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You can’t underestimate the importance of feet to the runner.

Your feet – how they feel and how much wear and tear they absorb – can make or break the quality of your laps.

As a runner, you gotta take care of your feet.

Gear-conscious runners buy special socks because their feet encounter some very special conditions. Whether it’s uncomfortable pressure points, arch strain, or sweaty, sweaty feet, there are many problems the best athletic socks could solve for runners.

Here are ten that do exactly that:

Contents

1. Rockay Accelerate Running Socks

A new high-performance sock made by runners, for runners.

Made from a blend featuring organic merino wool that is 100% mulesing free, these socks offer comfort, durability, and some of the best moisture wicking technology on the market.

Their compression-fit and arch supporting feel makes them an ideal choice for distance running, trail running, or sports like tennis and basketball.

Maybe the best feature of Rockay Socks is their anti-blister features. Whether it’s a pick-up game, a half marathon, or a long day of walking as a tourist, the padded heal and toe keep feet comfortable and socks dry and in place for the long haul.

Improve your performance with a sock that keeps your feet cool and comfortable and a company that cares about performance and durability.

2. ASICS Kayano Classic Quarter Socks

A respected name in fitness apparel, ASICS makes a wonderful line of socks for runners called Kayano Classic.

This run sock is snug without being excessively tight. It comes with built-in arch support, anatomically correct left and right socks, and mesh side panels for ventilation. Special “NanoGLIDE” knitting in the toe box and heel serves to smooth over surface-to-surface friction and wick away moisture.

Kayano Classic Quarter Socks are feature-rich for the money. Although they are made for high performance training and racing, these socks can also be used for more casual outings.

Many marathon runners swear by them. Just remember, if you have problems with overly tight socks for your size, consider up-sizing in these; they run small.

3. Drymax Run Hyper Thin Socks

The Drymax Run Hyper Thin Sock really is incredibly thin – as thin as a dime, to be precise. Billed as the “world’s lightest running socks,” it weighs a mere 10 grams in a size large.

This essential anti-fungal accessory will keep you nice and dry as one of the best socks for sweaty feet.

A competitive entry among the best athletic socks, Hyper Thins are constructed with a anti-slip wedge to keep your shoe from sucking them in. They’ve got breathable mesh for air flow, left-right anatomic fit, and an anti-blister system. They’re mostly olefin.

If you run in warm environs, need maximum moisture-wickage, or just feel more comfortable in thinner tubes, the Drymax Run Hyper Thins will quickly become your new best friend.

4. Thorlo Thick Cushion Running Crew Socks

Thorlo Thick Cushion Running Crew Socks have a therapeutic edge over competitors following the company’s research into the best possible run sock for sensitive feet.

Unlike Drymax Hyper Thins, these pups are padded, so don’t expect the thinnest sock on the block. What you can expect is the right amount of arch support for your cozy peds.

Thorlo socks are relatively thick without choking off airflow. They keep your feet warm in cold conditions. Their dominant material is the brand’s trademark “THOR.LON acrylic,” whose fibers promote resilience in the face of moisture.

Made for durability, their special weave helps them last longer than many of the best running socks.

5. Saucony Performance Socks

Saucony, a dependably high-quality maker of apparel for runners, offers well-tweaked sock designs that promote comfort and breathability. Take the brand’s line of Performance Socks, made for both men and women.

A relatively affordable premium sock made largely of polyester, Saucony Performance Socks provide desirable levels of moisture management, arch support, and lateral stability. There’s cushioning, too – a bit more than ASICS, for instance.

Saucony Performance Socks are considered one of the best socks for sweaty feet, and pretty stylish, too. If you run a lot, you’ll find socks of this caliber indispensable.

6. Feetures! High Performance Ultra Light Socks

Feetures! makes solid atheletic socks that are more affordable than many of today’s best running socks.

