Even the best workout socks aren’t exactly the type of gear that most people get jazzed about. But every real runner and gym rat we know is totally neurotic about their feet’s first layer. And it’s for good reason: The truth is that the shoes you wear are only as good as the socks on your feet, no matter if you get your fix from sprinting or lifting, CrossFit or cycling. (Do you like blisters or hot spots?)
That’s why brands across the board have reassessed what a good sock should look and feel like, innovating with new fabrics, materials, and designs. No matter your athletic endeavor of choice, there is a perfect workout sock for you.
The Best Do-It-All Workout Socks
If you’re looking for one pair of socks to meet all your workout needs, look no further than Adidas’s Superlite Prime Mesh 3 socks. Breathable, but not so thin that they feel like papier-mâché on your feet, Adidas packed these socks with their Climalite fabric for maximum sweat wicking, plus extra cushioning in both the heel and toe to ensure they hold up to even a tough HIIT workout with tons of cutting and jumping. A low-profile heel tab—much more subtle than the obnoxiously large heel tabs found on most running socks—helps keep you blister-free. And the additional arch compression means they’re more than suitable options for the basketball or tennis courts.
The Best Socks for Runners
Lightweight above the ankle with targeted cushioning underfoot, Under Armour has created one of the more comfortable pairs of running socks we’ve tried in a long time. The somewhat tighter fit of these socks (which give a compression-like feel) are offset by the Y-shaped heel, resulting in a sock that feels like it is moving in complete synchronicity with every step you take. Plus, the reflective back logo is a welcome addition to your night-running gear.
The Best Socks No One Will See
As commonplace as the sockless look has become in everyday life, it’s near impossible to find a pair of true no-show socks that can stand up to a real workout without slipping off your foot. That is, until Nice Laundry released their Performance No Show socks into the world. Made from their proprietary Hydra10 nylon—which is said to be able to absorb more than 10-times its weight in water—the real winning feature is the non-slip silicone lined in the back of the heel to make certain these socks always stay in place (and which doesn’t suddenly disappear after one or two wash cycles, either).
The Best Basketball Socks
For years now, Nike has dominated the hardwood with their immediately recognizable Elite Crew. There’s no denying their greatness, but if the back stripe is starting to feel a little played out to you too, Stance’s Icon Hoops crew socks are ready to juke right past the Swoosh. With loads of cushioning to help balance out impact and built-in ankle protection, Stance also promises a lifetime guarantee if your big toe ever rips a hole through them.
The Best Socks for the Great Outdoors
Even novice hikers know that one must-have is a pair of quality wool socks to help keep your feet dry and fresh. The folks at American Trench took things a step further, adding nylon, spandex, and silver to create a perfectly weighted sock that doesn’t just keep you warm when temperatures start to drop, but comfortable no matter what the elements may throw at you. And if nothing else, their terry-knit design and classic Americana stripes will guarantee that you’re the best dressed person on the mountain.
11 More Socks We Love
Inspired by Nike’s Breaking2 project, in which Eliud Kipchoge first sought to break the sub-2:00 marathon barrier, these running socks are the closest you’ll get to a true barefoot feel without sacrificing comfort or support.
If you were one of the many to go all in on a Peloton in 2020, you might as well complete the transformation by picking up the same socks worn by actual Tour de France winners. Boasting reinforced heel and toe boxes and an elasticated arch brace, the Rapha Pro Team socks come in three different lengths to make sure that whether you’re riding indoors or outdoors, you won’t have to worry about your socks keeping pace.
Designed to withstand the constant start-and-stop movements of modern tennis players while aesthetically harkening back to Roland Garros in the 1980s—a clean winner down the line.
Myles’s Italian-made merino wool sock is naturally moisture wicking and odor resistant, so you should have no issues rocking these from the gym to the office to drinks at the bar.
Socks don’t always need to be constructed with hyper-advanced technology to be great. Case and point: the Rec Gen Stripe sock. Made primarily of cotton, these crew socks have just enough nylon in them to ensure they can hold up at the gym—and are way cooler than the dingy, graying pairs you’ve kept in your drawers. So why not toss those in the name of spring cleaning and upgrade?
For when the temperatures really begin to soar, the Swiss running maestros at On created a polyamide-elastane blend sock with mesh paneling specifically designed to keep your feet from ever burning out, even on the longest runs.
If you’re a disciple of barefoot training, Pedestal Footwear has created a whole range of socks that allow you to ditch your shoes without leaving a trail of nasty foot funk around the squat rack. Designed with triangular non-slip grippers across the bottom, they’re perfect for when you want to give the heavy weights a rest and focus on some recovery in a pilates class, too.
While most brands are looking to find a way to make socks lighter and lighter, Smartwool knows that certain scenarios call for a sock with some heft to them. These merino wool and nylon socks feel like they will last forever, no matter how many trails you trek.
Similar to the Nice Laundry no-show socks, ASRV stitched a thick silicone liner into the hem of the heel to guarantee you never have to kick off your shoes to pull your socks back up in the middle of a workout.
Not only did Ten Thousand make a great looking sock that will help elevate your gym fits, they designed them with left-and-right foot contouring and advanced cushioning in high impact zones without sacrificing an ounce of breathability.
A GQ essential. If you prefer to buy your socks in bulk, or just can’t bring yourself to spend more than $15 on a single pair of socks, the Nike Everyday Plus socks are here to save the day. Their comfort, durability, and adaptability to literally any scenario is why these socks have truly stood the test of time.