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Best Running Socks Reviewed & Rated

last updated Jul 25, 2019

We’ve all heard the importance of having the right running shoe; but, what about the best running socks? The perfect one protects your feet from blisters as well as dirt and debris; it also helps your feet stay cool. Unfortunately, the one downside about all good running pairs is that they usually come with a hefty price tag. Athletic models can range anywhere from ten dollars to thirty dollars for a single pair. When spending more money on a single item, we all want to make sure we’re making an investment that’s going to last and make our lives better. This is why we’ve gone ahead and selected the best running pairs that will give you only the highest quality performance with the best value.

In a Hurry? The socks for running winner after 17 hrs of research

icon
Rockay Accelerate
99.8/100 our score
Compression
100
Breathability
100
Support
100
Materials
100
Comfort
99
Rockay Accelerate
Why is it better?

Organic Merino Wool

Mesh Ventilation Zones

Tight Elastic Top

Padded Toe Box

Seamless Design

Supportive Arch

Left and Right Sock

Watch Video Review
In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Rockay Accelerate
Test Winner: Rockay Accelerate
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
18
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1378
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
17
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
20
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
Ana Rockov
By Ana Rockov:

The latest update to this article replaces one item and adds a Bottom Line section with a quick summary of the most important information you will need when shopping for running socks. Other improvements include shortening the Criteria for Evaluation, so you can find everything you need with more ease.

Sorting Options
Compression Breathability Support Materials Comfort Use By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99.8
Compression
100 %
Breathability
100 %
Support
100 %
Materials
100 %
Comfort
99 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
Rockay Link
$14.95
See Deal
Amazon Link
$15.95
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95
Use
97 %
Breathability
93 %
Support
95 %
Materials
94 %
Comfort
96 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
Amazon Link
$13.00
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.6
Use
90 %
Breathability
94 %
Support
93 %
Materials
95 %
Comfort
91 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
Amazon Link
$15.99
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
Use
88 %
Breathability
91 %
Support
93 %
Materials
91 %
Comfort
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
Amazon Link
$12.00
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
Use
91 %
Breathability
90 %
Support
87 %
Materials
94 %
Comfort
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
Amazon Link
$18.95
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.4
Use
86 %
Breathability
90 %
Support
91 %
Materials
87 %
Comfort
88 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
Amazon Link
$29.99
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87
Use
89 %
Breathability
87 %
Support
88 %
Materials
85 %
Comfort
86 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
Amazon Link
$13.00
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84
Use
83 %
Breathability
85 %
Support
86 %
Materials
82 %
Comfort
84 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
Amazon Link
$14.95
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.2
Use
80 %
Breathability
81 %
Support
83 %
Materials
82 %
Comfort
85 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
Amazon Link
$13.00
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.4
Use
79 %
Breathability
80 %
Support
78 %
Materials
75 %
Comfort
80 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.08.19)
Amazon Link
$16.75
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Rockay Accelerate Rockay Accelerate
  • Balega Enduro V-Tech Balega Enduro V-Tech
  • Feetures! Elite Max Cushion Feetures! Elite Max Cushion
  • Injinji Run 2.0 Injinji Run 2.0
  • SmartWool PhD Run Light Elite SmartWool PhD Run Light Elite
  • Mudgear Compression Mudgear Compression
  • Balega Blister Resist Balega Blister Resist
  • Darn Tough Double Cross Darn Tough Double Cross
  • Balega Hidden Comfort Balega Hidden Comfort
  • Vitalsox VT-1211 Vitalsox VT-1211
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Expert Interviews & Opinions
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

10 Best Running Socks

1. Rockay Accelerate

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
99.8
Rockay Accelerate
Amazon Link
Compression
100
Breathability
100
Support
100
Materials
100
Comfort
99
best offer for today
more shops
Amazon Link
$15.95
Rockay Link
$14.95
See Deal
Pros:

Organic Merino Wool

Mesh Ventilation Zones

Tight Elastic Top

Padded Toe Box

Seamless Design

Supportive Arch

Left and Right Sock

Cons:

Sizes Run Small

The Rockay Accelerate offers advanced breathability, comfort, arch support, and fit. You won't have to worry about it staying in place, so you will be able to run extra miles without a care in the world. This model also features specific areas that are thinner to ensure excellent airflow which helps keep your feet cool and comfortable no matter the conditions. This is one of the highest rated pairs of running specific gear, with lots of satisfied customers, so you can rest assured you're investing in a quality product. Check out what others are saying.

Read more

The heel and toe of the Rockay Accelerate provide the extra padding needed to ensure they are long lasting and keep you comfortable regardless of how far you go. Heel striking can decrease the life span of your favorite sock so the added padding helps keep you wearing it longer and running farther. Also, the increased padding in the toe and heel add to the overall comfort you will find in this option with Rockay socks.

