The Best Running Socks Reviewed & Compared
It is rare that a person spends time and does research when purchasing running socks. We all do so for running shoes and clothes, but socks are not usually on the list. Why is that so? Especially when they could make our running so comfortable or create a nasty blister that will make us pause for a few days.
The fact is, choosing the best running socks matters a lot! It could make you enjoy your morning run, or come back from it literary with cold feet. While running, moisture, friction, and heat are the main enemies that are causing us troubles and making our running even more difficult. However, once you have chosen the perfect pair of running socks for you will feel the support and you will never get back to any other socks, ever again.
With that said, there are plenty of running sock choices on the market today. There are also numerous features that manufacturers are promoting, and choosing the right pair would take you some time. For this reason, we have prepared a guide relying on data from our friends over at Runnerclick and Runners101, with the ultimate goal of helping you choose the best running socks that will make you enjoy your running!
Our Top 3 Picks
5 Best Socks For Running
SmartWool PhD Run Light Elite
They are perfect for runners because of the Run Dry technology implemented which is effectively dealing with the moisture of your feet. It is doing so by wicking moisture away from your feet to the outer layers of the socks. Therefore, your feet are dry and they have to be.
Ventilation is important for supporting the moisture control technology. One doesn’t go without the other. These socks have air mesh venting technology which is keeping your feet cool while you are running by creating great airflow.
The cushioning is light which means it is not suitable for running on a concrete trail. However, it doesn’t take much space in your running shoes and it is quite comfortable for wearing. The material is a combination of polyester, rubber and spandex. This synthetic blend is highly insulated and well supportive material which is not allowing for blisters to be created while running. They are mainly made from polyester which is a material that has a tendency to smell if you are using them for few hours. However, these socks don’t have this issue; they do not cause bad odor and you can feel safe to train in them for more than few hours.
The targeted arch support is adding to the comfort of these socks. It is acting by adding compression to the arch area which is keeping your foot stable and more secure. These socks are low in height which means they are likely to slip while running. However, the compression on the arch doesn’t allow this to happen which makes them the ideal choice for tough running training.
The socks are machine washable and they are very durable. The package includes 6 pairs of socks and the size is fitting perfectly. It is interesting to mention that they have an extra cushioning at the heel, which makes them extra comfortable. However, they are not intended for cold weather temperatures since they are thin and they are not suitable for keeping your feet warm. In fact, they have enough ventilation properties which qualify them as summer socks, rather than winter ones.
High knit density
The cushioning provides great assisted shock absorption
The fit is tight for some
Like most socks from this price range, they are using the air mesh moisture technology. It is so popular because of their effectiveness against inside moisture. However, it only works one way, which means it will keep your feet dry and cool if they are sweaty, but if the weather is rainy, they are not waterproof. So they will not be able to keep the moisture out of your shoes.
The venting is also top of the notch. They are not allowing the temperature inside your shoes rise, even though you are hot inside. The material also doesn’t allow your feet to smell bad even though they are made entirely out of synthetic materials.
These socks are well padded and they ensure that your steps are painless and secure. It has extra cushioning on the toes and on the heels which makes them suitable for running on any terrain. The thickness of the socks is medium which makes them suitable for mild temperatures.
They are extremely comfortable and they provide you excellent protection from blisters. They keep your feet cool and dry and they are quite worth the price.
The Balega socks are durable, but the price is a bit more than expected for a pair of socks. The expensive price is due to the fact that they are providing an excellent support while working out, which is the basis for avoiding injuries. They don’t feel tight at the arch like most socks, but they are providing your foot enough compression and support. They have the perfect balance of thickness, compression, and stability! However, if the price seems too high for your budget, look through our other similar suggestions.
Deep heel pockets allows superior fit
The cushioning offered provides decent impact resistance
Added elastane gives more structured support throughout the sock
Fit might not be tight enough for some
Thorlos Experia XCCU
Its material blend is creating the perfect moisture management which is preventing the moisture from entering inside your socks to your feet, but it also offers you enough ventilation for the excess moisture to escape your feet to the outer layers of the socks. The polyester is responsible for directing the moisture away from your feet, while nylon is preventing it from entering inside your socks.
