Reviews You Can Rely On

The 4 Best Running Socks of 2022

We tested the top running socks from Balega, Darn Tough, Injinji, Swiftwick, and others to find the best of the best
Best Running Socks of 2022
Credit: Amber King
Friday November 25, 2022
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Our team of runners has bought and tested over 23 high-performance running socks over the last four years. This review highlights 11 of today's top models. Each sock has been tested thoroughly - some for months, others for years. We've put each model through its paces, charging up hills and bombing down trails from the sands of the Nevada desert to the High Sierra scree. After logging dozens of miles in each sock, we assess their materials and construction for durability, moisture-wicking, slip prevention, and comfort. Our thorough and critical evaluation will help you find the right sock for your running needs.

We have sought out the expertise of dozens of gear junkies and have laid hands on hundreds of running-centric products. You cannot overestimate the importance of a good pair of socks, but a runner's most essential piece of equipment is their shoes. We have pounded out the miles to create our in-depth review of the best running shoes. If you prefer to skip the pavement, we don't blame you. We have bought, tested, and evaluated the top men's trail running shoes and our lady testers can provide recommendations for their favorite trail shoes for women. For all other running needs, we have tapped into the knowledge of our expert team of runners to test and uncover the best running gear on the market.

Editor's Note: Our running sock article was updated on November 25, 2022, to share more information on our scoring process.

Top 11 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award  
Price $20.00 List
Check Price at REI
$19.00 List
$19.00 at REI
$17.00 List
$16.95 at Amazon
Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$15.00 List
$14.44 at Amazon
Overall Score
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Pros Protective medium cushioning, protective length, durable fibers, strong at wicking, quick to dryDeliciously comfortable, well-cushionedGreat slip prevention, seamless feelSuper comfortable padding, toe spread, blister prevention, excellent moisture management, protectiveBreathable, durable, nice size range
Cons Medium cushioning isn't ideal for super hot weatherPoor breathabilityA little on the thick side, holds more moisture than a thinner sockSome may not love the toe sock design, cooler than merino wool when wetNot very much cushioning
Bottom Line An all-around excellent performer that's built for the beginner to the elite ultra-distance runnerComfortable for long days pumping out the milesIf your feet need room to swell in a wider shoe, but you don't want to slip around the extra space, check out these excellent cushioned socksIf you are considering a toe sock design, this durable synthetic option comes highly recommendedThese are a moderately cushioned option for folks who don't prefer a thickly cushioned sock
Rating Categories Balega Blister Resi... Balega Silver No Show Darn Tough Run Cool... Injinji Trail Midwe... Swiftwick Maxus One
Comfort (25%) Sort Icon
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Fit (25%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
Wicking & Breathability (25%)
8.0
5.0
5.0
8.0
6.0
Slip Prevention (15%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
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Durability (10%)
9.0
6.0
9.0
9.0
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Specs Balega Blister Resi... Balega Silver No Show Darn Tough Run Cool... Injinji Trail Midwe... Swiftwick Maxus One
Material 32% Drynamix Polyester, 32% Polyamide, 30% Mohair, 4% Microfiber, 2% Elastane 75% Drynamix Polyester, 23% Nylon, 2% Elastane 48% Nylon 47% Coolmax Polyester 5% Lycra Spandex 39% Coolmax Polyester, 58% Nylon, 3% Lycra Olefin
Ankle Cut Quarter Length No Show Tab No Show Tab Quarter Length Low Cut
Cushioning Level Heavy Heavy Light Heavy Light


Best Overall Running Sock


Balega Blister Resister Quarter


85
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 9.0
  • Fit 8.0
  • Wicking & Breathability 8.0
  • Slip Prevention 9.0
  • Durability 9.0
Material: 32% Drynamix polyester, 32% polyamide, 30% mohair, 4% microfiber, 2% elastane| Cushioning: Midweight
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent cushioning and comfort
Ventilation in all the right places
Elasticized construction with specific fit
REASONS TO AVOID
Thicker construction isn't ideal for hot weather

The Balega Blister Resister Quarter is an excellent performer for a myriad of reasons. The synthetic construction feels soft and comfortable against the skin, with padding exactly where you need it. On long trail runs, your foot will feel protected from underfoot hazards like rocks, roots, sand, and more. The thinner construction across the top of the foot and under the arch enables ventilation, even on warm days. Furthermore, there are different styles for both men and women with a simply impeccable fit. Durability is excellent as well in our testing so far. After 60+ miles of running, it still looks like new. Our testers found themselves reaching for this protective performer for trail runs where distances ranged from one to one hundred miles through both summer and winter.

