When you're shopping for athletic socks, trust me when I say that it pays to be picky. If you don't have the best socks for running, your enjoyment will be compromised and so will your performance. Before making a purchase, there are several qualities in particular you should look for.
First, consider moisture management. This isn't something your regular, everyday socks will provide. Think materials like Merino wool or breathable synthetics such as polyester and nylon.
Next, assess odor control. Although not a requirement, it's typically a plus if you can return from your run without musky odors in your sneakers. The same materials that wick moisture will also be great at treating odor.
Finally, think about cushioning. Athletic socks receive a lot more impact than your regular socks, so you need added arch support, as well as anti-chafe features like seamless toes and extra elastic bands.
With these considerations in mind, I put together a list below of the best socks for running in each category. Read on to find the right pair to help you go the distance.
Editor's Note: Sizes for socks are typically listed as "Men's," "Women's," or "Unisex." This can make it tricky for some folks to shop so if it helps, focus on numeric size. The features are essentially the same, so disregard the labels and look for the style that best fits your feet.
1. The Overall Best Socks For Running
These running-specific athletic socks are designed to fit runners of all genders and offer the best overall blend of qualities.
Made specifically with running in mind, these high-quality, unisex athletic socks are lightweight, breathable, and fully moisture-wicking. The anatomical design places cushioning in all of the right places to minimize blister potential and reduce chafing. Additionally, they feature high-density knitting and a seamless toe design that further decreases chafing while increasing your comfort. The thin, breezy socks, which are made from a nylon-spandex blend, are well-ventilated with targeted compression to reduce soreness and foot fatigue.
Fans say: "I run 15-25 miles per week when training for a half marathon. Before getting proper running socks, I was getting blisters from the frequent training. These socks fit great and wick moisture away. If you are a more serious runner, I recommend getting a few pairs."
- Available sizes: Small - X-Large
2. The Best Socks For Sweaty Feet
For folks who tend to get sweaty feet, the two options below offer comprehensive moisture-management and excellent odor control.
The ultra-light design of these thin, well-ventilated running socks makes them a great option for people who are prone to extra perspiration. They're cool and stretchy with a unique material that blends extra-fine Merino wool with nylon and a hint of polyester-LYCRA. The fabric wicks moisture from your skin, transporting it to the exterior layer of material where it can more easily evaporate. As the name suggests, the socks fit well with a foot-hugging design that's great at staying in place as you move. On top of that, they're cushioned in the high-impact zones to protect your feet no matter how hard you work.
Fans say: "I've been running for about a year now, mostly in minimalist shoes for the past six months, and these are my favorite socks. I've tried toe socks, [Thorlos], and many others and I come back to these."
- Available sizes: Small - XX-Large
Another example of exceptional moisture management, these lightweight running socks offer fantastic breathability and extra-breezy ventilation to keep your feet from getting hot and sweaty. This is achieved largely due to the Merino-nylon-spandex-LYCRA blend of materials that's similar the men's pair above. On top of wicking moisture from your skin, it also offers natural antibacterial properties to cut down on odor. And in addition to the sweat-control features, the socks are well-cushioned with soft, fine-gauge knitting and a seamless, no-chafe design.
Fans say: "Super comfortable, best running socks I own."
- Available sizes: Small - Large
3. The Best Anti-Blister Socks
These anti-blister socks, which offer sizes to fit all genders, feature special qualities that keep chafing at bay.
While all of the socks on this list offer some degree of anti-blister protection, these special no-chafe running socks take it the extra mile, making them a great choice for folks who are particularly prone to blisters. Designed for all genders, they showcase a hand-linked, seamless toe box that cuts down friction up front, keeping the top of your foot from rubbing. There's also a special heel tab that fights slippage in the back, preventing them from wadding up at your ankles. They have high-quality elastane, along with polyester and nylon for moisture-management and breathability.
Fans say: "I love these socks. They do NOT slip down. Recently wore them for a half marathon in the rain and they did not budge. My new favorite running socks."
- Available sizes: Small - X-Large
4. The Best Budget-Friendly Socks
If you're on a budget, the two sock options below provide similar performance features at a price you can handle.
At less than two bucks a pair, these affordable men's athletic socks offer great quality at a reasonable price. They're made with a blend of polyester and cotton, along with a hint of rubber and spandex for added stretch. The fabric isn't quite as moisture-wicking as Merino wool, nor does it provide the same degree of odor management. Still, it's much more breathable than your average cotton socks, and comfy too. The eight-pack of socks boasts tons of great reviews on Amazon, many of which attest to how well they handle sweat, despite their Merino-free design. They also have plenty of cushioning and a super soft feel.
Fans say: "Shocked at how good they are for an incredible price. Have long used another brand that is rated highly but also turns out to be $12-$14 per pair ... The Puma not only feel good, they look good and are low enough to be no show."
- Available sizes: One size (Shoe sizes 10 - 16)
If you want a decent pair of running socks but you don't want to drop half your paycheck, this 12-pack of women's athletic socks — which has more than 900 reviews on Amazon — is an awesome choice. The fabric is a mix of polyester, elastic, and spandex that's both stretchy and breathable. On top of that, they have mesh panels for additional ventilation and sweat reduction. There's elastic in the arch area for extra support, as well as comfortable, well-cushioned soles. On top of that, they have convenient heel tabs that help keep them from sliding down.
Fans say: "Impressed by the overall quality for the price. The arch support is nice and the tab on the back is perfect for running. They have been great moisture wicking socks for my long runs (half marathons training) and don't slip down my heel."
- Available sizes: X-Small/Small, Small/Medium, Medium/Large (Shoe sizes 5 - 13)
5. The Best Toe Socks
Toe socks are great for minimalist and barefoot running styles, and they also help prevent chafing in regular shoes. The option below offers sizes to suit most runners.
If you're someone who loves running in toe socks, these Injinji no-show socks are the best choice out there. Unlike regular socks, you can wear them with Vibram FiveFingers and other barefoot-style running shoes, and they won't bunch up or get bulky. Not only that, but they'll reduce blisters in regular sneakers, too. With more than 1,700 reviews, these socks are made especially for sports, with a slender design and extra performance features. The material is a polyester-nylon blend with a touch of LYCRA for flexibility. The socks have mesh inserts on top of the foot for extra ventilation, and an overall breathable design. They're thin, moisture-wicking, and exceptionally comfortable.
Fans say: "These socks are the deal for distance runners or any runner that gets blisters ... I was getting gigantic blisters on 7-8 mile runs even with other blister-prevent socks. With these [Injinji] socks, I have done 12 mile, 15 mile, 16 mile runs so far and nothing! Not a hint of a blister! I have run 3 marathons and I wish I had these before. They have made my current training amazing."
- Available sizes: Small - X-Large
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