Best Running Socks: 6 Picks to Keep Your Feet Happy for Miles

In search of the best running socks to keep your feet happy for miles?

Modern, high-tech running socks are a breath of fresh air. Am I right? 

I cherish quality running socks, especially when I think back to the old cotton models that I grew up wearing...which always ended up soggy, gross and losing shape. 

Fortunately, these days there are so many great running socks that it can be tricky to decide what to buy. 

Looking for the best running socks for your next run or race?

I put these SIX pairs of running socks to the test. Here's what you need to know...

🧦5 tips to find the best running socks for you

So what should you look for to find the best running socks for your next run, race, or training season?

Here are FIVE things to consider when shopping for running socks:

  • Terrain. The type of terrain upon which you train (trails, dirt roads, paved roads, crushed limestone trails, rocky mountain tops, track, all of the above) 
  • Type. The type of running you most often do (road, track, trail, all of it)
  • Distance and duration. How far will you be running? How long will you be on your feet?
  • Fabric (it goes without saying: no cotton)
  • Height (no-show, ankle, anklet, crew, knee-high, etc.) 

Once you figure out what types of socks best suit your running style, it’s time to find the best running socks for you!

👩Female test-wearer's measurements for reference when choosing your own size:

  • La Sportiva trail running shoe size: 39 
  • Nike, Saucony and Brooks running shoe size: 7.5
  • Regular shoe size: 7.5
  • Birkenstock sandal size: 38
  • Chaco sandal size: 7 

🧪How the socks in this story were tested:

  •  Conditions. The author runs outside year round, in all conditions, mostly on single track trails, often on dirt and gravel roads, sometimes on pavement, and a bit on crushed limestone trails
  • Miles. Average number of weekly miles: anywhere from 15 to 40, depending on the training cycle, three to six days per week
  • Race distances. Typical race and FKT distances: 50k, marathon, 20-something, 25k, half marathon and triathlons 
  • Other sports the socks are used for: mountain biking, gravel riding, backpacking, hiking with her two sons, and even white water kayaking (wool blends only) 

Best Running Socks: Brynn's Picks

🏆Best Overall

1. Darn Tough Pacer Crew Ultra-Lightweight Running Sock

A fellow outdoor adventurer introduced me to Darn Tough about 10 years ago, and I’ve been a loyal customer ever since.

One of my favorites is their Darn Tough Pacer Crew Ultra-Lightweight Running Sock.

  • 48% nylon
  • 48% merino wool
  • 4% Lycra Spandex

Any piece of clothing with the words “ultra-lightweight” and “merino wool” in their name and description have me instantly hooked, and after the first use, I’m fully committed. 

  • They are ultra-stretchy, light, supportive and quick-drying. 
  • Even after the ump-teenth use, I’m still fully committed, til death do us part. 

What happens if the socks reach their demise? 

🦶Best Ankle Socks

2. icebreaker Multisport Light Mini Socks

The icebreaker origin story...

  • While traveling through New Zealand from November 2011 to February 2012, I noticed lots of New Zealanders clad in icebreaker gear. 
  • It was no surprise, as New Zealand is where icebreaker was founded in 1995 by 24-year-old Jeremy Moon.
  • His girlfriend convinced him to meet a merino wool sheep farmer...
  • And the rest is history

My 'herding sheep in New Zealand' conversion to good wool...

🐑Perhaps it's my nostalgia for the country and my respect for wool, having stayed with two different sheep farmers in exchange for room and board. 

👫My now-husband and I herded and sheared (or attempted to shear) sheep, and separated the good wool from the bad, getting a hands-on feel for one of the greatest materials, in my opinion, for outdoor sports apparel. 

💲Though I couldn’t afford any icebreaker gear back then after spending most of my money on a flight to NZ so that my then boyfriend/ now husband could live it up and van-life it in a beautiful foreign country, I sure do love it now.