The only caveat we could think of is it may not be the option for the hottest of summer days, given the mid-weight level of cushioning. Aside from that, if you're seeking an excellent running sock with impeccable protection and great durability at a reasonable price, this is one you should buy.

Read more: Balega Blister Resister Quarter review

running socks - best overall running sock
The Balega Blister Resister is comfortable and protective for long or short days out on the trail, road, or wherever you like to run.
Credit: Amber King

Best Bang for the Buck


Swiftwick Aspire Zero


71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 5.0
  • Fit 7.0
  • Wicking & Breathability 10.0
  • Slip Prevention 5.0
  • Durability 8.0
Material: 55% Nylon, 40% Olefin, 5% Spandex | Cushioning: Ultralightweight
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight
Specific fit
Awesome wicking and breathability
Great for hot weather
REASONS TO AVOID
Little cushioning
Some slippage

In combination with the Nylon materials, the hydrophobic olefin fibers make the Swiftwick Aspire Zero a great option for sweat-wicking and breathability, and at a more affordable price than others we tested. The construction provides ample ventilation that quickly moves moisture away from the foot, through the sock, and out. We are impressed with its specific fit and its lack of movement while running long and hard days. Even when wet, it dried quickly and kept our feet relatively dry. As a result, we recommend it for warm weather on terrain that doesn't require a whole lot of support or cushioning.

While it's hard to find anything truly wrong with this sock, we'd have to say the most significant caveat is simply in its intended construction. It's designed as a lightweight sock option, which may not be the preferred style for those who require a little extra cushioning. Also, while the material isn't very slippery, we noticed it slips around in wider, sloppier shoes because it is so thin. So it does require a tighter fitting shoe to avoid this issue. If you're seeking a more affordable sock that'll breathe really well in warm weather, this is our top recommendation.

Read more: Swiftwick Aspire Zero review

running socks - best bang for the buck
The low profile, hydrophobic fibers, and vented design make this thin, lightweight sock a favorite for hot-weather running.
Credit: Amber King

Most Comfortable Cushioning


Balega Silver No Show


75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 9.0
  • Fit 8.0
  • Wicking & Breathability 5.0
  • Slip Prevention 9.0
  • Durability 6.0
Material: 75% Drynamix Polyester, 23% Nylon, 2% Elastane | Cushioning: Midweight
REASONS TO BUY
Cozy and comfortable
Well fitted design
REASONS TO AVOID
Padding is not specific
Does not vent well

The Balega Silver No Show offers a super cozy and comfortable experience. The synthetic materials are soft and supple to the touch, wrapping your foot in what feels like a fleece snuggie blanket. It is well fitted with specific areas of compression that help keep the sock's shape. The padding underfoot is quite protective, making it an excellent option for both trail and road running.

The downside is this sock doesn't excel at breathability. Unlike some of the more intricate designs, the entire bottom of the foot has full padding with slits for ventilation. Despite the slits, we found the sock traps moisture when conditions are wet or hot when others offer more breathability. However, we did notice it wicks well.

