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The Best Running Socks of 2024

Whether hitting up the trail, running a marathon, or jogging around the block, you need the best running socks of 2024.

best running socks(Photo/CEP)
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Socks are easy to take for granted — unless you regularly pound the pavement or trot on the trail. Runners’ feet put in dozens, maybe hundreds, of miles every month, so it pays to take care of them with the best running socks available.

Socks have evolved from plain cotton sweat-soppers to highly technical, sport-specific pieces of gear designed by and for runners. We looked around and put in hundreds of miles on pavement and trails to find you the best running socks in the game.

Current author Constance Mahoney is an avid runner who has completed races from local 5ks to trail ultramarathons. In 2021, she founded and continues to lead the Trail Sisters Crested Butte, CO. chapter. She doesn’t skimp on her footwear and knows the importance of comfortable, durable socks for protection over the long run.

Be sure to check out our handy comparison chart, buyer’s guide, and FAQ at the bottom of this article for help in dialing in the perfect fit.

Editor’s Note: This guide was updated on April 3, 2024 by expanding our testing notes for the Balega Hidden Comfort and the Swiftwick Vision Six Impression.

The Best Running Socks of 2024

Best Overall Running Socks

Balega Hidden Comfort


  • Material Polyester
The Best Running Socks of 2024


  • Extremely comfortable
  • Bulk-free cushioning
  • Deep heel cup
  • High, padded heel tabs keep the sock in place


  • Expensive
Best Budget Running Socks

Saucony Performance Heel Tab Athletic Sock 8- or 16-Pack


  • Material Polyester, spandex
The Best Running Socks of 2024


  • Unbeatable price for the quality of the sock


  • They run long, so they can feel too big on longer feet
Runner-Up Best Running Socks

Swiftwick Vision Six Impression


  • Material Nylon, polyester, spandex
The Best Running Socks of 2024


  • Great design
  • Solid cushioning
  • Moderate compression


  • Pricey
  • Compression may feel tight on wider feet, so size up
Best Compression Running Socks

CEP Tall Compression Socks 3.0


  • Material Polyamide, spandex
The Best Running Socks of 2024


  • Provides support during running, helps aid recovery after


  • Pricey
Best No-Show Running Socks

Feetures Elite Max Cushion No-Show Tab Sock


  • Material Nylon, polyester, spandex
The Best Running Socks of 2024


  • Provides support during running
  • Encourages blood flow under arch


  • Not the most durable socks out there
Best of the Rest

Balega Silver No-Show Running Socks


  • Material Polyester, nylon, elastane
The Best Running Socks of 2024


  • Highly breathable
  • Great fit


  • All the mesh feels great in warm weather but feels too cold during runs in cold weather

Injinji Run Lightweight No-Show Socks


  • Material CoolMax EcoMade, nylon, lycra
The Best Running Socks of 2024


  • Great blister protection in a hard-to-reach spot


  • Light on the cushion
  • Material between the toes takes up space in shoes’ toeboxes
  • Takes time to put on

WRIGHTSOCK CoolMesh II Quarter Socks


  • Material Polyester, nylon, LYCRA
The Best Running Socks of 2024


  • Dual-layer design absorbs the friction that causes blisters


  • Inner layer can bunch up and make it difficult to put the sock on

Bombas Performance Ankle Sock


  • Material Polyester, nylon, cotton, spandex
The Best Running Socks of 2024


  • Extremely soft
  • Great fit


  • On the pricey side

PAPLUS Ankle Compression Sock


  • Material Polyester, spandex
The Best Running Socks of 2024


  • Great price for compression socks


  • Thin material sacrifices durability

Thirty48 Elite Compression Socks


  • Material Polyester, spandex, nylon
The Best Running Socks of 2024


  • Affordable


  • Could use more padding on forefoot

Darn Tough Coolmax Run No-Show Tab Ultra Lightweight Running Sock


  • Material Polyester, nylon, spandex
The Best Running Socks of 2024


  • The toughest socks we’ve ever used
  • Plenty of venting on hot runs, but warm on cold runs


