The 8 Best Socks of 2021

Protect against blisters with these expertly designed socks

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Best Walking Socks

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

Choosing the right socks for your feet is crucial. Not only are they your first line of defense against blisters, but they also add much-needed support to the soles of your feet. But if your socks don't fit properly, they can slip and bunch up, which sets the stage for rubbing your feet as you walk, and can lead to painful blisters and scrapes.

When looking for the right sock for you, it's important to invest in high-quality socks that are anatomically designed. You'll want socks that will wick away moisture to keep your skin from softening, offer cushioned support, and will help manage moisture build-up from sweat. So whether you're jogging, breaking a sweat, or just moving around, we've researched the best socks on the market.

Here are the best socks on the market.

Our Top Picks
Featuring a performance footbed and moisture-wicking properties, they offer compression while sitting perfectly at the ankle.
The six pack offers the most bang for your buck with its anti-odor technology, arch support, and a scooped, subtle design.
If you prefer the snugness and coverage of an ankle sock, this pair offers both and more with its cushioned instep and arch.
Best for High Intensity Workouts:
Balega Hidden Comfort No-Show Running Socks at Amazon
Keep your feet supported throughout HIIT or running with this unisex pair that protects your feet from blisters and friction.
The crew socks you need for your hiking boots, it works to dry quickly and reduce chafing while the footbeds offset tough terrain.
Ideal if you enjoy the therapeutic benefits of compression socks, this pair is designed to deliver more blood to your muscles.
It has “undetectable” seam fusion to prevent chafing and discomfort, and a fitted silhouette to prevent slipping.
Best for Barre and Pilates:
Alo Yoga Pivot Barre Sock at Aloyoga.com
Socks with traction are a must when it comes to barre and pilates, and this pick delivers with a no-slip grip and cushioned sole.

Best Overall: BOMBAS Women's Marls Ankle Socks

BOMBAS Women's Marls Ankle Socks
Pros
  • Cushioned

  • Moisture-wicking

  • Comes in various colors

Cons
  • Expensive

There’s a lot to love about Bombas. For starters, they have an amazing one-for-one program which to date, has provided over 38 million socks to those in need. For every pair purchased, they donate a new pair of socks to the homeless community in the United States. Couple this philanthropic business with a comfortable, high-quality product, and you’ve got a best-in-class sock.

They’re super cushy and soft thanks to the “performance footbed” and supersoft “long-staple yarns” made from premium cotton with moisture-wicking properties. The honeycomb structure at the center provides midfoot support with a slight bit of compression. Bombas makes a variety of styles for men and women, but we’re a big fan of the original ankle silhouette.

Material: Cotton, polyester, rubber, spandex | Length: Ankle | Quantity: One pair | Moisture-wicking: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"Unlike many “ankle socks,” these actually sit right at the ankle—not covering it and not too low that they’d slip. These socks are cozy as can be, and I did enjoy wearing them around the house and even out for errands or shorter walks with my pup. For longer walks, though, I’d definitely go with socks that have less cotton." — Stephanie Vermillion, Verywell product tester

Best Budget: Under Armour Women's Essential No Show Socks

Under Armour Women's Essential No Show Socks
Pros
  • Soft and stretchy

  • Prevents odors

  • Moisture-wicking

  • Comes in various colors

Cons
  • Tends to slip down

For a super affordable but still high-quality sock, opt for Under Armour to get the most bang for your buck. The pack includes six pairs of soft, stretchy socks with anti-odor technology and a bit of arch support.

They’ve got a scooped welt design that follows the lines of your shoes a bit more, as opposed to cutting a straight line across your ankle. And the sweat-wicking material ensures you’ll have dry, comfortable feet whether you’re weight lifting or making a grocery run for meal prep.

Material: Polyester, nylon, elastane | Length: No show | Quantity: Six-pack | Moisture-wicking: Yes

Best Ankle Sock: Thorlos Women's Socks

Thorlos Thin Cushion Walking Ankle Socks
Pros
  • Moisture-wicking

  • Cushioned

  • Prevents chafing

Cons
  • Loose on ankle

No-show socks aren’t for everyone. If you prefer the additional coverage and security of an ankle sock, look no further than the Thorlos Lite Walking Padded Ankle Sock. The made-in-the-USA piece is crafted with “cotton-like” yarn, which is a proprietary Thorlos “THOR-WICK COOL” blend.

Alongside temperature regulating and sweat-wicking material, the Lite Walking Ankle Sock has padding in the ball and heel, as well as a cushioned instep and arch. Wear these for anything from intramural soccer to a mixed format class like Orangetheory.

