Running Socks Review: Determining the 10 Best Sock Designs
“The 10 best running socks designs determined by 40 superfit feet. Read on and find out!”
With one of the best trail networks in the country and a population stocked with ultrarunners, speed hikers, and weekend racers, Boulder, Colorado, is the Mecca of athleticism. So many runners in one location also makes for an ideal place to put the latest and greatest gear to the test. We asked 20 ultrahealthy types, from trail runners to triathletes, to use and abuse a wide range of running socks made from Earth-friendly bamboo, antibacterial silver, and other high-tech fabrics. Below are the ones our testers liked best.
Darn Tough Vermont Run/Bike 1/4 Cushion
Several ultrarunners raved about the cushioning and durability of these merino-wool socks. One even bragged about finishing seven ultramarathons–and all the training miles leading up to them–in a single pair.
Best For: Runners who prefer medium-thick socks for a wide range of distances, terrains, and sports all year round.
DeFeet Cloud 9 Regular Cuff
Testers appreciated the plush feel of these socks, which are made from a combination of moisture-wicking CoolMax fabric and abrasion-resistant Cordura nylon. Extra cushioning in the toes and heel, as well as two support strips on either side of the foot, yield a snug, stabilizing fit.
Best For: Long distances in cool weather. For fans of thick socks, these offer cushioning and support that are great for any terrain.
Bridgedale X-Hale Speed Diva and Demon
Overall, the Diva (women’s) and Demon (men’s) feel lightweight, which is remarkable given how much cushioning they provide for the heel and ball of the foot. The material used in these spots is a blend of merino wool and moisture-wicking yarn that keeps bunions and heels from getting red and chafing.
Best For: Any long run, no matter what the weather brings.
Teko EcoMerino Wool Ultra-Light Micro
These socks are constructed of sustainable merino wool that’s soft and spongy–not itchy. Like all of Teko’s styles, they feature a tight-knit seam that is much less pronounced, cutting back on chafing across the top of the toes.
Best For: Shorter distances. While they retain warmth well, the Ultra-Lights don’t have the cushioning needed for longer runs.
Nike Elite Structure Running
The Structure features an innovative design that uses two layers of low-friction yarn to prevent blisters and a thicker weave in the heel and toe for cushioning and durability. Several testers noted how much they liked the extra support through the arch, provided by a Lycra band.
Best For: Marathoners, who’ll appreciate how these socks keep their feet dry and reduce foot fatigue during long runs.
Feetures Bamboo & Wool Ultra Light Cushion Quarter
Made with 33 percent bamboo fabric–a material that helps wick moisture and kill odor-causing bacteria–these socks were the top pick of several triathletes for bike-to-run workouts. “They’re thin enough for my bike shoes and have enough cushioning to make a postride run more bearable,” said one tester.
Best For: Extra-sweaty runners and athletes who train in the heat.
Drymax 1/4 Trail Running
Our seasoned trail-runners loved the ribbed texture of these socks, which helped keep their feet from sliding around in their shoes. The socks’ somewhat bulky design has a wicking material on the inside and a water-repellent polyester blend on the outside.
Best For: Short treks, or for runners who want versatile socks for cross-training sports, such as hiking and snowshoe running.
Injinji Performance Series Mini-Crew
Although the glovelike design of these socks felt a little odd at first, testers forgot about it once their shoes were on. The CoolMax inner lining and Lycra-and-nylon outer shell wick sweat well, and the anatomical five-toe design prevents friction between toes, resulting in fewer blisters overall.
Best For: Long-distance runners, especially those training in hot summer months, when chafing is more common.
Eurosocks Sprint Silver
The thickest pick of the bunch, most runners liked these socks best when the temperature dipped, since the bulk made their feet a little too sweaty in warmer weather. Testers who preferred the plush feel noted how well the polypropylene yarn and antibacterial silver fibers wicked sweat and didn’t stink up too fast.
Best For: Short, cold-weather runs when feet are least likely to sweat a lot.
Pearl Izumi Silk-Lite and Ultra-Lite
Ideal for racing flats–or for runners who prefer thin socks–the Silk (women’s) and Ultra (men’s) use a microfiber mesh at the top of the foot to provide excellent breathability. Testers also liked how the compression panels wrapped and supported their arches.
Best For: Short races in warm weather. This sock is great for wicking away sweat but not for keeping feet warm.
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