The Best Running Socks For Road And Trails Reviewed
When runners are looking for a new pair of running socks, most of the time they simply go to the store and buy the first pair they see, as many believe that running socks are not of importance. This is quite untrue, as running socks determine a runners comfortability and can ensure no blisters will develop from chaffing on the shoe. An example of a quality running sock is like a pair of running socks from Rockay, which are built to be durable, comfortable, and stylish. Read on to our guide below as have done the market research for you and listed the top running socks on the market today so you can find the right fit for you.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 15 hrs of research
100% Organic Merino Wool
Fit as expected
Help to prevent blisters
Available in multiple colors
- Rockay Accelerate
- DryMax Running Mini Crew
- Balega Hidden Comfort
- Thorlos Experia XCCU
- Darn Tough No Show Light
- MudGear Trail Running Socks
- SmartWool PhD Run Light Elite
- CEP Dynamic Run
- Feetures! Elite Light
- Balega Enduro V-Tech
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Rockay Accelerate
100% Organic Merino Wool
Fit as expected
Help to prevent blisters
Available in multiple colors
Elastic band around the ankle is too tight for some
Rockay is a brand that is made by runners, for runners. Every ache, pain, and discomfort that you have experienced, they have too; and they are committed to creating great running accessories to combat those inconveniences. They are committed to the traceability of their products as well and are doing their part to help clean up our oceans and keep them free of plastic. Their most popular product is the Accelerate sock and you'll find out why below.Read more
Although these socks are thin, Rockay has also somehow managed to include the comfort and padding of a thick sock. There is extra padding around the toes and heels. The heel padding actually hugs the back of your heel and crawls up to provide comfort at the top of the heel area also. The arch of the sock mimics a compression sock and improves circulation and provides ample arch support. Additionally, these socks are seamless, providing more comfort and less room for blisters caused by exposed seams.
Rockay socks are made from 100% Organic Merino Wool. Merino Wool is known for its amazing wicking abilities. Within an instant, the wool absorbs any condensation that may be forming in your shoes and expels it. A wet sock is a breeding ground for blisters and a moisture-wicking sock is the first line of defense. To keep your feet not only dry and comfortable but also ventilated, there are light layers of mesh integrated into multiple areas.
Another great feature of this material is its ability to combat bacteria and foul odors.
As mentioned in the comfort of these socks, there is just the right amount of cushion in these socks. The extra layers of padding provide a comfortable fit and absorb some of the shock that resonates through your feet and legs as each foot strikes the ground.
These socks are finished with an elastic band on top to keep out debris and deter the socks from falling down. As an added bonus for night running, there is also a reflective logo on the back of the sock. They are available in sizes ranging from XS-XL and six different colors. Reviewers love the fact that they stay in place, don’t bunch up, and fit as expected.
2. DryMax Running Mini Crew
Can feel heavy
If you need a great pair of socks that are manufactured to keep your feet dry as you run, then you might want to consider the DryMax Running Mini Crew. These socks work great for people that enjoy running in wetter climates.Read more
These socks aren’t quite as comfortable as some of the other socks on our list, but much of that has to do with the olefin fibers manufactured into the socks to give them effective moisture control. Olefin fibers don’t feel as comfortable as something like merino wool, so if you don’t like the feel, you might want to opt for one of the other products on our list.
Made with olefin fibers in the socks, these socks provide excellent moisture wicking capabilities. So, you’ll be able to handle any type of moisture while you run, and your feet will still stay dry.
DryMax’s Running Mini-Crew socks are very breathable and offer great ventilation properties. This again primarily has to do with the olefin fibers within the socks, which not only wick away moisture but also provide great ventilation properties.
This sock does have a lot of padding in it and certainly can help support your feet. So, if you are worried about shock absorption when you run, these socks will certainly help.
These socks are available in 13 different sizes. Reviewers claim that they are true to size and comfortable.
3. Balega Hidden Comfort
Deep heel pockets allow superior fit
The cushioning offered provides decent impact resistance
Added elastane gives more structured support throughout the sock
The fit might not be tight enough for some
The main point of this type of socks is to protect your toes from impact. This makes them perfect for people who train on uneven terrain. The design itself tells you that these are socks made for running long destinations. They also have a heel tab which is a nice addition to low height socks since they tend to slip while running. The toe tab prevents this from happening.Read more
These socks 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.
