The 10 Best Running Socks in 2023
When you think of all the clothing and gear that runners love, running socks may not immediately come to mind.
And, of course, there are the all-important shoes.
But if you’re not wearing a good pair of high-quality running socks when you run, you’re definitely missing out.
In this post, I’ll explain why this is and go over the best running socks on the market in 2023.
What to Look for in Your Next Pair of Running Socks
Before we jump into the actual list of running socks that are proving especially popular in 2023, I think it’s important that we talk about what kinds of factors matter most when choosing a pair.
Because, while it’s nice that there are now more pairs than ever before to consider, that can also be a staggering proposition if you’re not sure what will work best for your unique needs.
So, let’s begin by answering some of the most common questions about running socks.
How do running socks differ from regular socks?
And the most common of these questions question when it comes to running socks is, “How come I can’t just wear regular socks?”
You totally can, of course.
Most of us don’t start our running journeys with all the right gear, so you probably know that your typical athletic socks will work just fine.
However, what you definitely want to avoid in socks you wear when running is cotton. While you’re about to see how many options you have when looking for the right pair, one thing they all have in common is a complete lack of cotton.
Why are cotton socks so bad for running?
Because cotton sucks moisture right up and will hold onto it for the duration of your run. So, they don’t make for good socks when running in wet conditions (e.g., on trails or paths after a storm), but they’re horrible in dry conditions, too. Unless you can run without sweating, cotton socks will lead to swampy feet, chafing, and blisters.
Instead, you want socks made from moisture-wicking fabrics that will keep your feet dry. That’s a good start, but ideally, you also want materials that will provide cushioning, compression, and arch support, too.
What Are the Best Socks for Running?
Alright, we’ll get into the specific socks that are best for runners below, but sufficed to say, the right pair is going to depend on your unique needs.
For that reason, I’ve tried to compile a fairly diverse list of socks, so that there’s something for every runner out there.
That said, you’ll find a lot of overlap when it comes to materials and design. While I’ve compiled options of all different lengths, you’ll notice that, when it comes to the actual foot, these socks tend to have a lot in common where their construction is concerned.
Do I Need Specific Socks to Run a Marathon?
Running a marathon soon?
That’s one of the most common reasons runners start looking into special socks. Even experienced runners may go years before finally deciding it’s time for specialized socks because of an upcoming marathon.
I’ve included some great options below if you’re planning on taking down a marathon in the near future.
But, for the most part, the rule for marathon socks is the same rule for the pair you’d want to wear during your regular runs: only choose socks that fit your shoe.
Yes, your shoe.
Obviously, they need to feel good on your feet, too, but you can’t afford to wear socks that will bunch up when you try shoving them into your shoe.
Any leftover space between your foot and your sock will cause friction between the sock and your shoe. That friction, in turn, will impact your skin, leading to blisters, chafing, rashes, and all kinds of other nasty problems.
Should I Be Wearing Compression Socks When Running?
Compression socks have become all the rage among almost all athletes – not just runners – in the past decade or so.
But do you absolutely need compression socks as a runner?
In short, no you don’t.
Compression socks are usually best for athletes who work out more than the average runner and are concerned that the veins in their legs can’t keep pace (which could lead to swelling or even blood clots).
There are no real risks to wearing them, so if you’re curious, feel free to give them a try. Otherwise, compression socks definitely aren’t mandatory for the vast majority of runners.
While I wouldn’t consider any of the options below “compression socks”, most do feature a tighter design that will keep them nice and close to your skin – so there is some level of compression involved.
Do I Need Cushioned Socks for Running?
This question is similar to the last one.
You don’t need cushioned socks, but I’d definitely recommend them if you’re running long distances on a regular basis.
Cushioned socks will absolutely make for more comfortable runs, but the term “cushioned” also includes extra support.
This is really why I recommend these types of socks for running (you’ll find them throughout the list below). Being comfortable during your runs is important, but being comfortable when you’re not running is, too.
Wearing cushioned running socks ensures that your feet are getting the support they need to continue functioning correctly long after you take them off and return to normal life.
Can I Just Run Without Socks?
There are now laws on the books that require you wear socks when running.
But if you’re going to run without socks, you should probably choose barefoot running shoes. These will stay nice and tight to your feet, which should sufficiently cut down on friction to the point that you don’t have to worry about hurting yourself.
And even then, many people who wear barefoot running shoes still wear socks (again, I’ve included some of those pairs on this list).
