They’re often overlooked but dedicated running socks are a must for regular runners. So treat your feet and check out our guide to the best running socks…

Happy runners need happy feet. And after choosing the right running shorts and the best running shoes, arguably the next most important piece of kit in your locker are your socks. A good pair of running socks can make the difference between running in blissful comfort or suffering run-ruining blisters.

Specialised running socks tend to be pricier than regular ones, but it definitely pays to invest a little extra. Ergonomic design, padded high-impact areas, breathable fabrics and seam-free designs all help to elevate running socks above your five-pairs-for-a-tenner kind. That’s why we’ve tested hundreds of pairs and have refined our selection of the best running socks you can buy right now. Just step this way…

How we test the best running socks

As full-time testers of running shoes, watches and gear, we cover a lot of miles every week and are always hunting for the perfect running socks. So some of these socks have been tested over hundreds of miles, and all of them at least 50 miles. We’ve used them with different pairs of shoes from carbon racers to daily training trail shoes. We did this across a range of paces and distances too, from quick 5km sessions to 2- to 3-hour-long runs. We’ve also factored in different temperatures, too, to test the warmth and the wicking. Oh and they’ve all been washed plenty, too.

These are the best running socks

Surely socks are just socks, right? Not when you find a pair like the Stance Icon Crew Sock. Its combination of mid-cushion comfort, arch support, ankle protection, plushness and warmth helps makes running a joy. Honestly. From just a pair of socks.

Other running sock recommendations

Best fast-drying socks:If, like us, you feel the discomfort of hot, swollen feet during long runs, you’ll appreciate the cooling balm of these Falke Stabilising Cool Socks. They shift heat and moisture better than any sock here and have a zero-seam design too.
Best designed socks:With 50 eye-catching designs, you might be forgiven for thinking the Brav Performance Socks prioritised form over function. But with plenty of cushioning and comfort, these have become our go-to sock for long endurance runs.
Best seamless socks:If a seam starts to chafe mid-run, you know it’s game over. So seamless designs like the UYN Run Winter One are invaluable in keeping you running in comfort for longer. Their merino blend will keep the winter chill from your toes too.
Product shot of Stance running socks

1. Stance Icon Run Crew Sock

Men’s Fitness verdict

These Stance performance socks are the most cushioned and durable on test and provide plenty of long-run comfort and support. We love the no-rip guarantee too.
  • Fantastic cushioned comfort
  • Blister-busting fabric
  • Good durability
  • Too thick for some race shoes
  • Need to avoid tumble drying

The Stance Icon Run sock’s appeal is two-fold. Firstly it provides great mid-cushion comfort for those longer runs. Secondly, that same plushness, combined with the mid-rise cut, doubles up as decent protection from the cold, which we always like. There’s also good ankle protection and arch support, and Stance is so confident in the Icon Run’s durability it offers a no-rip guarantee.

Read our full Stance Icon Run Crew Sock review

Product shot of Brav running sock

2. Brav Performance Socks

Men’s Fitness verdict

If you like your running socks to perform and make a statement, you can’t go wrong with these Brav Performance Socks. Our choice for long endurance runs.
  • Durable
  • Blister-busting comfort
  • Lively designs
  • Too thick for some race shoes
  • No seamless toes

If you want to add some sass to your socks, Brav Performance socks are the way to go. There are 50 designs to choose from online, from sunflowers and reindeers to pirates and robots. But these aren’t just gimmicks; their mid-cut, medium blend viscose-polyester mix is supremely comfortable and durable. They wick well and we know from experience that they stand up to long endurance run efforts too.

Read our full Brav Performance Socks review

Product shot of Falke running socks

3. Falke Stabilizing Cool Socks

Men’s Fitness verdict

These quick-drying, compression-like socks from Falke get the fit and feel just right and are a good choice for long-distance efforts. They fit like a glove and are silky smooth.
  • Incredibly soft with balanced cushioning
  • Fast drying
  • Compression is quite mild
  • Can’t tumble dry

Falke were one of the first to pioneer an anatomical design in performance socks, and its expertise shows. They feature a pronounced toe sweep for a perfect fit, as well as a friction-free zero-seam design. The combination of five different fabrics makes for one of the silkiest socks we’ve tested, and they shift moisture as well as any on this list.

Read our full Falke Stabilizing Cools Socks review

Product shot of CEP socks

4. CEP Reflective Mid-Cut Compression Socks

Men’s Fitness verdict

Compression king CEP weaves extra recovery benefits into these easy-to-see Reflective Mid-Cut Compression Socks. Achilles and heel padding is a nice touch.
  • Well-balanced zonal cushioning
  • Reflective detail to boost safety
  • Only mild compression benefits
  • Colours fade quickly

CEP specialises in compression gear, and it brings this know-how to its running socks. These CEP Reflective Mid-Cut Compression socks have extra padded zones in the toe and heel and we particularly like how the heel padding rises up the achilles for extra protection. As if the neon colourway wasn’t bright enough, there are reflective strips for extra night-time visibility.

Read our full CEP Reflective Mid-Cut Compression Socks Review

Product shot of UYN running shoes

5. UYN Run Winter One Socks

Men’s Fitness verdict

If you suffer from blisters or hot spots after running, you’re bound to appreciate the seamless design of these UYN Run Winter One Socks. Their natural fibres deal well with moisture management.
  • Blister-busting seamless design
  • Good warmth for winter miles
  • Not the softest fabric
  • Can’t tumble dry

Despite their one-piece, seam-free design, these socks from Italian performance gear expert UYN feature padded sections and breathable zones where you need them most. As the name suggests, these UYN Run Winter One merino blend socks are made to withstand frosty winter runs, and their padded mid-length design does an impressive job of insulation. The legs are virtually cuffless too, creating a barely-there feel that we enjoy, and the blend of natural fibres deals well with moisture management.

