Best Athletic Socks Reviewed & Rated (2021)
One of the most inaccurate statements ever overheard at your local sports store, or read on athletic blogs all over the web, is “What do you mean socks? Socks are just socks!”.
Socks are the unsung hero in many of our athletic pursuits. Fast or slow, long or short, the right sock can make ALL the difference.
This list will focus on the 10 best athletic socks you can find. Be it ankle high or no-show, full toe or individual toe socks, if you can’t find it on this list, it should not be covering your feet.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 18 hrs of research
Mohair & Drynamix
High heel tab
10 Best Workout & Athletic Socks
1. Balega Blister Resist
Mohair & Drynamix
High heel tab
Balega puts forth quite an effort in putting to market some great socks with several different key attributes for each model. This one says it all in the name. The “Blister Resist” technology is paramount with this sock. Don’t be fooled by the name though. Lots more to like about this sock.
A specific combination of Drynamix and Mohair keeps your feet cool and dry. The Mohair keeps heat in during those cold runs while the Drynamax pushes moisture away from the skin. This combination sets the ideal environment for your feet in your shoes.
The extra high heel tab safeguards your sock from wiggling its way down your heel and deep into your shoe. Add to that the tailored extra deep heel pocket that locks in the runner's heel and you are loaded and ready to get moving, issue free.
2. Rockay Accelerate
30% Organic Merino wool
Compression arch support
If you’re an avid runner, you will definitely already have heard about Accelerate, one of the highest-rated running socks currently available for purchase. This model comes in a variety of color and size options, allowing you to choose the best option for you may just find that you’ll be wanting to wear them outside the gym as well.
One of the things that make Rockay Accelerate such a good buy is the material composition. This pair of socks uses 66% Polyamide which has moisture-wicking properties and prolongs the lifespan of the product, 30% organic Merino wool which really is one of the best possible materials to use in hosiery, and 4% Elastane which ensures a snug, fitness-oriented fit and a level of arch support that’ll increase your comfort while working out.
The Accelerate offers strategically placed cushioning in the toe and heel areas, increasing the shock-absorbing properties of your running or workout sneakers, and has a seamless toe that will prevent issues in the front of the foot.
3. Saucony Performance
No seam issues
Sizing Is inconsistent
Wear issues reported
Cool and dry are the pillars of the sock world; most socks do their best to meet those standards but fail to a lot of the time. The Saucony Performance Sock hits the mark with several pieces of superb technology that makes this one of the top three on this list. Given they make running shoes, this showing up at the top of our list is not surprising!
It’s all in the name. Athletes don’t just want this; they need this. Wet feet can be the single most irritating and run-ending thing we can control. RunDry Moisture Management provides an unbelievably arid feel with their moisture wicking fibers. Add to that a mesh ventilation construction that creates maximum airflow ensuring a cool, dry run.
To be clear, this is not a compression sock. However, Saucony has woven a precise amount of compression to ensure your arch stays where it needs to. Less movement in the shoe always makes for a better run. There is the perfect amount of cushioning without greatly bulking up the sock.
4. Feetures Elite Max
iWick polyester adds cushioning
Blister protection technology
Can be tight
The Elite Max athletic sock by Feetures! is the dream for any athlete (or workout enthusiast) that needs a sock offering targeted foot compression, moisture-wicking technology and a soft luxurious feel, all while preventing blisters and corns. If this sounds like you, Feetures has what you are looking for. Add in the fact that the company is so confident you’ll love their product, they back them up with a lifetime guarantee.
The proprietary blend of iWick polyester found in the Elite Max offers an insane amount of comfort and cushioning, unrivaled by almost any of the best athletic-wear manufacturers.
The company combines its knowledge of fabrics and technology with the science of motion to create a sock that lets you go the extra mile and feel good doing it. Added support at the heel and toe-cap also mean that you won’t easily wear these socks out while operating at peak performance.
