Best Trail Running Socks

It seems mundane, but if you are an avid runner, especially through trails and other uneven terrains, then a piece of gear that you can’t overlook is your socks. You may give more attention to your shoes, base layer, and pants that you wear, but proper trail running socks can truly be a lifesaver. When you wear an average pair of socks, they can slip and bunch up when you run, become drenched with sweat, and even be uncomfortable as a whole. If you spend some hard-earned money and an exceptional pair of trail running socks, though, you will not experience these massive downfalls. In specific, check out these ten.

Darn Tough
  • Darn Tough
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Breathable
  • Comfortable
  • Price: See Here
Smartwool Micro
  • Smartwool Micro
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Designed for runners
  • Indestructurewool tech
  • Price: See Here
Zensah Wool
  • Zensah Wool
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Polyclone fiber
  • Durable
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Trail Running Socks

 

 

Darn Tough Vermont

Darn Tough Vermont
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.
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Comfort

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.

Breathability

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.

The Fit

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.

Sizing

To accommodate a wide range of feet, you have the option of choosing between small all the way up to XX-large.

Varying Colors

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.

Overall

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.
Pros
  • After long runs, your feet will not be sweaty
  • When these socks get wet, they do not feel too heavy on your feet
  • Overall, they keep your feet warm and cool (depending on the weather outdoors)
Cons
  • Some may want a bit more cushion, but it is pretty good
 

Smartwool Micro

Smartwool Micro
For those who have experience when it comes to buying running socks you probably expected Smartwool to make an appearance on this list. They have refined the world of wool and it just so happens that they also have a fantastic pair of trail running socks.
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Comfort

In the ball and the heel of the foot is Light Elite cushioning and this provides enhanced shock absorption when you slam down on your feet. In addition, the high-density cushioning maintains your weight masterfully.

Breathability

Smartwool uniquely located mesh in specific areas of this sock to provide an ideal amount of ventilation and breathability when the temperature rises outdoors. Plus, this manages moisture very well.

The Fit

Because there are two elastics that Smartwool integrated into this shoe, the result is a stretchy exterior that not only enables freedom of movement but also keeps the sock in place.

Sizing

While there is no option for small, at least on Amazon, you do have the choice between medium, large, and extra-large.

Varying Colors

There is a strong amount of color options to select from and this includes black, bright blue and dark blue, charcoal, graphite, light gray and black, among others.

Overall

Smartwool proves their admiration from the world when they design products like this. As with the previous pair of socks, it is really difficult to come up with reasons not to invest in these.
Pros
  • These are designed specifically for runners
  • Integrated Indestructawool technology delivers incredible durability and comfort
  • Smartwool designed these socks for performance in the highest degree
Cons
  • Are terrific for colder weather but may be too warm for summer
 

Zensah Wool

Zensah Wool
While some may gripe that these are a little too thin, it is hard to complain with the results here. Even with the thinness, they do a superb job of resisting impact and wicking away moisture when your feet begin to release sweat.
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Comfort

These socks resist and prevent two of the worst issues for a long-term runner. With hexo-padded technology that is designed in the toe and heel area, these socks are able to provide impact absorption and prevent blisters from developing on your heels.

Breathability

The special polyclone fiber that is crafted into these socks does a superb job of managing moisture and keeping your feet dry no matter the condition outdoors.

The Fit

With a seamless toe, light support in the arch area, and an anatomical fit not only provide a perfect fit but they also manage to stay in place when you are running for long distances.

Sizing

Some users have claimed that these socks fit smaller than they were expecting. As far as options go, you can select from small to large.

Varying Colors

There is a fairly strong amount of colors to choose from that should satisfy just about everyone. For example, colors such as black, gray, hot pink, sporty blue, and white.

Overall

If you are a fan of socks that are thin, almost feeling as if you are running without them on, then it is hard to go wrong here. But, on the contrary, for those looking for something thicker and substantial, it may be wise for you to pass on this one.
Pros
  • These will keep your feet at optimal temperatures at all times
  • Is backed with the manufacturer’s non-satisfactory guarantee
  • The integrated polyclone fiber is engineered to wick away moisture
Cons
  • Overall, they are thinner in girth than some may prefer and may fit small for some
 

Thorlos Ankle Socks

Thorlos Ankle Socks
This is one of the more popular trail running socks on the market and it deserves all the attention it gets. Many may claim that it is the single best running sock in the world, and while that is not too far off, minor issues keep it down a tad.
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Comfort

The manner in which Thorlos designed their sock allows it to match your foot’s natural heel and ball pattern. This, in conjunction with the thin padding, aids in the overall comfort. But, the Achilles tendon pad is also highly noteworthy as it protects your feet from chafing.