The added material of taller models can add to the overall heat of your run, and the weight of heavier pairs can lead to increased leg fatigue. The no-show design of these helps keep you light and cool. With features built in to stay in their place you won't have to worry about them sliding down and the blisters that follow. The Rockay Accelerate costs a bit more than other models listed in our guide. However, with advanced features to keep you not only cool in warm weather but warm in cool weather you are sure to love them. Also, they give a runner what they need in the category of arch support and durability. All of these increase the value of this choice exponentially.

2. Balega Enduro V-Tech

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95
Balega Enduro V-Tech
Amazon Link
Use
97
Breathability
93
Support
95
Materials
94
Comfort
96
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$13.00
Pros:

Mesh Construction

Elastane Material

Reinforced Toe

Heel Tab

Cons:

Sizes Run Large

These athletic quarter-socks have been constructed using Balega's special DryNamix fibers, keeping your feet cool and moisture free throughout even the toughest runs. The V-Tech compression offers extra support and comfort for your heels and arches, while the extra deep heel keeps the item from sliding. The fit is form-fitting, making these an absolutely great choice for most runners.

Read more

Balega's specially engineered Drynamix fibers are produced right here in the United States, and were developed to increase breathability and moisture management. This is especially important for those who cover long distances or train in hot weather conditions, as these are instances when the amount of sweat you produce increases. Seeing that moist environments lead to bacterial growth, ultimately leading to odor, a product that helps stop this is a great investment.

These extra deep heel pockets were designed to give the Blaga Enduro V-Tech an even better fit. Not only will they cover the sensitive area at the back of your heel, preventing shoes from cutting into your skin, rubbing, or even causing blisters, but the pockets will also prevent these from sliding down while you're out pounding the pavement. The price of these is relatively low for a running model. A good bargain for somebody who wants to try specialty foot gear without breaking the bank.

3. Feetures! Elite Max Cushion

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.6
Feetures! Elite Max Cushion
Amazon Link
Use
90
Breathability
94
Support
93
Materials
95
Comfort
91
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$15.99
Pros:

Seamless Toe

Compression Zones

iWick Polyester Blend

High Tab Heel

Cons:

Inconsistent Sizing

A product designed with comfort in mind, the Elite Max Cushion is brought to us by Feetures! These boast both extreme comfort and blister protection. They come in a variety of fun colors to brighten up your run. The iWick fibers should keep your feet dry during a harder run, without sacrificing softness.

Read more

This specially designed sock provides extra compression around your arches. The socks are designed with the addition of Sock-lock technology, an innovative way to fit your feet without slipping or sliding during your run, so you never have to break stride.

The special iWick fibers used to make these were designed both for maximum comfort and protection. They are softer and provide more cushioning than other Feetures! Elite socks. An additional benefit of this material is the moisture management you will certainly enjoy. These socks are very reasonably priced for the comfort and protection they provide. If you're planning on investing the money in a great product, these will be a solid choice.

4. Injinji Run 2.0

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
Injinji Run 2.0
Amazon Link
Use
88
Breathability
91
Support
93
Materials
91
Comfort
92
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$12.00
Pros:

Cushioned

Arch Support

Lycra Material

Anatomical Toe Design

Mesh Toes

Cons:

Sizes Not True To Fit

These somewhat silly looking socks are excellent for keeping your feet comfortable during your treadmill session. These are lightweight and the top is made of a mesh fabric that aids in ventilation. The specially designed toe allows for your feet to splay more naturally during a hard run. The heel tab helps prevent sliding and chafing on your ankle.

Read more

At the top of the cuff, the Injinji Run features dual welt band with extra compression. This extra durable cuff helps keep your sock from slipping and your shoe from rubbing against your heel. A raised Achilles tab is added for additional protection from blisters.

What differentiates the Injinji Run from other models listed is the Five Toe System Technology. Each toe is seamless, allowing for extra comfort while also allowing your toes to align more naturally. The anatomical design helps ensure a closer fit and prevent blisters. The range in price may startle you, but the higher prices are for packs of multiple items. These are very reasonably priced. If you buy a single pair and like them, investing in a three pack may be a good idea.