Read our full UYN Run Winter One Socks Review

6. Enertor Energy Run Socks

Men’s Fitness verdict

The best things often come in small packages and these microlight short socks have a performance edge, using Far Infra Red technology to reflect energy back into the muscles. Good breathability too.
  • Anti-blister protection
  • Anti-microbial fabric
  • Ultra-light and breathable
  • No winter warmth
  • No ankle protection

Insole specialist Enertor has made a short, lightweight sock that will be a favourite among racers. Thin enough to fit beneath the slimmest race shoes, they still have good protective areas to guard against rubbing. Performance gains from the Far Infra Red technology may be hard to qualify but the quick-drying, breathable fabric certainly isn’t. These socks have nullified the effects of shoes with even the most stubborn rubbing and pinch points.

Product shot of Balega running socks

7. Balega Support Quarter Running Socks

Men’s Fitness verdict

Strategic padding and incredible softness give these Balega Support Quarter Runnings Socks real long-distance run potential. Silicon grip pads limit movement too.
  • Super-soft fleecy feel
  • Padded protection from ankle clipping
  • Can hold moisture
  • Colours are a bit dull

The Balega Support Quarter Running Socks‘ bend of Mohair fibre and Drynamic yarn delivers comfort in spades. There’s plenty of run protection, too, from the thickly padded footbed, silicone grippers on heels and toes and ankle pads that protect against ankle clipping. Strategically placed mesh panels boost ventilation and soft, substantial cuffs have stayed in place no matter how hard we pounded the pavements.

Read our full Balega Support Quarter Running Socks review

Close-up of a man's running lower legs

8. Tracksmith Merino Tube Socks

Men’s Fitness verdict

If you like rocking the Chariots of Fire look on the track, these retro Tracksmith Merino Tube Socks have the style and go the miles.
  • Slick old-school styling
  • Highly padded heels and toes.
  • Classic cream colour gets dirty easily
  • Leg cuffs might loosen

Who says socks can’t be stylish? Boston-based heritage running brand Tracksmith would beg to differ. Its retro merino run socks look like they’re made for running connoisseurs – but they have a performance edge too. Padded toes and heels have a welcoming fleecy softness and flattened seams promise to reduce rubbing. Lanolin-coated merino fibres have microbial properties too, and we barely noticed any nasty whiffs.

Read our full Tracksmith Merino Tube Socks review

Product shot of Smartwool socks

9. Smartwool Run Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Crew Socks

Men’s Fitness verdict

If you’re keen not to let your running wind down over winter, these Smartwool Run Cold Weather Socks should be all the encouragement you need.
  • Well-padded heels and toes
  • Impressively quick drying
  • Scratchier than some rivals
  • Need care when washing

Smartwool socks give you the best of both worlds. They mix merino wool with nylon and elastane to give you wonderfully soft-feeling and quick-drying benefits, with plenty of stretch and durability. These are mid-cut padded socks, made for when the mercury drops. They’re seam-free and thin enough to wear under leggings, and come in dark enough colours to make them suitable for muddy off-road excursions. We reckon they hit the sweet spot between good insulation and protection without too much padding.

Read our full Smartwool Run Cold Weather Crew Socks review

10. Tore Recycled Crew Sport Socks – Three Pack

Men’s Fitness verdict

Excellent value and no-nonsense plush comfort from these sports socks made from 100% recycled materials. If you want socks that just get the job done, Tore is the way to go.
  • Great value three-packs
  • 100% recycled and no harmful dyes
  • Only plain colours
  • Limited size availability

If you do as much gym work as you do run sessions, a general sport sock is often the way to go. Sock specialist Tore does a great value three-pack of plush, padded socks made completely from recycled cotton, polyester, polyamide and elastane. They may not have reinforced areas, silicon pads or a seamless design, but they breathe fairly well, are super comfortable and are a third of the price of most socks in this guide. Plus they’re good for the planet.

What makes good running socks?

With dozens of brands and hundreds of styles, how do you know what makes a good running sock? It’s simple: you’re looking for comfort and durability.  

What works for you might vary and it helps to think about the shoes you’ll run in, too. Thinner socks are great for race shoes; thicker socks bring warmth for winter but tend to need roomier footwear. 

You might take as many as 40,000 steps running a marathon. That’s a lot of pounding those feet into the tarmac. Good running socks offer strategic cushioning and padding in the key impact zones to help soften your landings. They’ll also stand up to hundreds of miles of pounding themselves.  

Next you want your feet to stay as dry as possible. Wet feet are a quick ticket to blisters, so good running socks need to offer reliable moisture management. You’ll never find socks that stay 100% dry but good wicking tech that move sweat away from your precious pinkies is paramount.

Another thing to look out for are socks with a seamless design, particularly around the toes. The fewer seams, the less potential edges to rub your toes up the wrong way. 

How are running socks different from normal socks?

Unlike regular cotton socks, running socks use technical fabrics that reduce friction, increase padding, wick sweat and help prevent blisters. 

Running socks often feature padded zones under the heel, ankle and behind the achilles. You can get different cuts, too, from no-show and ankle socks to mid-length and full calf socks. Some also offer compression to help reduce muscle damage and help speed recovery. 

Many socks are made from man-made fabrics with anti-blister properties. Others use natural fibres like merino or blend merino with nylon or elastane to make them more stretchy and durable. 

Some blister-busting socks use dual-layered fabric to reduce friction. Other toe-socks work like gloves for your feet, with fabric ‘fingers’ keeping your toes separated, in a bid to reduce potential for hotspots. 

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