Breathability

Besides utilizing fabric that manages moisture very well, such as polyester, there is also mesh integrated into the sock that adds an ideal amount of ventilation when your feet begin to overheat.

The Fit

The best way to describe how this sock fits is “glove-like” Instead of restricting your feet from moving at all, which some socks will do, this fits in a way that easily allows your toes to move freely.

Sizing

There are sizes for both men and women alike and while each will vary a little, the sizes range from extra-small to extra-large.

Varying Colors

While there are a decent amount of color choices to choose from, they will not blow you away. For example, this includes black, white, royal, white and navy, and electric yellow.

Overall

Everything seems to be just about perfect here, but when you dig a little deeper you will find something you may prove that ignorance is bliss. While these are breathable, they do not handle odors very well and can take a very long time to dry. But, sometimes, even the greatest of products have minor caveats that you must deal with.
Pros
  • The pads in the ball and the heel areas provide resistance to friction
  • They do an admirable job of wicking away moisture
  • Thanks to the Achilles tendon pad, the sock will not slip
Cons
  • After long runs, they tend to stink
  • They can take a long time to fully dry

Balega Seamless Toe

Balega Seamless Toe
There is no reason that this should not be higher, which gives you an idea of the quality at hand here. Its innovative design, which features a heel tab, prevents the sock from slipping down on your feet which can be a major nuisance when running.
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Comfort

Besides the fact that the heel and toe have been reinforced, there is enough cushioning under the sole to provide comfort and protection for your feet.

Breathability

Both the mesh construction and the drynamix synthetic material manage to provide enough ventilation on hot days and wick away moisture when your feet sweat.

The Fit

Balega chose a new and improved elastane design throughout the socks and it allows for a more structured fit. In addition, the integrated heel tab prevents the sock from slipping. But, due to its low nature, you may have to pull it over the shoe collar.

Sizing

This is designed for both men and women and the sizes should fit according to normal. With options from small to extra-large, most people should be able to find a size for them.

Varying Colors

Both men and women should find a color that suits their style with options for atomic mango, black, charcoal, purple, dynamic blue, electric blue, shocking pink, screaming green, etc.

Overall

As great as the heel tab is, it is awkward at first as you must pull it over your shoe collar. If you do not, it will defeat the purpose of the tab and the sock may end up slipping down your heel. However, it still is an awesome feature and in conjunction with all the others, makes this an easy thumbs up.
Pros
  • Balega tests and runs with all their products
  • It is specifically designed with a medium volume construction
  • The integrated heel pocket ensures the sock does not slip during runs
Cons
  • The heel tab is a little low and needs to be pulled above the collar of your shoe

Cloudline Merino Wool

Cloudline Merino Wool
Merino wool is one of the best materials in the world of apparel, period. It is becoming obvious that it is also the king of running socks and all its great features and properties come into play here.
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Comfort

The softness of this particular wool is off the charts and while others can be itchy, that is not an issue here. Past its softness, there is reinforcement at the heel and toe zones for enhanced comfort.

Breathability

As merino wool has a natural ability to wick away moisture and handle odors, you are given a sock that will not build up with sweat or smell potent when you conclude your run.

The Fit

Really, most notable here is the fact that it is an ankle sock, meaning that it will not show when you are running.

Sizing

Once again, this is a sock that has sizes for both men and women. The options are available for small to X-large, with each option adapting for both men and women.

Varying Colors

Visually, this sock is very impressive and with color choices of glacial blue, granite, hi-vis orange, neon green, raven black, and wildflower pink, everyone should be able to find one for them.

Overall

At this point, any sock with merino wool is worth your investment. But, because this specific sock also has an appealing design and a no-show tab, it may adapt to a wider range of people.
Pros
  • These are designed for long-lasting softness
  • This specific wool is not itchy or irritating to your skin
  • Great for all outdoor activities
Cons
  • Would have been nice if they could stretch more
  • Can be somewhat narrow in the toes

Mudgear Trail Socks

Mudgear Trail Socks
Personal preference is going to come into play here as truth be told, there is very little to gripe about here. But, if you prefer a sock that is super tight to your feet then this particular pair of socks may not appeal to your liking.
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Comfort

Over the long haul, these socks are built to prevent blisters from occurring at your heel and overall comfort throughout the day.