When you invest in a pair of Feetures! High Performance, you get numerous runner-friendly traits for your money. That includes ventilating fabric panels to wick moisture, seam-free toe closures, an anatomically correct right and left foot design, heel cushioning, and arch support.

The Feetures! High Performance Ultra Light sock is a good entry-level option for casual runners or those who refuse to pay more than $20 for socks. These socks are thin and have a high thread count. Get them if your top selection factors are price and breathable comfort.

7. Balega Hidden Comfort Tab Running Sock

This is a plush run sock, made by a company that pays attention to the finer details of wearer comfort. You’ll like them if you are ever annoyed by awkward toe seams, itchy fabrics, or socks that crumple into your shoe.

Beluga’s Hidden Comfort socks may be among the least annoying socks ever made. And they’re not as expensive as you might think.

Neither too thick or thin, Beluga’s Hidden Comfort run sock is made with an aerating polyester blend, deep heel pockets, and a soft, elastane-enhanced ‘best fit.’ Strategic cushioning makes them attractive to runners whose soles tend to take a lot of abuse during laps.

8. Thirty48 Running Socks

Thirty48 doesn’t make anything but athletic socks, including some of the best running socks out there. Thirty48 Running Socks are a good example of what the brand is capable of.

Fashionably correct running socks with lots of cushioning, Thirty48 Running Socks are moisture-wicking geniuses that look cute and protect against blisters.

They’ve got elastic arch support and padding for all the worst pressure points. Thirty48 Running Socks are available in a sassy rainbow of colors for savvy wardrobe matchability. Whether you’re a dude or a lady, there’s a style for you.

9. Darn Tough Vermont Merino Wool Ultra-Light Cushion Athletic Socks

If you’ve heard of the temperature-regulating benefits of merino wool, you may want to give Darn Tough a try.

Half merino wool, half synthetic materials, Darn Tough Vermont Athletic Socks are a popular pick with exceptional durability and multi-season appeal.

Tough yet soft, odor-controlling, and well-ventilated, these all-American duds are great for any kind of run. Packaged with an unconditional lifetime guarantee, they are clearly made by artisans who believe in their handiwork.

They are one of the toughest contenders among the best athletic socks.

10. The 2XU Compression Performance Run Sock

Runners like compression socks because they stimulate blood flow and provide therapeutic muscle support, in turn minimizing post-run soreness, swelling, and other types of muscle fatigue and injury.

Manufacturers have begun to seriously compete for compression-lovers’ loyalty. That’s the goal of the 2XU Compression Performance Run Sock. It’s like a moisture-wicking athletic sock and high-tech compression sleeve in one.

By “compression performance,” 2XU refers to innovations like the sock’s gradient of zone compression panels and 360-degree medical knit for maximum muscle containment.

A surprisingly lightweight nylon-elastane blend, the 2XU is a quality engineered product and one of the best compression socks available to the modern runner.

We’ve all spent years putting a lot of thought into our running shoes, but nowadays runners know to also focus on the socks they choose. A supermarket multipack of cotton trainer socks just won’t do, in 2018. The best running socks can keep blisters at bay, wick away sweat and give you an extra edge when it comes to distance and speed. Socks not engineered for purpose can’t compete.

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How to buy the best socks for running

Whether your biggest scourge is uncomfortable rubbing or damp, sweaty feet, positive reviews say you’re in good hands with each of our picks. If you’re after the best of the best though, that’s generally considered to be the SockMine GripLock, which, as its name suggests, stays firmly put while running thanks to woven-in silicon that keeps the sock in place and reduces the risk of rubbing, the biggest factor in painful blisters.

While you might be inclined to think that naturally breathable cotton is best, these days synthetic socks (or even better, synthetic socks with a hint of wool) have the edge with their specially formulated sports materials. To find the pair that’ll help you achieve your PB, keep reading below.

