Best Running Socks 2024 - Outdoors Magic

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Best Running Socks 2024

From ultralight ankle socks, to protective crew socks. Here's what to look for when buy a pair of running socks

Make no mistake, choosing the right running sock could make or break a great day on the road or out in the hills. If you’re someone who, quite rightly, invested a lot of money into a decent pair of trail running shoes, then ensuring your feet are wrapped up in an equally high performing pair of running socks is the key to comfort over long distances in the hills.

What Makes a Great Running Sock?

Although running socks provide cushioning and comfort while you’re pounding mile after mile on the trails, they provide many other features that make life that bit more comfortable.

Expect to find running socks packing features such as support in much needed areas in an effort to improve blood flow, and minimal seams to reduce the chance of blisters. Anti-odour treatments are a great feature to look out for to help keep your socks smelling ‘fresh’.


You’ll notice that many of the socks featured are made from a mixture of nylon, wool and elastane. Gone are the days of wearing regular cotton socks while running. This is because, generally speaking, cotton absorbs a large amount of moisture (sweat) and is unable to wick it away from your body.

Going for a lightweight Merino fabric ensures that the socks are able to remain breathable and comfortable, all while giving a good fit around your foot to prevent any unwanted blisters. Nylon is then blended with the merino yarns to give the sock structure and durability. Lastly, a stretchy material, like elastane, is generally used to give the sock a tight fit that won’t move or bunch, avoiding any dreaded blisters.

Holly Burns carrying out some sock testing for us


The height of the running sock is important to consider. Crew cut running socks are becoming extremely popular in recent years. There’s very little difference in performance between crew and ankle cut socks, but crew cut socks offer a little extra protection around the calves for when the trail exposes you to a bramble bush or two.

If you’re running in an extremely warm climate, then you may still prefer the increased breathability of an ankle sock.

Related: Best Running Shorts
Related: Best Energy Bars For Trail Running


Finally, cushioning is vital for running socks – especially when you consider the distances you’re likely going to be hammering out in a day in these socks. Expect to look for a touch of extra cushioning around the toes and heel, with a lightweight (and more breathable) material used elsewhere.

Our Team’s Verdict on the Best Running Socks for 2024

Here are the pairs of running socks that impressed us the most following our tests out on roads and trails. All of the pairs featured here are available in men’s, women’s or unisex models. If you’re looking for more equipment for your running adventures, you’ll also find in-depth guides from us on the best running gloves, running packs and running jackets. We’ve also compiled a guide to the best boutique running brands if you’d like to discover some new running companies to explore.

  • Best Overall Trail Running Sock: Darn Tough Run Micro Crew Ultra Lightweight
  • Best Socks for Long Runs: Inov-8 Active Mid
  • Best Toe Socks for Running: Injinji Ultra Run No-Show
  • Best for Smelly Feet: Hilly Marathon Fresh Socklet
  • Best Merino Running Socks: Bridgedale Ultra Light T2 Merino Sport 3/4 Crew
  • Best Running Socks for Cold Weather: Smartwool Run Cold Weather Targeted


Best Overall Running Sock

Darn Tough Run Micro Crew Ultra-Lightweight

Price: £21
Available lengths: short, crew, 3/4
Key attributes:
hard wearing, breathable

We’re big fans of Darn Tough hiking socks here at Outdoors Magic. We featured their Kelso Micro Crew Light in our Outdoor 100 product guide and, rather unsurprisingly, their running socks make our top pick of trail running socks.

The Darn Tough Run Micro Crew Ultra-Lightweight uses a combination of 51% nylon, 44% merino wool, and 5% lycra spandex. The merino wool brings comforting breathability to the party, as well as quick-drying and stink-fighting properties.

Hard wearing nylon has been brought in to add durability. Finally, the little bit of lycra helps with the stretch to ensure there’s no slipping, no bunching, and therefore, no blisters.



Best Socks for Long Runs

Inov-8 Active Mid Sock

Price: £10
Available lengths: Low, mid and high
Key attributes:
Good balance of protection and breathability

Inov-8 are real running specialists. Based in the Lake District, the home of the fell running, their main speciality lies in trail running footwear and they make their products – including their socks – with long distances in mind. This pair of socks from them feature a smart ribbed design on the top of the foot which provides protection and ventilation. Underfoot, there are padded panels at the toes and heel for cushioning. The materials they’ve used are high wicking and durable and are sourced from recycled materials. These socks are all-rounders but they’ll serve ultra runners particularly well.



Best Toe Socks for Running

Injinji Ultra Run No-Show

Price: $17
Available lengths: no-show, mini crew, crew
Key attributes: anti-blister design, breathable

As you can see, these socks are slightly different compared to the other socks in this round up, most notably at the toes. The thinking behind their little toe ports is that this kind of design minimises skin on skin contact and therefore reduces the risk of blisters. From our experience running in these socks, we’d say that there might be something in this. We didn’t experience any blisters running in them and a look at other reviews people have written would suggest that they’ve spared a lot of other runners from any nasty rubbing too. 

