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 10 Athletic Socks” review.

Featured Recommendations 

Saucony Performance
  • Saucony Performance
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Airmesh Venting
  • Arch Stability
  • Price: See Here
Balega Hidden Comfort No Show
  • Balega Hidden Comfort No Show
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Seamless Toe Closure
  • Plush Under Sole
  • Price: See Here
Injinji Run 2.0 Toe Socks
  • Injinji Run 2.0 Toe Socks
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Ultra Thin
  • Coolmax Xtralife
  • Price: See Here

This list will focus on the 10 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.

 

10 Best Athletic Socks

 

1. Saucony Performance

Cool and dry are the pillars of the sock world; most socks do their best to meet those standards, but fail to a lot of the time. The Saucony Performance Sock hits the mark with several pieces of superb technology that makes this the #1 sock on this list. Given they make running shoes, this showing up at the top of our list is not surprising!
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RunDry Moisture Management
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.
Pros
  • Well constructed
  • Ergonomic fit
  • Breathability
  • Dark color
  • No seam issues
Cons
  • Sizing is inconsistent
  • Wear issues reported

2. Balega Hidden Comfort No Show

A recurring theme with many of the socks on this list will be moisture control. All three of Balaga’s entries on this list are no different. They will exude their prowess in the moisture control arena with their own Drynamix moisture management fibres.
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.
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Drynamix
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.

Heel Pocket
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.
Pros
  • Heel Pocket Technology
  • Moisture wicking
  • Multi-purpose
  • Comfortable
  • Great colours
Cons
  • Price north of the average
  • Faded colors

3. Injinji Run 2.0 Toe Socks

The third place marker in this list deviates a tad from the normal sock; these are toe socks, not traditional fitting socks. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, toe socks have become the polarizing design in the running sock world. If you are a lover, then these are the pinnacle of the toe sock lines. Individually wrapped toes work from many. If you are a hater, then you have permission to head down and check out the 4th place sock.
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Toe Sleeves
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.

Construction
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.
Pros
  • Durable
  • Fits like a glove
  • Decent colours
  • Super thin
  • Nice cuff
Cons
  • Price
  • Specific design

4. Asics Cushion Low-Cut Sock

4. Asics Cushion Low-Cut Sock
I suppose it was inevitable that we would have more than one big shoe company sock on this list. I love the relationship between a shoe division and a sock division of a large company. A win-win for sure. This sock has a good number of features that make it stand out.
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Cushioning
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.

Breathability
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.
Pros
  • Great moisture management
  • Non-slip heel
  • Can buy in bulk
  • Versatile
  • Solid construction
Cons
  • Only in bright neon
  • Little sizing information

5. Balega Blister Resist No Show

5. Balega Blister Resist No Show
Balega’s second entry in this Top 10 list. Balega puts forth quite an effort in putting to market some great socks with several different key attributes for each model. This one says it all in the name. The “Blister Resist” technology is paramount with this sock. Don’t be fooled by the name though. Lots more to like about this sock.
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Blister Resist
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!
Pros
  • Price
  • Moisture management
  • High performance sock
  • Good color choices
  • Comfortable
Cons
  • Sizing issues
  • Durability

6. Darn Tough Merino Wool

6. Darn Tough Merino Wool
Darn Tough, a company out of Vermont has joined forces with Merino wool for this line of socks. Good move I say! Merino wool is the from New Zealand and is known mostly in the outdoor athletics arena for its wicking and anti-odor properties. The world’s best smelling sheep come from NZ I guess!
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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.

Seamless
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.
Pros
  • Merino wool
  • Seamless
  • Affordable
  • Odor free
  • Wicking
Cons
  • Must like wool
  • Sizing issues

7. Thirty 48 Running Socks

7. Thirty 48 Running Socks
One of the lesser known brands on this list, Thirty48 are relatively new to the start line in the running world. This does not mean they don’t know what they are doing! This multi-sport socks looks great with a very sporty design with built in purpose for this new aged look. Not just a running sock, Thirty48 touts this sock as a leader for many sports.
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Padding
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.

Airflow
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.
Pros
  • Very comfortable
  • Almost compression fit
  • Wicking technology
  • Padded upper
  • Multipurpose
Cons
  • Sizing issues
  • Short track record

8. Thorlos Experia Thin Padded

8. Thorlos Experia Thin Padded
When I think of Thorlo I am not thinking about athletic socks. However, to my surprise, here they are. Thorlos has been around since the early 1980s and have created award winning socks. Much of their “claim to fame” is cushioning, but they offer the multi-athlete much more than that.
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Cushioning
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™
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.
Pros
  • Attractive design
  • Tons of colors
  • Sock pioneer
  • Sizing
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Lack of technology
  • Durability

9. Swiftwick Aspire Zero

9. Swiftwick Aspire Zero
For once, wicking and breathability are not at the forefront of an athletic sock. Swiftwick (even though wick is in their name) market themselves as “fit” experts. Not a bad thing, but just a new field of concentration. Perhaps it is an assumption given their name.
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Compression
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.
Pros
  • Fit
  • Breathability
  • Colors
  • Slight compression
  • Multi-use
Cons
  • Wear points
  • Overall durability

10. Balega Blister Resist Quarter

10. Balega Blister Resist Quarter
Does this sock sound familiar? See the #5 sock above. Now, before you ask if this is a repeat, it’s not.
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.
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Blister Resist
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.

Snug
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!
Pros
  • Price
  • Moisture management
  • Nice high ankle sock
  • Great color choices
  • Comfortable
Cons
  • Sizing issues
  • Durability

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!