The best running socks, in order

1. SockMine GripLock

With silicone strands and super-light cushioning, these are our best running socks

Specifications

Best for: Low friction Material: Nylon, wool Size: S, M, L, XL Type: Low cut

Reasons to buy

+GripLock technology keeps socks in place+Light but cushioned

The SockMine GripLock sounds a bit of a Frankensock at first, but smitten reviewers found its various features presented a united front against discomfort while running. They feel lightweight on the foot, but still manage to pack in thick cushioning where it’s needed; they have a rubbery interior, but wick sweat away from the foot as well as any non-rubbery sock going, and weirdly, it all works.

The very best bit is the GripLock technology, the silicone weave on the sock’s interior that keeps everything in place and prevents rubbing, meaning no blisters.

2. Wigwam Men’s Sockmile Mark Pro Low Cut

Go that extra mile in these low-cut running socks

Best for: Wicking Material: Polyester, Tencel Size: S, M, L Type: Low cut +Cool colourways+Super-wicking Tencel

These low cut running socks are a great understated shape to wear with trainers that hit low on the ankle, while those anything-but-low-key Jamaican flag colours let you channel a certain lightning-fast athlete – hopefully, anyway.

The cushioned sole makes these socks useful on rougher terrain, so they’re great for trail runners, and the Dri-release Tencel material wicks moisture away from the foot like a champ. For dry, comfortable feet, no blisters and impeccable style, these seem to be a solid choice.

3. Nike Elite Lightweight No-Show Tab Socks

Sometimes a no-show can be a really good thing

Best for: Compression Material: Polyester, nylon Size: 3.5-5, 7-8.5, 9-10.5, 13-15 Type: Low cut +Lightweight but supportive+Good arch compression

Nike make some of our favourite running shoes, so it stands to reason they’d know their way around a sock too. The no-show design of these Nike trainer socks means you won’t feel sheepish about heading straight into Costa after your run, although if you’re feeling particularly showy, you can undo all that low-key groundwork and go for the Day-Glo yellow option.

They’re also particularly adept at wicking away sweat, and a dab hand at lightweight support, keeping you dry and comfortable with their Dri-FIT fabric and in good shape with snug-fitting arch compression.

4. Injinji Socks Run Midweight

Weird-looking but wonderful, these socks let you run as nature intended

Best for: Natural toe splay Material: Wool, polyester Size: S, M Type: Low cut +Allow for natural toe splay+Padded heel and metatarsal

No-one warned us that the toe sock trend would be back, but while these Injinji socks might look strange, they’re our best pair for wearing with barefoot or minimalist running shoes as their digit-wrapping design allows your toes to splay more naturally than they would in a mitten sock (as we’ve now decided they’re called).

One reviewer ran in them for a full 24 hours with no blisters to show for it, and a padded heel and metatarsal ensure your foot stays supported even if you’re enjoying a more stripped-back run.

5. Inov-8 Speed Sock Mid Twin Pack

Durable, dry and light, these are innovative socks for sure

Best for: Durable materials Material: Nylon, Spandex Size: S Type: Mid cut +Quick-drying+Great value two-pack

It’s highly recommended that you wear a fresh, clean pair of socks for every run, which is where this great value running sock twin-pack comes in handy. Frequent runners can keep a spare on hand, and trust the others to dry quickly while they’re out thanks to breathable, fast-wicking material that also keeps feet dry.

Users commented that the lightweight construction didn’t sacrifice comfort, and that they felt supported (and, crucially, blisterless) over the course of long runs.

6.Hilly Marathon Fresh Anklet

See off post-run funk with these stay-fresh socks

Best for: Support Material: Nylon Size: S, M, L, XL Type: Mid cut +Antimicrobial, anti-odour treatment +Heel and toe padding

Runners particularly prone to sweaty feet might want to consider running socks with woven-in antimicrobial technology, like these Hilly Marathon socks. The inclusion of the Polygiene treatment inhibits the growth of bacteria, which in turn leads to less funk, even after a strenuous session.

As well as being smell-reducing, reviewers found these socks to be fantastically supportive, with strategic padding under the heel and toes (ideal for those with sensitive feet) and extra support under the arch to reduce the risk of pain post-run.