This means that you have moisture protection in both directions. Although this is the perfect running socks for wet weather conditions, it is not so suitable for extremely hot temperatures. Although these socks have venting technology, if this is the main feature you are focusing on, look through our other suggestions.
Cushioning and comfort
The Adics socks have Y heel gore line fit that is providing extra comfort and is perfectly fitting the shape of your foot. Needless to say, the Y heel gore line fits better than the regular gore line. It represents a specific style of knitting that is anatomically made in order to create a better fitting to your foot. Even though this feature is responsible for the extra comfort you are feeling while wearing the socks, if you get the size wrong, it creates a greater discomfort. For this reason, make sure you double check the sizes and dimensions of the brand. As far as comfort goes, these socks also have an arch band that provides the user greater support and stability when stepping on uneven surfaces or running for a longer time.
These socks are with medium thickness and they are very durable. In the package, there are three pairs of socks and they are all suitable for machine washing. For people who prefer socks without logos or visible design with your shoes on, they are the perfect solution. With regular running shoes, the logos are not at all visible even though there is a logo on the back of the sock just around the ankle. Other than this, the shades and design is perfectly shown on the photo through the link provided above.
Achilles Tendon Padding helps protect against rubbing
THOR•WICK® COOL technology offers exceptional moisture control throughout
Flat Knit Seam in toe reduces irritation
Fairly expensive price tag
Feetures! Elite Light
Comparing to the other socks which are made with nylon material which is blocking part of the venting properties of the socks, these socks from Feetures! don’t have that issue. They are made with a combination of fibers of polyester, acrylic, and spandex. This allows the feet to breathe and ventilate properly. When it comes to their moisture technology, these socks are extremely easy to dry and they wick the moisture from your feet towards the surface so it can evaporate through the proper running shoes.
Cushioning and comfort
These are summer socks and they are not to be used in cold weather. They are very lightweight and thin and they are most suitable for people who are sometimes running without socks. If you are a no socks runner, but have a blister issue, these socks would be the ideal choice for you. You practically don’t feel them on your skin, although you would enjoy the benefits of wearing them, by having a blister free foot!
It is important to mention that these socks are not suitable for machine washing. In fact, if you accidentally wash them in a machine, you would probably have to get another pair. They are a low sock with tab.
If you mind this characteristic, look through our other socks suggestions. It is also advisable to double check the size chart and its dimensions since they are a bit longer than expected. You would probably have to get a size down to your regular one.
Anatomical design provides support to medial side of the foot's arch
Helps to eliminate blister causig friction
Y-heel keeps sock in place
Higher density cushioning in impact areas
Darn Tough Coolmax Vertex
Even though the feeling on your skin makes you believe these are cotton socks, they are in fact synthetic blend with good moisture management technology. Although they don’t wick the moisture from your feet to the outer layers of the socks, they are keeping them dry and cool.
Because of the venting technology, they dry very quickly. However, they are warm enough for the winter months and for people with cold feet and bad blood circulation. They will keep your feet nice and warm at every temperature.
Cushioning and comfort
The material being used in the manufacturing of these socks is mainly polyester with additions of spandex and a small percentage of other fiber combination. The material is very pleasant to touch and it has all the elements of running socks. It has a nice arch support that is tightening the area. The tightening in the arch area is quite enough; it might even be too much for some people.
Those of you, who prefer more loose arch support, look through our other suggestions. However, it creates a very pleasant feeling of stability when running. The socks also have a heel shield which is absorbing part of the impact on the heel while running on hard terrains. There are extra cushioning added as a shield that protects your areas of impact on your feet.
Once you try these socks with a heel tab, you will never want to return to regular ones again. The material is specific and it doesn’t allow any sagging. It is perfect for running since they are warm, soft, but they are not too bulky and they fit quite nice.