5. SmartWool PhD Run Light Elite

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
SmartWool PhD Run Light Elite
Amazon Link
Use
91
Breathability
90
Support
87
Materials
94
Comfort
92
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$18.95
Pros:

Merino Wool Composition

Gender Specific Ventilation

Shock Absorption System

Flexible Ankle Zone

Virtually Seamless Toe

Achilles Tab

Cons:

Unsuitable for High Shoes

Expensive

Those looking for the best possible product know important it is for manufacturers to do their research and go through trial and error on order to provide you with athletic equipment that does a great job. The SmartWool PhD Run Light Elite is one such item, designed to offer the best possible fit, help absorb shock from impact, as well as to provide gender-specific ventilation. It’s available in several heights, so you can choose the one that works best with your footwear, and comes in four simple color choices.

Read more

The materials used in the PhD Run Light Elite are quite simple, and have all been chosen due to their functionality. With this product, you get 56% Merino Wool for breathability and moisture management, 41% nylon for durability and athletic performance, and a 3% elastane that ensures the best possible fit in-shoe. These are machine washable, so you won’t have to worry about complicated maintenance procedures, and will dry quickly, so you always have a pair ready.

The benefits of the PhD Run Light Elite are multiple: the fit system includes a flex zone at the ankle that allows you to move without any discomfort at all. Ventilation is ensured through mesh zones at the top of the foot, allowing moist air to exit, and fresh to enter, while a Light Elite cushioning system located in the forefoot and heel helps absorb shock for longer runs, without creating bulk and changing the fit of your sneakers. As for cost association, this product ranks high on this list, but that is to be expected from well made items such as this one. Plus, with the right care, it will last for months, even years.

6. Mudgear Compression

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.4
Mudgear Compression
Amazon Link
Use
86
Breathability
90
Support
91
Materials
87
Comfort
88
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$29.99
Pros:

Compression Zone Technology

Padded Heel

Synthetic

Padded Toe Box

Padded Calf

Cons:

Sizes Run Small

These knee-high compression socks were designed to be worn during obstacle courses and mud runs, making them more than tough enough to handle anything the trail you're running on can throw at them. The graduated compression helps prevent muscle fatigue while promoting circulation. Moisture-wicking and blister prevention makes this an excellent pair to wear on any run while remaining comfortable enough to wear around the house.

Read more

The graduated compression helps foster blood flow in the legs. It's great for anyone with circulation problems, not just runners. It also helps reduce swelling and muscle fatigue after a hard run. The amount of compression is not the same at all parts of the cuff, so you get more at the foot and around the ankle, while a more comfortable amount is present at the top of your calf and below the knee.

The moisture wicking material is supplemented by an extraordinary quick drainage design that will shed water and sweat away quickly, keeping your feet light and dry through even the muddiest of mud runs. These are definitely one of the more expensive options on this list. However, if you’re looking for a quality compression pair that can take a beating, these are an excellent option.

7. Balega Blister Resist

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87
Balega Blister Resist
Amazon Link
Use
89
Breathability
87
Support
88
Materials
85
Comfort
86
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$13.00
Pros:

Drynamix Fabric

Seamless Toe

High Heel Tab

Arch Support

Moisture Wicking

Machine Washable

Cons:

Prematurely Stretch

An excellent pair for training in the wintertime. The blend of Drynamix and mohair keep your feet both warm without letting them get too soggy during a winter run. Targeted compression around the arches and a seamless toe ensure a comfortable and secure fit. The deep heel and high heel tab help keep this sock from sliding down during your jog.

Read more

The blend of mohair and Drynamix fibers allows for excess moisture to be wicked away while keeping your feet warm during the more frigid months. This added amount of insulation is especially important at the beginning of your run when your body still hasn't generated the desired amount of heat to keep you safe and comfortable.

The specially designed heel tab and extra deep pocket help keep this product in place. This helps prevent blisters, and worse having to stop to adjust your footwear every few feet. Additional benefits of the Blister Resist include arch support, a seamless toe, and added cushioning for one of the best models available for purchase. As for the price point, these are an excellent value. They can get a little pricey, but given the quality of the product, the few extra dollars you would spend are well worth it.

8. Darn Tough Double Cross

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84
Darn Tough Double Cross
Amazon Link
Use
83
Breathability
85
Support
86
Materials
82
Comfort
84
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$14.95
Pros:

Merino Wool

Waterproof

Light Cushioned Heel

Seamless Construction

Polypropylene Material

Cons:

Sizes Run Small

This Darn Tough Merino Wool sock is a no-show tab model. It is lightweight and sports a seamless construction. The fit is smooth and comfortable, and it features lightweight cushioning which is just as effective as the heavier version used in their other Merino wool model. It’s shorter than most items listed and helps keep your ankles and legs cool while you run.

Read more

Darn Tough’s Merino wool fabric comes with naturally occurring antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. This wool reduces the likelihood of you developing athlete’s foot and odors in your shoes from bacteria.

