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The Best Running Socks

On Running running socks
(Image credit: On Running)

There is no more underrated piece of clothing than socks, especially for runners. While you might spend weeks selecting the best running shoe and agonise for hours over the technical T-shirt you want to wear on race day, the chances are you’ll devote mere seconds to sock selection.

This is a huge mistake – we’d even go as far as saying it’s a travesty. The best socks will not only make blisters less likely and keep your feet dry and cool, but they’ll also make the whole run just feel right. Simply pulling on the perfect pair of socks can do away with any motivational misgivings before a run. You’ll be desperate to get out there.

In the past running socks were very plain affairs, especially for men, but brands like Stance have helped to spark a revolution in design that means your socks will often be the most exciting bit of kit you pull on for a run, so make sure you pick a few pairs you’re ready to show off.

Here are the very best running socks to consider.

The Best Running Socks

Stance Run Light Crew Running Socks

(Image credit: Stance)
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Stance Run Light Crew Socks

Our favourite all-round running socks

Reasons to buy

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Range of stylish designs
+
Durable
+
Comfortable and fast-drying

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricier than many socks
-
Some might prefer thinner socks

We’ve been fully paid-up members of the Stance socks fan club for a few years now – it’s a brand that offers a winning combination of style and substance. The socks have eye-catching designs and use long-lasting technical fabrics pretty much across the range, but there are two key features for runners. One is Infiknit, a winning pun that points to the durability of the socks – Stance offers a lifetime guarantee on the products that have it. The other is Feel360, a wicking fabric that ensures the socks dry in a flash, even after very sweaty long runs, in our experience. The Stance range contains a variety of great designs and socks of different thicknesses to suit your preferences, but the Run Light Crew socks are a great staple option if you’re not sure where to start.


BAM Technical Bamboo Trainer Socks

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BAM Technical Bamboo Trainer Socks

Soft socks with anti-odour properties

Reasons to buy

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Soft and comfortable 
+
Don’t smell after use
+
Sustainable bamboo fabric

Reasons to avoid

-
Only ankle socks available
-
Don’t dry as fast as others

We’re fans of bamboo running gear in general – the soft material is eco-friendly, wicks sweat and is naturally odour-resistant – and BAM has a good selection of socks for active use, with these Technical Trainer Socks coming in as the best option for runners. They are comfortable and more lightweight than other bamboo options, partly because the fabric is a mix of bamboo viscose and recycled polyamide, and have a mesh panel on the top of the foot for extra breathability.


Bombas Performance Running Crew Socks

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Bombas Performance Running Crew Socks

The most comfortable running socks

Reasons to buy

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Plushly padded
+
Not too hot despite padding
+
Range of snazzy designs

Reasons to avoid

-
Some might prefer thinner socks

We rate the Bombas socks as among the most comfortable we’ve tested: the thicker material and padded sections make for a pleasingly plush ride, especially in the colder months. Even on hot weather runs they didn’t overheat our feet, although you may feel a warm glow when wearing them because for every pair bought Bombas donates a pair of socks to a homeless shelter.


Higher State Freedom Running Anklet

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Higher State Freedom Running Anklet

Great budget socks

Reasons to buy

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Value
+
Thin sections increase breathability

Reasons to avoid

-
Hotter than other socks
-
Don’t dry very quickly

Higher State offers terrific value across its range of running gear (you can generally ignore the RRP, because we’ve never seen its gear not reduced on the Sports Shoes site), and that’s certainly the case with these socks. They are comfortable, with plenty of padding in key areas, and thinner sections ensure the material is still breathable. There’s an extensive range of colours too, and those hunting for socks on a budget could do far worse than filling their sock drawer with the Freedom Running Anklet.


Proviz Classic Airfoot Running Socks

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Proviz Classic Airfoot Running Socks

Reflective socks for extra visibility

Reasons to buy

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Reflective sections and bright design
+
Thin and lightweight fabric

Reasons to avoid

-
Design isn’t very exciting

While a few of the socks on this list stand out thanks to their design, none is quite as eye-catching as Proviz’s Classic Airfoot sock, which is all about making you as visible as possible. As you can see, it makes the most of fluorescent yellow or pink fabric, but the silver bits at the top of the sock also reflect light to make you more visible to drivers at night. The socks are also thin and comfortable to wear for long runs, and there is also a shorter version if you don’t want any part of your calves covered.


Soar diamond crew running socks

(Image credit: Soar)
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Soar Diamond Crew Sock

Stylish and lightweight

Reasons to buy

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Lightweight and breathable
+
Great design
+
Ideal for hot days

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricier than other socks

“Natty” is not a word you hear a lot these days, but it is the right word for these socks, which come in a range of diamond designs. The look is just part of the appeal – the socks are made from a lightweight and comfortable fabric that’s ideal for running on hot days. If you want something warmer, we recommend Soar’s All Weather Sock (opens in new tab). It uses a hollow yarn that locks in heat and has a water-repellent treatment that stops water from sinking in on chilly, wet runs.