  • A bit on the thick side
  • Holds more moisture than a thinner sock

Running Socks Comparison Chart

Running SocksPriceMaterial
Balega Hidden Comfort Socks$16Polyester
Saucony Performance Heel Tab Athletic Socks$15-27Polyester, spandex
Swiftwick Vision Six Impression Socks$22Nylon, polyester, spandex
CEP Tall Compression Socks 3.0$60Polyamide, spandex
Feetures Elite Max Cushion No-Show Tab Socks$18Nylon, polyester, spandex
Balega Silver No-Show Running Socks$20Polyester, nylon, elastane
Injinji Run Lightweight No-Show Socks$14CoolMax EcoMade, nylon, lycra
WRIGHTSOCK CoolMesh II Quarter Socks$15Polyester, nylon, LYCRA
Bombas Performance Ankle Sock$17Polyester, nylon, cotton, spandex
PAPLUS Ankle Compression Sock$20Polyester, spandex
Thirty48 Elite Compression Socks$12-27Polyester, spandex, nylon
Darn Tough Coolmax Run No-Show Tab Ultra Lightweight Running Socks$17Polyester, nylon, spandex
One of the author’s of this guide, Conni Mahoney, testing running socks on long trail runs in the backcountry; (photo/Conni Mahoney)

How We Tested Running Socks

The GearJunkie crew is made up of a bunch of runners. From casual weekend warriors to serious running addicts, we have them all. Naturally, running socks fit right into our expertise. Our team sifted through hundreds of brands and sock variations. Our goal was to find the best of the best running socks, budget-friendly pairs, and everything in between. 

Our crew tested running socks the only way we knew how: running a lot of miles in all different conditions. We wanted to know how fast each sock dried from creek crossings, sweaty track sessions, and humidity. We paid attention to seam placement and if the sock slid at all. We considered how compression and cushioning placement helped (or didn’t) over long runs. After each run and washing, we carefully inspected each pair to see if any deterioration or pilling occurred. 

Constance Mahoney is an experienced runner who has completed races from local 5ks to trail ultramarathons. In 2021, she founded and continues to lead the Trail Sisters Crested Butte, CO. chapter. Constance has been a GearJunkie contributor since 2019, after she reviewed outdoor gear for FitnessTravelGear.com for two years.

Buyers Guide: How to Choose the Best Running Socks

A good pair of running socks is key for all-day comfort on your runs; (photo/CEP)

Wicking & Breathability

One of the most important aspects of running socks is how well they regulate moisture. Moisture leads to friction, and friction is what causes the majority of blisters.

One way that socks eliminate moisture is by allowing excess heat to exit the sock (breathability), which helps prevent sweating in the first place. The other is by pulling (or wicking) the sweat off of the foot and moving it to the outside of the sock, where it can evaporate. Both of these features are essential when choosing a pair of running socks. Because of its toe sock design, the Injinji Run Lightweight No-Show Sock can wick moisture away from in-between the toes, a common place for blisters to pop up. Keeping your feet cool is not only a way to minimize sweat, but it also keeps your feet comfortable and helps prevent swelling. At best, swelling is uncomfortable. At worst, it will cause your foot to press up against the sidewalls of your shoe, which is painful and adds friction points where blisters can appear.

Venting is easy to spot in running socks. Look for slits, waffled or checkered patterns on the top of the foot or around the midsole. Most socks will put the breathable material in this area because the laces are a more open part of the shoe and let the heat escape more efficiently.

As far as moisture-wicking goes, look for synthetic materials, which, unlike cotton, repel moisture rather than retain it. Materials like polyester are effective at pulling moisture off and evaporating it quickly.

Avoid cotton socks at all costs. Unless it’s bolstered by synthetic material, cotton will soak up water and retain it, leaving your feet vulnerable to blisters.


best running socks
Make sure you are pleased with how well your running socks fit you before setting off on a run of any distance; (photo/Balega)

Socks that fit poorly are terrible for runners. Socks that are too tight not only cause discomfort but also press the toes together, which greatly increases the risk of blisters between the toes.

Socks that are too big will bunch or wrinkle in the shoe, which creates friction points where blisters can form. One tester wore socks that stretched out on a hike and bunched up underfoot, causing a 3-inch blister to form on his sole. You’re going to want to avoid that at all costs.

Most running socks are unisex, like Balega’s Silver No-Show running socks. The best running socks for men and the best running socks for women are the same, depending on how you plan on using them. Look on the packaging or online for size scales for both men and women.

Socks rarely come in specific sizes, so your options are going to range from XS to XL and above. Most socks stretch to accommodate different sizes, thanks to some percentage of stretchy fibers like elastane embedded in the material.

Any given sock will work for a range of sizes. For example, a size large may be for feet sized 10 to 12. Sock packaging and websites will list a scale to help buyers choose the right size.