This unique all-weather model keeps your feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It also dries quickly, so you can run in rain and snow without discomfort. At the top of the foot, it features a designated breathability area, especially important in moisture management, while the overall fit is great and well worth a try. You can find this model in the low-to-middle price range. It’s affordable and comes with an unconditional lifetime guarantee. That makes it a great deal for a comfortable, high-quality product.

9. Balega Hidden Comfort

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.2
Balega Hidden Comfort
Amazon Link
Use
80
Breathability
81
Support
83
Materials
82
Comfort
85
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$13.00
Pros:

Reinforced Heel

Cushioned Sole

No Toe Seam

Affordable Price

Cons:

Sizes Run Small

Balega has proven to be a trusted brand on this list, and their Hidden Comfort model is no different. Like the other Balega pairs on this list, they have an extra deep heel to help prevent them from slipping, no toe seam, and are made of Drynamix fibers. The top is made of a thin mesh and the heel and toe are reinforced and cushioned for a more comfortable run.

Read more

The extra-plush sole along with the reinforced heel and toe make for an extremely comfortable running model. These are great for people who want to wear something comfortable while also enjoying the protection.

An improved Elastane formula allows these to fit closer and offer more protection than ever before. Along with the non-slip tab, this should ensure they stay right where you want them during your run. The cost is low for such a high-quality item. Good if you want a solid and reliable pair for a lower price than some of the more expensive competitors.

10. Vitalsox VT-1211

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.4
Vitalsox VT-1211
Amazon Link
Use
79
Breathability
80
Support
78
Materials
75
Comfort
80
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$16.75
Pros:

Synthetic Materials

Padded Calf

Padded Toe Box

Spandex

Antibacterial

Cons:

Sizes Run Large

Prematurely Wear Out

These knee-high compression socks are great for increasing circulation and relieving tension. The stretchy material they are made with allows them to fit the user's leg without being constricting or feeling tight. Quick drying and moisture controlled, the material used during creation helps to repel odor and bacteria growth. And one of the biggest benefits athletes can have from these is the fact that they can speed up recovery time.

Read more

These were designed to increase fresh blood to your damaged tissues, allowing for better enhanced athletic performance. Since your feet are the furthest away from your heart, it's important to stimulate proper circulation during exercise.

Made with special materials, this model will actually inhibit bacterial growth. This is a feature that isn't found as often in other pairs. Silver drystat material allows moisture to evaporate and replaces it with an air-flow that provides optimum foot health. Less sweat build-up in the shoe means less odor, bacteria, and blisters. An average cost for high-length compression hosiery. These types of socks can be very expensive. However, this brand offers a very reasonable price for the quality of care provided.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Compression

Your feet are the farthest body part away from your heart. This means that it takes longer for the blood in your veins to fight against gravity and travel to the heart. For people who have bad circulation or are recovering from leg and foot injuries, compression socks and stockings are a great way to help replenish oxygen in the veins. When your blood is able to flow better in your body, recovery and healing time is able to occur much quicker than normal.

People with poor circulation can be at risk for potential blood clots, leg swelling, and fatigue. The use of compression hosiery can help to prevent these health issues from occurring in the future. Those also diagnosed with DVT, varicose veins or leg ulcers commonly use this type of product to help keep their blood flowing better in the body and ease symptoms.

The tightly (but not too tight) woven material is specially designed to help squeeze walls of the veins and leg tissues, allowing for blood to be pushed back upwards to the heart. For athletes, and runners especially, this feature is great for keeping your legs and feet at top performance during movement. This better circulation allows runners to maximize their full potential instead of having their legs tire out too early in their exercise.

Cooling down from a workout is extremely important too. You never want to get your heart rate pumping and blood flow increases, then just stop and take a sit down for a few hours. Compression socks are great for after a long run or workout. As you begin cooling down, your blood flow can stay consistent in your body and allow your body to ease into relaxation. You only want to wear these type of socks for short amounts of time though when inactive.

Benefits of Compression in Running Socks

  • Improved circulation
  • Reduced swelling
  • Reduced recovery time after a run
  • Reduced leg and foot fatigue from running
  • Arch support
  • Breathability

    One of the most uncomfortable feelings can be having your feet soaking in your own sweat. Not to mention, the odor that comes with this. That little squeak you may hear in your footwear every time you take a step is because your feet are too wet, but don’t worry this can be completely avoided.

    Physical exercise takes its toll on the body and of course when pushing ourselves to work harder, we’re all going to sweat. For runners especially, who are constantly relying on their feet to help them perform, wearing hosiery that keeps your feet dry and comfortable is extremely important.

    Almost all companies have created fabrics that are specially designed to help ‘wick’ away moisture and keep your feet cool. These fabrics help to evaporate moisture instead of allowing it to soak inside the material. On top of that, a lot of them are also equipped with other features like mesh ventilation inserts for breathability and air circulation.