Finally, the targeted compression offered by the Elite Max augments the performance of the wearer, by providing support when your muscles and joints need them most.
5. Injinji Run 2.0
Separate toe spaces
Very low cut and can slide down
This deviates a tad from the normal sock; these are toe socks, not traditional fitting socks. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, toe socks have become the polarizing design in the running sock world. If you are a lover, then these are the pinnacle of the toe sock lines. Individually wrapped toes work from many. If you are a hater, then you have permission to head down and check out the 4th place sock.
These are individual toe sleeves that are designed to keep your toes in alignment while running, thus avoiding inner-toe blistering. They claim that it promotes good posture as well.
Not only do Injinji focus on moisture control, but they also concentrated on many other highlights. 200 needle count for an ultra-thin fit, arch support for a secure fit made easy by an anatomical fit and lastly an enhanced cuff to keep your feet in place at all times.
6. Rockay Quarter Flare
Quarter crew height
Strategically placed padding
Limited color choices
Some people simply prefer quarter crew socks to no show models when working out. This type of model will offer a higher level of protection from a range of elements, including UV rays, debris, and even low temperatures. It will also prevent high-top sneakers such as basketball shoes rubbing the sensitive Achilles area of your feet, and you’ll find that they’ll work great even with everyday footwear such as casual or work boots. The Rockay Flare is a great investment for those who want to make sure they’re getting the highest quality gear, especially considering the fact that it’s made by a company that’s taken the world of running socks by a storm.
One of the features that make the Rockay Flare such a good choice is the strategically placed cushioning that works together with your footwear in order to absorb and dissipate shock from impact.
Whether you’re participating in a workout class, going for a jog, or simply walking long distances, this cushioning will protect sensitive areas such as the ball of the foot and the heel, and prevent discomfort and fatigue.
The arch of the Rockay Flare offers a good amount of support as well, supporting the plantar fascia, preventing it from becoming overworked or even inflamed. It will perform equally well for low and high arches, and will also contribute to a snug, performance-oriented fit.
Polyster & spandex
Material too thin
It was inevitable that we would have more than one big shoe company sock on this list. We love the relationship between a shoe division and a sock division of a large company. A win-win for sure. This sock has a good number of features that make it stand out.
No enough to make it bulky, but enough to just absorb a bit more of that pounding we take on those longer runs. The toe cushioning blends in well with the construction eliminating that awkward toe seam.
Much like their shoes, Asics has devoted a good bit of technology in its wicking and breathable fabrics. It consists of a knit-in mesh for ventability and breathability. Truly acknowledging efforts toward a top-notch moisture management system.
8. Nike Performance
Reinforced heel and toe
They tend to bunch up in the front
A brand built for athletes, Nike’s tagline is “Just Do It”, and these high-performance athletic socks will help you do just that. Giving quality athletic socks that let you perform at your best, Nike athletic socks will keep your feet dry and comfortable.
Made of a 80% Cotton/18% Polyester/2% Spandex-blend, they wick away moisture and allow heat to flow away from the foot. These athletic socks dry much quicker than your cotton socks and will keep you in the game, even if you find yourself in overtime.
What’s even better about these Nike socks is that they are reinforced at the heel and toe areas, as those tend to wear quickly, especially by athletes that perform quick and sudden foot shifts. They are easy to wash and keep clean and can easily be popped into the laundry machine. Available in white and black, coming with 6 pair per pack, it’s a great value for the money.
9. Rockay Agile
Mesh breathability panels
Single color choice
The Rockay Agile is the perfect choice for a number of sports, especially high-intensity workouts that make you build up quite a sweat. It’s ideal for HIIT, Crossfit, jogging and other athletic activities because of its lightweight design and quality of the build. It’s a no-show sock that covers as little of the ankle as possible, allowing the body to cool off naturally, while the materials used further encourage breathability and moisture management, keeping your feet and favorite workout shoes fresh all day long.
