Best Athletic Socks Reviewed & Rated for Performance
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!!”. If you wore a baseball cap to powder ski in British Columbia in -40° weather, is a hat just a hat? If you wore dishwashing gloves to a snowball fight mid-February, are gloves just gloves? 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. That being said, obviously the wrong sock can make ALL the difference for all the wrong reasons! Until you have a significant “sock fail” during any run or other activity, you may side with the naysayers who feels socks are just socks. When that day arrives, you will search high and low for this “Best 15 Athletic Socks” review.
This list will focus on the 15 best 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. Note, however, that this list will not include any products from the Compression Sock world given that are a different beast all on their own.
15 Best Athletic Socks
1. Saucony Performance
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.
Targeted Arch Support and Cushioning
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.
Cost and Value
This sock will go the distance whether it is a few miles or a few hundred. Wearing is minimal and the tech designed into this sock makes it a winner for sure.
- Well constructed
- Ergonomic fit
- Dark color
- No seam issues
- Sizing is inconsistent
- Wear issues reported
The Hidden Comfort sounds like it was named after an Inn waiting for you with a cozy fireplace, and that’s actually a pretty close match to how this sock would feel.
Belaga’s entry into the plethora of moisture wicking tech is relatively in its infancy when compared to some of the bigger sock companies. Despite its lack of tenure, it seems to be well designed and implemented. Super soft moisture management fibre (exclusively designed for Balega) keeps your feet cool and moisture free from morning to night.
One of the many things Belega has done right is the Deep Heel Pocket design. If socks slinking down your heel during a run is a thing for you, here is your magic pill. With 30% more stitches in the heel and adding even more heel branches, you will feel the depth of the heel pocket and its insistence to keep everything in place.
Cost and Value
I’ll approach this a bit differently than I normally do. Belega has a very close and personal connection with specific charities both in the US and South Africa. Donations per pair sold and multiple grassroot charitable campaigns make this sock a great value.
- Heel Pocket Technology
- Moisture wicking
- Great colours
- Price north of the average
- Faded colors
3. Injinji Run 2.0 Toe Socks
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, they also concentrated on many other highlights. 200 needle count for an ultra thin fit, arch support for a secured fit made easy by an anatomical fit and lastly an enhanced cuff to keep your feet in place at all times.
Cost and Value
This mid-to-high priced sock is for a particular crowd who know they will pay a premium for toe socks. Quality is there if you are willing to try them out.
- Fits like a glove
- Decent colours
- Super thin
- Nice cuff
- Specific design
4. Asics Cushion Low-Cut Sock
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.
Cost and Value
A nice price point is associated with this sock. Given the average price of their shoes, I was expecting a higher priced article. These can also be purchased in multi-packs.
- Great moisture management
- Non-slip heel
- Can buy in bulk
- Solid construction
- Only in bright neon
- Little sizing information
5. Balega Blister Resist No Show
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.
Locked ‘n loaded
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 runners heel and you are loaded and ready to get moving, issue free.
Cost and Value
Being a bit more of a “boutique” sized company, I assumed a higher price point. Not true says Balega. They are at a nice price point AND the company is able to continue their tradition of philanthropy. Well done Balega!
- Moisture management
- High performance sock
- Good color choices
- Sizing issues
6. Darn Tough Merino Wool
As simple as that! This wool’s anti wicking properties are unrivaled. From the fine gauge knitting that provides wicking and anti-odor highlights, it also warms in the winter and cools in the summer.
Truly Seamless™ technology has afforded Darn Tough’s socks to be truly seamless. They hold undetectable seam fusion for the ultimate smooth ride with an invisible feel.
Cost and Value
This was the surprise of the list. Merino wool enevidably pushes the price point north, however, their initial costs must be super low as the added value of Merino does not reflect in the price point. Time to jump on the Merino wagon.
- Merino wool
- Odor free
- Must like wool
- Sizing issues
7. Thirty 48 Running Socks
Innovation is the key here. The have engineered extra padding to this sock on the metatarsal which provides some extra comfort and protection from lacing issues which we have all experienced.
As 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 compliment the airflow.
Cost and Value
This seems to be a decent price point for the value but can not stand behind it comfortably as this brand is a virtual unknown brand. Longevity will be the key here as to how they hold up over the miles.
- Very comfortable
- Almost compression fit
- Wicking technology
- Padded upper
- Sizing issues
- Short track record
8. Thorlos Experia Thin Padded
The hallmark feature of a Thurlos sock. Their Thurlos Automatically Engineered Pads provide an abundance of padding without the bulk. This sculpted padding helps with blistering and the daily pounding the feet take. There is also an achilles pad that protects that most valuable tendon.
Thor Wick™ is Thurlos pantended wicking technology. Interestingly, they specify that it is only located in the ball and heel of the sock. This is the first I have seen this specificity in a wicking management description. Hey, as long as it works!
Cost and Value
Most Thurlos socks are very affordable, this sock included. With almost 40 years in the business, one would hope they can last the test of time given the sweet price point.