Like most socks from this price range, these socks use the air mesh moisture technology. It is so popular because of its 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 notch with these socks. They won’t allow the temperature inside your shoes rise, even if 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.
These 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 provide excellent support while you are busy working out, which is the basis for avoiding injuries. They don’t feel tight at the arch like most socks, but they provide 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.
4. Thorlos Experia XCCU
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
Asics is a reliable brand which is known for producing quality running products. This brand uses advanced technologies in the production process of these socks that ensure stability and comfort while running. This brand also produces running apparel for every trail and any type of runner. Their line of socks focuses on providing its users an extra supportive soft platform that will prevent you from injuries or stress to the foot. The Asics Intensity quarter socks are made from a combination of polyester, nylon, and spandex.Read more
These Asics socks have a Y heel gore line fit that provides extra comfort and perfectly fits the shape of your foot. Needless to say, the Y heel gore line fits better than the regular gore line.
The material blend in these socks creates perfect moisture management which prevents 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 prevents it from entering inside your socks.
This means that you have moisture protection in both directions. Although this is the perfect pair of running socks for wet weather conditions, they are 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.
These socks are made 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 are perfectly shown on the photo through the link provided above.
The Y heel represents a specific style of knitting that is anatomically made in order to create a better fit for 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.
5. Darn Tough No Show Light
Seams can rub
If you’re one of those runners that prefers a lightweight running sock with little to no cushion, then you’ll probably like Darn Tough’s No Show Light Socks. Made to be durable and flexible, you’ll get a lot of use out of them whenever you hit the trails.Read more
The wool fibers in these socks are not quite as comfortable as some of the other options on our list. Also, some people may find these socks less comfortable because of their lack of padding, while others may really like the lack of padding.
Made from merino wool, Lycra, and nylon materials, this sock is well-designed to wick moisture away from your feet. You won’t have to worry about moisture build-up in your shoes or excessive blisters.
The combination of merino wool, Lycra, and nylon manufactured into these socks also gives them great ventilation features. Your feet will be able to breathe easily and stay very dry.
These socks are designed to have no cushioning in them, but their durable production quality does allow them to provide you with some extra support and assistance. So, if you prefer a sock with more cushioning, you may want to check some of our other options on this list.
These socks fit slightly tight and it is recommended that if you are in-between sizes, to order a size up. They are available from Small up to 2XL.
6. MudGear Trail Running Socks
Great selection of colors
Loose around toes
This MudGear Trail Running sock is known for it's built to provide comfort and to prevent blisters while running, training or hiking or any active sports. They are made of strong construction and can be used for all-day wear.Read more
Preventing blisters is an entirely different level of comfort. The materials used in these will keep your feet happy during the length of your run.
This MudGear Trail Running sock has a vented mesh top that helps reduce heat and increases in comfort while wearing them. It is important for you to be able to reduce the amount of sweat your feet produce and be able to run without feeling uncomfortable.
This MudGear running sock has a medium ankle compression which helps keep out trail debris and mud while you are running or hiking. Its outsole fits tightly to help make sure the sock does not move while running or hiking.
Making sure this sock fits you properly is getting the right size and fit. These running socks are satisfaction guaranteed with the sizes ranging from - Small (Men 5-7 / Women 6-8), Med (Men 7-9 / Women 8-10), Large (Men 10-13 / Women 11-13)
This sock is made from 95% Polyester and 5% Spandex to help with its stretchability and making sure the sock has extensive breathability.
7. SmartWool PhD Run Light Elite
High knit density
The cushioning provides greatly assisted shock absorption
The fit is tight for some
Saucony is a company that manufactures products, especially for runners. They are one of the best running gear manufacturers on the market and they are constantly launching new and improved products. These Saucony men’s socks are one of their newest high-quality products intended for runners.Read more
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.
Ventilation is important for supporting moisture control technology. One doesn’t go without the other. These socks have air mesh venting technology which will be keeping your feet cool while you are running by creating great airflow.