Read more: Balega Silver No Show review

running socks - most comfortable cushioning
The bottom of the foot on the Balega Silver is continually cushioned with the top being thin and breathable.
Credit: Amber King

Best Toe Sock


Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew


84
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Fit 9.0
  • Wicking & Breathability 8.0
  • Slip Prevention 8.0
  • Durability 9.0
Material: 39% COOLMAX polyester, 58% Nylon, 3% Lycra | Cushioning: Midweight
REASONS TO BUY
Plush cushioning
Toe-sock design for enhanced toe spread
Soft materials
REASONS TO AVOID
Cold when wet

If you love to spread your toes on the run, the Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew won't let you down. The plush underfoot cushioning cradles and protects your foot in all the right places, while the thicker quarter-length design doesn't slip or move while you explore. This sock is unique from others, wrapping each toe individually, just like a glove. It allows your toes to spread, helps to avoid blisters, and improves balance while on the trail. Designed for long trails, everybody from a 5K runner to the ultramarathoner will appreciate its unique design, comfort, and protection.

While a toe-sock might be a favorite for some, it's not everybody's cup of tea. The extra work to put them on and the toe splay is a little out of the normal. However, if you haven't tried a toe sock, why not give it a shot? We did, and really enjoyed the benefits.

Read more: Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew review

running socks - full coverage around your ankles is a huge plus for any trail...
Full coverage around your ankles is a huge plus for any trail runner. Plus...the toe spread on the Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew is pretty awesome.
Credit: Amber King

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
85
Balega Blister Resister Quarter
balega blister resister quarter running socks review
$20
Editors' Choice Award
84
Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew
injinji trail midweight mini-crew running socks review
$16
Top Pick Award
75
Balega Silver No Show
balega silver no show running socks review
$19
Top Pick Award
74
Darn Tough Run Coolmax No-Show Tab Ultralight
darn tough run coolmax no-show tab ultralight running socks review
$17
72
Swiftwick Maxus One
swiftwick maxus one running socks review
$15
71
Swiftwick Aspire Zero
swiftwick aspire zero running socks review
$15
Best Buy Award
71
Wrightsock CoolMesh II Quarter
wrightsock coolmesh ii quarter running socks review
$15
70
Feetures Merino 10
feetures merino 10 running socks review
$20
69
Thorlos Experia XCCU
thorlos experia xccu running socks review
$15
68
Smartwool PhD Run Ultra Light Micro
smartwool phd run ultra light micro running socks review
$18
65
DryMax Running Mini Crew
drymax running mini crew running socks review
$13

running socks - our teams take our running socks to high mountain ridges towering...
Our teams take our running socks to high mountain ridges towering over 13,000 feet to truly test performance. Here, Claire runs the Red Two Ridge over Ouray, CO on a 14-miles ridge climbing, trail running adventure.
Credit: Amber King

Why You Should Trust Us


To determine the best overall pair, we put each sock through months of field testing and conducted objective in-house tests to fine-tune our findings. We ran through all sorts of weather, battling technical trails and long days on the pavement. We tried different lengths and levels of cushioning and banged out 1000s of miles throughout the country. Our team of testers looks at each sock comparatively, qualifying each with five essential performance metrics. After putting our legs through the "stuff," we provide you with an unbiased and quality overview of the best running socks on the market.

Our running sock testing is divided across five different metrics:
  • Comfort (25% of overall score weighting)
  • Fit (25% weighting)
  • Wicking & Breathability (25% weighting)
  • Slip Prevention (15% weighting)
  • Durability (10% weighting)

Andy Wellman and Amber King provide quality insights into running gear. Both are avid runners, participating in ultra-distance marathons. Andy has participated in 100-mile ultramarathons, while Amber continues to train hard for 50-mile trail marathons throughout the USA. They play in places from Oregon to Colorado to Ontario, visiting canyons, beaches, mountains, deserts, and more. Both have been gear testers and contributors to OutdoorGearLab for over seven years, keeping tabs on the industry and testing new models to make the best recommendations possible.

Running on the sand dunes in Death Valley National Park, we came to...
Running on the sand dunes in Death Valley National Park, we came to really appreciate the super tight 200 needle point weave of the Appalachian QTR socks because they didn't have big holes or mesh that allow sand to sneak in.
This sock does incredibly well wicking away moisture from the foot...
This sock does incredibly well wicking away moisture from the foot. The arch area provides a good mode of ventilation. That said, after this particular run, we noticed moisture building up in the pads of the sock, even though our feet stayed dry.
For us, running is typically a solitary activity that takes place in...
For us, running is typically a solitary activity that takes place in the mountains, giving time to reflect. Sometimes while out testing we have to set up our own photos, like we did on this beautiful fall day.

