The Best Socks to Wear With Running Shoes
The tech inside the best running socks
Have you ever run in a pair of cotton socks and ended up with a big ol’ blister? Cotton socks aren’t good for running because they don’t wick away moisture. Not cool. Cotton soaks up sweat and creates hot spots on your feet. The longer you run, the worse it gets.
Thankfully, with plenty of high-performance running socks on the market, it’s easy enough to avoid cotton. But not all moisture-wicking socks are created equal.
Here, we present the inside scoop on the technologies that make socks good for running.
1 - WOOL
You might think of wool as a cold-weather only fiber, but not anymore. Wool-blend socks wick sweat exceptionally well, regardless of temperature. They’re also naturally odor-resistant, which makes them an excellent choice for long runs, adventure trail runs, vacations (when you can't do laundry every day) or multi-day adventures.
Merino wool is the most common wool variety found in performance socks, but Balega also builds socks with a variety called mohair. It’s a silky, shiny yarn (sometimes referred to as “Diamond Fiber”).
What makes mohair so great? It’s incredibly soft and durable while still maintaining all the odor-resistant properties of Merino. It also holds color well (a plus for bright sock designs).
2 - SILVER
Yep, silver like your jewelry. It’s in socks now. According to Balega, who uses the metal in a line of performance socks, “Silver interrupts the bacteria cell’s ability to form the chemical bonds essential to its survival.” This means that performance running socks made with a silver textile prevent the growth of mold, fungus and other potential foul-smelling bacteria. ... And we all know how funky those running shoes can get.
3 - COMPRESSION
Compression socks help to keep swelling at bay by increasing circulation and maybe even preventing cramps. The medical industry has long used compression socks to help decrease postoperative patient’s chances of getting blood clots, and so it makes sense that the technology transitioned over into the fitness world, albeit with brighter colors. The jury is still out whether or not they actually increase your performance, but most runners agree that they feel good.
Knee-high socks (like these from CEP) with will help keep your calves happy during a long race or travel thanks to graduated compression that gets (slightly) looser the higher up the leg you go. Swiftwick and Feetures also make socks with mid-foot-wrapping compression for extra support inside your shoe.
4 - CUSHION
Performance running socks come in thin, no-cushion models to thick, extra-cushioned pillow-like models. There’s no right answer for which type to wear; choosing your sock weight based on the kind of run you’re going on might be the better route to take.
For example, if you’re running short intervals on the track in a pair of racing flats, going with a very thin sock will probably be the most comfortable. If, however, you’re out for a long jaunt in the woods, something with wool and plush heel cushioning might keep your feet extra comfy. Bottom line: It’s up to you.
5 - SEAMLESS CONSTRUCTION
Talk about taking blister prevention to the next level. Feetures and Balega use seamless construction to prevent sock bunching and unnecessary friction due to excess fabric. In short, the ability to remove seams from socks goes a long way in keeping your feet comfortable over the long run.