Overall construction is ultra-lightweight
Decent cushioning in a minimal design
True seamless construction helps to eliminate irritation points and blisters
These might not fit tight enough for some runners
Criteria for Evaluation
When you are choosing running shoes the most important factor you should consider is to keep your feet dry at all times. The reason is simple; you are preventing blisters and nail issues. When it comes to this logic, there are two different theories between runners. The first one supports that natural materials are the best ones for the skin since they are allowing it to breath. However, natural materials are absorbing the moisture from your feet. Nevertheless, some runners prefer wearing cotton socks or a synthetic cotton blend. Runners who are allergic to synthetic materials also prefer cotton socks. Others believe cotton is a bad solution because of its absorption properties and it is a slow drying material, so they are turning to synthetic materials.
Fact is that when cotton gets in touch with water, it absorbs it and retains the water for a longer time than any other material. Following this logic, the sweat from your feet will be retained by your socks and it could cause fungus growth and bad feet smell. Cotton socks also make your feet feel colder. In this case, wool comes very useful. It makes your feet warm at any temperature and wool is not a moisture absorbing material.
Nevertheless, if you prefer natural materials, wool is your safe choice of socks. Wool socks are usually avoided in socks because their fibers cause itchy feeling which is very unpleasant on the feet. However, merino wool is made from softer fibers which are not at all itchy and they are quite comfortable for wearing. In winter days, wool is the first choice because of its thermostatic properties. Even though wool is known as a material that is suitable for wet weather, it is a relative subject. It absorbs less moisture than any other natural material. On the other side, it dries much slower than synthetics. Wool is also the most expensive socks material on the market.
When it comes to running synthetic socks are the ones you should stick with. Acryl and polyester are the most recommended synthetic materials because they don’t chafe and they are highly breathable. They are also not moisture absorbing materials which means your feet would be dry throughout your running, therefore there is a lower possibility of developing blisters. However, they have their downsides. They are much less comfortable in hot conditions and if your feet tent to sweat a lot, these materials are not recommended for you. When they are wetted, they tend to lose their insulation properties and they become perfect for developing blisters.
Lycra or nylon on the other hand, are materials which are used for retaining the shape of the socks and providing better arch support. They are usually used in specific styles of socks, such as ergonomic support socks.
Nevertheless, when using synthetic materials, usually the manufacturer combines synthetic blends which are most suitable for certain sport or sock style. The ones with a better quality use one synthetic blend used as cushioning and other synthetic materials for supporting your ankle.
Silk is usually known for its high price. However, its high price comes from the features it possesses. Silk is also a natural material which is an excellent insulator. For this reason, it is being used in the production of liner socks. When you are running your feet sweat; it is only natural process that occurs in your body. Nevertheless, the moisture is making you feel less comfortable and it might help in creating blisters. For this reason, runners are trying to avoid the moisture.
That said, silk is a material that wicks the sweat away from your feet and it gives you nice and dry feeling while you run. It is also an extremely lightweight material which is very convenient for producing summer running socks. Nonetheless, it has few downsides that are making runners consider some of the others options on the market. Silk is not as durable as synthetic fabrics and considering the price, this is a feature that plays a great role in choosing the best socks for running.
Thickness & Cushioning
Some runners prefer wearing thicker socks throughout the whole year because it provides them extra cushioning. Thin socks on the other side give you a lighter sensation while wearing them. It is also essential that you try on your running shoes with the socks that you are planning on running with. The thickness of the socks could make the running shoes comfortable or too tight.
However, when it comes to running socks, the recommendations are clear. Some people who prefer better cushioning should focus towards socks with dense cushioning which are also thicker, at least at the bottom. For those of you who prefer light running socks, liner ones with little padding might be more suitable. The socks with more padding are known to reduce the fatigue of the foot. The ones with less padding are usually used for running on softer grounds.
Other specialized features
Depending on the terrain you are running on, and the weather conditions, as well as your personal preferences and characteristics there are different main features you should focus on. The most important one of them are suggested and described in addition.
Fleece socks – These are not recommended for the usual runner type. However, there are some climates and conditions where they are popular. Fleece socks are able to wick the moisture away from your feet to the upper layer of the sock where the sweat could evaporate. However, they create a temperature inside your running shoes. For this reason, the only whether they are recommended for is when the temperatures drop, but you are still decided to go for your morning run. The fleece socks will make you feel like you are still in bed.
