If there’s one group of people that cares deeply about socks, it’s runners. Wearing the right socks when you run is a BFD. In case you’re scoping out a new pair of running socks, we’ve assembled all our faves in a wide variety of styles and cuts right here.
And if you’re new to running and not on the sock-hype train yet, you’re about to learn more than you ever thought you needed to know about socks.
8 best running socks
- Highest-rated: Janji x Balega No Show Sock
- Best for blister prevention: Balega Blister Resist
- Best over-the-calf: Darn Tough Stride Over-the-Calf Ultra Lightweight
- Best for men: Bombas Men’s Performance Running Quarter Sock
- Best for women: Smartwool Women’s Run Targeted Cushion Low Ankle Socks
- Best budget option: Under Armour Run Cushion No Show Tab Running Socks
- Best for chilly runs: Thorlos Running Maximum Cushion Crew
- Best for hot weather: Adidas Running Ultralight Crew Performance
We focused on socks that had great reviews, came from trustworthy sports and performance gear brands, and were specifically designed for running. That means each pair had to have two essential qualities:
- Sweatproof. Moisture-wicking materials are an absolute MUST. No one wants to sous vide their feet during race training. If the socks can’t keep you dry on a long run, they don’t pass our sniff test. (*Disclaimer: We don’t actually recommend post-run sniff tests on ANY socks.*)
- Supportive. Most running socks are made with at least some degree of support, whether it’s a targeted panel to offer extra arch support or compression throughout the body of the sock to help keep your blood pumping.
We also included a variety of cuts (no-show, ankle, crew, and over-the-calf) with tabs or no tabs and various levels of cushioning. We know everyone’s got that Cinderella sock — the one style that’s a perfect fit.
Note that many of these brands feature different cuts and cushioning levels. So, if you see a crew sock on our list that catches your eye but you’re a strict no-show-sock person (*raises both hands emphatically*), be sure to check the brand’s website to see if they offer what you’re looking for.
- $ = under $16 per pair
- $$ = $16–$29 per pair
- $$$ = over $29 per pair
Highest-rated running socks
- Price: $$
- Size range: S, M, L (men’s 4.5–12 and women’s 6–13)
- Color: black and blue “Star Cover” pattern
- Material: Balega “Drynamix” yarn
- Features: arch support, tab, microfiber mesh ventilation panels
This sock is a collab between Janji, a high end running clothier, and Balega, a favorite sock brand among dedicated runners. It features exclusive artwork by Christian Gering on a Balega Enduro sock.
The sock is a no-show but is tabbed to prevent blisters and keep it in place. Additionally, it’s vented and moisture-wicking and provides primo arch support.
Reviewers love the Balega Enduro sock to begin with, and the Janji x Balega sock has excellent reviews too. Many reviewers point out that the thickness of the sock is perfect — not too thick and not too thin.
Best running socks for blister prevention
- Price: $$
- Size range: S, M, L, XL (men’s 4.5–14 and women’s 6–15.5)
- Color: several options available
- Materials: Drynamix and mohair
- Features: mesh ventilation panels, mohair for reduced friction
Speaking of Balega… they also make a fan-favorite sock that keeps blister-prone feet planted firmly in the safe zone. These socks are made with a combination of their moisture-wicking Drynamix material and natural mohair, which offers protection against friction blisters.
One reviewer says these socks put an immediate stop to their blister probs. However, several reviewers point out that they’re thicker than most other running socks.
Best over-the-calf running socks
- Price: $$$
- Size range: S, M, L (women’s 4.5–11.5)
- Color: black
- Materials: nylon, Merino wool, spandex
- Features: seamless, lifetime guarantee, light compression
OK, Darn Tough is one of the few sock makers to offer a lifetime guarantee on their socks, and we really feel like that says a lot. This ultra-light over-the-calf style is totally seamless and made with Darn Tough’s signature moisture-wicking Merino wool blend, so it’s a perfect sock for running in any weather.
Big note: Although they’re long and they offer a tight fit, these are not high-compression socks. Some reviewers express disappointment about this, but the reviews are otherwise excellent.
Best running socks for men
- Price: $$
- Size range: M, L, XL (men’s 6–16)
- Color: variety of stripes
- Material: poly/cotton blend
- Features: cushioned zones, airflow ventilation
With sizes up to 16 (approximately the size of a small kayak) and a whole list of runner-friendly features like venting, cushioning, a seamless toe, and an extra-fitted cuff, these socks from Bombas are our fave pick for men.
And since they’ve got more than 1,400 reviews averaging 4.8 stars, it doesn’t look like we’re alone in that choice.
Best running socks for women
- Price: $$
- Size range: S, M, L (women’s 4–12.5)
- Color: several options available
- Materials: Merino wool, nylon, elastane, polyester
- Features: mesh ventilation zones, seamless toe, heel tab, “flex zone” at ankle, targeted cushioning
This moisture-wicking wool-blend sock from Smartwool comes in a wide range of women’s shoe sizes (starting with size 4) and offers a narrower heel than unisex socks, which provides a better fit for many women.
It also features targeted cushioning on the heel and the ball of the foot and a “flex zone” at the ankle for support and a better fit.
Reviewers say these socks, though thin, are excellent at keeping your feet dry and comfortable.
