After eight years of running more than 60 miles per week, I’ve gone through my fair share of running socks. I’ve ran with socks that caused terribly painful blisters and socks that, promising frictionless runs, caused season-ending injuries (I’m looking at you, Wright Socks). For the uninitiated, running socks come with a high price tag: just one good pair will cost far more than bulk packs of cotton socks at Macy’s. Although $15 for a pair of socks may seem steep, good running socks are built to stop blistering and other foot issues commonly sustained by runners. As with previous installments of our “Best of” series, we created our list of Best Running Socks of 2014 to help you find the best running gear on the market. As you know, aside from running shoes, shorts, and a top, there's nothing as important for a good run than great running socks.
The Very Good
9) Thorlo TRMX Trail Running Socks: $15.99 per pair
Designed for the trail runner who’s running in technical conditions and potentially through river beds, these socks can hold up to everything without tearing or getting soggy. Although the material is a little thick, I’ve taken these through some tough runs and have never suffered any foot problems.
8) Darn Tough Vermont Merino Wool No Show: $15 per pair
Made of 71% Merino wool, 27% nylon, and a little bit of spandex, Darn Tough’s Vermont Merino Wool No Shows can get you through the worst conditions. Whether it’s hot or slushy out, this pair helps your feet avoid the blisters so commonly sustained by runners.
7) Nike Dri-Fit No Show, $18 for 3 pairs
An amazing value for their high quality, Nike Dri-Fit socks will get you through nearly every run. That being said, these socks are not recommended for marathons or ultra runs, as the socks are composed of cotton that absorbs the moisture from a sweaty foot. But with a fit that’s a tad small yet comfortable, the Nike Dri-Fit No Shows are a steal relative to the other running socks on our list.
6) SwiftWick Performance Zero, $9.99 per pair
With an antimicrofibal fiber built into the root of these comfortable socks, they feel light and breathable (and rarely stink post-run!). There’s very little flashiness about these socks -- they simply fit well, feel good, and are sold at a reasonable price.
5) ASICS Kayano Classic Low Cut: $14 per pair
ASICS’ premium low cut sock, this pair feels soft and has a nice, natural fit that nicely hugs the foot. As ASICS describes their Kayano Classic Low Cuts, they have an “anatomic fit, NanoGLIDE moisture and friction management, articulated arch support, horizontal lace pad, and mesh knit construction.”
4) Injinji Run 2.0 Original Weight No-Show, 1 pair $12.00
Believing that the tired, traditional sock needed an update, Injinji ingeniously developed their sock to wrap around each of a runner’s toes. This sock is a glove; every other sock is a mitten. Injinji’s Run 2.0 Original Weight No-Show perfectly suits the runners who, no matter the sock they try, still blisters between their toes. The big downside to the Injinji Run 2.0 No-Show: if you lose one in the wash, it’s hard to pair the other with another “normal” sock.
3) Smartwool PhD Run Light Micro, $16.95 per pair
When I worked at Big River Running, a running store in St. Louis, these were our most popular socks. Why? These sock’s merino wool beautifully wicks away the sweat that accumulates in a run, and these socks simply fit incredibly, from the arch to the ankle band. And amazing, these socks both keep my feet warm in the winter and shockingly cool in the summer. While I love the construction of the socks, my only knock is the merino wool can be a double edged sword: compared to some other sock fabrics, it’s not always very comfortable.
I've worn these socks in every race I've done since I graudated college. The sock’s iWick nylon fabric always keep my feet dry and their tight arch, the tightest of any sock I’ve ever worn, applies the perfect amount of arch compression. After feeling how well these socks worked for half marathons and greater distances, I bought four pairs.
1) Balega Hidden Comfort, 1 pair $12.00
These socks are, hands down, the most comfortable running socks I’ve ever worn. Thanks to their elastane construction, I feel as though I’m wearing clouds each and every time I put on the Balega Hidden Comfort. The plush under sole of the sock adds not just protection, but coziness. During runs these socks stay in place and the thick reinforced back reduces blistering of the heel. They wick moisture superbly and lack a stench post-run. And just as wonderful from Janji’s perspective, Balega is a socially responsible company to its core, supporting physically disable and visually impaired children of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. In comfort, running, and social responsibility, Balega is at the top of our list.
About the author:
Dave Spandorfer is the co-founder of Janji and a serious runner. You can follow his Janji and running journeys on twitter @spandorfer