How to Choose the Best Running Socks

One of the most critical pieces of running gear weighs less than an ounce, but it’s essential for putting your best foot forward—literally.

We’re talking about the running sock.

From compression socks to hidden socks, to socks that have “ventilation” and “antimicrobial” features, there are many choices out there for dressing your feet.

Some socks are best suited for the long run, while others are meant for a hard morning on the trail. Regardless of the type, there are still a few features that every running sock should boast, like preventing blisters and keeping your toes dry on wet runs.

We talked to Tanya Pictor, Vice President of Marketing for Implus, for advice on how to choose the perfect running sock. Implus owns Balega socks, a favorite among runners, so we knew we were in the right hands (or should we say, feet).

Three Things to Look For

Just a few decades ago, runners reached for a pair of 100 percent cotton socks before heading out the door.

These days, however, a good pair of running socks will be made of moisture-wicking fabrics, such as polyester, acrylic or even a wool and nylon blend. Pictor says that above all else, a correct fitting sock should do three things: protect your feet, be comfortable and wick away moisture.

“The ultimate sock experience is the one where you feel you are wearing no socks at all,” she says.

Make It Running Specific

Resist the urge to just buy a pair of “athletic socks.” Look for a pair designed specifically for running, even if they’re on the expensive side.

Most running socks are priced around $12 to $15 for a single pair, but if you’re committed to running, it’s worth the extra money.

In comparison to regular socks, running socks are built with cushioning in mind, which is especially important when you’re pounding the pavement day after day. A good pair of running socks will also have a tight feel around the mid-foot and heel, but plenty of room for your toes.

“Look for a good, deep heel pocket that cups your heel and will not drag down,” Pictor says. “Seamless toe and a high-end technical performance yarn that wicks is a must.”

Don’t Ignore Your Personal Running Needs

If you like a cushioned feel, try out a thicker sock. If that feels too stuffy in your shoe, opt for a lighter and thinner model.

You might prefer a knee-high length, crew cuts or ones that have a tab on the back if you have problems with your heel rubbing against your shoe. The point is to pick a sock based on what your personal running needs are.

Just like choosing running shoes, choosing running socks should take into account your personal preference and style.

“When you buy a new pair of shoes, team them up with two to three pairs of new socks,” Pictor says. “See it as maximizing your investment in the shoes.”

Whether you’re training for a marathon or your first mile, as a runner, looking after your feet is a must. Whilst everyone will tell you all about the importance of finding the right pair of running shoes for you, it’s often easy to forget socks. Yet, like shoes, a bad pair of running socks will still give you blisters and a good pair will offer extra protection where you need it most.

What to look for when buying running socks:

No, when it comes to running those old trainer socks will not do the trick, when it comes to finding a good pair of socks for running, there are a few important things to look out for:

1. Like the clothes you run in, your socks should be made from a breathable, quick-drying fabric to keep your feet dry as you clock up the miles.
2. Most running socks will offer extra padding in the areas of the foot that take the most impact when you’re running – think your toes, heels and arch. This is why, unlike everyday socks, running socks will have a right and a left foot.
3. Optional extras to look out for include compression technology and special fabrics that can help stop your socks from smelling, no matter how much you sweat.

What size should my running socks be?

As a general rule, your running socks should be the same size as your running shoes – socks that are too big or too small will cause blisters. If a brand sells socks in small, medium and large sizes, be sure to check the size guidelines.

What are compression socks and when should I wear them?

Compression kit is designed to help you move faster when you’re running and recover faster afterwards. They work by improving the rate that your body pumps waste-ridden blood out from your legs and nutrient-rich blood in; this reduces the amount of lactic acid building up. Whilst the research supporting the use of compression socks whilst running is a little ambiguous, their recovery benefits are well documented.

Keep shopping

How should I look after my running socks?