The best running socks by this brand: icebreaker Multisport Light Mini Socks

  •  The socks are:  60% wool, 37% nylon, 3% Lycra Spandex and hug nicely around the arch of the foot. 
  • The anklet-style sock is great for road and gravel runs or trail runs when worn under pants (because I sport crew socks when wearing shorts, but that’s a personal preference). 
  • They dry quickly, and I take extra care of them by washing them in cold water on the delicate cycle and either hang drying on drying on the air dry or cool setting. 
  • Shop icebreaker socks

🧦Best Toe Socks

3. Injinji Women’s Ultra Run Mini-Crew
4. Injinji Women’s Ultra Run Crew

While listening to the Trail Runner Nation podcast, an ad came on for Injinji toe socks. 

  • Being a yogi and one who’s had plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, a fractured heel, and a strained big toe in the past, I love anything that pays special attention to the feet. 
  • So I got online, began searching for the best deals, and got myself some new socks...

3. Injinji Women’s Ultra Run Mini-Crew 

  • 33% CoolMax EcoMade®
  • 64 % nylon
  • 3% Lycra

4. Injinji Women’s Ultra Run Crew

  • 29% CoolMax EcoMade®
  • 67% nylon
  • 4% Lycra 

The Injinji toe socks are touted for their blister reduction in ultramarathons.

  • Blisters don’t plague me, at least for the longest distances I’ve run to date (mostly trail 50ks and marathons, the longest being 32 miles).
  • I can’t speak to that selling point, but I do love how they create a micro-bit of space between the digits.

Here's what I like most about Injinji socks:

  • The toes feel spacious and free, just the way I like them to feel
  • They're extra dry, perhaps because of the CoolMax fabric component, key for wet, hot-weather runs. 
  • To that point, I only wear them when it’s 50 or above, because the separation of the toes makes my feet feel extra cold in the winter months, sort of how mittens keep the hands warmer than gloves. 
  • Shop Injinji running socks

🌲Best for Trail

5. Smartwool Athlete Edition Run Print Crew Socks

When it comes to merino wool running gear, Smartwool is a popular choice, for good reason. 

  • More than a decade ago, I became fed up with cheap socks falling apart every six months
  • Went to REI, and got my first pair of Smartwool socks, an anklet style that is still going strong today. 

Now my favorite pair for running are the Smartwool Women’s Athlete Edition Run Print Crew Socks, which I wear in size medium.

  • The bright orange colors in the Athlete Edition are great for hunting season, and my sons and I love the fun lightning bolts! 

A common, ongoing debate exists amongst my outdoor adventure community when it comes to Smartwool socks:

  • Which is better, Smartwool or Darn Tough? 

Some say one, some say the other. But in my experience they’re equally awesome. Both withstanding the test of time while enduring hard, constant play in all the elements.

🛣Best for Road

6. Swiftwick VIBE Zero

My quest for the best road running socks began in 2013...
After having my first son, I got super serious about running socks due to:

  • Postpartum plantar fasciitis, and a...
  • Subsequent heel spur.

I drove an hour to the nearest running store, Morgantown Running, and they recommended:

  • Swiftwick for its targeted support and moderate compression. 

I opted for three pairs of the Swiftwick VIBE Zero 

  • 45% nylon
  • 44% Olefin
  • 11% Spandex

For me...in size small, which are designed for trail running, though I use them on a mix of gravel, pavement and crushed limestone. 

  • The low height is not conducive to the Pennsylvania trails, which always put dirt, mud, sticks and debris down socks that aren’t crew-length. 
  • These are what I ran in the most to train for the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon. 

😲After about nine years, they have retained their shape, keeping both their prized compression and support at 100 percent. They’re my go-to for road days.

👀Looking for more reviews of the best running socks?

Here's a peek into Nathan Reyes' (WeeViews co-founder) running sock obsession...

More gear reviews by WeeViews

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Brynn Cunningham
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Trail runner, ultrarunner, white water boater, cyclist (mostly MTB), swimmer, cross country and backcountry skier, yogi, mom...

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