Before you switch from traditional running shoes to the minimal versions, take some time to try barefoot running techniques first to make sure this approach is right for you.
4 Important Factors When Choosing a Running Sock
The wrong running socks wouldn’t just be uncomfortable.
They could cause serious problems like blisters that keep you from enjoying your favorite pastime until that nasty injury heals.
1. Choose the Right Fabric
To keep your feet dry and comfortable while running, it's important to choose socks made from breathable, quick-drying fabric.
Avoid cotton, as it holds moisture, which can ultimately cause blisters in warm weather and chill in cold weather.
Instead, opt for socks made from technical synthetic materials that wick sweat away from your skin.
This type of fabric will ensure that something as small as your socks never keep you from enjoying a nice, long run.
2. Make Sure Your Socks Fit Properly
Obviously, you want running socks that fit.
However, it’s absolutely vital that they fit your actual shoes, too – not just your foot.
Choose running socks that are the same size as your running shoes to avoid sliding and blisters. This fit is especially important around the arch of the foot and the heel.
To ensure the right size, make sure the heel of the sock fits snugly on your heel without stretching.
3. Say No to Seams
Seams might be the smallest feature of a running sock, but they can cause big pain.
Fortunately, most running socks don’t even have seams anymore. They’re just far too likely to cause chaffing, which can lead to any number of other problems.
So, while you should definitely look for a pair that doesn’t have seams, the good news is that it shouldn’t be too hard to find them.
4. Consider Extra Padding
This feature is most up for debate: would you rather have a more cushioned feel or something minimal?
Many run socks offer additional padding in areas of the foot that experience the most impact, such as the toes, heels, and arch.
Keep in mind that some socks are designed with a specific left and right foot. Ultimately, the choice of cushioning or minimal design depends on personal preference and both options have their own advantages.
Of course, if you plan on transitioning to barefoot running shoes, potential sock padding could make all the difference. Too much padding might defeat the entire purpose of switching minimal shoes.
The 15 Best Running Socks on the Market in 2023
Now that we’ve answered the important questions you need to ask before buying running socks, you’re ready to move on to actual options.
So, without further ado, here are the 10 best running socks on the market in 2023.
1. ASICS Unisex Cushion Low Cut – $7.95
We’ll start things off with the best cheap running socks out there, so if you’re looking to log some miles without dropping a lot of coin, this pair is for you.
Fortunately, the ASICS Unisex Cushion Low Cut running socks are cheap without feeling cheap.
These socks are plenty soft, but they’re also made with a “Y” heel that will keep them from bunching up or riding down the back of your ankle as you run. This feature makes a huge difference. It’s why cheaply made ankle socks fall short of expectations. They don’t stay in place as you move around and will, inevitably, drop down the back of your heel – practically guaranteeing blisters.
That’s not the only reason to love these running sucks, though.
ASICS also knit mesh into them for plenty of ventilation. This kind of breathability ensures that your feet will stay cool even on especially hot days. Again, this will go a long way toward avoiding blisters.
And if that wasn’t enough, these ankle socks are designed with a single tab that will protect against irritation across your entire foot. They also don’t have any seams, so these socks won’t get bunched up and bulky down by the toe – a really annoying problem that can even mess up your typical running cadence.
2. Rockay Accelerate Anti-Blister Running Socks – $16.95
If you’re looking for running socks that will offer something a little more substantial, check out Rockay Accelerate Anti-Blister Running Socks. They won’t go past your ankle, but they will pack a punch when it comes to keeping your feet nice-and-cozy when the weather isn’t on your side.
These are also a fantastic choice if you’re trying to go green. As the owner of a company that prioritizes recycled materials, I love that Rockay makes these socks from 100% recycled plastics taken straight from the ocean.
What’s crazy is that using recycled products doesn’t remotely hurt the comfort levels of these socks – like at all.
Rockay designed these with a weave across their arches that provides a good amount of compression for a nice snug fit. And there’s an elastic ring that rests just under the ankle, so these definitely aren’t the kinds of ankle-length running socks that will start to sag the moment you pick up the pace.
That’s already really cool, but Rockay takes things a step further and treats these socks with Polygiene, which helps to keep them from smelling after several runs. The idea is that, this way, you don’t need to waste water on washing them right away. You can wait until after a few runs to finally throw them in the washer, saving water and electricity in the process.