    If your feet stay consistently wet, your skin becomes more soft and vulnerable to potential health concerns. When your feet are able to stay dry, you’ll almost never have to worry about getting blisters or dealing with bacterial infections.

  • Benefits of Moisture Management
    Preventing Fungal Growth: Moisture Wicking materials and prevent the growth of fungi which are often the cause of Athlete's foot.
  • Preventing Bacterial Growth: Bacterial growth from hot, wet feet produces smelly odors. While it’s impossible to completely prevent smelly feet, it is possible to reduce the amount of smell and keep your shoes fresh longer.
  • Blister Prevention: Moisture causes your skin to soften, thus making it more susceptible to blistering. A pair of hosiery that allows you to stay dry can help prevent blisters, saving you from a lot of discomfort.
  • Comfort: Wet shoes and feet are horribly uncomfortable. Moisture-managing running gear and shoes can prevent most of that discomfort and give you a happier run.
  •  

    For maximum breathability, look for a pair with a mesh top that will promote airflow, and will keep you dry throughout your workout.

    Support

    Many running and athletic shoe companies have released what they call “stabilizing shoes.” These shoes have maximum levels of support built into them from the sole to the frame. What many people don’t realize is that socks can provide support, as well. Most of the time, elastic bands, specialized compression zones, and ridging are used around the arch of the foot and around the ankle to support you when you run and prevent running-related injury.

    Ankle support: Running gear which provides ankle support can prevent injuries such as rolling your ankle. It also provides a sort of exoskeleton for weak ankles to support them and keep you running safely.

    Arch Support: Those suffering from plantar fasciitis know arch support is vital. The lack of an arch in footwear can cause health issues, swelling and high amounts of discomfort. If you’re wearing shoes and socks with the proper amount of support, these are concerns you’ll never have to worry about.

    Models without arches create extra pressure on the ball and heel of the foot. That's why it's important to find the best pair. This excess pressure can cause stress and make your feet feel hot. The potential for calluses and blisters also rises with the flatness of the arch.

    When an arch is provided, your foot is able to use all available space instead of putting pressure on those two ballpoints. Your arch can then be used to aid in the flow movement during running and prevent fatigue on the foot. This is just another way for athletes to maximize their performance.

    A lot of running socks nowadays come with some form of ridging or elastic around the middle to provide a flexible arch support. This feature is great for fitting as the flexible material has the ability to form to the user’s foot. No longer do you have to stress about a loose fit.

    This arch support is also great for keeping your foot gear in the same place without moving around in your shoes. The firm fit creates a very light and pleasant feel on the foot. It almost feels like the socks aren’t even there sometimes; they’re that comfortable!

    Materials

    Some people don’t realize that this can be the factor that completely changes the feel and protection of the sock. It is important to know what kinds of materials provide the types of features you’re looking for during your run.

    The most common material for this type of product is usually cotton. Do everything you can to avoid it, at all costs. They’re usually soft and thin but they’ll turn your feet into a swamp by soaking in all the moisture from your foot. When cotton gets wet, it stays wet. Good news is most regular, everyday pairs are made with cotton and the athletic brands that create running socks tend to completely steer clear of this material.

    Surprisingly enough, synthetic materials are actually the best for providing total moisture and air circulation. Common materials like polyester and acrylic are great for wicking away moisture upon direct contact. These materials allow moisture to evaporate and for your foot to stay cool.

    A lot of companies also create a custom blend of their own materials, this is something that makes the design brand-specifically unique. These blends are commonly composed of materials that aid in moisture management and providing air circulation.

    Another type of fabric that’s commonly used is some form of a mesh insert or mesh woven into the actual material itself. This great feature is usually flexible and provides the proper air circulation needed to keep your feet dry and cool. The better air-flow created in the socks also allows for less bacteria growth and an overall healthier foot.

    When choosing the socks for our best list we made sure to provide a variety of socks made from different materials. You’ll be able to find some thicker materials made for keeping your feet warm during winter as well as thinner, formfitting materials made for managing moisture. Here is a list of materials found commonly in running socks:

    Lycra: Commonly found in compression models, Lycra is a material which is stretch-resistant. It squeezes on your feet and legs for the medical benefits of compression and returns to its original shape after being worn and washed. Lycra- also known as Spandex and Elastane- is one of the best compression materials.

    Merino Wool: This type of wool comes from the Merino sheep and it is an excellent temperature-regulating material. Merino Wool has natural antibacterial and moisture-wicking properties to keep your feet dry and reduce odors. This material is especially breathable and perfect for a run in any weather.

