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Socks. They can be colorful, fuzzy, or hung by a chimney with care. They help protect feet from blisters and shoes from stink. They can be very much in style and very much worthwhile!

For runners, socks offer important comfort and protection. The wrong socks can leave feet soaking in a pile of sweat and blisters, while a good pair will wick moisture away and reduce friction.

With so many sock options to choose from, shopping for the perfect pair can feel overwhelming.

After all, a range of heights offers various levels of protection, different amounts of compression to help with blood flow and offer support, and an array of fabrics, both natural and synthetic, to wick away moisture.

To help you decide which ones to buy, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best.

When determining what socks should make the cut, we considered:

  • Materials. Not all materials are equal when it comes to running socks. The best running socks avoid cotton, which can absorb large amounts of water and cause blisters. Instead, we looked for Merino wool — the gold standard — or a mix of synthetic fabrics like nylon, spandex, and polyester that offer durability and value.
  • Fit. Personal preferences for ankle- and knee-length sock cuts can vary, so we included options for everyone. Plus, as some shoes require socks with more padding than others, our list includes socks of varying thicknesses.
  • Runner reviews. There’s nothing like knowing what fellow runners had to say about how their socks (and feet) held up after a run. Because we know you care about what other runners have to say, we highly valued runner feedback.
  • Vetting. All the products included have been vetted to ensure that they meet Healthline’s business standards.

Here are the 10 best running socks of 2021.

Best compression running socks

SwiftWick Aspire Four

Price: $

Designed for runners who like extra support around their feet and ankles, the Aspire Four sock from SwiftWick is described as a tight hug for your feet.

What’s more, because the cuff sits 4 inches (10 cm) above the ankle, this hug also extends to your lower leg.

Runners note that their mesh weaving helps wick away moisture and keeps your foot ventilated. Although, the cuff doesn’t have this same ventilation and can retain heat.

The sock is made from 67% nylon, 28% Olefin fiber, and 5% spandex. This blend creates a softness that adds a slight amount of cushioning.

However, keep in mind that the sock overall has less padding than others on this list.

Best toe socks

Injinji Ultra Run

Price: $

Finding that you’re getting blisters from your toes rubbing against each other during runs? Toe-style running socks can help.

Even if you don’t struggle with toe blisters, toe socks allow your toes to move and grip freely, which can improve your running experience.

Injinji Ultra Run sock is adaptable for long-distance running or hiking thanks to its breathable design, ergonomic fit, and extra cushioning.

The sock is made from 28% Coolmax, 67% nylon, and 5% lycra and comes in a variety of patterns and heights.

Best for long-distance running

Smartwool PhD Pro Endurance

Price: $$

Available in several fun prints, the Smartwool PhD Pro Endurance sock is made with Merino wool — the gold standard in running sock materials — as well as nylon and elastane.

It has light cushioning underfoot with softer padding around the ankle and Achilles tendon.

While it works well year-round, if you live in particularly cold climates or are planning an Arctic trek, you’ll want a thicker sock, such as the Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Crew — which just happen to be our choice for cold weather runs below.

Best for cold weather

Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew

Price: $$

Unlike the PhD Pro Endurance socks above, the Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew is designed to be thicker and retain heat during cold weather.

It also goes a few inches above the ankle for added protection and offers light cushioning in the heel and toe.

Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew sock is made from 55% wool, 42% nylon, and 3% elastane.

Because of the high amount of Merino wool, the sock wicks moisture well and keeps odor down.

Plus, even when it’s wet, runners note the sock does a good job keeping your feet warm.

Best for hot weather

Drymax Extra Protection Hawks Hot Weather ¼ Crew Socks

Price: $$

Thinner socks may sound appealing for warm weather runs, but many fail to provide appropriate padding for longer runs or trail runs. That’s where this sock stands out.

While the top of the sock has a mesh weave to release heat, underneath the sock is an extra layer of padding that runs from the toe to the heel.

The sock is made from 36% Drymax Olefin, 26% polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), 22% polyester, 12% spandex, and 4% nylon — a combination that makes it durable but not particularly soft.