Breathability

The top portion integrates mesh to not only increase your comfort but also cool your feet off on hot, summer days. Plus, when they get wet, they do an adequate job of draining and wicking away water.

The Fit

As a personal preference, you may take issue that these socks are not overly tight to your skin. While they are no means baggy, some may have preferred them to be even tighter than they are.

Sizing

Use discretion when you choose the size, but there are options from small to large for both men and women.

Varying Colors

For those who appreciate several color options, you may be a bit disappointed with the selection here. But, all things considered, the options for black and orange, gray and black, and green and black are all great.

Overall

While not the best pair of trail running socks you can get, nobody would blame you if you went with these. There are some issues that may bother you and they do, you must decide if they are enough to ruin the experience.
Pros
  • These are designed for all outdoor activities
  • With the medium ankle design, debris has a harder time of entering in
  • Wick away moisture and water very well
Cons
  • While not baggy, are not as tight as other brands
  • Some may feel the end portion of the socks move around too freely

Injinji Midweight Crew

Injinji Midweight Crew
As opposed to all the other socks on this list, this specific brand is the barefoot running sock, if you will. The manner in which it is designed provides a toe slot for each of your toes which can either be amazing or a pain in the butt.
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Comfort

The five-toe system that is integrated into this sock is what provides your feet protection no matter the pair of shoes that you have on, while also preventing hotspots and blisters.

Breathability

Whether you want to run in the winter or summer, for ten minutes or two hours, it does not matter as superior moisture management is delivered.

The Fit

Besides the obvious five-toe system which provides a section for each toe, the elastic cuff holds the sock in place.

Sizing

Nothing noteworthy to speak of here, just the fact that you can select from sizes small to extra-large.

Varying Colors

A strong amount of colors is headlined by brick, diamond black, emerald, granite, meadow and oatmeal.

Overall

You will either love or hate this toe design. On one hand, providing individual slots for each toe will improve your toe’s range of motion. But, this also means it can be a pain to properly fit each toe in the sock in the first place.
Pros
  • Is engineered for uneven and unpredictable terrain
  • Features many different color options
  • They are ideal for not only trail running but various other activities
Cons
  • After you use it several times, holes tend to open where your toes are slotted

MinuS33 Merino Wool

MinuS33 Merino Wool
Minus33 manages to excel in every single category that is vital for a trail running sock. That is, except for one which explains its lower placement. Over the long haul, users have questioned its longevity as fraying tends to happen sooner than one would expect.
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Comfort

While the seamless design enhances comfort, there is also protection provided for your Achilles and at the bottom of your feet.

Breathability

In conjunction with the mesh designed top for proper ventilation, Minus33 decided to use merino wool which, as you know, wicks away and superbly handles moisture build-up.

The Fit

Besides the merino wool, a touch of elastane has also been integrated into this sock which allows them to gently hug over your feet.

Sizing

With options from small to extra-large, there are many sizes to select from. But, some users have expressed their displeasure with the sizing stating the socks are larger than they should be.

Varying Colors

Do not be too picky here as you can only select from autumn red, deep water and wild orchid.

Overall

Yes, sizing and durability can be a concern which can scare you away. While this is viable, it secured a spot on this list which should give you an idea of how great it is.
Pros
  • The seamless toe design is extremely comfortable for runs
  • It is both machine washable and dryable
  • The top integrates mesh for superior ventilation
Cons
  • Users have complained that these socks run large
  • Fraying can be an issue

Feetures Athletic

Feetures Athletic
Again, while durability can be a concern here, the comfort, breathability, and fit are all exceptional. Plus, it is a unisex design so adapting for the proper sizing is a little easier with these socks.
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Comfort

Thanks to the sock-lock technology, in areas where you need it the most, there is targeted compression. In addition to this, the anatomical design enhances the fit which then enhances the overall comfort.

Breathability

The iWick fibers are to thank for this sock’s ability to wick away moisture and keep your feet dry. But, what also aids in breathability is its ultra-thin construction which takes up less room in your shoe.

The Fit

Again, as was mentioned in the comfort section, the anatomical design enhances the fit.

Sizing

Being designed to fit for both sexes, Feetures! claims that their socks will fit according to your shoe size. For the size options, you can select from small to extra-large.