    Nylon: This material is a great moisture-wicking material, as it is very absorbent and moves moisture away from the foot. It’s also easy to clean. However, it’s usually not the sole material found in a running sock.

    Polyester: Polyester can be found in many garments. This fiber is more breathable and absorbs less water than Nylon. It sheds the water wicked from your feet easily. It doesn’t wrinkle and it’s easy to clean and maintain. It isn’t as strong as Nylon, though.

    Acrylic: Another synthetic fiber, Acrylic is lightweight, dries quickly, and is warm. This material is also known for its softness. It’s a comfortable material to wear and its moisture-wicking properties help it manage temperature and keep your feet comfortable on a run.

    Olefin: This material is a synthetic polymer. Olefin is durable and water-resistant. It’s an excellent moisture-wicking material, as well.

    Comfort

    For running you will want to invest in socks that provide a bit of cushioning. Some materials naturally provide a thick cushioning effect. This is a good choice for a light run or during cold winter months. Other models come equipped with padding specifically on the ball and heel of the foot to ease pressure and help to avoid friction caused during movement.

    The more padding between your foot and the shoe is good for avoiding all types of injuries, even small ones like blisters. Blisters are caused by soft skin rubbing against materials too often and is usually very uncomfortable. Some items also come with a padded ankle tab so when you’re running, the movement of your shoe won’t rub up against your ankles.

    Crew-cut and knee models are usually equipped with all-around cushioning which is great for the runners who prefer high-top running shoes. The taller cushioning helps to increase circulation in similar ways to a compression sock while also providing padding around the leg to keep you warm and comfortable.

    You don’t have to sacrifice a cushion for moisture control either; almost all best running socks with cushioning are also made with moisture-wicking materials. Socks created with padding on the ball and heel of the foot will usually provide mesh inserts which allow airflow and temperature regulation.

    There were a couple of methods that we used to determine just how comfortable a product was going to be.

  • Sizing: Look for products that come in your size, as socks that are too little or too big may cause comfort issues.
  • User reviews: Previous users are eager to let you know if a product was uncomfortable. That’s why it's always a good idea to go through user reviews, to see if there are any issues with the product.
  • Expert Interviews & Opinions

    Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
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    #1
    ico Compression
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    ico Breathability
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    #3
    ico Support
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    ico Materials
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    #5
    ico Comfort
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    expert tips icon
    Socks For All Seasons

    Running socks are supposed to have more functionality that simple ankle socks, so that they support the foot muscles to run, but also maintain breathability to wick away moisture build up during exercise.
    When thinking about your next pair, consider the weather you'll be using them in. Knee high running socks are great for colder weather, or even wet mudding conditions, while ankle socks are perfect for summertime heat.

    Sock Shrinkage

    Sometimes the materials running socks are made from can be susceptible to shrinking in the wash or dryer. To help prevent this, let your socks air dry after being washed in warm water. Avoid using hot or cold water cycles.

    Other Factors to Consider

    Application

    Care & Upkeep Requirements
    If you invest ten dollars or more in a pair of running socks, you want them to last you for a good, long while. However, if you don’t properly care for them, you can sabotage yourself and wear them down faster. When you are shopping for hosiery, you likely want a sock that is easy to clean and dry.

  • Machine Washable: Depending on the materials used, you may have to wash them by hand every time you wear them! Who has time to do that between running and work and other responsibilities? That’s why you need a model you can toss in the wash with your other laundry and go back to your other responsibilities.
  • Dryer safe: Once you have washed your socks, be it in the washing machine or by hand, you probably want to toss them in the dryer so it would be faster to dry them. For your own convenience, you should look for a pair which is dryer safe.
  • Some people don’t mind having to hand wash and air dry their running gear, but it can be pretty inconvenient. If the other features of the model are worth having to hand wash and air-dry them, then that’s great! However, there are great alternatives which must be hand washed and they can have just as many benefits.

    Style

    Forefoot Design
    Believe it or not, the design of the forefoot toe area of your sock can make or break its effectiveness. Running hosiery, like running shoes, comes in a variety of styles and builds. Most are built with no-seam toes, toe pockets, or low profile toe seams. Each has benefits.