Toe socks – Toe socks are the perfect type of socks made for runners who have problems with sensitive toes. They are made from a blend of synthetic materials and they provide the user the perfect cushioning to his toes. They prevent you from getting blisters on your toes as well. Although this is their main role, they are useless against blisters between your toes. Toe socks are ideal for running on terrains with a downwards inclination. These terrains could be quite challenging to the toes even though you have no problems in that area.
Waterproof socks – These types of socks are most convenient for wet weather conditions where the need to keep your feet dry is on a different level. They are usually used when running on a rainy weather or if you are running on a wet grass. The main purpose of the socks is to act as another protective layer. Normally if you are running in such weather conditions you are prepared with waterproof running shoes. However, the socks are there in case some of the moisture penetrates through the waterproof shoes.
They possess this feature because of its thick external material which is made of dense fibers that act as a barrier between the moisture and the inner layer. The inner layer however, is made of fleece material which is there to keep your feet warm while running. Its only downside is that the breathability in the waterproof socks is usually at a lower level. However, there are those who instead of fleece have a synthetic blend with high insulation properties.
Additional Factors to consider for when making your choice
Height – The height of the socks is simply a matter of preference. It is only important if you are wearing high shoes instead of running shoes which is not a subject of discussion in this article. Having this in mind, with running shoes you could choose the sock height which seems adequate to you. If you choose higher socks they could keep you too warm and cause your feet to sweat more. However, if you choose ones that are too short, for instance below the ankle socks, they could feel like they are about to slip. For this reason, if you don’t have your own preference for running socks, you should start with mid height running socks and see how you feel.
Padding – As mentioned before, padding is an important criteria in running socks. However, the padding of the running socks could be placed on a different part of the foot. The padding location that you are going to choose should depend on your own foot. The first thing that you need to know when choosing padding is that more padding wouldn’t make your shoes too tight. Padding is actually increasing the density of a certain material by adding a different type of material in the weave spaces.
People usually consider that padded socks means that they also take more space into your shoe which is not true. When looking for padding you should also consider the type of padding that you are going to need. Some socks have heel padding, others have toes padding. You should choose your padding by paying attention to your most sensitive areas of the foot and by considering the terrain you are running on.
Fitting – All of the features mentioned above don’t matter if your socks are not fitting you right. Even the ones with highest quality will create blisters to you if they are too large or too tight. Be careful when choosing socks sizes because different manufacturers have different measurements for the same size. For this reason, it is always wise to read the fitting scores and reviews. Also, when you are choosing socks with more padding make you sure you have this into consideration. Although you are not required to wear a different size of running shoes with these socks, you might need to loosen up the laces a bit. If they are still too tight after doing so, they are simply not the right choice for you.
After reading the features to consider and going through our best running socks suggestions you probably at least have an idea what you are looking for. However, keep in mind that whichever socks choice works for one season might not work for another. The same goes for different terrains. For this reason, you should get yourself running socks for each season. By doing so, you would ensure that your feet stay dry during your run and you will avoid the painful blisters which are a common runners’ problem. Nevertheless, if you are not keen on changing stuff, there are always the all season socks you could choose. Although they are not suited for all temperatures, for those areas that don’t have high temperatures variations, the all season sock is your most logical choice.
It is also important to remember that cotton socks are the last running choice you should purchase. Even though they are very comfortable and they make you feel like you are stepping on feathers, they are the main reason for runner’s blisters. When it comes to running socks, it is wise that you consider every choice on the market and choose according to the most important features for you! Also, when certain pair of socks has all the features that you need and desire, but they simply don’t feel as comfortable on your feet, don’t hesitate to look for another option. Sometimes, the shape of your foot will be the main reason that will eliminate even the features with the highest quality!
As always, if you have any questions or doubts about which running socks are the best for you, leave us a comment in the comment section below. Our runners will get back to you as soon as possible. Have a good run everyone and always stay safe and comfortable!