These socks are perfect for runners because of the Run Dry technology implemented which is effectively dealing with the moisture of your feet. These socks do so by wicking moisture away from your feet to the outer layers of the socks. Therefore, your feet are dry and they will stay dry.
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 does not allow 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 a 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 a few hours.
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.
8. CEP Dynamic Run
Can slip in the shoe
If you need some extra support for your feet and ankles, then you might want to consider purchasing CEP’s Dynamic Run Socks. They are designed as compression socks to boost your blood flow and help reduce fatigue and injuries.Read more
Designed to help increase your blood flow, these compression socks are very comfortable. They offer runners with injuries the level of support and stability they really need.
These socks have effective moisture wicking technology and do a good job of keeping your feet dry. You shouldn’t have to worry about moisture build-up or blisters with them.
Made to offer you plenty of great ventilation, you’ll get the breathability you need to air your feet out and prevent blister. You’ll always feel like your feet are dry with these socks.
Designed with extra cushioning in the heel, these socks offer ample support to help with shock absorption as you run. Your feet will feel comfortable each time you hit the trails.
These socks provide a comfortable fit that is slightly snug. They have been described as form-fitting and supportive.
9. Feetures! Elite Light
Anatomical design provides support to the medial side of the foot's arch
Helps to eliminate blister-causing friction
Y-heel keeps the sock in place
Higher density cushioning in impact areas
Feetures! is a company most consistent runners have heard of. This popular brand has been manufacturing running socks full of innovative features and function. This time, they are offering the Elite Light, which has a slightly different composition than competitive products, and therefore a lot of different features as well.Read more
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!
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.
Compared to other socks which are made with nylon materials that block 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.
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.
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. 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.
10. Balega Enduro V-Tech
More color options needed
This pair of Balega Enduro V-Tech running socks are the perfect combination of its smooth performance fit, solid cushioning and merino wool fabric make it irresistible. They are great for marathons, or runs, or even walks and are known for mesh construction that helps add great ventilation.Read more
Without adding bulkiness to increase the weight of the shoe, Balega is able to implement enough cushioning along the bottom to offer enough comfort for your feet. Plus, the smooth fit minimizes the chances for blisters. This companies DryNamix moisture management technology helps to keep your feet cool and dry while also allowing free airflow for maximum performance and comfort.
As this is crafted from Polyester 69%, Nylon 29%, Elastane 2%, it has a natural ability to wick away moisture which will enhance the breathability as your perspiration does not build up in the socks.
Simply put, it just does not get much better than this with an unbelievable combination of comfort, breathability, and fit. This running sock has excellent cushioning for impact resistance.
There are no seams in this sock which makes for a smooth performance fit. What this means to you is that your feet will not slip or bunch up during your run. To accommodate a wide range of feet, you have the option of choosing between small all the way up to X-large. Not too many colors are at play here but Balega did design enough to at least give you a minor selection. This running sock is known for being nonconstricting compression bands.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Clearly, comfort is important when you are analyzing a product such as a trail or a road running socks. But, one important thing to note before any comfort features are addressed is that if your shoes are not comfortable, comfortable socks will not help you all that much. As such, you need both of them to provide comfort. But, as this is focused on socks, that is what we will focus on. For comfort, there are three categories that need to be addressed. Firstly, in no particular order, is the heel design and if it will prevent blisters. When you are running for an extended period, blisters will develop on your heels before any body part as every time your foot raises pressure is put on your heel. Without a proper design with the socks, blisters are nearly impossible to avoid.
Past this shock absorption also comes into play. While you would not think a pair of socks would offer protection against impacts, they actually can. But, it depends on if the heel and toe areas have the proper technology to do so. Lastly, are they actual feel of the fabric as you clearly do not want to deal with a type that causes irritation to your skin.
This is a subcategory to comfort, but it is one that deserves its own special recognition. Trail running can be partaken in during all seasons, no matter if there is snow on the ground or if it is 100 degrees outside. Honestly, it is your preference when you run. But no matter what, breathability should always be a point of emphasis for running socks. It really comes down to two areas: ventilation and moisture handling. Ventilation is fairly self-explanatory as when your body is running, it will overheat quicker than it normally would. As such, you do not want your feet to overheat and become clammy. With design features such as mesh, airflow is allowed to enter in and it allows your feet to breathe.