Best budget running socks
- Price: $
- Size range: M, L (men’s 4–12.5)
- Color: black/gray, white/gray, blue/black
- Materials: nylon, polyester, elastane
- Features: reflective heel tab, extra midfoot cushioning
It’s not often that Under Armour is the budget option, but that happens to be the case with these affordable running socks. They are extra-cushiony, with a lightweight band at the midfoot to support your feet on long runs on unforgiving surfaces.
Reviewers are big fans, but one helpful reviewer reminds us that you’ll have to pay attention to which sock goes on which foot or the extra cushioning won’t be in the right spot.
Best running socks for chilly runs
- Price: $
- Size range: S, M, L, XL (youth 2–4, men’s 5.5–15, women’s 4–13)
- Color: gray, navy, white/gray, white/navy, black
- Materials: THOR-LON acrylic, nylon, elastic
- Features: extra cushioning in arch and over toes
These thick socks look like a daily-wear essential of Alaskan lumberjacks, but they’re actually ultra-supportive, maximally cushioned running socks — although we guess they’d work for subarctic tree-felling as well.
Although most of the reviews are excellent, some reviewers report that the socks feel more like house slippers than running socks and that they don’t stay up on the leg very well.
Best running socks for hot weather
- Price: $
- Size range: S, M, L (men’s 6–15 and women’s 5–12)
- Color: green
- Materials: recycled polyester, recycled nylon, elastane
- Features: padded heel and toe, thin and lightweight
These lightweight running socks from Adidas are perfect for anyone looking for a light and breezy summertime running sock. Despite their crew cut, these socks are light enough that they won’t sweat you out on even the hottest of days.
They also feature some extra cushioning at the toe and heel to help you run longer without pain or discomfort.
According to reviewers, they’re comfortably snug (almost like a light compression), but at least one reviewer says the front half of the sock sits awkwardly high on the calf.
You don’t have to be an Olympian — if you run, you can benefit from running socks.
Regular ol’ cotton socks are OK, but cotton is not the best for running. It’s not moisture-wicking, so if you get sweaty, you’ll definitely feel it — and that moisture will increase your risk of developing blisters.
Plus, cotton socks don’t offer any support for your feet in the form of compression, cushioning, or arch support.
Pros and cons of running socks
Pros of running socks
- made specifically for running
- moisture-wicking and dry
- offer compression, cushioning, and arch support
- tabs to help prevent bunching and blisters
Cons of running socks
- way more expensive than regular socks
- potentially overwhelming variety of options
Just to get this out of the way first: Yes, we’re pretty sure running socks do still get separated in the sock drawer. Now, on to the real questions.
How do running socks differ from regular socks?
Most regular socks are made from cotton, which is a material you’ll typically want to stay faaaar away from when you plan to get sweaty. Once cotton gets wet, it stays wet, which — in a running situation — means swampy feet and blisters.
Running socks are made with moisture-wicking materials that dry quickly and keep your feet dry. They also have features like compression, cushioning, and arch support that are uniquely suited to the needs of runners.
Is it better to go with crew socks or no-show socks?
It’s all a matter of preference. Crew socks and over-the-calf socks can provide more effective compression thanks to their extended length, but if you’re anything like us, you’re a no-show sock devotee. No-shows may also be cooler in hot or humid climates.
How should I clean my running socks?
Check the packaging for specific instructions, but generally your running socks can be washed and dried (on low) with similar materials (the rest of your running getup). If you want to really extend the life of your socks, wash them on the delicate setting and hang them on a line to dry.
When should I replace my running socks?
They may be specially designed, but they aren’t indestructible. Even the nicest running socks will *run* their course eventually. Holes, thinning in the heels, and loss of elasticity are telltale signs that it’s time for a fresh pair or three.
How many pairs should I buy?
If you don’t run on consecutive days, you could probably get away with having one pair for a while — but all those washes will drastically shorten the socks’ life span.
Instead, try to get one pair for each day of the week you typically run. That way you’ll only have to wash them once a week and you’ll still have a clean pair for every run.
There are a lot of options out there that look great, so it can be tough to narrow down the perfect pair for you. Here are some things to keep in mind while you’re shopping:
- Cut. Running socks come in four cuts: no-show, ankle, crew, and over-the-calf. Ankle and crew socks are most prone to bunching at the ankle, which can be distracting. But no-show socks don’t offer the same compression as other cuts. Casual runners probably don’t need over-the-calf socks, but the extra support and compression are a godsend for long-distance or competitive runners.
- Cushioning level. Cushioning will add weight, so most running socks marketed as “lightweight” or “ultra lightweight” will provide minimal cushioning. However, cushioning is not strictly necessary in your running sock — you can get that from the right running shoes.
- Support levels. Most running socks offer some extra support compared to casual socks. This may include compression throughout the foot and leg (which may help improve blood circulation and performance, according to a 2020 research review) and a band that offers extra support for your arches.
- Tabs. Tabs on no-show socks keep them from riding down and bunching up in your shoes, putting you at risk of blisters on the back of your ankle. We ❤️ tabs, but some people may prefer tab-free socks.
You can run in any old sock, but why? Running socks are made for your needs on the treadmill, the trail, or the pavement — with tons of features like ventilation, cushioning, compression, arch support, and more. And our top picks will definitely put you on the right track.
Running socks make happy feet, and happy feet set PRs. 🏁