Like most sports kit, tumble drying your running socks can make them shrink a little, causing your favourite pair to become uncomfortable overnight. Take a look at our guide to looking after your running kit here.

What are the best running socks to buy?

While the golden rule of nothing new on race day still applies, you’ve still got a couple of weeks to try some new socks for race day. Here’s our top picks:

1.Stance Uncommon Light Run Crew , £14.99, runnersneed.com

Whether you’re looking for hidden socks, ankle socks, or just socks as bright as your mood, Stance have got it covered. Typical of the Stance style, these are colourful, unusual and technically excellent. Though they are on the thin side, they have reinforced toe and heel sections for improved durability.

Buy now – women’s

Buy now – men’s

2. Runderwear Cushioning No Show Running Socks, £12.00, runderwear.co.uk

There’s no doubt about it, Runderwear know a thing or two about anti-chafing. Their cushioned ankle socks give you extra protection where your foot needs it most – something that comes in handy over 26.2 miles. Made from breathable fabrics, the mid-foot grip to hold the sock in place and the high tab on the back protects the foot from blisters.

3. Balega Blister Resistant Running Socks, £14.99, amazon.co.uk

Balega’s Blister Resist Quarter socks prove that you can have great protection and a soft feel. Many socks feel soft when you put them on, but that softness can mean they’re also moisture-absorbent or fragile. These socks use a combination of mohair and Balega’s own moisture-wicking materials to create a plush yet durable sock. Even on particularly swampy and wet runs, the Blister Resist never felt waterlogged or created hot spots (like wet socks can).

Buy now – unisex

4. Sweaty Betty Technical Running Socks

Designed especially for women’s feet, if you suffer from blisters, these are a good option. With an anti-blister heel panel and ankle lip to protect your feet, and breathable, sweat-wicking panels, you can’t go wrong.

Buy now – women’s

5. Injinji Liner Crew Toesocks, £13.50, amazon.co.uk

Yes, we’ll admit, toe socks look ridiculous. But, here’s a little secret: Nobody sees them when they’re inside your shoe doing exactly what they’re supposed to—preventing blisters. The Liner sock maximises blister protection, which is what you need when you’re running a marathon.

Buy now – unisex

6. 1000 Mile Fusion Running Anklet Socks, £11.96, amazon.co.uk

The first brand to come up with the double layer socks we know and love today, these anklet versions are a classic. Comfortable and cushioned, with ventilation zones for breathability, Achilles tendon protection, and inner layers to wick sweat away from your feet.

Buy now – men’s

Buy now – women’s

7. Balega Hidden Comfort No-Show Socks

A staple of any “best socks” list, the Hidden Comfort is a hit with our team. They’re super soft and stretchy, but amazingly they resist slipping when they’re on your foot. While the bottom is cushioned, the top is nearly see through so you’ll stay cool on any run. Available in a slew of fun hues and with a low cut that barely peeks out of your shoe, the sock offers a pop of colour on race day.

Buy now – unisex

8. Rockay Accelerate Anti-Blister Running Socks, £15.95, amazon.co.uk

Made in Europe, these socks contain wool, which has natural anti-odour properties. They feel thick, soft and comfortable and work well when it comes to preventing blisters on the run. Rockay socks have a lifetime guarantee, so if you do find them falling apart after ten washes, you can swap them for a new pair.

Buy now – unisex

9. On Mid Sock, £18, on.com

Lightweight and breathable, these On snocks are snug and supportive, while feeling luxuriously thick underfoot. Available in three different lengths, in a number of different colours to suit every style of runner.

Buy now – men’s

Buy now – women’s

10. Karrimor 2 Pack Running Socks, £11.99, sportsdirect.com

If you’re just starting out, or don’t want to spend more than £10 on a pair of running socks, Karrimor, the affordable Sports Direct-own brand are a popular offering. Available in a two-pack in both men’s and women’s sizes, these running socks provide soft, underfoot comfort, with a padded toe and heel in a Fresh Guard odour neutralising fabric to keep them fresh. They might not last forever, but they fit and perform well.