Compression socks are a bit different since the socks are built to provide a tighter fit, depending on the compression grade. You’ll still have a similar sizing scale, but many brands suggest buying a smaller sock if you want additional compression or a larger sock if you want lighter compression.


person trail running in Rockay socks with blue sky background
Running socks need to feel comfortable out of the box if they are going to carry you through your long runs; (photo/Rockay)

You’ll be spending a lot of time in your running socks, so you’re going to want comfortable ones. The Bombas Performance Ankle Sock and the Balega’s Hidden Comfort socks are about as comfortable as it gets. Besides finding the right fit, you’re going to want a sock that regulates heat and moisture well. Also, look for socks that will provide adequate padding for the pounding that your feet face during a run.

Most running socks are made with a synthetic material like polyester. These are effective at wicking away sweat but aren’t known for their softness. Higher on the comfort scale is a wool/synthetic blend. The natural fiber is softer, while still retaining the ability to breathe well and pull sweat from the skin.

Cotton is the softest material and feels great on the skin. However, it tends to lose its shape (which can lead to bunching), and it holds on to moisture. A few brands have managed to find the right balance between cotton and synthetic materials. The result is a comfortable sock that also wicks away moisture.

Overheating and sweat accumulation can cause discomfort and create blisters. Make sure that your socks are made of breathable material with breathable mesh panels. These are easy to spot. Look for a different pattern on the top of the foot. This indicates a more open weave than the rest of the sock.

Padding is key as well. Find a sock with padding running along the sole of the foot, which will absorb foot strike impact. This also serves to lengthen the sock’s lifetime, as that’s the most high-impact area of the foot. If you want the lightest sock possible, choose a sock that only has padding on the heel and forefoot.


Many runners prefer no-show socks with a minimal profile and weight to keep their runs unencumbered; (photo/Conni Mahoney)

Running socks come in a few general sizes. There’s the no-show sock, which sits below the ankle; the three-quarter-length sock, which sits above the ankle; the crew, which falls just under the calf; and the knee-high, which sits right at the knee.

No-show socks are ideal for running in hot or moderate weather. They’re lighter and have less material. This means you can stash a spare in your running pack if you run through a creek. This also comes in handy when nature calls on the trail and you need to improvise some toilet paper.

When shopping for a no-show sock, make sure that it has padding on the back of the cuff, like the Feetures Elite Max Cushion No-Show Tab Sock. This added material helps prevent shoe rub on the back of your ankle, which can cause blisters.

Three-quarter-length socks are favored by trail runners. WRIGHTSOCK’s CoolMesh II has a higher cuff and is better at preventing trail debris, such as dirt or twigs, from getting inside the sock. Debris in your socks can force you to stop your run and get it out before it causes a blister.

Crew socks serve a similar function, adding protection for off-trail runs. The Vision Six Impression socks wick away sweat and moisture before it drips down into your shoe. The added height also helps protect ankles from ankle-biting bushes along the trail. 

Knee-high socks take crew socks to the extreme. Knee-high styles are common in compression socks. Thirty48 Elite Compression Socks go up around the calf and feature a graded compressive material that helps improve blood flow and minimize swelling of the calves and ankles.

Durability & Price

Running socks have to be extremely durable to hold up to the torture and torment they experience on demanding runs; (photo/Conni Mahoney)

Running socks put in lots of miles on varied terrain, making them susceptible to more wear than other socks. Many companies use higher needle counts to create a thicker material or blend durable fibers to combat this.

Having a running sock fall apart can feel like a small disaster. Any hole puts your foot in contact with your shoe, creating a hotspot that can cause blisters. With many running socks sitting around $15, repeatedly replacing running socks can take a bite out of your wallet.

You can avoid this by reading reviews or by going with brands that are known for their durable socks. Darn Tough is our pick for the toughest sock on the market. It also offers a lifetime guarantee: If you ever wear a hole in one of its socks, the company will send you a new one.

That means you’ll never have to buy that sock again unless you want multiple pairs. For the record, we’ve never worn a hole in one.

Another option is to buy socks in multipacks. Many companies like Saucony Performance Heel Tab Athletic Sock sell socks in eight- and 16-packs at a discounted price. The trade-off here is that the socks are often lower quality than the top-tier ones.

If you’re new to running, consider buying one higher-end pair of socks and a small multipack. This way, you’ll have running socks for the week and you can accumulate more high-end socks over time. Also, to help your socks last longer, make sure you wash them according to the product’s specifications. Dryers are often a good way to ruin high-quality socks. Here is a helpful article on how to wash activewear.

best running socks
Running socks can cost a pretty penny, but are important investments for comfort and protection while you run. Not just any ol’ sock will do; (photo/Balega)


Should running socks be thick or thin?

