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. 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.
- SmartWool PhD Run Light Elite
- Balega Hidden Comfort
- Thorlos Experia XCCU
- Feetures! Elite Light
- Darn Tough Coolmax Vertex
- DryMax Running Mini Crew
- Darn Tough No Show Light
- CEP Dynamic Run
- Stance Line Up Tab
- Darn Tough Vermont
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. SmartWool PhD Run Light Elite
High knit density
The cushioning provides great 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
Moisture Control: 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.
Breathability: Ventilation is important for supporting the 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.
Cushioning: 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 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.
Comfort: 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.
2. Balega Hidden Comfort
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
These Balega socks are a toe types. As mentioned above, the main point of this type of socks is to protect your toes from impact. This makes them perfect for people who train on an 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
Moisture Control: 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.
Breathability: 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.
Cushioning: 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.
Comfort: 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.
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 are 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.
3. 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
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.
Breathability 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.
Cushioning and comfort
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.
Comfort: the Y heel represents a specific style of knitting that is anatomically made in order to create a better fit 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 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 is perfectly shown on the photo through the link provided above.
4. Feetures! Elite Light
Anatomical design provides support to medial side of the foot's arch
Helps to eliminate blister causing friction
Y-heel keeps 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 have a slightly different composition than competitive products, and therefore a lot of different features as well.Read more
Moisture Control: 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.
Breathability: 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.
Cushioning: 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.
Comfort: 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. 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.
5. Darn Tough Coolmax Vertex
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
Darn Tough is a brand which will be a familiar name for visitors to GWA, as they manufacture products for all different ranges of outdoor and sports use. These Champion women’s socks are an imported material with high-quality features and extreme comfort. The durability that you get from this brand is right there in the name.Read more
Moisture Control: 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.
Breathability: 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: 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.
Comfort: 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 is 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.
6. 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
Moisture Control: 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.
Breathability: 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.
Cushioning: 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.
Comfort: 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.
7. Darn Tough No Show Light
Seams can rub
If you’re one of those runners that prefers a lightweight running sock with little to know cushioning, 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
Moisture Control: 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.
Breathability: 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.
Cushioning: 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.
Comfort: 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.
8. CEP Dynamic Run
Can slip in 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
Moisture Control: 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.
Breathability: 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.
Cushioning: 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.
Comfort: 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.
9. Stance Line Up Tab
Thick and padded
Not great in cold weathe
Stance’s Line-Up Tab Socks offer a great design that’s developed around having a right and left sock, like a left and right shoe, for a perfect, comfortable fit. With the amount of comfort you’ll get from these socks, you’ll easily be able to complete your runs.Read more
Moisture Control: Stance’s Line Up Tab Socks offer a lot of moisture wicking technology, which helps prevents blisters. You won’t have to worry about odor or moisture build-up while you run.
Breathability: The ventilation on these socks is also great, and your feet will be able to stay dry. Dry feet help prevent uncomfortable rubbing and blisters.
Cushioning: Stance’s Line Up Tab Socks include a cushioned heel and enough stability and support to even help runners with injuries. You’ll feel the extra padding, which helps to absorb shock.
Comfort: The concept of having a right and left sock, like a right and left shoe, adds a lot of excellent comfort to these socks. These socks are made to fit extremely well.
10. Darn Tough Vermont
Overall, they keep your feet warm and cool (depending on the weather outdoors)
When these socks get wet, they do not feel too heavy on your feet
After long runs, your feet will not be sweaty
Some may want a bit more cushion, but it is pretty good
Truth be told, it is basically impossible to achieve perfection. But, if there was ever going to be something that did it, it would be these hiking socks from Darn Tough. The perfect combination of its smooth performance fit, solid cushioning and merino wool fabric make it irresistible.Read more
Without adding bulkiness to increase the weight of the shoe, Darn Tough 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.
As this is crafted from Merino wool, it has a natural ability to wick away moisture which will enhance the breathability as your perspiration does not build up in the socks.
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 XX-large.
Not too many colors are at play here but Darn Tough did design enough to at least give you a minor selection. This includes black, oatmeal and olive.
Simply put, it just does not get much better than this with an unbelievable combination of comfort, breathability and fit. About the only aspect, you could possibly complain about is the cushioning as sure, there could have been more.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Clearly, comfort is important when you are analyzing a product such as trail or 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 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 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 it to breathe. However, natural materials are not as good at ventilating 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. 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.
Other Factors to Consider
One of the best advantages to 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- The 21 Absolute Best and Most Comfortable Socks for Runners, Blog, Nov 09, 2018 ,