The Best Athletic Socks in 2023


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Jul 28, 2023

The Best Athletic Socks in 2023

Gear-obsessed editors choose every product we review. We may earn commission if you buy from a link. Why Trust Us? For powerlifters and long distance runners alike, these are the best athletic socks

Gear-obsessed editors choose every product we review. We may earn commission if you buy from a link. Why Trust Us?

For powerlifters and long distance runners alike, these are the best athletic socks for your favorite workouts.

Fitness has long been a market of innovative gear, apparel, and tech that can improve your workouts. While the fitness industry continues to evolve, some of the most important gear has remained the same for years—like athletic socks.

Athletic socks are just as tailored to specific activities as the shoes you wear them with, with features designed to improve your performance through breathability, moisture-wicking, stability, and comfort.

Choosing the right athletic socks depends heavily on what type of exercise you do, how much you sweat, and your preferences. Luckily for you, we have made a list of the best athletic socks for every type of sock-wearer, so whether you are hiking up mountains, maxing out your squat, or cycling across the city, we've got you covered with the best athletic socks for any type of exercise.

In addition to your favorite types of workouts, you should consider a number of factors when picking out athletic socks, including material, length, and overall design. These choices are vital not just for style and comfort, but also for the performance of the socks themselves as some styles are designed for particular activities.

Socks are made of a number of materials like cotton, wool, nylon, and polyester blends. While most socks are a blend of multiple fabrics, there's usually one primary material.

Cotton is best for comfort and cushioning; wool is great for breathability and support; and both polyester and nylon are best for compression and flexibility. If you prefer one of these materials over another, don't fret—the functionality of athletic socks is based on purposeful design as well as purpose-made materials.

The style and length of the socks is mostly up to your personal taste. However, the length of your socks does play a factor in function and breathability.

Longer socks are usually built for compression in your legs or to act as a protective layer when hiking or doing high-impact workouts. Shorter socks provide more space for your legs to breathe and are often better for runners because they can eliminate friction on the heel tab.

The physical construction of the socks plays a major role in how they feel and how they’ll perform for different activities. Many athletic socks have strategically placed cushioning built for specific exercises or activities, while others have blanket-style cushioning across the entire bottom of the foot. These are comfier, but may be too loose or soft for running and other impact workouts.

Prior to finalizing our list, we researched socks on several trustworthy sources, including publications like Today, Byrdie, Gear Patrol, CNET, and our own magazines, Runner's World and Men's Health. Additionally, we scoured through hundreds of verified customer reviews for a closer look at the products we considered. As an avid gymgoer, I gave a special look at the athletic socks designed for the gym, using my personal experience with various materials and styles to recommend only the best.

Bombas All-Purpose ankle socks are truly designed for nearly all situations. These versatile socks are built with mesh vents to increase breathability and targeted cushioning for support where it's needed most.

The socks are also designed with a soft, tab-style heel to reduce blisters and protect the back of your ankle during quick movements. Bombas donates a pair of socks to homeless shelters for each pair purchased as well, which is an added incentive worth considering.

This pack of six pairs of socks costs the same (or even less) than a single pair from many other brands, which makes the Adidas athletic cushioned crew socks an affordable option that provides quality support.

The cushioning is evenly spread across the foot and the compression in the arch provides are more secure fit. The socks also come in different colors and color combinations so you can have a pair to match with all your different workout gear.

For runners and joggers, the CEP Mid Cut running socks are a great option to keep in mind. These socks are designed with targeted compression in your feet and ankles to improve circulation during active movement.

The compression also ensures a skin-tight fit on your feet, reducing potential friction and the chance of a blister, even on long runs. The socks are also designed with ventilation points to improve breathability and allow your body to temperature regulate more easily.

If you love hiking but can't stand the thick, heavy socks during warmer months, the Wigwam Ultra Cool-Lite socks are worth considering. These socks are woven with moisture-absorbing fibers to pull sweat away from your feet.

However, the socks are also woven with moisture repelling fibers to help remove sweat from the sock entirely once its wicked away from your foot, so they don't get stinky too fast. The socks still offer significant cushioning on the heel and toe to reduce the impact of hiking or other physically intensive activities.

Ten Thousand may primarily be know for its performance and training shorts, but the training crew socks are well worth accolades, too. These athletic socks are strategically cushioned and offer direct arch support to improve training performance.

What sets the socks apart from many similar options is the silver ion anti-odor protection that keeps your feet from stinking up even after a heavy workout in a warm, sweaty gym.

A running sock built for comfort and breathability, the Lululemon MacroPillow tab running socks are a great addition to any runner's closet. The long tabs on the heel make it easier to slip the socks on and off, and more importantly, protect the back of your foot from blisters and friction.

The socks have a mesh design that improves breathability and is made of a specialized yarn that reduces odors so your feet stay clean and cool.

Smartwool ankle socks are made primarily of merino wool instead of cotton, nylon, or polyester. The merino wool offers incredibly solid durability and high levels of breathability, keeping you warm while simultaneously wicking away sweat. The socks allow for your body to regulate temperature better in both hot and cold environments.

Due to the merino wool, the socks are also naturally odor resistant, meaning you should feel fresher longer when wearing them. The wool for the socks is from regenerative sources, and once you are done with your own pairs, send them back to Smartwool to be recycled.

For indoor studio classes like barre, yoga, or Pilates, the Alo Yoga Pivot barre sock is one of the best. The elastic straps help keep your feet securely in the sock when in use, even in stretches like downward-facing dog.

The socks also come with silicone grips on the bottom to provide direct grip to hardwood flooring or on your pilates reformer. The socks also have mild cushioning on the heel and toe to add a bit of support on harder surfaces.

The Swiftwick Aspire Seven cycling socks are built for the long haul. The skin-tight compression improves circulation during long biking trips and reduces friction with your shoes.

The socks are also slightly taller than many traditional crew socks, giving more compression and security from falling down. The socks also come in six different colors to match with any outfits or biking gear.

For thick, cushioned support when in motion, the Nike Elite crew socks remain a great choice. With compression around the arch for a more secure fit and thick cushioning in the toes and heels, the socks are built for heavy movement and quick turns without pain or slippage.

The added cushioning doesn't sacrifice breathability though, since Nike uses its moisture-wicking fabric and design to keep the socks dry for as long as possible.

Tom Price is an Associate Editor of Commerce for Popular Mechanics, and also contributes to Runner's World, and Bicycling. He has previously covered product reviews, startup news, and even professional wrestling. In his free time, he enjoys watching pretentious TV, low-brow movies, and exercising for beauty, not health. If you are interested in exploring more of his work, check out his website.

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