring socks! At least, I've adopted that as my motto when I carry out my job as the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) acting coordinator of conservation biology for eastern Ontario.

If you see me hiking up a rock barren, crossing a river or navigating a wetland, one thing you’ll notice is my love of brightly patterned socks. It has become a running joke with my field team at the Queen’s University Biological Station, and they often tell me, “You’ll always be able to spot Megan’s socks in the forest!” I also have the habit of forgetting to untuck my pants from them at the end of the day, so you might catch me walking down the street or in the supermarket aisle still showing them off.

Surveying a wetland on the Emma Young property, with the help of my panda socks (Photo by NCC)

Surveying a wetland on the Emma Young property, with the help of my panda socks (Photo by NCC)

Humans typically don’t pay much attention to socks. We have been putting them on for centuries, without really thinking about it. Working out in the field with NCC, a good pair of socks is one of the most important items of clothing I put on in the morning.

I’m not pulling my socks up over my pants just to show them off (although that is also fun); I’m doing it to protect myself. Bare ankles and gaps in my clothing are an invitation for ticks, poison ivy, tree branches, stones and stinging nettles to make my day miserable.

The type of socks is important too. If they’re too thin, they rub in your boots. If they’re too short, your trousers won’t tuck in nicely. Socks with holes are a recipe for blisters, and socks that are too tall leave you hot and sweaty all day. A good pair of socks breathes well and makes me forget that I’m wearing them.

My eccentric sock choices really reflects my unwillingness to buy my own adult necessities. Instead of spending my money on things (like socks), I rely on my mum to gift them to me. Every Christmas and birthday, I eagerly expect at least half a dozen new pairs. In my opinion, the only thing duller than socks are boring socks. So it’s become a challenge in my family to find bright patterns and colours for me. This past holiday season, I received socks with owls, flamingos and teapots on them, so watch for those this year. 

Next time you’re out enjoying one of NCC’s beautiful properties across the country, don’t skimp on the socks! Pull them high up over your boots and over top your pants. I promise it will make your hike more enjoyable, and if you’re looking to add a bit more fun to your day, cheerful patterns are highly recommended.

  • Hedgehog socks (Photo by Megan Quinn/NCC staff)
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  • My flamingo socks before a field day (Photo by Megan Quinn/NCC staff)
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  • My flamingo socks after a field day (Photo by Megan Quinn/NCC staff)
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  • Union jack teacup socks (Photo by Megan Quinn/NCC staff)
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Megan Quinn

About the Author

Megan Quinn is the acting conservation biology coordinator with NCC, working out of eastern Ontario.

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