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Considering you can’t really try on socks before purchasing them, figuring out which pairs suit your feet best for a workout can be a bit tricky. If you know what you’re looking for, though, that hurdle will be a thing of the past.
How to shop for athletic socks
First of all, you want to make sure the comfort and fit are correct. “A sock that slides around in your shoe or down your foot while trying to run or physically train is one of the most frustrating feelings,” says Countryman. “The first thing I notice when I place a sock on my foot is how snug it is — I never want something so tight that it's going to cut off circulation or leave fabric marks on my skin, but I also want to feel support around important areas like my Achilles and my arch.”
The next factor to consider is moisture absorption and breathability. “Foot sweat and moisture is any crossfitter’s or marathon runner's worst nightmare,” explains Countryman. “With moisture comes friction and with friction comes blisters. Our feet are our biggest asset in regard to transportation and activity and no one wants their active lifestyle to be halted because of painful blisters that take days to heal.”
Style is another factor to take into consideration, as well as durability. “Socks (and underwear) go through the washing machine more than any other piece of clothing,” says Countryman. “I don't want to purchase a sock that is going to be broken down after multiple washes and lose its fit. Having a sock that can last in the wash and still provide that comfort is key.”
Finally, you really want to make sure the price is right when it comes to finding the best athletic socks. “Everyone has their price point — I never want to rely on the cheapest option and hope for the best, but I also do not want to spend an arm and a leg for one pair of socks that I may or may not lose in the next two weeks,” admits Countryman.
Taking these five things into account, we’ve rounded up the best athletic socks, according to fitness fanatics and athletes, below.
Best athletic socks for women, according to experts
Madhappy Athletics' socks are great for cooler weather and outdoor workouts. “They're super cushy and cute,” says Lauren Boggi, a fitness expert, celebrity trainer and founder of Studio LB. “I love them because the heel and toe are double padded (so no blisters or cold feet) and the knit is really high-quality.”
“These are great because they’re biodegradable — Smartwool uses Merino wool, which is thinner and softer than regular wool,” says Keith Hodges, a certified personal trainer, performance coach, and founder of Mind In Muscle Coaching in Los Angeles. “It is very porous and the socks are designed to transport sweat moisture from your feet as vapors. It is also designed to adapt to the outside temperatures to help regulate body temperature.”
Smartwool socks are also odor-resistant and help block out harmful rays from the sun (UPF 20+).
“Nike Sportswear Everyday Essential socks are great for everyday and any type of workout,” explains Boggi. “They're light, moisture-wicking and offer just enough cushion to protect the feet. These don't slide down and have great arch support.”
“The Saucony Performance socks are great running socks that are still reasonably priced,” explains Countryman. “They’re super lightweight but as sturdy as they come.”
Boggi loves Socksss' footwear because they come in super fun colors and are thicker on the bottom and thinner on top, which makes them really great for protecting your feet while walking.
“These are much more of a performance sock than an everyday sock,” says Countryman. “They have anti-odor and sweat-wicking technology combined with a light feel and supportive band at the top of the sock, which makes the Rockay Accelerate one of my go-tos.”
“These have fast sweat-wicking material and anti-odor technology designed to prevent odor from being trapped in the sock,” says Hodges. “They also have ribbed arch support to combat foot fatigue and the seamless toe and heel contours for a better fit. Not to mention, they have cushioning designed for high-impact areas to return energy in the heel and footbed.”
“LA Active non-slip grip socks with silicone dots are my favorite socks for when I want the benefit of barefoot training but also to keep my feet warm,” says Boggi. “They stay put, offer stability and are perfect for yoga and Pilates.”
“Although it has ‘performance’ in the name, I actually prefer to wear this sock at all times,” says Countryman. “It has a great feel for any athletic activity, but also has the style and look that will have you wearing them for a night out.”
“Adidas Women's Superlite No-Show socks are like wearing nothing at all,” explains Boggi. “They are light, breathable and great for cross-training, canyon runs and any warm weather workout. I love the clean design, seamless toe box and no-show line.”
Best athletic socks for men, according to experts
These socks have cushioning in key areas and a supportive band around the arch. “They’re great for all athletic activities and just everyday life,” says Countryman.
“I like these as their INFIKNIT technology never rips or tears and its FEEL360 is designed to eliminate 99% of odor-causing bacteria,” explains Hodges. “They are also lightweight with moisture-wicking that is 20% faster than its competitors.”
These socks are less expensive than the Nike Elite and are more of a casual everyday sock. “If I am being spontaneous and want to go on a quick hike or run, I can still have these on and know my feet are in good hands (foot joke),” says Countryman.
“These are lightweight, moisture-wicking, provide arch support and have all-around ankle cushioning,” says Hodges. “They are also designed specifically for left and right fit.”
“This is the sock for marathoners,” explains Countryman. “An extra piece of material in the back to prevent blisters and chafing on the shoe, the Balega exceeds expectations for comfort and durability. Balega socks are a little more expensive than your regular socks, but these are definitely worth the buy.”
Their website also takes you through a few questions when you first log on to find the exact sock for you.
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- Dealing with foot pain? These podiatrist-approved products can help
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