The only downside with these socks is that they can be quite fiddly to get on. If you’re not precise enough, you can end up with two toes together and you often have to fiddle to pull the toe fabric ends out before sticking the socks on. There’s definitely a bit of a knack to it. 

Looking beyond the toes, these have a useful construction, including loads of terry looping across the base of the sock that adds heaps of padding, then a thin, breathable mesh up top that brings ventilation to proceedings. The fabric, which is a synthetic blend, feels durable and abrasion resistant and it’s quick drying and moisture wicking too. Unfortunately there appears to be no anti-odour control, so we found that smell can build up in the fibres and regular washing was required. 



Best Merino Socks for Running

Bridgedale UItra Light T2 Merino Sport ¾ Crew

Price: £19
Available lengths: low, ¾ crew, crew
Key attributes: warm, comfortable

These socks have a high Merino content and we found this makes them well suited to runs in colder conditions. They’re quite thick for a pair of running socks and there’s quite a lot of cushioning underfoot and on the back of the heel.

While their warmth is their big strong point, the downside to them is that they’re very slow drying. In our tests, we found that they were good at wicking away moisture from sweat, but if the sock got saturated, whether that was by stepping in a puddle or from heavy rainfall, it seemed to stay saturated. 

So, if you’re running in cold but dry conditions then these are great. But if there’s moisture around we’d recommend looking for something with perhaps a higher proportion of synthetic materials. 



Best Running Socks for Smelly Feet

Hilly Marathon Fresh Socklet

Price: £15
Available lengths: socklet min, anklet min, anklet med
Key attributes: anti-odour, comfortable

Out of all the socks tested, these were the ones that we found to be the best for handling smelly feet. One factor that makes them so great for preventing odours from building up is their embedded Polygiene odour-control. It’s a long-lasting, skin-friendly technology that stops smell-causing bacteria from building up and spreading. 

Then there’s the Merino wool content too. Merino is a naturally antimicrobial material, meaning it creates the kind of environment that bacteria can’t prosper and spread – so again, that forms a part of the Hilly Marathon Fresh Socklet’s odour control.

Merino is also very comfortable too, of course. These socks do feel comfortable to wear. That’s not just thanks to the Merino but also the padded knit. It’s not ultra cushioned throughout but most runners will find that there’s just enough padding in the right areas. We particularly like the top padded cuff which we found can lessen the blow if your left foot happens to swing into and clip the inside of your leg. 



Best Running Socks for Cold Weather

Smartwool Run Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Mid Crew

Price: £16
Available lengths: low, ankle and mid crew
Key attributes: good quality materials and construction, excellent odour control

Smartwool are real experts when it comes to the design and manufacture of Merino wool garments and these socks are a case in point. The Run Targeted Cushion, has a fairly high Merino content that makes them very comfortable to wear and able to cope with all the demands of running. 

In our tests, odours were kept under control after multiple runs and moisture was wicked away quickly to make for a quick drying time. We particularly liked the amount of arch support these provided and the well-designed toe box which didn’t cause any niggles or friction. 

The high merino content and thick weave makes these a warm pair of socks best suited to winter running. If you tend to get cold at your extremities even in autumn and spring, this might be a good pair of socks to consider.



Best of the Rest


Rockay Razer

Price: £18.50
Available lengths: crew
Key attributes: sustainably made, breathable

There’s quite a lot to like about Rockay’s offering to the trail running market. First of all, these socks are made from 100% recycled materials. The sock consists of 51% Econyl Regenerated Nylon, 45% Recycled Polyamide, and 4% Recycled Elastane.

Secondly, the Razer Trail Running Socks come with the Rockay Blister-Free Guarantee, meaning that the good folk at Rockay will offer you a refund, or send you a new pair of socks, if you develop a blister while using these socks.

Finally, for every pair of socks sold, Rockay have committed themselves to removing 125g (13 bottles) of plastic trash from the ocean. So while the £18.50 price tag might initially look steep, there’s a lot going on with these socks that, to us, looks like money well spent.

Read our full Rockay Razer Trail Running Socks review.



Hilly Unisex Pace Quarter

Price: £15
Available lengths: low, mid, ankle
Key attributes: durable, quick-drying

Hilly were founded back in 1992 and are the sister brand of Ronhill, one of the UK’s most-loved running brands. Their Pace socks are fully synthetic, using a mix of polyester, polyamide and elastane, and this gives them a robust, long-lasting feel to them. The blend also makes these very quick to dry too. 

The moisture wicking is good. As is the breathability. They’re not particularly plush in terms of comfort, with more of a minimalist feel to them, but they do feel light. And when they get wet, the moisture seems to clear out quickly. 

The toe box seam is flat and placed under the toes, so there’s no discomfort or irritation from this whatsoever. 

All in all, we’d say this is a great value sock that will suit casual runs, track running or long distance stuff, particularly in warmer weather. 