Material: Polyester, nylon, elastic | Length: Ankle | Quantity: One pair | Moisture-wicking: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"These Thorlos ankle socks are definitely some of the priciest in my drawer. But as a runner, walker, and all-around active person who hates blisters, I totally see the value. The brand promises that this material feel like cotton but keeps you cool at the same time—a promise I found to be true. I didn’t get a single blister while wearing these, even on longer runs (around 60 to 80 minutes)." — Stephanie Vermillion, Verywell product tester 

Best for High Intensity Workouts: Balega Hidden Comfort No-Show Running Socks

Balega Hidden Comfort No Show Running Socks
Pros
  • Cushioned

  • Moisture-wicking

  • Stays in place

  • Comes in various colors

Cons
  • Sizes run large

If you're looking for a sock that is comfortable and supportive, then check out The Balega Hidden Comfort No-Show Running Socks. These unisex socks are cushioned in all the right places to keep your feet supported throughout your workout. They also have a moisture-wicking fabric and mesh ventilation to keep your feet dry.

The extra cushion on the heel keeps the sock from falling down, while the seamless toe construction protects your feet from blisters and friction. With a 200-needle count, this sock delivers on comfort and performance and is perfect for any intense workout, whether it's HIIT, running, cycling, or weight lifting.

Material: Polyester, nylon, neofil, elastane | Length: No show | Quantity: One pair | Moisture-wicking: Yes

Best For Hiking: Merrell Women's Cushioned Zoned Light Hiker Socks

Merrell Socks
Pros
  • Soft and stretchy

  • Breathable

  • Dries quickly

  • Provides arch support

Cons
  • Shrinks easily

What better sock for hiking than a specifically crafted “Hiker Sock” from one of the world’s best hiking brands? This crew sock should keep you covered under ankle-height hiking boots, and they’re the perfect combination of Merino wool, lycra spandex, polyester, and nylon (stretchy, comfortable, and breathable).

This blend of fibers is part of Merrell’s MerinoMax technology that provides a super quick-drying fabric and moisture management. As for the “zoned” sections? The arch support in the midfoot section prevents your feet from fatiguing when you’re on a strenuous hike or long trail, and the NanoGLIDE technology—reinforcement in the heel and toe area—adds additional protection and durability. The toe is also seamless, reducing any chance of chafing, so you can focus on your hike while enjoying the great outdoors for longer.

Material: Wool, polyester, nylon, lycra spandex | Length: Crew | Quantity: One pair | Moisture-wicking: Yes

Best Compression: CEP Women's Athletic Compression Run Socks

Pros
  • Footbed molds to feet

  • Breathable

  • Comes in various colors

Cons
  • Can be difficult to put on

Compression socks are a must in any fitness fanatic’s arsenal, and CEP makes some of the best in the biz. Compression socks are known to help with circulation, reduce swelling, and can even reduce post-exercise soreness.

For athletes, the idea is that improved circulation can help oxygenate muscles to speed up recovery. The CEP Women’s Compression Socks have graduated compression that helps deliver more blood to your muscles. The sock footbed molds to feet to give sculpted support without restricting the toes, and the knit design allows for greater airflow, so even though you’re getting a snug and secure fit, you won’t get too hot or sweaty.

CEP prides itself on medically-based, athletically driven technology, and they’re made in Germany with superior craftsmanship.

Material: Polyamide, elastane | Length: Knee-high | Quantity: One pair | Moisture-wicking: Yes

Best Wool: Darn Tough Solid Basic Crew Light Socks

Darn Tough
Pros
  • Breathable

  • Moisture-wicking

  • Prevents chafing

Cons
  • Sizes run small

The Darn Tough Element sock is “merino wool at its finest. These socks have a mesh forefoot (hooray for breathability!) and naturally regulated temperature thanks to one of the best natural materials out there: merino wool. They’ll be cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This material is also sweat-wicking, drawing moisture to the surface of the fibers so it can evaporate away from the skin.

The Darn Tough brand has “undetectable” seam fusion to prevent chafing and discomfort, and it has a fitted silhouette that prevents slipping, bunching, and blisters. The light cushion variety gives just enough oomph on the base of the footbed without being too bulky.

Material: Merino wool, nylon, lycra spandex | Length: Crew | Quantity: One pair | Moisture-wicking: Yes

Best for Barre and Pilates: Alo Yoga Pivot Barre Sock

Alo Socks
Pros
  • No-slip grip bottom

  • Cushioned

  • Comes in various colors

Cons
  • Sizes run small

When it comes to barre and pilates workouts, it's important to find a sock with proper traction to keep you supported. We recommend the Pivot Barre Sock from Alo Yoga, since it features a no-slip grip, cushioned sole, and secure elastic straps.

These comfy socks will keep your feet supported throughout your workout, and the grip on the bottom will keep you from slipping. Available in pink, black, or gray, you can mix and match with your favorite workout gear. While it does boast a higher price tag compared to other socks on the market, this high-quality pair will hold up through several washes and wears.

