If you've ever run for more than five minutes, you know that getting the best running socks is almost equally as important as picking the correct running footwear for your needs. A supermarket multipack of cotton trainer socks just won't do! Below you'll find the best ankle- to mid-to full-length socks options to keep your feet blister-free.
Running socks can provide extra cushioning and even help wick moisture away when the weather is hot; performance running socks can make every run a more enjoyable experience overall. Keeping blisters at bay is possible using running socks, and they can also help wick away sweat and give you an extra edge when it comes to distance and speed. Socks not engineered for purpose can't compete, just like how wearing trail running shoes for road races will give you a disadvantage. Wearing a pair of the best running shoes might.
We didn't include any knee-high compression socks on this list; you'll find those on the best compression socks for running list. The best running socks on this list are for people who don't necessarily need compression but would still appreciate moisture-wicking and odour control. The latter will be appreciated by people around you, too. Need to upgrade your summer running gear? Have a look at our best running shorts and best running tops guides. We also have a dedicated guide for the best women's running shoes, as you were.
Best running socks to buy right now
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Balega's Ultralight socks live up to their name: they are indeed some of the lightest running socks we tested. But despite the lack of weight, Balega managed to cram in many premium features without the premium price tag. The Ultralight are the kind of socks you imagine when you think about performance running socks. For example, the socks are pre-washed, so you can start wearing them as soon as you receive them. They are also lined with silver threads to resist microbes that cause odour, meaning you don't have to wash them every two seconds.
More performance features include the Drynamix moisture management system that helps manage air in the socks, natural mohair threads to reduce chafing – and, therefore, blisters – and arch support bands so the socks sit closer to the skin. Balega employees hand-inspect every sock before they leave the warehouse (there is a sticker on the socks with the face of the person who inspected your socks) so you can rest assured your new Ultralight socks will be up to scratch.
The Sealskinz Waterproof All-Weather Ankle Length Sock does what it says on the box: these are all-weather socks that are also waterproof. Better still, they are not just any ol' waterproof socks but the waterproof sock 'that started it all' for Sealskinz.
These socks feature a three-layer bonded construction that combines a 100% waterproof hydrophilic membrane between a Merino wool interior (naturally sweat-wicking) and a Polycolon exterior with 4-way stretch. The result is a sock that feels like a stretchy everyday sock but performs better than most sports socks.
Just because they are waterproof, this doesn't mean the Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather Ankle Length Sock is not breathable. In fact, according to Sealskinz, they are 'extremely breathable'. And although there is no such thing as a fabric that's 100% breathable and 100% waterproof, the Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather Ankle Length Sock comes close and provides comfort all year round.
The 1000 Mile claims the 21 Single Layer Trail Socks are anatomically designed to "give comfort and support during off-road running." We completely agree and would also add that these socks are ideal for road running, as long as you don't mind tons of extra cushioning under your feet (who does, though?). The socks provide the most cushioning under the balls of your feet and under the heel in the form of added acrylic and wool padding.
Merino also has natural anti-bacterial qualities to help minimise odour. Smell levels are also controlled thanks to the ventilation zones on the top of the foot that enables airflow and allows the foot to breathe. The socks are pretty thick but not uncomfortably warm, although we'd appreciated it if they ran a bit taller to cover a bit more skin to make them even more suitable for winter runs. The 100 Mile 21 Single Layer Trail Socks don't have a lot of personality, but given how functional they are, we'll let this one slide for now.
For training days in warm weather, we recommend wearing the American-made Swiftwick Maxus running socks. These socks use "structurally modified fibres", which, according to Swiftwick, "wick moisture away from your skin 40% better than competitive materials". We can't prove this statement wrong, and one thing is for sure: during our test runs wearing the Maxus, our feet stayed dried, even though the weather was rather warm.
On top of excellent moisture and sweat management, the Swiftwick Maxus also provides comfort with its plush footbed, making landing even softer and less impactful. The Swiftwick Maxus comes in two cuff options: the Maxus zero has no cuffs and has a lower profile, while the Maxus Tab has added heel protection at the front and the back.
There is more tech in the Rockay Razer Trail Running Socks than in some running shoes, and they are also environmentally friendly, too: the regenerated nylon used in the socks is sourced from ocean plastic, so buying Rockay socks effectively cleans the largest bodies of water on the planet.
The Rockay Razer also sports seamless toes and breathable mesh zones to reduce blistering and improve airflow around key areas of the foot. The socks also have an anti-odour coating (for obvious reasons), performance cushioning and arch support, so your feet will stay fresher for longer. At the back of the socks, you'll find a reflective logo, and the colours of the socks were chosen, so they improve visibility, too. You can't be careful enough in low light conditions.
Nike makes 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.
Make sure you check our Nike discount codes to save on your order.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 most significant 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.
Which is best: thick or thin running socks?
Most running socks nowadays provide extra cushioning in critical areas, such as under the balls of your feet and the heels, without making the socks too thick overall. This helps ventilation and comfort levels as your feet don't get too warm and sweaty, which can reduce the chances of swelling.
This is all well, but you'll mainly benefit from wearing thin, padded-running socks when the weather is nice and warm outside (or when running on a treadmill). When the weather turns grim, you might need more thickness to keep the joints nice and warm, reducing the risk of injury. You don't necessarily need thick hiking socks, but getting a full-size, warmer running sock for the winter might help.