Analysis and Test Results


In our testing, we look at a myriad of running sock options for both men and women. We look primarily at no-show or crew-style socks, with a quarter length thrown in for good measure. The running socks we compare are the best we could find on the market and are made from quality materials. Any option in this review will do the trick, but the best sock for you will be defined by where you run and what you need your running sock for.


Value


When it comes to running socks, it's important to look at the durability in addition to the price, which will inherently tell you which model will provide the best bang for your buck. Ultimately, most in this review are of great value, with none that we found that we wouldn't recommend. Those made with synthetic materials are known to feature higher quality fibers, but they aren't as warm or comfortable as merino wool options.

The Darn Tough Run Coolmax No-Show Tab Ultralight is a good value option, given its superb durability. While you might pay a little more upfront, this sock will last you much longer than another in the same use-case scenarios (based on our testing). The DryMax Running Mini Crew is another low-priced synthetic that doesn't have the best fit for women but proves to keep going mile after mile. The range of cost for socks is small, but the real value is in how many miles you can put in before needing a new pair.

Comfort


Comfort is the most crucial consideration when evaluating a running sock. How a sock feels will determine whether you wear it every day or never again. We began by examining each material's overall feel. Is it rough and abrasive, or soft and supple? Are there exposed seams that cause rubbing or friction? Does the sock hug our foot comfortably or squish the toes? Does it pinch around the ankle or the top of the foot? Where is the padding located? We ultimately determine the most comfortable option by evaluating the feel of the sock both in and out of our running shoes. We also take a critical look at where cushioning is targeted. Socks with padding aimed at all the right places are the most comfortable and score the best in our testing. Let it be stated that even the lowest-scoring sock in the comfort metric is still significantly more comfortable than your average cotton sock. Hence, comfort needs to be approached with a keen eye to find out which sock is average and which is truly heaven on your foot.


We think that targeted padding in the forefoot, toes, sides of the toes, and the heel is the ideal makeup. If the rest of the sock around the arch and top of the foot is made up of thinner, more breathable material, the runner benefits from having that extra protection while not adding bulk and heat-trapping fabric. Padding tends to become a more valuable feature when running for longer distances and when the ground surface becomes rougher, like when trail or mountain running.

running socks - joanne descends off the top of a snow-covered bridge of heaven in...
Joanne descends off the top of a snow-covered Bridge of Heaven in Ouray, CO testing our the Thorlos Experia with a tight and loose fitting shoe. During our testing, we took the time to really look comparatively at each product. Read on to learn how each running sock compares to the other. In this review, we look at both men and women's products.
Credit: Amber King

Of all that we tested, the Balega Blister Resister Quarter, Balega Silver No Show, and Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew are the most comfortable. The materials are super soft and comfortable. All have ultra-plush cushioning targeted to the ball of the foot, heel, and Achilles, with a midweight construction. The fabric in the cushioned areas is highly dense, quite responsive, and protective underfoot. All are good options for protection on longer trail runs.

running socks - the balega blister resister quarter features ample cushioning in the...
The Balega Blister Resister Quarter features ample cushioning in the forefoot, heel, and across the Achilles as pictured here. This makes it one of the most comfortable socks tested.
Credit: Amber King

The Thorlos Experia XCCU is a lightweight sock that offers targeted cushioning that is super soft to the touch. While the fabric isn't as plush as the Feetures Merino 10, this sock kept our feet protected and comfortable on the long runs. However, it's not our first choice for ultradistances. We appreciate the higher sock height of the Thorlos in comparison to the Feetures, which would sometimes slip down while running.

