Socks, tights and furry leg warmers at Burning Man: form, function and fashion

man wearing socks

Before I made my first pilgrimage to Black Rock City, I used to look at pictures from Burning Man and see so many people wearing furry leg warmers, striped knee-high socks, fishnet tights and various fashion choices that I thought were all rather silly.

I’d see them and think to myself, “Burners! What gives with the furry leg coverings?” Then I went to Burning Man, and I understood how this peculiar fashion choice (and the knee-high socks) evolved: they’re highly functional!

TIP: The playa dust is alkaline and can really mess with your skin. Best to protect it and knee-high socks, tights and leg coverings do the trick.

Bring a variety of socks

Socks are a very important part of playa outfits. Not just for style but because they provide extra cushioning for your feet, and they protect your lower legs from the chemical burns you can get from the alkaline playa dust.

Bring a variety of socks: light-weight, tall, cute socks; Smartwool socks (or similar) in several layers and heights; thick warm wool socks for sleeping and cold nights out; as well as with thinner cotton and wool socks. Remember, wool breathes. Merino socks are my go-to and alpaca socks are what I pack for cold nights.

I know one long-time burner who buys a 20-pack of white, cotton athletic socks. He wears one pair a day and trashes them at the end. Doesn’t even wash them. That’s not my style or preference, but to each their own.

Tights and fishnet hose can be remarkably functional

Tights can provide an extra layer of warmth at night, especially fine merino wool tights. Fishnet hose, especially during the day, can help create a layer of protection for your skin when you’re sitting or lounging on surfaces, especially during the heat of the day. They’re certainly not a necessity, though they are functional and sexy … and that counts for something!

Furry leg warmers became playa fashion for a reason

Lower leg warmers, furry leg coverings and such are surprisingly more functional than you might think. They provide warmth for your legs and feet, and they protect your lower legs from getting too dusty and burned from the alkaline dust.

And … they are also used by many people to cover tennis shoes (that make for easier walking, biking, dancing, climbing on art and such), all while looking quite stylish. I don’t own a pair and have never had a pair of furry leg coverings, but I’m kind of talking myself into getting a pair. Maybe. Etsy is a great source for these.


And–haha–as an aside, while searching for some sock videos about Burning Man (anything is possible on the interwebs) the first video I found was from a sock wrestling match and event my first camp hosted that year.


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