Varying Colors

As this is unisex, there are varying colors that appeal to both men and women. This includes black and reflector, white and black, blue lagoon and cobalt, graphite and reflector, and white and iris.

Overall

No matter what list you ever read, the number 10 selection is not going to be one that you are most impressed by. After all, there are nine others that are better. Still, this specific sock deserves recognition thanks to its terrific technology and comfort.
Pros
  • The lightweight design aids in breathability and a cooler feel
  • Integrated sock-lock technology targets compression where it is needed
  • Backed with a guarantee that if you are not unsatisfied, you can get a full refund
Cons
  • Over a few uses, you may notice them starting to wear out

Criteria Used For The Evaluation

 

In Conjunction with Your Shoes, The Comfort the Socks Provide

Clearly, comfort is important when you are analyzing a product such as trail 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 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.

How Breathable the Socks Are

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, 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.

How Well the Socks Fit and if They Will Slip off Your Heel

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.

The Sizing Options and Tendency

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 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.

The Different Color Options To Select From

Alright, yes, socks are covered by your shoes every time you run. So, why on earth would the color and visual appeal matter to anyone? Well, for one, if you do not wear ankle socks part of the sock will show on your leg and you may want it to be a specific color. Also, as these socks are truly awesome, you could get away with wearing them around your house when you are relaxing for the night. Of course, does it really matter anyway? You are a human being and that means that you have a preference when it comes to color, there is no doubt. It may be more important from one person to the next but as all the other important design features have already been addressed, why not have a little fun?

 

FAQs

Q:   What is the Best Way to Wash Running Socks?

Thankfully, socks are not nearly as strict to wash as other running gear and many manufacturers recommend the same washing parameters. There is no need to worry about washing them by hand as most fabrics utilized with running socks will be machine wash-friendly. Basically, you can abide by your normal washing standards and wash these socks accordingly. Really, the only cleaning agent that you need to avoid is bleach or detergents that contain any bleaching agents. What happens if you ignore this and use bleach is the fibers in the socks will begin to deteriorate and eventually, they will lose most of their elasticity. But, as far as what cycle you should use, you should be able to get away with either a gentle or normal cycle.

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:   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 Should You Do If You Can’t Decide Between Two Sizes?

It was briefly addressed and documented earlier that sock sizes are a little more lenient than say shoe sizes. Because most of them are designed to be stretchy, you can get away with a smaller size as it can still contour over your foot. But, it still does not mean that you want this to be the case so what exactly should you do when you are stuck between two sizes. The real question should be would you rather have a sock that is too tight or loose? Every single time, the answer to this should be too tight as a sock that is too loose can lead to the sock bunching up or even slipping off your heel.

So, if you have done your research of the manufacturer’s sizing chart and are still unsure of what size to get, go with the smaller size as you ensure if nothing else, it will fit snugly.

Q:   Will Trail Running Socks Help with Nerve Damage?

You now have a strong indication of why running socks are so beneficial for you. But, past all the benefits that have already been alluded to, will these types of socks actually assist you in nerve damage or any other feet injuries that you have? This is a yes and no answer. The “yes” is in play when you wear compression socks which are specifically designed to help circulate the blood in your legs. However, if they are not compression socks then they probably will not assist in this area. Though, trail running socks are typically made to minimize the amount of friction and cushion your toe and heel areas when your feet slide (and to do so over long distances).

So, while this is one area that trail running socks do not really hold an advantage, it does everything else perfectly so this can be forgiven.

Q:   How Often Should You Replace Trail Running Socks?

Every single time you run, the gear that you wear (especially your socks and shoes) takes a significant amount of abuse. Through no fault of your own, you are slamming down your feet in a repetitive fashion for long distances. As such, your shoes and socks are going to wear down quicker than a typical product that you would invest in. So, when do you know it is time (for your socks specifically) to hang up your pair of socks and invest in an updated pair? Unfortunately, as with just about everything, it is hard to provide a timetable as it is going to differ depending on the specific socks that you have, how you care for them, and how often you wear them.

If you do not skimp out on a good pair, properly wash them, and only run occasionally (or small amount every day) then you could get a longer lifespan out of your socks. But, do not let this stop you from running at the pace that you want.

 

Final Thoughts

All running gurus need to remember that when you are shopping for gear for the new year, you must not forget about your socks. Proper socks will hold up on the heel, have adequate moisture handling and be comfortable enough for long stints.