Socks with less cushioning typically didn't score as highly in this metric. There are some standouts, though, like the Wright Sock Coolmesh II Quarter. This sock feels seamless, and even though it comes up higher on the ankle than much of our selection, we hardly noticed it, and it feels great when combined with a shoe with a debris collar. The downside is that it doesn't provide much in the way of slip prevention. We don't recommend them when wearing a wider-fitting shoe.

running socks - when a shoe has a snug debris collar, it&#039;s a good idea to go with a...
When a shoe has a snug debris collar, it's a good idea to go with a quarter-length sock to protect your ankle.
Credit: Matt Bento

Ordering Different Height Socks and Cushion Levels
Although we mostly reviewed No Show or No Show Tab varieties of running-specific socks, those who would like mini-crew can usually still order the same sock with a different ankle height. Sock makers produce several varieties, so options abound in fabrics, thicknesses, ankle heights, and levels of cushioning. This review ranges from ultralight to lightweight, but more cushioned varieties are available if this is what you seek.

Fit


How a sock fits is another critical component that relates to its comfort and performance. A sock that is too big or small will not be as comfortable as one that fits just right. The fit is determined by how well a sock might mold to your foot and stay in place. It should hug the foot comfortably without being too tight or loose. A sometimes overlooked aspect of fit is where your foot fits within a manufacturer's size range. Some companies manufacture a single sock design that is meant to fit a wide range of foot sizes.


We asked several questions to determine which sock fits best. Did it bunch up and force rearrangement after first pulling it on? Did it stay in place mile after mile, or did it creep down? Did it feel confining when first pulled on, or did it feel like it wasn't there? How well did it move with the foot? Some socks have a lot of snug-fitting elastic sections that hug the foot. Others were too tight or loose at the ankle, giving us the feeling of circulation being cut off. Similarly, some socks overemphasized the amount of elastic in the arch, making it feel restrictive. The best socks feel comfortable and don't restrict movement. We also point out niches some socks occupy in the section below.

running socks - here we see the smartwool phd elite (left) with a much more specific...
Here we see the Smartwool PhD Elite (left) with a much more specific fit than the Drymax (left). Both are supposed to be the same size.
Credit: Amber King

Our standout performer for the best-fitting sock out of the bunch is the Thorlo Experia XCCU, Balega Blister Resister, and Injinji Mid-weight Toe Sock. All offer a specific fit that doesn't bunch or rub in any locations. Like the Feetures Merino 10, it stays in place on a long run, without bunching or moving on the foot. None of the above feel too tight or small and offer a standout fit for both men and women.

running socks - here we look at the compression around the arch. the darn tough...
Here we look at the compression around the arch. The Darn Tough (previous version - left) has a thinner, more specific band while the Swiftwick (right) has a wider compressive band. This changes the overall fit, with the Swiftwick being a little less tight and compressive.
Credit: Amber King

The Darn Tough socks for both men and women also feature an excellent fit. The compression is in all the right areas and stays in place. When looking at the comparative size differences in the men's and women's socks, the women's is more narrow with a tighter heel cup. If you're a woman with wider feet, we'd recommend trying on the men's sock. Both offer a size that is true to fit.

running socks - we really enjoy the toe-sock design and fit of the injinji trail...
We really enjoy the toe-sock design and fit of the Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew. A true treat when distances are long and a good fit is imperative.
Credit: Amber King

The Balega Silver No Show provides a surprisingly specific fit as well. It has more specific compression around the arch with a little more padding around the Achilles and underfoot. Both are seriously comfortable with a unisex fit. Both fit a bit large, so if you're on the cusp, size down.

Wicking & Breathability


When water is trapped next to the skin, it gets absorbed, causing the feet to swell and soften, increasing the chance of blisters. To combat this, a sock that effectively wicks and breathes is paramount. Wicking is a sock's ability to effectively pull moisture from the skin to the outside of the sock, spreading that moisture over a wider surface area, where it will hopefully evaporate. Whether or not it evaporates depends on both the breathing and venting capabilities of your shoe and the sock's ability to release moisture into the air. Some models can wick and breathe well, while others might wick but not breathe so well. If your socks are good at wicking, they'll pull more sweat and water away from your foot, so your feet will also dry more quickly once you remove your socks and shoes. Keeping your feet dry is essential for preventing blisters and keeping your calluses intact. Unless you're in an actual race, don't hesitate to air out your dogs and keep them dry and healthy mid-run. With good wicking socks and a little sun, your feet can be bone dry in as little as ten minutes.