Material: Nylon, polyester, spandex | Length: No-show | Quantity: One pair | Moisture-wicking: N/A

Final Verdict

Especially ideal for the colder months, or days lounging around the house, the BOMBAS Women’s Marls Ankle Socks (view at Amazon) protect your feet with its built-in blister prevention and moisture control. If you don’t mind the extra coverage, its ankle covering proves especially beneficial during hikes or walks in the woods. 

If HIIT is an integral part of your routine, the Balega No-Show Running Socks (view at Amazon) are a no-brainer. Cushioned and detailed with mesh ventilation, it works to prevent any slipping while keeping overheating at bay. 

What to Look for in Socks

Support

Finding support for your feet when walking or running goes beyond the shoes you wear. Socks can also provide moderate support to minimize pain or discomfort when engaging in physical activity. Padding on the instep, heel, and sole are key features to note before buying a pair. 

Evan Lynch, running coach and manager at Jackrabbit in New York City, says that the correct pair of socks should have varying degrees of compression in the mid-foot and should leave your arch feeling supported. “Most shoes don’t have an insole with a lot of support, so a good pair of socks can help,” he added. 

With that said, Lynch says that socks that fall under the “compression” category aren’t necessary for most people. “If you’re recovering from an injury or you have plantar fasciitis—something a lot of people deal with when city walking—then a compression sock may be a better option.”

Material

The material of your socks plays a major role in how well they breathe, their moisture-wicking properties, and how they feel in your shoes. “You want to find a pair made with synthetic materials because they will draw moisture away from your skin and help fight against blisters,” notes Lynch. 

He says to look for blends of polyester, nylon, and spandex as they’re lightweight and breathable. While many socks on the market are made with cotton, Lynch advises avoiding them, noting that in addition to giving you blisters, they can lock in and absorb moisture—making them generally uncomfortable.

Fit

Socks are often sold with a size range instead of a specific size, so it may be challenging to find a pair that fits well. However, Lynch explains that following the size recommendation on the packaging is a fairly safe bet. If you’re on the cusp of a size recommendation, Lynch says to always size up—the socks should be fitted to your running shoe size which is typically half-size larger than your go-to shoe.

More often than not, walking socks have an anatomical fit—meaning they have a left and a right sock. Each one is stitched to perfectly fit the shape of each foot so that it doesn’t slide around and provides support in the right areas. In terms of thickness, Lynch says that most options should be thin enough to fit in your shoe comfortably. Ethan Shea, store associate at New York Running Company in New York City adds, “If you live in a hot and humid climate, find socks that are lightweight and thinner so that they don’t feel suffocating.”

Cost

A pair of high-quality walking or running socks will likely cost you more than your average pair of cotton socks. The performance fabric in addition to the longevity typically correlates with the price tag. “I’ve seen people come in with socks that are five years old because they decided to make the initial investment in a sock made with good material,” says Lynch. Generally, he explains that budget-friendly options will result in a lower-quality sock.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Should you wear socks while walking?

    Yes, you should definitely wear socks while walking, says Saylee Tulpule, DPM, a podiatrist in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. “Socks will provide cushion to the bottom of the feet, absorb moisture and sweat, and can act as a barrier between the foot and shoe to prevent blister formation,” says Dr. Tulpule.

    In addition, you should wear socks made from a material that wicks away sweat from the foot to help prevent fungal infections and odor, according to William D. Spielfogel, DPM, a podiatrist in New York, NY, and foot and ankle expert for The Good Feet Store.

  • Are thick socks better for walking?

    Thick walking socks generally have more cushioning than thin socks, so they may feel more comfortable when you’re walking. However, thick socks may cause your feet to overheat and sweat in warmer weather, so very cushioned socks may not be a good choice for summer walking. They also may not work for people with wide feet who won’t have a lot of extra room in their walking shoes.

  • Should you wear compression socks while walking?

    “Compression socks help to promote vein circulation and blood flow in the legs and feet back to the heart,” says Melissa Prestipino, PT, DPT, clinical director of Therapeutics Unlimited in Sparta, NJ. “Wearing them while walking and standing can help to prevent blood clots, swelling, and varicose veins in the legs.”

    If you don’t have issues with varicose veins, calf swelling, or blood clots, you probably don’t need to wear compression socks while walking, but they typically won’t cause any adverse effects. Talk with your health care provider for advice on when to use compression socks and how long you can safely keep them on.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

Dominique Astorino has authored more than 5,000 stories on health, fitness, and wellness since graduating from the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism. She formerly worked at PopSugar Fitness as an on-screen host and fitness editor, and she now has bylines at a variety of health publications and runs her own consultancy, DOMINIQUE Media.

She is also a first-time author of her forthcoming book The Life Reset, which focuses on mental health and the effects of chronic stress.  

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2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Coza A, Dunn JF, Anderson B, Nigg BM. Effects of Compression on Muscle Tissue Oxygenation at the Onset of Exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 2012;26(6):1631-1637. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e318254885b