- Attractive design
- Tons of colors
- Sock pioneer
- Lack of technology
9. Swiftwick Aspire Zero
Swoftwick teeters on the line between compression and non compression socks. The Aspire Zero’s have a compression element but are not true compression socks. Their design does indeed snug your foot allowing for minimal movement. An extra bit of compression added to the arch area certainly assures stability of your foot while playing sports.
Moisture be gone
Using their FIBER FIRST™ technology, moisture is vacated with ease. High performance fibres are sculpted into a cool breathable design. This sock is headed in the direction of a “blister free sock” given the combination technology between breathability and contouring they have called “Fit and Fibre First™”.
Cost and Value
Swiftwick has priced this sock well. Lots of bang for the buck while not draining that savings account. Lots of colours so you can afford more than one to ensure proper color coordination.
- Slight compression
- Wear points
- Overall durability
10. Balega Blister Resist Quarter
No show styles and quarter high styles are like the difference between milk or cream in your morning coffee. You would never catch my buddy putting milk in his coffee and wife wearing quarter highs! Even so, there are differences although somewhat minimal.
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 in both models of this sock. This combination sets the ideal environment for your feet in your shoes. This one simply provides a different fit in the ankle and heel areas.
The big difference between these models is the fit of the quarter high. A higher, many think more comfortable feel reminds you that you are indeed wearing a sock... in a good way. Add to that the tailored extra deep heel pocket that locks in your heel and you are all set to line up for your next game.
Cost and Value
Similar to the two previous Balenga models, I still see them as a bit more of a “boutique” sized company and would have assumed a higher price point. Not true says Balega. They are at a nice price point AND the company is able to continue their tradition of philanthropy. Well done Balega!
- Moisture management
- Nice high ankle sock
- Great color choices
- Sizing issues
11. SmartWool Hike
We tend to find ourselves drawn to anything that can guarantee satisfaction however, not every 100% satisfaction guarantee, is created equal. Everyone likes the peace of mind that comes with knowing your hard earned money is coming back, if a product doesn’t meet your standards for any reason. With some products that is 90 days, which seems to be the norm, but others it can be as short as two weeks! Smartwool has given us two years to return their product if, for any reason we decided we are unsatisfied. This is an exceptional amount of time and part of the reason people are choosing the SmartWool Hike athletic socks for many of life’s adventures.
Flat Knit Toe Seam
No matter the adventure you find yourself in, needing an excellent pair of athletic socks that don’t have that annoying and painful toe seam cutting into your skin is essential. With Smartwool’s Flat Knit Toe Seams, your feet will stay comfortable and your toes will be thanking you. The pressure a rounded seam can have will not only cause pressure but can also cause blistering. Battling blisters can keep you out of the game for quite some time or away from your favorite trail on a beautiful spring day. The flat toe seam won’t rub or cause unnecessary pressure, making everyday the perfect day for a new excursion
Cost and Value
SmartWool is a leader of innovation and technology within athletic socks and it come with a price tag at the higher end of the spectrum. They also come with a satisfaction guarantee that makes the cost a little easier to bare. Knowing you are getting a high quality athletic sock that will not only be versatile but will also stand up to your standards, for years to come is something most will be happy to pay for.
- Excellent Sweat Wicking Capability
- Year round Wear
- Braced Arch Support
- Make Great Giftys
- Made in the U.S.A.
- Cushioned for Good Impact Absorption
- Sizing Issues
12. Feetures! Elite Light
One of the worst things you can do to your feet is let them stay wet. This not only leads to painful blisters, but can also lead to problems with bacterial and fungal growth. iWick takes the moisture away from the athlete’s feet, helping keep them cool and dry. Soggy socks are just as bad as wet feet, for the same reasons, and with this material you will find not only dry feet but also reasonably dry socks due to the way these athletic socks move moisture out and away.
Compression in the correct area can mean the difference between a good workout and a great one. The targeted compression, in the arch of this sock, will help make it a great one. Supporting the arch of the foot is crucial in overall foot happiness. When the arch of your foot presses down, without the right support, it can lead to stress fractures and pain. A stress fracture can have you on the couch, away from your favorite activities, so make sure to use an athletic sock that is built to keep your feet in the best shape possible.
Cost and Value
These athletic socks will keep you cool and comfortable and your bank account won’t take a major hit to make that happen. A mid priced sock with all the features you are looking for to give you great performance and comfort. Feetures! doesn’t shock you with their price tag. It is a welcoming feeling to find a superior pair of athletic socks for a reasonable price. Keep looking to Feetures! for excellent quality and top technology to keep you active and loving your life.