Balega Blister Resist Quarter Socks

Price: £17
Available lengths: low, crew
Key attributes: versatile, moisture wicking

These running socks by twenty-year-old running sock manufacturers Balega are designed to keep feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They’re made from a blend of materials: a synthetic that Balega call Drynamix and a wool called Mohair. One of the oldest textile fibres in use, Mohair is a durable and resilient wool that’s derived from the hair of the Angora goat. It’s known for being warm in winter, due to its insulating properties, and also moisture wicking enough to create a cooling effect in summer. 

Socks with a high wool content can often be quite heavy and thick-feeling, but that’s not the case with the Balega Resist socks. They feel light and breathable. There’s also a nice bit of padding under the heel and around the toes and that not only adds comfort but it seems to help to prevent blisters too. 

With the cushioning and strong arch support you get from these, we’d say they’re a great pair to wear on longer runs. 



How to Choose a Pair of Running Socks

Running socks are an easy part of your running kit to overlook but it’s very important to put some thought into the ones you choose. Doing so will greatly help your running experience. We’d even go so far as saying they’ll make you a better runner, because to improve at running you need to enjoy the process and to enjoy the process you need to feel comfortable.

When choosing running socks, you don’t just need a good pair, you need a good pair for you. That means choosing the right style, materials and construction to suit your personal preferences and the usage you’ll be putting the socks through. 

Things to think about include the types of surfaces you normally run on, the distances you tend to run and the typical temperature and weather conditions. 

What to Avoid When Buying Running Socks

There are some big things to avoid when choosing running socks. Cotton is a big no-no. It’s a material that tends to absorb and hold moisture making for very slow drying times and the risk of your feet getting cold, blistered and unhygienic. 

You also want to avoid socks that have pronounced seams as they can rub and cause skin irritation. Ideally, you want socks that have minimal seams and, when they are present, they should be almost invisible or strategically located so as to avoid chaffing. 

The Best Materials for Running Socks

Most socks are made from a blend of materials, usually involving synthetics like nylon or polyester, wool – more often than not, Merino – and an elastane that creates the shape and springy feel. 

If you want your feet to stay cool when you’re running then a pair of socks with a fully synthetic blend will be your best bet. This type of sock will be hardwearing, moisture wicking, quick drying and it will bring lower levels of insulation than a sock with wool content. 

This sock from Rohan has a seam that’s carefully located in order to prevent rubbing.

Wool socks, on the other hand, are excellent for cold weather running or simply for people who tend to get cold at their extremities. Merino wool is world renowned for its insulating qualities and its lovely soft feel and it’s a truly excellent material for running socks. Any pair of socks with a Merino content over 50% will be comfortable, moisture wicking, warm and, because wool is anti-microbial, they’ll handle odour well.


It should go without saying that thin socks are going to be cooler than thick socks. They’ll also be less cushioning and padded. As such, you’ll tend to see short distance runners wearing very thin and light socks, while ultra distance runners might opt for socks that are slightly more cushioned. If you notice your feet feeling sore in certain points after a run, you might want to look for socks that have padding in that specific location. 

If you’re prone to blisters, you might want to consider socks that are double-walled. Brands such as 1000 Miles and Wrightsocks opt for this type of construction. Their socks come with an inner and outer layer of material which means that any rubbing that occurs causes friction between the sock material, rather than against your skin.

This pair from 1000 Mile shows a sock with extra padding at the achilles and underfoot.


It’s worth looking closely at a sock when you’re shopping around. These days, sock manufacturers deploy clever zoned weaves at different parts of the foot. For instance, our Best Buy pair of socks in this review has a thin weave at the top of the foot with small air channels to allow hot air to escape, while under the foot, the weave is denser to create extra padding. 


Socks come in various lengths to cater to different preferences and practical needs. Ankle socks typically cover the foot up to the ankle bone, providing a minimalist and breathable option suitable for casual and athletic activities. Crew socks extend higher, covering the ankle and part of the calf, offering more warmth and support, making them versatile for both casual and sportswear. Then there are mid or micro crew socks which fall between ankle socks and traditional crew socks. They typically cover the foot and reach slightly above the ankle, providing a compromise between the minimalism of ankle socks and the additional coverage offered by crew socks. 

This sock has special channels to create air flow.

Deciding between crew, mid/micro crew, running socks depends on the kind of running you intend to do. Lower cut socks will allow for more air circulation so are generally preferable when running indoors or in warm conditions outdoors. On the other hand, long running socks will keep you warmer in the cold months. The best socks for trail running also tend to be longer as they can help protect your legs from sharp vegetation. 

Anti-Odour Treatments

We mentioned that wool socks have natural anti-microbial properties that prevent odours from building up. If you prefer socks without wool but still want odour control, look for socks that contain a special treatment designed to prevent the growth of smell-inducing bacteria. In many cases, brands will partner with a company called Polygiene that specialises in such a treatment. Some brands also have their own technologies designed for the same purpose. 

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