Of course, some people prefer a longer pair when it’s chilly out, but I’ll get to those options in a moment.
3. Smartwool’s Run Targeted Cushion Low Ankle Socks – $19.00
Just because I know how popular they are, let’s look at another pair of super-comfortable ankle-length running socks that have become really popular as of late.
Smartwool’s Run Targeted Cushion Low Ankle Socks are another option that are incredibly warm without covering a lot of surface area. They’re made from Merino wool and yarn, which means they’ll keep your feet cozy without adding a ton of bulk.
But these socks offer more than just protection from the cold. They’re also crazy comfortable. Smartwool designed them with targeted cushioning in the areas covering the heel and ball of your foot. At the same time, these are still a thin enough pair that you don’t have to worry about them bunching up when you throw on your favorite pair of shoes (even many of the most popular “barefoot running shoes”). Their seamless toes really add to the overall comfort, as well.
And if you still need another reason to add these socks to your drawer, Smartwool makes them with mesh ventilation that will let your body heat escape, so your feet don’t catch fire on long-distance runs.
The pair I linked to above is for men, but Smartwool has a similar version for women, too.
4. Balega Hidden Comfort – $15.00
Before we move on to socks with more of an ankle on them, let’s cover one more option that keeps things short. In fact, these are arguably the most popular no-show running socks on the market amongst athletes (not just runners).
So, if you haven’t heard of Balega Hidden Comfort No Show Running Socks before, now’s the time to think about ordering a pair before your next run.
Why are they so beloved?
These cushioned socks are so insanely comfortable that you may have a hard time wearing anything else – even when you’re not running.
Balega does this by using their proprietary Drynamix polyester, a fabric designed to wick away moisture from your skin. The entire sock is made with a 200 needle-count fabric that will keep your feet plenty comfortable, too.
The construction of these socks makes a big difference, as well.
Their no-show socks have reinforced ventilation panels made from mesh to keep your feet dry. Then, Balega added a hand-linked seamless box to the toe to minimize any friction as much as possible. The heel is reinforced, too. Between these features, you should be able to kiss your fears of chafing goodbye.
Finally, between their high heel, a very generous heel pocket, and a no-slip fabric known as Elastane, these socks won’t fall even during long-distance runs.
That initial link was for men, so if you’re a woman, here’s the link for the Balega Hidden Comfort No Show Socks for Women.
5. Darn Tough Run Ultra-Light Cushion Running Socks – $18.00
Speaking of comfortable, the next entry on our list is another pair of cushioned running socks that may very well change your life.
Unlike that last entry, the Darn Tough Run Ultra-Light Cushion Running Socks come in a quarter-length option that will go past your ankle and then some. So, if you’re not a fan of no-show socks but aren’t looking to cover your entire shin, these may be perfect.
(Note: Darn Tough also makes their Ultra-Light Cushion Running Socks in a no-show alternative, as well, if you really like that style)
Given the manufacturer’s name, it probably shouldn’t shock you that these are darn durable socks. So, while they certainly cost more than the average bargain-brand running sock, these also aren’t the kind you’ll ever need to worry about paying to replace any time soon.
Or at all.
That’s because Darn Tough actually offers a warranty on their socks. It reads:
“If these aren’t the longest lasting socks you’ve ever owned, you can return them to us for another pair. No receipt needed, just the pair in question.”
So, go right ahead. Log as many miles as you can. Run as hard as possible.
And yet, durability doesn’t mean discomfort here.
An insanely high stitch count provides a nice level of compression that keeps these socks in place with an incredible level of comfort. This construction comes with a noticeable level of support, too.
While these are a great pair of running socks to wear for your everyday jogs, their combination of comfort, support, and stability make them especially easy to recommend for running marathons.
Once again, here’s the women’s version of this running sock if you’re looking for them.
6. Swiftwick ASPIRE FOUR Trail Running – $18.99
If you want something a little more traditional in a running sock, then take a look at Swiftwick ASPIRE FOUR Trail Running Socks.
These socks have become popular with all kinds of athletes, including mountain bikers who push themselves hard through all manner of terrain and weather conditions, so you can rest assured that this is going to be another durable pair.
This also makes them another great choice for runners who don’t want to stay inside during cold winter months. Their extra coverage, durability, and comfort level also make these a popular pair of socks for trail running (not shocking, given their name).