The sock features no padding, which allows you to get a better ground feel, but also to get the correct fit from your workout or running shoes. The lack of bulk is also evident in the toe area that’s completely seamless, as well as in the cuff which is thin but secure, so you won’t have to worry about the Agile sliding off mid-run.
This model can be machine washed, and if cared for correctly (wash at 30°C, do not tumble dry, do not iron), it will last you a long time. With each purchase, you get a lifetime guarantee that keeps you covered in case of tears, or in case of functionality loss.
10. Thirty 48
Almost compression fit
Short track record
One of the lesser-known brands on this list, Thirty48 are relatively new to the start line in the running world. This does not mean they don’t know what they are doing! These multi-sport socks look great with a very sporty design with built-in purpose for this new aged look. Not just a running sock, Thirty48 touts this sock as a leader for many sports.
Innovation is the key here. They have engineered extra padding to this sock on the metatarsal which provides some extra comfort and protection from lacing issues that we have all experienced.
As with many other socks, ventilation is paramount and part of Thirty48’s construction. They use a patented design called CatalystAF™ which creates channels within the fabric that induce airflow around the foot. They have also utilized their CoolPlus™ technology to complement the airflow.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Keeping your feet dry during any activity is of the utmost importance.
Wet feet can lead to painful blisters, hot spots, fungal or bacterial growth, as well as terrible odor. We have all been in these types of situations. Finding out what material is the best for keeping your feet cool and dry leads to our list of the criteria used to evaluate the best workout socks.
Wicking is the ability to move moisture away from the skin and out towards your shoe. This will stop your feet from getting soggy and soft, which can lead to skin breakdown and other uncomfortable foot situations. So, what is the best material for sweat wicking and what is the worst?
Best Wicking Material
Moderate WIcking Material
Cotton Polyester blend
Worst Wicking Material
Finding that perfect sock for your busy life can be difficult, especially when it comes to making sure your feet stay dry and smelling good. Our guide offers a variety of excellent sweat-wicking athletic socks, surely you will find one that will work with you throughout all of your activities.
This may seem like an odd requirement when thinking about the best athletic socks.
We chose it as a top-rated need for several reasons. Sliding feet can lead to accidents, slips, falls, and injury. Making sure your sock isn’t slipping around on your foot or inside your shoe is not only an issue of keeping you comfortable but it also keeps you safe.
Compression around the arch not only supports your foot, preventing pressure and potential stress fractures. This band also helps hold your sock in place so you are not sliding around in your shoes.
Cushioning also helps keep your foot in place and reduce shock to the parts of your feet that take the most pounding. Correct cushioning with a supportive band around the arch and ankle will keep your feet in place and keep you moving for all the future fun.
Sliding in your shoes can be dangerous. When your foot slips either inside your sock or inside your shoe, you may lose your balance or roll your ankles due to the sudden shift in positioning.
Solid placement in your shoes, knowing your feet will stay where you put them because of great fitting, high performance, workout socks, will give you peace of mind during the next big adventure.
Maybe these should have been two different categories, however, we believe they go hand in hand.
We know how important comfort is. Especially during those long games or hikes through the woods. The right cushion and support will guarantee your feet stay comfortable, even during the most arduous activities. Of equal importance is the durability of your athletic socks. You need a sock that is going to hold up through life’s journeys.
Padding or cushioning in the front and at the heel of the sock will provide padding to the places that take the most pounding. Correct cushioning will promote comfort with shock absorption. Less impact on your feet keeps them feeling great and allows you to participate every day!
Finding the seam of your sock ripping out in the middle of a game or workout session can be devastating to the integrity of your feet.
This can cause pressure areas and skin break down which, if not handled correctly can lead to infection.
Making sure you are wearing a high-quality pair of athletic socks, that are built to last with you is crucial to keeping you in the game.
The most popular options are, also, cost-effective, meaning they are durable and provide enough features to offset their cost.