  • No-Seam Toe: Consider this: you’re out on a run and you’ve been running for some time, but your toes are starting to get sore and irritated. The culprit? The toe seam is rubbing against the top or front of your toes and it’s starting to hurt and itch. Manufacturers know that abrasive toe seams are uncomfortable, so many have adopted a no-seam toe design.
  • Toe socks: Besides being a unique fashion statement for sleepovers, toe socks have benefits, just like toe shoes. Using these models with toe shoes is especially recommended. These would also be just fine to wear in a traditionally shaped shoe, as the traditionally shaped shoe wouldn’t force them to mold into a totally different shape. Furthermore, they are cooler than traditional models, which is great for hot temperatures.
  • Low Profile Toe Seam: Some manufacturers opt to simply lower the toe seam so that it doesn’t rub painfully against the top or front of your toes. This can be effective for reducing discomfort and make your run more comfortable than normal toe seams.
  • Length
    When choosing your running sock, you must consider the length you want to wear. Some people prefer long models and others prefer the shortest socks possible. The length should be considered because longer items offer more protection to your legs if you’re going to be obstacle course racing or running in a cold environment. If you’re running in a hot environment, you probably want to have shorter socks to help keep you cool, even if they have built-in temperature management properties.

  • No Show: No show pairs are ones that usually cannot be seen above the top of your shoe. On the whole, they are cooler, but they may slide down into your shoe and off your foot as you run. If you are going to wear no-show socks, make sure you pick a pair that won’t slide down and fits properly.
  • Micro Crew: These are a little longer than the no-show ones. They reach just above the shoe but don’t reach the ankle.
  • Mini Crew: These come up just above the ankle.
  • Quarter Crew: These climb one-quarter of the way up your shins.
  • Three-Quarters Crew: These reach three-quarters of the way up your shins.
  • Crew: Crew socks reach across your shins. This is beneficial for added protection for your ankles and shins from the elements and any bumps or scrapes as you run.
  • Mid-Calf Sleeve: These reach halfway up the calves. They’re warmer, as they cover more of your legs, but they can also offer additional protection and padding. Most compression running models are mid-calf sleeves or knee-high socks.
  • Knee high: These reach just above the knee. Some regular running socks are this long, but most that reach this high are compression products.
  • Brand

    There is a science that goes into the art of running, and more experienced brands know the exact things that athletes need from this type of gear.

    Just like you need special support in your sneakers, you are also going to need that same level of support in your gear. There were a few big brands that stood out from the rest when you consider their years of research as well as innovative and smart designs.

    Rockay: This was one of the big standout brands because it is a company that got its start manufacturing socks. Rockay knows exactly what it is that athletes need to perform at their best. They always use top of the line materials such as merino wool that will be able to take quite a beating and have built-in features that are going to keep your feet happy and healthy so that you can push past that extra mile. We liked this brand because it knows a thing or two about running, and puts those ideas into practice with their line of products.

    Saucony: Saucony was one of the first pioneers in the fitness gear world, and they were founded in 1898. This company is one of the first manufacturers of footwear for those running marathons and competing in the Olympics, so they know a few things about the very specific needs of athletes. We love the products from this brand because their designs are clearly made for those that are looking to push their limits.

    Nike: Nike is a brand that quickly became a household name since its founding in 1964. Nike offers users exceptional quality of materials, as well as features that will help them push past their personal goals. While their products are very functional, they also bring to the table a higher level of style that you may not find with other products.

    Bottom Line

    If you've decided to invest in a piece of equipment that will make your running sessions more comfortable and effective, you've definitely made the right choice for that equipment to be a pair of quality socks. While most people decide to use regular cotton models, you will find that those designed for the activity specifically help you achieve a higher level of performance, while also providing a plethora of other benefits.

    Regardless of which model listed above you decide to try, you'll find that the key to success is choosing a pair of the right size, investing in quality materials such as Merino Wool and getting the perfect height for your running shoes.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    q: Are running models the same as athletic ones?

    a:

    No. Athletic socks are a good all-around choice for basic exercise but running models are specifically designed for the long periods of pressure put on your feet due to constant movement. Running ones have much better moisture control which is great because the more you move, the more your feet are going to sweat. The fabric used for running models is extremely breathable, usually flexible and helps keep your feet dry.

    q: Is it better to wear thin or thick ones?

    a:

    This is more of a personal preference, however each type targets different features. Thicker ones can be better for cooler winter months or for those who like extra padding around the foot. Thinner models are good for those who like a little extra room in their shoes or those who tend to have sweaty feet. Thin socks provide a little less padding than thicker socks but again, it’s all really just a comfort preference.

    q: What makes a ‘good’ running model?

    a:

    Many things can contribute to making a good quality running sock. For those who like low-cuts, having a padded ankle tab is necessary for keeping them from falling down and preventing blisters. For those who like thin pairs, having padding around the heel and ball areas of the foot is essential for providing support and preventing friction. Other features that make a good quality product are moisture management, seamless toe, arch support, and breathability.

    q: When should I buy new running socks?

    a:

    This will vary by pair, but generally the following conditions would mean it’s time to invest in a new pair:

  • They no longer fit properly. Generally, this means they’ve become loose. This isn’t limited to compression models. Non-compression ones also wear out and the fit changes.
  • The padding and cushioning have worn out.
  • There are holes, rips, or tears.
  • q: How long do these tend to last?

    a:

    It varies depending on how much you run, the materials used, and how well you take care of them.

    q: How can I extend their lifespan?

    a:

    Only use them for running. This isn’t because they aren’t good for other purposes, it just means that they will wear down more slowly because you’re wearing them less. You can also extend their lifespan by taking good care of them. This means cleaning and drying them according to manufacturer specifications.

    q: How tight of a fit should I get?

    a:

    Your running socks, especially compression ones, should never cause pain. If a pair is so tight that it hurts, you need to remove it immediately and get a larger size. You want the fit to be tight and secure enough, however, to reduce slipping and bunching up at the heel and toe. Socks that slip and bunch up are uncomfortable and can cause blistering and pain.

    q: How do I wash them?

    a:

    Some have special care instructions which can be found on the manufacturer’s website and possibly in the packaging materials. Some are washing machine friendly but others are not, so it would be a good idea to do some research before you toss your new running socks in the washer.

  • Never bleach them.
  • Turn them inside out before you put them in the washing machine.
  • q: Can I dry them in the dryer?

    a:

    You can, but depending on the type, it may not be recommended. Always check the manufacturer’s website or the packaging so you can make sure your socks are dryer safe. If they are not, air dry them, but if they are dryer safe, use low heat.

    q: Can I use my running socks to participate in other sports?

    a:

    Yes, but it is recommended for the longevity of your socks to only use them for running.

    q: How do I prevent odor development?

    a:

    There are a couple of ways you can prevent odor development.

  • Wash them between runs.
  • Wear running shoes with high breathability.
  • Wear running shoes which have excellent moisture wicking properties.
  • q: Can I wear them to work?

    a:

    Yes, you can, but it is recommended to only use your running socks for running so they will last longer. Generally, people don’t see the socks you’re wearing when you’re out working unless you’re wearing shorts, a dress, a skirt, or dress shoes. So, if you’re wearing long pants and shoes that completely cover your socks, you can wear them to work in any work environment. Some careers lend themselves to running socks, such as being a physical education teacher and being a personal trainer.

    q: Are synthetic materials better than cotton?

    a:

    Overall, it’s always better to choose a synthetic material for socks rather than cotton.

    q: Can running socks prevent foot injuries?

    a:

    Models with cushion or padding can help prevent blisters while compression ones can help with circulation and aiding in recovery time.

    q: Should I buy running socks or running compression socks?

    a:

    That depends on your personal preference and needs. If you have been prescribed compression socks or stockings by a medical professional, you should look for a model with the appropriate amount of compression built in.

    If you have no medical reason to choose compression socks, then it’s completely up to you. Compression pairs are reported to provide many health benefits, even for people who don’t have vein disease, diabetes, or other health conditions that require wearing compression hosiery. If you want to cash in on those health benefits, then go for the compression ones.

    However, many people prefer shorter pairs or don’t like the squeezing feeling that compression socks give them. If you’re one of those people, you’d be better off investing in a regular pair of running socks.

    q: Which is better for running: long or short models?

    a:

    Again, this one is more of a personal preference. For those in colder areas or those who like to layer, long ones are probably a better choice. They help increase circulation and you’ll never really have to worry about your ankles rubbing against your shoes.

    Short ones are better for those who like to bring more attention to the shoe or those who don’t really like their socks to show. A downside is that they have more of a chance of falling down and your ankles can rub; this is why it’s important to find low-cut pairs that have a padded ankle tab.

    q: How necessary is a reinforced heel and toe?

    a:

    It’s not crucial, however, it is highly recommended. These reinforcements can help to better protect your feet as well as the material of the socks. Socks that aren’t reinforced in these areas will usually end up with some sort of hole after long-term wear.

    Sources

    1. Berkeley Wellness, Compression Stockings: A guide,
    2. Institute for Preventative Foot Health, Why Are Socks Important?,
    3. Socks Addict, Best Socks for Sweaty Feet,
    4. Very Well, The Best Socks for Running,,
    5. Renfro Socks, Cushion Socks,
    6. Active, ow to Choose the Best Running Socks,
    7. SocksAddict, Under the Microscope: Running Socks,
    8. Compression Stockings Site, Types of Compression Stockings,
    9. Blister Prevention, Moisture Wicking Socks,
    10. Outdoor Gear Lab, How to Choose Running Socks,
    11. Legs Therapy, How to Choose Running Socks by Length,
    12. The Sock Drawer, Sock Lengths,