Buy now – men’s

Buy now – women’s

11. Bridgedale Trail Sport Lightweight, £14.84, sportsshoes.com

Absolutely superb 3/4-crew-length socks for running off-road. Them merino wool is not only supremely soft, but is also anti-bacterial, fast-drying (great for when you’ve just splashed straight through a massive puddle) and durable enough for many a long day in the hills.

Buy now – men’s

Buy now – women’s

12. Soar Crew Sock, £19, soarunning.com

A good multitasker, thick enough for autumnal weather, breathable enough to keep your feet cool in hotter climates and strong enough to last you a good while. They also feature mid arch compression to hold the sock in place.

Buy now – unisex

13. Feetures Elite Mini Crew, £13, amazon.co.uk

These are as good as you’d expect from a company that only makes socks. They’re lightly padded enough to do the job for anything up to half-marathon distance, and the toe section is seamless to help reduce friction.

Buy now – unisex

14. Proviz Airfoot Running Socks, £9.99, provizsports.com

It’s obvious to see the USP here – as well as the hi-vis colouring on the fluro yellow and bright pink versions of this sock, there is a reflective strip around the upper portion of the sock to ensure you’re visible.

Buy now – unisex

15. Hilly Marathon Fresh Anklets, £11.19, sportsshoes.com

We’re not sure that staying odour-free is the prime concern during a marathon, but it’s good to know the Polygiene treatment in these socks provides the service. What’s more impressive about these is the comfort, the cushioning and the ventilation.

Buy now – unisex

The best compression socks for runners

Whilst the science on wearing compression socks during a run is inconclusive, research has found that compression socks can help recovery. If you’re looking for a pair to have in your kit bag on race day, here are a few worth investing in:

16. CEP Compression Socks 3.0, £44.99, sportsshoes.com

The jury is out on whether compression adds benefit during exercise but if you’re a fan, these are the best you can get. The compression is firm but not confining, they don’t lose shape in the wash, the toe area offers seamless comfort and the hi-vis design will keep you seen.

Buy now – men’s

Buy now – women’s

17. 1000 Mile Compression Sock, £9.30, amazon.co.uk

Stick these on after training to speed up recovery. The graduated compression improves blood flow to fatigued muscles and helps flush out lactic acid, and the underfoot section is padded to make your post-long-run hobble that bit comfier.

Buy now – unisex

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15 best women’s running socks

It also creates a compression-fit, which we preferred over some of the looser pairs we tried. Not only that, but the brand does its bit for the environment, promising that the sock will eventually be manufactured from 100 per cent recycled materials and polyester from plastic found in the ocean. While you can buy the socks from the brand’s website (in dollars), they are also available on Amazon (in pounds).

Buy now

Puma Running Cell Quarter Sock: £6, Puma

These simple Puma socks are our go to pair if we’re planning a day out on the trails. The mid-calf length helps protect both your feet and the back of your legs when it’s muddy, while the breathable material keeps your feet dry. While the design is simpler than some of the others we tried, we loved the fluorescent detail around the top of the sock and found it gave us some comfort on the darker evenings.

The arch support really does create extra support, while the cushioning helps reduce the chance of injury. They may not be a pair you’d want to team with your three-quarter length lycra, but they’re definitely a pair you want in your drawer ready for your next boggy outing.

Buy now

The verdict: Women’s running shoes

Running socks are a crucial piece of kit so it’s important that you get the right pair. We found that while all of the pairs we tested were comfortable, they differed in the level of support offered. That’s why we loved Stance’s Distance Tab socks, which not only looked great but were also so clearly designed with a runner in mind. If you’re looking for something a bit different, try Injinji’s toesocks, while if you need to recover, we can’t recommend CEP’s pair highly enough. We also loved the bright, bold pair by Hilly Socks and the oh-so-cool pair by On.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

Best sock for running

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