Whatever your reason is for wearing them, these socks provide some serious cushioning. They’re made from a combination of olefin, nylon, and spandex (among other things). This mix of fabrics doesn’t just make these running socks softer on your skin, they also keep them nice and tight around your ankles – an absolute must for any runner.
And if you’re not familiar with olefin, this lightweight fabric will ensure that your feet stay dry and protect them from blisters during long runs on hot days.
Swiftwick even went a step further (get it?) by adding a mesh footbed to these socks, creating maximal ventilation so your feet are always able to breathe.
7. Feetures Elite Light Cushion No Show Tab Solid- Running Compression Socks – $18.00
Continuing on with running socks that offer more ankle coverage, we have Feetures Elite Light Cushion Mini Crew Sock Static.
They’re made with 96% nylon, which makes them very comfortable, but Feetures also utilizes an anatomical design that perfectly conforms to the structure of your foot.
As we’ve already touched on here, comfort makes a big difference when it comes to running socks.
But that’s not all.
These are another pair of running socks that don’t have that irritating seam across the toes – a feature that makes all the difference for longer runs.
Feetures gave them zone-specific compression, which really ups the comfort and support levels, too. The cushioning on these socks was deliberately placed with impact protection in mind, which makes the Feetures Elite Light Running Socks a great choice whether you’re jogging, trail running, or taking on an entire marathon.
The nylon, design, and compression all go a long way toward keeping your feet safe from blisters, as well.
So, while these socks have received a lot of attention for how amazing they feel, it’s not a situation where you’re sacrificing the health of your foot for comfort during your runs.
8. Thorlos Running Maximum Cushion Crew – $15.99
At this point, we’ve covered a couple options that are great for running in the cold, but these are probably the best option if you want running socks for the actual winter. If you’re one of those crazies who won’t let a little snow get in your way (be careful not to slip), Thorlos Running Maximum Cushion Crew Running Socks are for you.
While the Swiftwick ASPIRE FOUR Trail Running is definitely popular for colder days, this Thorlos pair will cover a lot more of your leg with a lot more fabric.
So, although you might need a little extra space in your running shoe for these big boys, if you’re running in the winter months, you should probably have a different pair for these conditions anyway.
Provided you can fit these socks in your running-shoe-of-choice, you’ll be rewarded with a comfortable feel thanks to a combination of elastic, nylon, and THOR-LON acrylic, which is popular for its “clinically-tested padding.”
All this extra cushioning wasn’t placed throughout the sock haphazardly, though. This pair was designed deliberately with extra amounts of fabric over the toes and arches – right where you want it the most.
Again, these aren’t going to be all-weather running socks. If you can comfortably wear shorts during your run, it’s probably too warm to be wearing Thorlos Running Maximum Cushion Crew Running Socks.
But if you’re taking on the freezing cold and want to leave those temperatures in the dust, these socks won’t let you down.
9. Adidas Running Ultralight Crew Performance – $11
Seeing Adidas on our list should come as no surprise. The brand has long been a friend to passionate runners. We’ve featured them on our list of best running sunglasses and shorts before, so it makes sense that they make a great pair of running socks, too.
As with the items that made those lists, the Adidas Running Ultralight Crew Performance Socks don’t disappoint, either.
These crew-length socks will go about halfway up your calf but don’t have the same amount of thickness as the last pair, so you can definitely wear these for trail runs in warmer weather or normal jogs when the temp starts to cool in the fall.
The AEROREADY material is the secret to these socks’ success. It’s thin enough that you’ll barely know it’s there, yet it will still keep you warm. This is also another pair of running socks made with recycled materials. Adidas calls the fabric Primegreen.
Adidas also won’t let you down with the design of these socks, either. Their heels feature raised cushioning and there’s extra support for your arches, so the two most vulnerable parts of your feet are ready to take on some longer distances. A flat toe seam is also a big plus in the “comfort” column.
10. Injinji Ultra Run Toe Socks – $19
Alright, we’ve reached the end of our list, which is why I’ve decided to end things with a bang.
The Injini Ultra Run Toe Socks are unlike any we’ve covered so far and they definitely won’t be for everyone, but if you enjoy this kind of a fit, these might be the only running socks for you.
Let’s get that out of the way first. If you love finger-toe shoes for running, then you probably don’t need a whole lot of convincing to give these a try.
However, if you’re someone who prefers more traditional shoes, but you regularly suffer from blisters between your toes, these are still a great choice. They’ll provide protection to each toe in a way that no other pair of socks on this list can. You might quickly discover that they’re the best pair of running socks for preventing blisters that you’ve ever tried.
