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Best running socks in 2023

A good pair of run socks are key for maintaining foot comfort when running. Here are 11 of the best

Running by the coast

We put so much time, effort and money into purchasing the right running shoes, yet often seem to ignore the value of picking the best running socks for our feet.

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It’s a strange scenario, as running socks can have a huge impact on the comfort and support that are feet are subjected to. So with that in mind, we’ve pulled together a list of the best running socks on the market right now.

What type of socks are best for running?

As with most products, a lot comes down to personal preference. For example, running socks that venture above the ankle can be beneficial if your runs incorporate trails with long grass, brambles/nettles or loose terrain underfoot, helping fend off any debris getting into your socks and protecting your skin.

The best running socks need to fit well too, which means no movement between the material and your skin, as this can lead to blisters. Many no-show or ankle socks also have a cushioned heel tab that helps keep them in place, eliminating the risk of them sliding down into your shoe.

Ventilation is also key, particularly in summer. You want your socks to breath, wick moisture away and dump heat well to keep your feet as dry and comfortable as possible.

And then we come to comfort. Depending on the terrain and the running shoes you wear, you may want varying levels of cushioning. Key locations for cushioning include the heel and ball of your foot, as this is where most of the impact is.

Best running socks

Runderwear Anti Blister Socks

Runderwear Anti Blister Socks
  • £15

This offering from Runderwear is designed specifically with the task of reducing the risk of blisters and, in our experience, it does that with aplomb. This is due to the two-layer construction, which reduces friction forces on your foot.

It works well, though pulling these socks on did require a little more care and attention to ensure no bunching of the inner layer, which could add unwanted seconds to your transition time. Once on and correctly in place, the socks were really comfortable. There’s a decent amount of cushioning and the result is a plush running experience.

Due to the double layered nature of these socks, they do run a little warm and moisture wicking isn’t quite as efficient as other socks in this test. However, we didn’t find that an issue on our shorter training runs.

Verdict: Impressive blister protection, but not the quickest for pulling on in transition.

Score: 86%

Darn Tough Run No-Show Tab Cushion Ultralight Running Socks

Darn Tough No Show Cushion running socks
  • £16.95

These running socks were just a delight to run in. They have cushioning in all the right places, which helps deliver a plush running experience. A cushioned heel tab ensures the sock doesn’t slip down into the shoe and also helps get these socks on quickly when in transition.

The close fit ensures it’s hard for dirt to get into the sock, but that heel cuff occasionally caught debris. A blend of nylon, Merino wool, and lycra makes for a good balance of durability, comfort, support and anti-odour properties, while the seamless construction boosts comfort further.

As with all Darn Tough socks, these come with a lifetime guarantee, though this is something we’ve never had to utilise before.

Verdict: Hard to fault; excellent, comfortable and among the best running socks out there.

Score: 94%

Under Armour UA Armour Dry Run Crew Socks

Under Armour UA Armour Dry Running Socks
  • £15

These running socks from Under Armour are unlike many on test here in that they have a high ankle cuff. This is great if you’re running on trails, as it offers protection against nettles and brambles, as well as dirt finding its way into your sock. That being said, the white colourway we have on test here doesn’t stay clean for long.

Under Armour says these are their fastest drying socks and, while we can’t verify that, we can say that they managed moisture very well. They’re also well ventilated thanks to mesh panels on the top and bottom of the foot, though the higher ankle is slightly warmer than no-show socks.

We found them to be comfortable, with a secure fit ensuring no bunching of the fabric. There’s slightly less cushioning than the likes of the Darn Tough and Runderwear socks on test, but we didn’t find this detrimental to comfort. Meanwhile, there’s arch support to help with foot fatigue.

Verdict: Great support, ventilation and moisture wicking.

Score: 90%

Smartwool Run Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Crew Socks

Smartwool Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Run Socks
  • £20.99

The Run Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Crew Socks (and breathe!) are super comfortable, look good and offer additional warmth compared to standard run socks, which is ideal for the winter months.

The mix of Merino wool and nylon deliver strong thermal properties even when wet, and they’ve proved durable and supportive so far, too, but they’re not cheap!

They’re available in blue and black.

Verdict: Eye-watering price but a pleasure to wear and run in.

Score: 87%

Enertor Energy Socks

Enertor Energy Socks
  • £12.99 

These ankle-high running socks from Enertor are super lightweight and deliver a close, secure fit.