1000 Mile Lite Anklet

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1000 Mile Lite Anklet

Two-layer socks to prevent blisters

Reasons to buy

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Blister-free guarantee
+
Made with recycled material

Reasons to avoid

-
Two-layer system doesn’t work for everyone

1000 Mile’s double-layer socks come with a blister-free guarantee, such is the company’s confidence in their preventive properties. The idea is that the inner layer stays with your skin while the outer layer moves with your shoe to prevent any rubbing directly on your skin. It’s worth giving the socks a go if you do struggle with blisters, since the guarantee means you can return them within 12 months if they wear out or give you blisters within 1,000 miles of use. The Lite Anklet is a breathable, lightweight two-layer sock that’s made with REPREVE recycled materials.


Rockay Razer running socks

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Rockay Razer

Top-notch socks made from recycled materials

Reasons to buy

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Very breathable fabric
+
Anti-odour properties
+
Recycled materials

Reasons to avoid

-
Not cheap

We’ve picked out the Razer as our favourite, but in Rockay’s wide range of socks all runners will find something they like – whether they prefer their socks to be thick or thin, long or short, or even constrictive in the case of the compression socks. Rockay puts an emphasis on sustainability, making all its gear from recycled materials, with the result that the equivalent of 13 plastic bottles are removed from the ocean for each set of socks you purchase. The Razer socks get the nod from us because they offer a little cushioning without making the material too thick, and have an anti-odour coating so you can use them a couple of times before washing.


Darn Tough Mens Run 1/4 Ultra-Light Cushion

(Image credit: Darn Tough Mens Run 1/4 Ultra-Light Cushion Black)
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Darn Tough Mens Run 1/4 Ultra-Light Cushion

Socks to last you a lifetime

Reasons to buy

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Lifetime guarantee
+
Fast-drying
+
Seamless design to minimise chafing

Reasons to avoid

-
Not cheap
-
Designs are a little dull

We love an unconditional guarantee, and the good folks at Darn Tough are prepared to back up their brand name with a lifetime warranty on their socks that says you can send them back at any point and get another pair for free. We have a few pairs of Darn Tough socks and have yet to get any inkling that we’ll need to make use of that guarantee. Our favourite set is the ¼ Ultra-Light Cushion, thanks to the comfortable seamless design and ability to dry rapidly after even the sweatiest of runs.


Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather Ankle Length

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Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather Ankle Length

Best waterproof running socks

Reasons to buy

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Waterproof and warm
+
Still quite breathable

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Too hot at times

You wouldn’t want to use these for all your runs, but they’re immensely valuable to have in your kit drawer. The impermeable membrane sandwiched between the inner and outer layer means they are unfailingly waterproof, which saved us from running for at least an hour with freezing cold and sodden feet one winter, when we were faced with a flooded field early on in a point-to-point countryside run. Sealskinz also has a range of waterproof running socks (opens in new tab) for warmer weather, which come with a barrier at the top to stop water streaming down your leg and into the sock – a useful addition given the downpours that are increasingly a feature of the UK summer.


Feetures Elite running socks

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Feetures Elite

Socks to suit all comers

Reasons to buy

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Wide range of styles 
+
Different levels of cushioning

Reasons to avoid

-
Amount of choice can be overwhelming

How cushioned do you like your running socks? Are you the type who prefers as much cushioning as possible for easy long runs, but on race day wants to slip on something lighter in the pursuit of marginal gains? If so, we salute your discerning taste and feel obliged to point you in the direction of Feetures’ Elite sock range. This allows you to pick not only the height of sock you like – crew, ankle or no-show – but also the level of cushioning – ultra light, light or max. There’s also a huge range of colours, so you’re sure to find socks to satisfy on that front as well.


On High running sock

(Image credit: Jonathan Shannon / Future)
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On High Sock

Socks with style and substance

Reasons to buy

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Great design
+
Good temperature control

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

When your socks look this good it makes no sense at all to hide them away by opting for the low or mid versions. The high sock comes up to mid-calf and is made from a quick-drying fabric that lightly compresses the foot during your run. The pattern on the arch of the sock isn’t just for show – it’s designed to hit sensory receptors in the foot to somehow prime them for running. We reckon the key here is not to try to work out what that means, but just to lean in to the idea that your socks are making you more ready to run.



Injinji Run socks

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Injinji Run

Toe socks that can reduce blisters

Reasons to buy

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Prevent toe-on-toe friction
+
Lightweight fabric

Reasons to avoid

-
A faff to put on
-
Mildly unsettling

Are toe socks ever-so-slightly unsettling? Yes. Are they are a bit of a pain to put on? Also yes. However, they’re a great option for anyone who is regularly beset by toe blisters because they prevent toe-on-toe rubbing. Injinji offers a huge range of different designs, so you can match them with the rest of your running outfit.


Balega Blister Resist socks

(Image credit: Balega)

Balega Blister Resist

Seamless socks to banish blisters

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable cushioning 
+
Anti-blister properties

Reasons to avoid

-
Thicker than others

The padding on these socks cushions the foot well, and they don’t bunch up or move around on the foot which helps to reduce the risk of rubbing and blisters. The toe section is hand-linked to the rest of the sock so there are no raised seams that could rub, and although the material used is thicker than on many other running socks we’ve tested, it still breathes well and dries quickly.


Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.

With contributions from