The ones which sell the best are stylish and fashionable. We've kept value in mind when ranking the socks on our list. We would never want to recommend a sock that was either too expensive for the average person to buy, or would only last a couple of wears before becoming ruined.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Whereas decades ago, the term athletics referred only to a specific subset of activities, nowadays, athletics really can include any sort of physical activity, organized play, or something that gets your heart rate going.
When it comes to socks, the best kinds of socks for athletics really are those with moisture wicking capabilities, soft, flexible materials that maintain durability, and something that has a great on foot feel.
If you're running a marathon, all that time on your feet could be helped by a sock that has extra support throughout the arch, while those who snowshoe could want to consider a sock made from merino wool. It's all up to what you get into!
Other Factors to Consider
The “Best Athletic Socks” list is here to help show you what is out there and how it is performing. It is also here to give you the details you may not see written on the wrapper, as they say, that will make you feel good about your purchase. Whatever the outcome is for your choice, remember one thing: a sock has never won or lost a game for you.
It can help or hinder, but at the end of the day, you are the athlete and the sock is just tagging along for the ride!
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What’s the difference in athletic socks and my everyday socks?
Depending on what type of socks you wear on a daily basis there may or may not be a huge difference. If you wear dress socks to the office and try to wear them to your weekly basketball game you will find soggy, slippery, feet that are causing you pain and slippage during the game.
Athletic socks are structured to support the athlete. They are padded and designed to keep your feet dry and in place while participating in your chosen activity. Technology has played a large role in the innovation currently used in athletic socks.
Performance is key and if you try a pair of athletic socks rather than your everyday socks you will see the difference immediately.
q: What is the best athletic sock material for odor control?
When it comes to odor control, what you are really looking for is moisture control. Sweaty feet equal smelly feet. As we all know, it’s not just your feet that produce a foul odor, it’s your socks and shoes as well.
Merino wool has an amazing sweat-wicking capability. Moving moisture away from your foot and allowing it to evaporate quickly helps reduce odor. The more moisture is moved the less smell you will find in your socks and shoes.
While Merino wool is the number one choice for odor control, other options would be a polyester blend or other synthetic blend made for moisture control. Our guide offers many options in athletic socks that have great odor control capabilities.
q: What are athletic compression socks?
Compression socks put pressure on certain points of the foot and leg to prevent swelling and increase circulation. This helps the muscles recover and perform at top levels. Exceptionally good for people on their feet all day, as they keep the blood and fluid flowing as they should.
Compression also gives great support to the wearer. For example, compression around the arch of the foot, which is commonly seen in athletic socks, gives support to the arch and helps keep you comfortable and safe from things like stress fractures.
q: Is caring for my athletic socks any different than my regular socks?
We know a lot of things we buy in life require special care to not get ruined in the washer or dryer. Like most things you definitely want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for care. Most of the socks in our guide are able to be washed just like you would your day to day socks.
Be aware that shrinking can be an issue depending on what the sock is made of. If there is a lot of elastic you will want to take care when drying.
A very hot setting can cause damage to elastic. All in all, you are safe to wash most socks as you normally would, always double check the materials used and what the care instructions say.
q: What can I do about my slipping athletic socks?
First you need to think about where you sock sits. A sock that sits mid-calf will always fall down. This is the widest part of your leg and it’s difficult for any sock to grip it. If a taller sock is what you seek, keep it up with an over the calf sock that sits just below the knee.
Like your socks a little shorter and having problems with them sliding into your shoes? Try an ankle sock with a tab. The tab not only makes it easy to put on it also sits outside of the shoe and helps the sock stay in place. Tabs are usually thicker than the sock helping to keep them on the outside of the shoe.
With any sock, you want to make sure there is the right amount of elastic in the right place. Support around the arch and the ankle will help keep your sock in place during all of your activities. A great fit where the elastic is snug but not cutting off circulation will have your socks staying just where you need them.