running socks - here we see all the breathable vents throughout the balega blister...
Here we see all the breathable vents throughout the Balega Blister Resister which makes it such a great running sock. It offers an impeccable balance of breathability and protection that isn't found in any other option tested.
Credit: Amber King

The key to a sock that wicks well is using a hydrophobic (water-hating) fabric to pull moisture from the foot and transfer it through the material. Models with a thicker looped thread or some porosity at the material's surface tend to wick the best. Those that breathe the best are those with a thinner architecture with a loosely knit weave to increase surface area for water transport.

running socks - nearing the top of wildhorse peak in the uncompahgre wilderness on...
Nearing the top of Wildhorse Peak in the Uncompahgre Wilderness on an epic rainy day run. Having a sock that can keep your feet dry is key to avoiding blisters on this sort of a run.

In this review, socks composed of synthetic material did the best at wicking, specifically those that integrate a high proportion of hydrophobic Olefin fibers. A previous award winner, the DryMax Running Mini Crew stands out in this category, drying quickly and wicking stupendously well. However, this year, the Swiftwick Aspire Zero can dry quicker and manage moisture better. This ultralight contender is super thin, wicking away moisture and keeping feet drier. Both are great options for wet, humid, or super hot conditions, with the DryMax being a little thicker in construction. The Smartwool PhD Run Ultra Light Micro is another competitor that wicks quite well, using different materials.

running socks - while some socks have thoughtful cushioning patterns, the swiftwick...
While some socks have thoughtful cushioning patterns, the Swiftwick is simply thin all the way through, with a porous fabric that allows moisture to escape easily.
Credit: Amber King

Thicker socks wick well but don't offer the same level of breathability as thinner contenders. The Thorlos Experia XCCU is an exception that features an excellent venting system. The thicker fibers on the pads of the foot area grab moisture and move it effectively to the super-thin regions around the arch and top of the foot for optimal breathability. Other thicker socks like the Balega Silver No Show brand wick well but unfortunately seem to hold the moisture in these denser areas. The Balega Blister Resister is an exception to this, which breathes exceptionally well, even with its midweight construction. Don't be dissuaded by the double-layer Wrightsock CoolMesh II Quarter as it's exceptionally thin and wicks well.

running socks - testing the wicking capabilities of different running socks...
Testing the wicking capabilities of different running socks, including the Balega Silver No Show, early Summer.
Credit: Amber King

Slip Prevention


The final component to avoiding blisters is its ability to reduce friction and heat by staying in place. When a foot slips inside a shoe, friction occurs — usually in the heel, under the ball of the foot, or between the toes. Friction creates heat, accelerating the creation of a blister. For this test, we are aware of how well a sock helps keep our foot in place. The interface between the skin, sock, and liner is crucial. So it's vital not only to get the right sock but also to ensure that your shoe fits correctly or that your liners aren't too slippery. A sock alone can't prevent blisters. It's a combination of the fit of your shoe, how you run, and how your sock and shoe interact. Additionally, a sock that is too slippery in your shoe can through your whole game off, causing you to feel less sure-footed and increasing your chances of falling or rolling an ankle.


Socks with added padding or cushioning, or thicker overall socks, tend to "fill" our shoes better than thin socks. For an optimal fit, you would be wise to regularly run in the same thickness of socks and fit the shoes to the volume of your preferred sock. If you size your shoe wearing a medium thickness sock and then go running in an ultra-light sock, there'll be extra room for your foot to slip. To look at this metric, we tested different socks using shoes that both fit loosely and tightly. Socks that don't slip have more porous or plush fabrics, as opposed to streamlined, lightweight, and slick.

running socks - here we test sock slippage on a particularly steep descent in grand...
Here we test sock slippage on a particularly steep descent in Grand Junction, CO. The Feetures Merino 10 (worn on this day) do a great job at staying in place without allowing the foot to bump forward.
Credit: Amber King