- Lifetime Guarantee
- Everyday Wear
- no Irritating Toe Seam
- Anatomical Design
- No Show Tab
- Color May Fade After Washing
- May Shrink
13. ChalkTalk Sports Custom
Finding a great sock to keep your sweaty feet dry can be a difficult task. Cotton does not hold up to the long games ahead of you, a polyester and nylon athletic sock will give you dry happy feet. The combination of knit fabric wicks moisture away from the feet and are super soft. In addition to keeping your feet dry, this material will also help you avoid painful blisters and bacterial or fungal growth that comes with soggy socks. The ChalkTalk SPORTS Custom Team Number athletic socks dry much quicker than your cotton socks and will keep you in the game, even if you find yourself in overtime.
Custom Team Number
Old or young sporting your number always feels good. Athletes take pride in what they do. Whether new on a team or coming back for your 10th season, displaying your number will get people talking. The ability to have a pair of high performance socks that are great for all of your athletic endeavors is excellent, add to it the fact that you can sport your number and what you have is your new favorite pair of athletic socks.
Cost and Value
Growing feet and changing numbers doesn’t have to break the bank. These stylish and comfortable athletic socks are durable and fit easily into the budget. New team, new number, no problem. ChalkTalk SPORTS will continue to strive to offer athletes exactly what they need at a price that we can all smile about. Try these socks and you will also see your teen smile, which we all know, can seem impossible.
- 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
- Great for the Whole Team
- Holds up to Washing
- Parents Can Support Their Play with a Pair Too!
- Sizing Issues Within Individual Pairs
14. VYBE Training
VYBE knows a good athletic sock will keep moisture away, support the foot, and stay in place. They give us all of these features plus more with the VYBE Training athletic sock. Arch support is crucial to comfortable strong feet. Without support you are risking stress fractures and the inability to participate in your favorite activities. These socks are designed with your arch in mind, superior support is what you will find when you try these socks on. They are also awesome at wicking moisture away from your feet. Blister and bacterial or fungal growth are an athlete’s worst enemy. The high-tech combination of materials help keep moisture away and ensure you perform at your top level everyday.
Perfect for All Athletes
Many athletic socks are made for a certain activity, that is not what you get with the VYBE Training Athletic Sock. The versatility of their construction and design make these socks excellent for all of life’s activities. Whether you are headed out for a hike or to the soccer fields, these socks will keep you cool, comfortable and dry. Make every day a great day for your feet and see what VYBE offers in superior athletic socks.
Cost and Value
While looking at the cost you may be a bit surprised at how high it is however, unlike many of the athletic socks on our list, you receive three pairs rather than one. Keeping costs down and having multiple pairs of socks is a great feature. When you take the time to look at the per pair cost you will see that these very affordable socks fit into your daily life in a pleasant and unexpected way. Find your new favorite athletic socks when you wear your first pair of VYBE Training Athletic Socks.
- Stay Up Better Than Most Athletic Socks
- Keep Feet from Slipping
- Stylish Look
- Not Bulky but Still Thick
- Superior Support and Compression
- Durability Issues
- Heavy Seam Stitching
15. Icebreaker Multisport
This technology blends a small amount of Lycra into the Merino Wool enhancing fit, performance, and recovery of the athlete. Offering temperature regulation through strategically placed mesh panels will keep your feet cool and dry, which we all know is of the utmost importance. These panels also give comfort, breathability, and that soft to the skin touch wanted in an athletic sock.
Finding your sock falling apart in the middle of a trail run can put an end to your activity very quickly. A durable sock is needed to ensure you won’t get blisters and painful rubbing. Holes in your socks can lead to many problems and reduce the cushioning and support your feet need during lively activities. Merino fibers wrapped around denier nylon gives superior durability while keeping these athletic socks soft and breathable. Another exciting feature of Corespun technology is the natural odor resistance. Everyone wants to keep their feet, socks, and shoes smelling great. Natural odor resistance can help us succeed in the smelly sock battle.
Cost and Value
Icebreakers shows us that exceptional quality, versatile, athletic socks do not have to cost an arm and a leg. These very affordable socks look good and feel good. Designed to perform at your top level, these athletic socks won’t let you down. Durable, comfortable, and built with an athlete’s foot in mind, Icebreakers will continue to be a leader in athletic socks.
- Lifetime Warranty
- Heel Tab
- Accurate Sizing
- Comfortable in Extreme Temperatures
- Exceptionally Durable
- Bulkier Than You May Expect
Compiling this “Best Athletic Sock” list has reaffirmed one basic thought: socks are so personal! But when I sit back from the keyboard for a quick minute and stare over at my pile of newly laundered athletic gear waiting for it to put itself away, I am reminded that socks are not unlike 90% of my other gear. Hats vs visors, tights vs shorts, Asics vs Saucony and certainly no show socks versus quarter or full length socks (like the cool kids are wearing these days). There is no right or wrong. There is only what works for you and what you want and need.
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!
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Athletic Socks
Sweat Wicking Capability
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 our list of the criteria used to evaluate the best athletic 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||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.
Stay Put Fit
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 you 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, athletic socks, will give you peace of mind during the next big adventure.
Comfort and Durability
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 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What’s the difference in athletic socks and my everyday socks?
A: 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?
A: 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 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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.