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 best running shoes for your needs. Here are the best socks for runners, from ankle- to mid- to full-length socks to keep your feet blister free.
Running socks can provide extra cushioning and even help wicking moisture away when the weather is hot: swift-wicking performance running socks can make every run a more enjoyable experience overall. A supermarket multipack of cotton trainer socks just won't do, not in this day and age.
The best running socks – all the pairs on the list below – 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, just like how wearing trail running shoes for road races will give you a disadvantage.
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.
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The best running socks, in order of preference
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 as better than most sport socks.
Just because they are waterproof, this doesn't mean the Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather Ankle Length Sock are not breathable. According to Sealskinz, they are 'extremely breathable': apparently, the hydrophilic waterproof membrane releases perspiration steam and warm air from inside the sock while keeping unwanted moisture out.
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.
As tough as some runners may be, even the most hardcore runners look after their feet. This is understandable since if they wouldn't, they get blisters all the time for no reason and that would prevent them from running, which is the sole purpose of their lives and even the thought of not being able to do your daily 15k is unbearable.
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 that sort of extends the cushioning of your shoes, making landing even softer and less impactful. The Swiftwick even provides some compression, although not much; if you are after compression, try the Swiftwick Flite XT Five instead.
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 by buying a 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Which is best: thick or thin running socks?
Most running sock 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 chances of swelling.
This is all well but you'll mainly benefit from wearing thin, padded-running sock when the weather is nice and warm outside (or when running on a treadmill). When the weather turns grim, you might need some 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.