Despite their thin nature and minimal cushioning they proved comfortable and we had no issues with blisters or rubbing. They ventilate and breathe well, too, but we’re wary over their long-term durability.

Enertor says they also use an advanced Nilit Innergy energy return fibre to increase performance and endurance, though we’ve not personally seen any major breakthroughs in this regard.

Verdict: Lightweight and breathable, but limited cushioning and questions over durability.

Score: 82%

DexShell Running Lite Waterproof Socks

DexShell Lite Waterproof running socks
  • £24.99

Waterproof running socks can be a good option in harsh winter conditions, keeping your feet warm and dry, and DexShell are one of the industry leaders in this regard. On test here is the brand’s Running Lite Waterproof Socks.

As with all waterproof socks we’ve tried, comfort levels aren’t quite as high as standard socks, but these were certainly not uncomfortable, and we had no issues with wearing them. There was ample cushioning and good arch support, but the fit isn’t quite as close as standard socks.

Weather protection is good, as expected, but unless it’s particularly cold, you should expect to end up with sweaty feet, which is what happened on our test runs. Based on this, we’d recommend saving these for properly miserable weather days.

There were no issues with durability and we liked the added visibility on offer thanks to the colourful band at the top of the ankle cuff.

Verdict: Great for particularly cold, miserable weather, but can get sweaty inside.

Score: 82%

Monkey Sox Ultra X1 Sport

Monkey Sox Ultra X1 Sport
  • £16

What can we say about these socks. Well, a lot as it happens. The first thing to note is that 50% of profits generated by the sale of these socks are donated to multiple sclerosis charities. We think that’s incredible, and we’re sure you will too, so these socks are a great choice for those with a conscience.

The next thing to note is that these socks are bright. Very bright. And there’s a monkey on the back too. While that might not be to the taste of everyone, we found it good for visibility and, despite normally wearing subdued colours, we soon began to embrace the madness.

Comfort-wise, these socks are luxurious to wear. It’s like sliding your feet into your favourite pair of fluffy slippers. Cushioning is good, while the 1/4 cuff helps keep out debris. They were quick to pull on too, making them a reasonable choice for in transition.

After sustained use, we noticed the fabric started to pill, but at this point this seems to be purely only an aesthetic issue and the socks have continued to perform as expected.

Verdict: Super comfortable and we love the charity involvement.

Score: 85%

Smartwool PHD Run Light Elite

Smartwool PHD light running socks
  • £17.99

Made of a mix of Merino wool, nylon and elastane, these socks are designed to be offer excellent durability and performance. In testing, we saw nothing that suggested otherwise.

Thanks to the targeted cushioning on the ball and heel of the foot, mesh ventilation zones and a ‘Virtually Seamless’ toe, these socks were extremely comfortable. With Merino wool making up part of the construction, they remained odour-free and remained warm when wet.

There was a great deal of support on offer, while the close fit meant there was no issue with dirt or debris sneaking into the sock. Thankfully, they’re also quick to slide on, making them a reasonable option for race day.

Verdict: Not cheap, but high quality and comfortable, making them one of the best running socks on the market.

Score: 88%

2XU Vectr Light Cushion No Show Socks

2XU Vectr no show running socks

The Vectr socks utilise 2XU’s X-Lock technology in order to help protect against injury and offer ankle and arch stability. While we can’t comment on the injury protection claim, we will say they felt supportive and offered good stability.

A wide toe box allowed for toe splay, though the socks do fit quite tightly, which admittedly helps keep them in place. We had zero issues with blisters, while a Polygiene treatment and multiple ventilation zones helped keep the socks fresh.

They’re not the most cushioned, but unless you’re running in harsh running shoes, we found there was plenty to help stave off foot fatigue.

Verdict: Comfortable and great in warm weather.

Score: 85%

Also consider

1000 Mile Repreve

The socks in this twin pack from 1000 Mile uses recycled Repreve materials, which are primarily produced using discarded plastic bottles. Aside from this, they utlise padding at the heels, toes and Achilles, ventilation on top and at the arch and extra support at the latter too. The aim is that they hit the sweet spot between comfort, breathability and support.

Rockay Flare Ecowhite

  • £17.80

Returning to the quarter-height template are these socks from Rockay. Key features include the 100% recycled and sustainable materials construction, breathable mesh zones and a seamless toe area to minimise rubbing.

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