But, the manner in which the fabric handled moisture is just as important. Again, when you are running, your feet will perspire before too long and when this happens, if the sweat builds up it can not only provide extreme discomfort but also a potent odor. This is where fabrics such as merino wool hold an advantage as it has a natural ability to wick away moisture and handle odors.
Some runners prefer wearing thicker socks throughout the whole year because it provides them with extra cushioning. Thin socks, on the other hand, 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 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 on 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 surfaces.
All of the features mentioned above don’t matter if your socks are not fitting you right. Even the ones with the highest quality will create blisters if they are too large or too tight. Be careful when choosing socks sizes because different manufacturers have different measurements of 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.
You may have wondered why fitting and sizing were split up and it is because you must look at them from two different perspectives. Sizing, which will be addressed soon, is merely the sizes that are available and if they run large or small. But, the fitting, not only refers to the manner in which in contours to your feet but also if the heel will not slip off. For runners, socks that do not have integrated technology to prevent slipping can be a major hassle. Plus, this is also what causes massive blisters and discomfort on the back of your heel. This is the clear advantage that running socks have over traditional everyday socks as they are designed to stay up on your heel.
But, also, while minor compared to the heel, how tight and the amount of dexterity between your toes comes into play with fitting. Some may prefer super tight socks, while others may like a little room. Also, with your toes, you may not want them restricted.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
When you are choosing running shoes, the most important factor you should consider is how 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 them to breathe. However, natural materials are not as good at ventilating the moisture from your feet.
You should also take the thickness of the sock into consideration. A thicker sock will typically offer more heel and toe cushioning, but will also take up more room in the shoe. A thinner sock will offer you a more natural feeling but could cause friction between your foot and the sock. Any sock could result in blisters, but a thin sock is more likely to cause them.
Other Factors to Consider
One of the best advantages of choosing between socks, in terms of sizing, is that there is some leeway. As opposed to shoes which need to be a specific size no matter what, you could get away with a pair of socks that are a little tight or too small. Clearly, you want them to fit as well as possible and the only surefire way to ensure they will is to do a little research. Unfortunately, a huge caveat to ordering online is that you can’t physically try on the socks. But, if you know for a fact that people have complained that a specific sock is larger/smaller than the actual size then you can properly accommodate it. As far as the size options, your size must be there or you may have to go another way. It really is as simple as that.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Does a Sock’s Thickness Require an Increase in Your Shoe Size?
This can be the biggest concern for some people as you may wonder if your sock’s thickness will require you to increase your shoe size. Honestly, it solely depends on how small your shoes are on your feet. As Thorlos, one of the manufacturers that made an appearance on this list, states in around 80 percent of the cases the answer to this question will be yes. This 80 percent that is in question here, again according to Thorlos, is referencing studies that have been conducted to conclude if people wear there running shoes too small.
Guess what, thick socks do add girth and you can’t accommodate for space that is not there. But, if you have a little breathing room in your shoe then you may be in the clear as you can adapt to the extra space that you will need.
q: What is the Difference Between Coolmax and Merino Wool?
Through this guide, you have become very familiar with the material of merino wool. But, another common fabric that you will see utilized in trail running socks is Coolmax. Users have often asked what the difference is and while there are slight differences, they are both superb materials. Merino wool, as you already know, has a natural ability to wick away moisture and is also anti-microbial meaning odors will not be an issue. In addition, the material itself will keep you insulated in the winter but cool in the summer thanks to its breathable membrane.
Coolmax, which is fairly similar in nature, also is a fantastic agent when it comes to wicking away moisture. But, as opposed to merino wool, it is ideal for warmer temperatures and may not be sufficient enough in chilling temperatures. But, no matter, if you happen to be allergic to wool or really have something against it then this is a great alternative.
q: Are fleece socks a good choice for running?
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 weather they are recommended for is when the temperatures drop, but you are still deciding to go for your morning run. The fleece socks will make you feel like you are still in bed.
q: When should I consider using 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 types of terrain could be quite challenging to the toes even though you have no problems in that area.
q: When should I consider 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 in rainy weather or if you are running on 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.