Even if blisters aren’t much of a problem, the design of these socks also lets your toes splay in a way that traditional options won’t allow. For many runners – including those who don’t wear finger-toe shoes – this has proven to be a huge advantage. Many athletes report that it makes for a more comfortable jog and even helps them keep running when they want to quit.
Their unique style isn’t the only reason to love these socks, though.
They also feature a ribbed knit pattern throughout that ensure a nice tight fit. These socks reach to mid-calf and will stay there during your most challenging runs thanks to their tight – but comfortable – design.
That’s why these socks have become so popular among people who are otherwise used to more conventional options. If you’re in the market for new socks to wear during your runs, I’d give these a try before assuming you’ve considered all of the best options.
11. 1000 Mile Running Anklet – $18.82
1000 Mile was the first brand to introduce the double layer socks that have become so popular in recent years.
These anklet versions are a classic and offer comfort with cushioning and ventilation zones for maximum breathability. The 1000 Mile Running Anklet Socks also have protection for the Achilles tendon and inner layers to help wick away sweat, so your feet stay good and dry.
12. Stance Run Crew Sock – $14.98
Stance offers a variety of running socks including hidden, ankle, and stylish options.
Known for their technical excellence, these socks feature targeted leg compression to improve blood flow and a reflective logo for visibility. The reinforced toe and heel sections provide durability, and the socks are available in women's sizes, as well.
If you like compression socks but are looking for something a that isn’t quite as tight around your leg, this might be the perfect running sock for you.
13. On Running High Sock – $21.99
On Running offers a funky pair of High Socks that feel supportive and lightweight, while still providing a surprising amount of cushioning across the underfoot.
They come in five different lengths for men and women and three different options for of colors and different designs.
These running socks are made with a combination of polyamide and elastane with mesh paneling. Their mesh sections are specifically designed to keep your feet at the perfect temperature no matter what weather you’re running or how long you go for.
On also utilized a specific type of Swiss engineering to ensure their running socks stay in place during workouts, to maintain comfort and protect against blisters.
A lot of these brands make claims like this, but On has a reputation for making good on promises they make about the manufacturing that goes into making their socks, shoes, and other products.
14. Waterproof Cold Weather Mid-Length Sock – $55.00
Finally, if you have a bit more in your budget and want a bit more from your socks, check out the Waterproof Cold Weather Mid-Length Socks from Sealskinz.
These socks are very serious about waterproofing. They have a hydrostatic head (HH) rating of 20,000, which is considered high. Despite being waterproof, these socks have a unique membrane that helps to wick moisture away from the skin to keep feet comfortable and dry. Additionally, the inner layer of these socks is made of merino wool, which helps to keep feet warm.
15. CEP Reflective Socks – $59.95
Here’s one more “pricey” pair of socks we added for 2023. The CEP Reflective Tall Compression Socks are the most expensive option on our list, but many runners have come to swear by them in recent years.
If you’ve found that compression socks seem to make a big difference, countless athletes will tell you that CEP makes the best on the market.
The compression is firm but far from uncomfortable, which is often the case with many other compression socks on the market. You’ll also notice that the toes area are seamless, which, as we covered earlier, is a great way to avoid blisters and other problems.
We also love their reflective features. Anything that makes it easier for others to see you during evening runs is a huge plus in our book.
Taking Care of Your New Running Socks
Finally, picking the right socks is only half the battle. If you don’t take good care of them, their quality will suffer and it will only be a matter of time before even the best running socks become a problem.
Obviously, check to see if your socks come with any special instructions for their care.
Otherwise, the rule of thumb is to turn your socks inside out and wash them with cold water. No fabric softener is necessary, but you should probably avoid the dryer and simply leave them and let the air do its trick. Putting them through the dryer could damage some fabrics that are popular for running socks.
Choosing the Best Socks for Your Running Needs
Do you need a better pair of socks to help you reach your potential as a runner?
Well, now you know the 10 best pairs on the market.
While I wouldn’t suggest you try each and every one of them, I would recommend test-running at least a few pairs before making up your mind.
Running socks may not seem as important as your shoes, shorts, and other gear, but they still matter enough to give them some serious thought.
Fortunately, now you have plenty of options to think about.
And if you're only interested in the kind fo barefoot running shoes, check out our list of the best toe socks on the market.