Best for stinky feet

Balega Silver

Price: $

Dealing with stinky feet? The Balega Silver sock is designed with moisture-wicking fibers covered in silver ions to help cut down on the germs that lead to odor.

In fact, runners report that the sock can actually go several runs without starting to stink, though we still suggest washing your socks regularly.

The sock is made from 75% polyester, 23% nylon, and 2% elastane, and it includes a thicker cushioning underfoot with a breathable panel on top of the foot.

This no-show sock is available in several neon colors, though, you can’t buy higher cuff sizes.

Affordable ankle-length socks

Bombas Merino Wool Running Ankle Sock

Price: $$

While the Bombas Merino Wool Running Ankle socks are more expensive than the standard Bombas Performance Running socks, thanks to their mix of Merino wool and nylon, we think they’re worth it.

The improved fabric means better odor control, extra softness, and improved durability.

The sock also features cushioning in the heel and toe with targeted compression in the arch of the foot. Plus, it still includes Bombas’ signature honeycomb knit in the midsection to give a light airy feeling.

Furthermore, for every pair of socks you purchase, Bombas donates a pair to individuals affected by homelessness.

Best for avoiding blisters

Runderwear Anti-Blister

Price: $$

If you’re prone to blisters and not a fan of toe socks, you’ll want to check out the Runderwear Anti-Blister running sock.

The sock is double-layered, so the layers of fabric rub against each other and reduce blister-causing friction on your feet.

Additionally, the sock has a reinforced heel and toe to minimize seams and provide comfort.

Specific left and right foot constructions help keep the sock in place, while moisture-wicking fabric works to keep your feet feeling dry.

Just keep in mind there are many causes of blisters, so buying this sock isn’t a guarantee that your blister issues are gone for good.

Best nonslip

Feetures Elite

Price: $

If you find that your feet slip despite wearing appropriately fitted running shoes with tightly tied laces, you’ll want to consider the Feetures Elite running sock.

The Elite line is built with Tencel fibers and has a thread count of 200, which helps prevent the slippage some runners experience with other running socks.

The sock also features a deep heel pocket and a snug arch around the foot that helps keep the sock in place.

Additionally, all of Feetures’ socks are seamless and designed with specific left and right foot constructions for optimal fit and maximum comfort.

Just keep in mind the Feetures Elite running sock doesn’t offer the same level of moisture-wicking effects as some of the others on our list.

Best knee-high

Pro Compression Marathon

Price: $$$

This knee-hick sock stands out because it offers graduated compression to help relax muscles and reduce pain in your feet. Plus, it offers strong moisture-wicking properties.

The Pro Compression Marathon sock is made of 92% nylon and 8% lycra spandex and has a wide top cuff to allow maximum circulation. It also comes in a large variety of style options.

While it works well for individuals who enjoy biking in addition to running, the price tag is significantly more than most of the other options on our list.

Feeling overwhelmed about selecting the perfect pair of running socks? Here are a few factors to consider:

  1. Intended use. Think about the type of running you intend to do — long distance, sprinting, trail, etc. You’ll want to choose a sock that’s designed to support this.
  2. Specific needs. Identify any specific problems you’re hoping to address with running socks, such as blisters or sweaty or stinky feet.
  3. Fit and style. Determine your ideal sock height, fit, and style. For example, some runners prefer ankle-length while others desire a knee-high pair.
  4. Current running shoes. One of the best ways to determine the right sock is by trying it on with your current running shoes. This will help you better identify the fit and amount of cushioning you need.
  5. Budget. Consider how much you’re willing to spend on a pair of running socks. It’s also worth taking the time to look for sales and do a little price comparison.

One last thing to keep in mind is that your perfect running sock may change if you switch up your running shoe — but don’t be scared by the change! It might take just a little trial and error to find the next sock that’s right for your new shoes.

Socks are useful for keeping your feet warm and holding gifts by the chimney. For runners, they provide necessary support and protection.

With so many options on the market, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. However, by using this list as a guide and testing out a few, we’re confident that you’ll find your perfect pair.