Of the socks tested, the Balega Silver No Show, Balega Blister Resister, and Injinji Midweight Toe Sock is the best at preventing foot slippage. All feature a thicker material construction in the heel and forefoot, with the Injinji offering the ability to spread your toes. This provides more traction in all the shoes we tested, thus offering less slippage. The Feetures Merino 10 is another that easily grabs the shoe for more reinforced friction, though the threads are finer.

running socks - here we stop to adjust the smartwool phd elite on a hot, sweaty day...
Here we stop to adjust the Smartwool PhD Elite on a hot, sweaty day. This sock is slippery and somewhat small, making it slip down the foot.
Credit: Jo Marczyk

The Thorlos Experia uses an ultra-thin section of material along the top and bottom that is a little more conducive to slip in looser shoes. The double-layered Wrightsock Coolmesh II Quarter also had us slipping around in our shoes more than we'd like. Overall, the thicker and more fitted the sock, the better it combats slippage. If you plan on buying a thinner sock, like the Smartwool PhD Run Ultra Light Micro that slips quite a bit, ensure that your insole offers some friction or the shoe fits nice and tight to avoid blisters.

Durability


Durability is an important factor to consider when purchasing new socks. You don't want to throw down your hard-earned dollars to get a pair that will wear out after a few runs. To assess durability, we examined the wear and tear of each product after 30 miles of testing. Our experts have been testing some of these socks for several years now, and in those cases, they can provide further insight into long-term limitations.


During this testing period, no socks showed any significant wear through the first 30 miles of testing, meaning that all running socks we tested are reasonably well-constructed. That said, they did show varying signs of wear and tear, which tells us there are differences in overall durability. The most valuable socks are those that will last the longest for the lowest cost over time.

running socks - &quot;trail&quot; running in the winter in colorado means you will be running...
"Trail" running in the winter in Colorado means you will be running on snow, really testing the durability of a running sock. Making it wet, then mashing it around, means that we can see which fibers stay intact, and which simply can't stand up.

Hands down, the best durability we've seen comes from Darn Tough. If you wear a sock for a year and put a hole in it, you can send it back for a brand new pair. During our testing, this sock brand showed the least amount of wear and tear, compaction, and piling issues, which lends to its standout durability. We've tested this brand of sock for years and have logged over 1000 miles on it while running through the steep and technical mountains of sunny and dry Colorado.

Thicker socks, in general, do better than thinner options. For example, after 60 miles of wear, the Balega Blister Resister and Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew are simply crushing it, still looking new.

running socks - here we see the thread-bare smartwool phd that also earned itself...
Here we see the thread-bare Smartwool PhD that also earned itself the makings of a hole after just three runs. The lack of cushioning makes any sock less durable. We have had better luck with the cushioned version of this sock lasting for many adventures. We can't say the same for its lesser cushioned cousin.
Credit: Amber King

Lighter socks don't do as well, but some are better than others. For example, the synthetic Swiftwick Aspire Zero, another lightweight contender, also proves to be ultra-durable with just a few thread flyaways after 200 miles, but not much else. The ultralight version of the Smartwool PhD (a Merino Wool sock) doesn't fare as well, showing the signs of a hole in the making and frayed areas in both the forefoot and heel, similar to the Feetures Merino 10, which has lasted a little longer due to the plusher materials used.

running socks - all of the qualities that make a good sock: comfort, perfect fit...
All of the qualities that make a good sock: comfort, perfect fit, wicking ability, adequate padding, and slip resistance; they all become even more important the longer you run. Here we test socks -- and our feet -- during an ultramarathon distance race.

Conclusion


We recommend a robust quiver of socks to suit the various weather and running conditions you'll experience throughout the year. A thin sock like the Swiftwick Aspire for the hottest days, the Drymax Running Mini Crew for when the rain won't stop, and the Balega Blister Resister for the long runs under variable skies. Whatever sock you're running in, you'll know you've made the right choice when you barely notice your socks are even there, and you can focus entirely on your stride and the scenery.

Matt Bento, Andy Wellman, & Amber King


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