The thickness of a running sock depends on the wearer’s preference. Many runners prefer a thinner sock in most conditions, as feet tend to heat up during a run, and thin socks are better at venting heat.

A thicker sock is ideal for running in cold weather, as the extra material allows it to hold insulation better. But make sure that a thicker sock is made of sweat-wicking material.

Your feet may start out cold, but more often than not, they’ll start heating up midrun. A sweat-wicking material and a good venting system will keep your feet dry and prevent overheating when wearing thicker socks.

As far as padding goes, it’s helpful to have thicker material underfoot. Thicker sole material provides comfort and protection during runs, as they absorb shock from foot strike.

You can find socks with padding that runs along the entire sole or, if you’d prefer a lighter sock, on just the heel and forefoot. Many runners prefer full sole coverage, as the lack of padding on the midsole can lead to an uneven feeling underfoot.

Brands also offer socks with zero underfoot padding. This works well with runners who want to combine them with minimalist shoes for a more barefoot feel.

Do professional runners wear socks?

With very few exceptions, yes. Professional runners log hundreds of miles in training, and keeping their feet healthy during such heavy training loads is essential.

Socks help prevent blisters, which take time to heal. They cause discomfort that can alter a runner’s stride, which can cause injury over time. Blisters, while inevitable, should be limited as much as possible, and wearing socks goes a long way in doing so.

Also, many professional runners use compression socks to minimize fatigue during runs and races, as well as a way to speed up recovery between workouts.

We know of one exception to this rule. One of our writers knows a professional runner who chooses to train without socks, but races with them on. He does so purposefully to cause blisters and over time, build up calluses and, in his words, “to toughen up my feet.”

In addition to running, he’s also a professional hunter, often spending days in the woods. His purpose in building bulletproof feet is to prepare them during training for anything that may occur during his hunts. This is an extreme method of training — one that we don’t recommend — but it’s worth noting.

How long do running socks last?

The lifespan of a running sock varies widely depending on the quality of the sock. Lower-quality socks should get you at least a few months of use before they start to show wear. Any damage (such as holes and tearing) is a sign of poor workmanship or factory defect, and they should be returned for a refund or warranty exchange.

Quality running socks should get you a few years of steady use before you see any holes or they start to lose elasticity and get baggy — and the best ones never tear.

The one brand that we keep going back to is Darn Tough. The Vermont company uses large-gauge sewing machines to create a dense material without adding bulk, and the high-quality merino wool it uses is extremely durable. We’ve never had to replace a pair of Darn Tough socks unless we lost one in the wash or had the cat tear one to pieces.

The company is so confident in its work that they offer a lifetime guarantee. If a sock you ever buy from them ever gets a hole in it, it’ll replace it free of charge. If you buy the Darn Tough Coolmax Run No-Show Tab Ultra Lightweight Running Sock it won’t matter if you’ve had it for a year or 10 years — if you wear a hole in it, you get a new pair.

Why wear compression socks for running?

Compression socks use graded compression on targeted parts of the foot and calf. This compression facilitates blood flow and helps minimize swelling.

Runners use these as a way to help the circulatory system provide the muscles with oxygen and flush out lactic acid during runs. Compression also minimizes the repeated vibration that comes with running, which causes microabrasions in the muscle that can lead to fatigue. Our top pick for tall compression socks is CEP’s Tall Compression Socks. But if you are just looking for foot compression the PAPLUS’s Ankle Compression Socks is our suggestion. 

Runners also use them for post-run recovery. Many runners will wear compression socks or use inflatable compression garments after runs to speed up post-run recovery and reduce soreness, as the increased blood flow helps carry nutrients to the muscles. This reduces soreness and lessens recovery time, especially after high-intensity workouts.

Are running socks worth the money?

Absolutely. Running socks go a long way in increasing the enjoyment and effectiveness of run training. First and foremost, they keep your feet cool and dry, removing the moisture that can add friction and cause blisters. They also act as an essential barrier between the foot and the shoe, eliminating friction and hot spots.

They are undoubtedly more expensive than regular socks, but can make the difference between a fun day on the trail, and painful blisters — or worse.

Additional padding on the soles of running socks provides essential cushioning that reduces foot strike impact as well. Compression socks help you run longer and recover faster. After your running shoes, a good pair of running socks is a runner’s most important piece of running gear.

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