As one of the simplest and most popular forms of cardio, running has a long list of health benefits. Improved sleep, mood and concentration — not to mention the reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases — are all reasons so many folks commit to jogging daily. Though its high-impact nature can lead to injuries, running has perhaps the fewest barriers to entry of any type of exercise.
And whether you’re the “run every day or I can’t function” type, or you’re just getting into jogging, there’s one thing you should know — nothing wrecks a run quite like a crappy pair of socks. Even with the best running shoes, socks that slip easily will have you reaching down to constantly adjust them, and socks with low-quality materials can develop holes and get soaked with sweat. Not ideal.
The best running socks, as you might imagine, do the opposite. They should stay firmly in place, wick away moisture and last you a long time, even for the most dedicated and intense runners.
When shopping for running socks, consider materials first. Though some companies offer solid running socks primarily built with cotton, those won’t wick away moisture nearly as well as wool- or polyester-based running socks. There’s a reason most of your workout clothes aren’t cotton, after all. Look for a hint of stretchy material like elastane as well. These will move with your feet easily.
Height matters too. In addition to their major style points, calf socks with proper compression can help reduce swelling and prevent cramps. Quarter socks offer additional ankle support, while low socks offer more freedom and flexibility.
Lastly, think about cushioning. Socks with extra cushioning can alleviate some impact, which, as we mentioned, is part of the deal when it comes to running.
1. Balega Blister Resist No Show Socks
These no-show socks from Balega have pretty much everything you could ask for in quality running socks. The combination of mohair and the brand’s Dynamix polyester — plus microfiber mesh ventilation panels — keeps your feet dry. The high heel tab should prevent that dreaded slipping, while the natural fibers used are key for sensitive, blister-prone skin. There’s a reason these running socks have a 4.8-star rating on Amazon, based on nearly 5,000 reviews.
2. Saucony Performance No-Show Socks (6 Pairs)
Six pairs for $14? That’s one hell of a bargain. Saucony’s no-show running socks are almost entirely polyester, with a hint of spandex to ensure they stretch in sync with your feet. The socks come in a few different colors, with some six-packs offering three different styles. We really dig the grey design with colorful trim pictured below.
3. Bombas All-Purpose Performance Ankle Socks (3 Pairs)
You’ve probably heard of Bombas, the company with clean, contemporary branding and high-quality socks. Though touted for their fun colors and premium comfort, these performance socks sport an 80/20 polyester/cotton breakdown and probably won’t wick moisture as well as others on this list. It’s definitely a fashion-over-function pick. And that style flex will cost you. At $48 for a three-pack, these socks come out to $16 per pair. But for every pair purchased, Bombas donates a pair to those experiencing homelessness, so that $16 goes toward a great cause.
4. CelerSport Ankle Running Socks (6 Pairs)
These running socks from CelerSport don’t offer anything extraordinary, with minimalist black, white and grey colors to choose from and the standard heel tab and arch compression. But that no-frills approach must be working. These socks have a 4.8-star rating based on an absolutely absurd 20,000 ratings. Since they come in a six-pack, you’ll have a pair for almost every day of the week.
5. Danish Endurance Long Distance Running Socks (3 Pack)
BEST QUARTER SOCK
Some runners reach for quarter socks to provide added ankle support and stability. These running rocks from Danish Endurance fit the bill, and feature a sweat-wicking material blend, and added cushioning in the heel and toe. Danish Endurance works with Olympic athletes and outdoor specialists to design their various products, so you know they’re legit. Some reviewers say these running socks run a bit thin, so proceed accordingly.
6. Injinji Midweight Toe Socks
BEST TOE SOCKS
Yes. Toe shoes are still a thing. Running barefoot has a ton of benefits — including improved posture and a more natural gait — which is why so many runners reach for a pair of toe shoes to mimic the barefoot running thing without technically being, you know, barefoot. Turns out toe socks have some perks as well, so we recommend this pair from Injinji. You’d wear these with regular shoes, but the anatomical five-toe design allows for a more natural movement between your toes, while the separation between them reduces friction and helps prevent blisters.
7. Allbirds Trino Sprinters
You probably know Allbirds as the brand that put wool sneakers on the map. And while they’re a dime a dozen in any tech startup office, the brand has also produced a great line of running shoes, which we reviewed last year. It’s no surprise, then, to see Allbirds produce a sweet pair of running socks as well. The Trino Sprinters sport a breathable blend of merino wool, nylon and spandex. The best part, though, is Allbirds commitment to sustainability, backed up by their status as a certified B-corporation. The Trino Sprinters are carbon neutral thanks to their natural materials.
8. Stance Tab Athletic Performance Socks
Stance took the sock game by storm this past decade, becoming the official sock of MLB and the NBA, and notching some impressive sponsorships along the way (we love its 2019 collab with Billie Eilish). Known for its wild designs, Stance delivers with these performance socks. We recommend them to anyone looking for a little extra flair on their runs. Even if no one else can see that spirit underneath your shoes, you’ll know it’s there, and that’s all that matters.
9. Nike Everyday Plus Cushioned Training Socks (3 Pack)
BEST CALF SOCK
Odds are you’ve seen a pair of these, either on the basketball court, in the gym or at the track. Those original Nike calf socks are a classic choice but likely won’t have the support needed to withstand serious runs. Thankfully, this particular pair adds extra cushioning on the heel and toe, while higher sock height provides compression and stability around your ankles and calves. These socks have a little more cotton than we’d like to see for moisture-wicking purposes and are probably better suited for the weight room or court. But let’s be real. You wear these more for style points than breathability and function.
10. Paplus Ankle Compression Socks
Rounding out our list is another great six-pack, which checks all the boxes you’d expect from a quality pair of running socks. Heel tab to prevent slipping? Yup. Breathable? You bet. Compression for support in the right places? Check. Paplus offers a few different color options, but we like the classic black-and-grey aesthetic pictured below.