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Socks do some heavy lifting — and they don’t always get the appreciation they deserve. Even with the best shoes, your feet are bound to get sweaty and tired throughout the day. Enter the best sweat-wicking socks, a.k.a. your feet’s first line of defense.
Sweat-wicking socks are most useful when exercising or doing manual labor (say, yardwork) because sweaty socks will cause your feet to slip around. Without this sweat, you’ll notice grip, fewer blisters and better temperature control (sweat can get cold, making your feet colder). Many runners learn this the hard way by dealing with blisters — no matter the shoe — until they upgrade their socks.
But the best sweat-wicking socks are great for everyday use too. As most of us know, feet can get just as sweaty while traveling, running errands or commuting as they do when exercising (running socks on long-haul flights is one of our favorite travel hacks). Luckily, there are some fantastic sweat-wicking socks for just about every activity.
What Are the Best Sweat-Wicking Socks?
Socks might not be as technical as running shoes, for example, but there are still a few key features to look at while shopping.
Material: Some sock materials have natural moisture-absorbing powers, such as long-staple cotton, certain synthetics and merino wool. Brands can also fine-tune normal materials (I.e., regular cotton) to have better sweat-wicking abilities. No one method is better than another, per se, although some materials are better for certain activities. For example, merino wool is warm and thick, making it ideal for hiking. Olefin, on the other hand, is a thin synthetic favored by runners and cyclists.
Length: Sock length is really a personal preference, but it’s an important choice. If you’re wearing work boots, crew socks (that go up to the mid-calf) are best. If you’re a runner, you might want ankle socks for a breezier feel. There are also no-show socks, which are great for everyday use when you want to rock that no-sock look while staying comfortable (say, with loafers).
Thickness & Padding: Thick socks are great for cold weather and high-impact training, but they can be cumbersome or too warm, leading some athletes to ultra-thin socks. Some socks also offer padding for high-impact training or running that can be nice. Look out for thickness and any extra padding when shopping and, even better, test different thicknesses to see what you like best.
Support: Yes, socks can be supportive. This usually comes in the form of arch compression, which can help improve circulation and holds up your arches a bit. This is a big plus for runners and serious athletes.
1. Drymax R-Gear No Show Running Socks
Drymax is one of our favorite brands for sweat-wicking socks. The company’s geared towards runners, but its technology translates to better performance in just about any kind of workout. The secret behind the socks’ greatness is a dual-layer knit that uses 73 percent olefin synthetic. This build moves sweat to an outer layer where it can evaporate while your feet stay dry. These R-Gear socks boast flat seams for less chafing and an arch-compression band to improve circulation. You also get three levels of cushioning depending on your preference, including ‘thinnest,’ ‘thin’ and ‘medium.’
2. Dickies Men’s Dri-Tech Moisture Control Crew Socks
These Dri-Tech socks from Dickies are designed for long hours of tough work inside boots, but they’re also fantastic everyday socks — especially during the winter. Using a special cotton-blend fabric, the socks are able to absorb quite a bit of excess moisture. Airflow is also improved thanks to ventilated channels, and arch supports should reduce foot fatigue. Plus, as you’d expect from a Dickies product, the socks are tough as nails with durable fabric and reinforcements on the heel and toes.
3. Smartwool Hike Medium Crew Sock
If you’re looking for hiking socks (or just excellent cold-weather socks), check out this pair from Smartwool. They’re made primarily from merino wool, a premium material that regulates temperature and naturally absorbs moisture. This means your dogs will stay within a comfortable temperature range while resting in the cold or doing an intense uphill hike. The socks also feature some much-appreciated cushioning for long treks. Overall, they’re somehow rugged, yet extremely cozy.
4. Lululemon Power Stride No-Show Sock
No-show socks are a good idea for summer use, as they’ll keep your feet and ankles cool during workouts. But they’re also fantastic for achieving a no-sock look without the sweat, stink and blisters that typically accompany commando feet.
We like this pair of no-show socks from Lululemon because they’re super thin and moisture-absorbing and stink-reducing. We’re also big fans of the active grip tab heel which keeps the socks from sliding down the back of your foot.
5. Saucony Mesh Ventilating Socks
Another great option for serious runners is Saucony. The brand’s top-rated socks are meant to keep your feet as cool and dry as possible with ventilation and a sweat-wicking fabric. The ventilation comes from a mesh construction that regulates airflow from just about every angle. Moisture-wicking comes from the socks’ polyester-spandex material. You’ll also get arch support thanks to a compression area, as well as some low-profile cushioning at key contact points.
6. Swiftwick Performance Four Sock
These socks from Swiftwick are designed specifically for cycling, but they’re also quite good for training or running as well. Using synthetic olefin fibers, the socks effectively keep sweat to a minimum while controlling blisters, temperature and odor. We also like Swiftwick’s Y-heel contour which holds the socks to your heels (so the sock doesn’t move with the shoe). Other performance-improving features include hidden toe seams for less chafing, a spandex arch support and nylon reinforcement on the heel and toe for better durability.
7. Nike Everyday Max Cushioned
Nike’s Everyday Max socks are, as the name suggests, one of the best picks for both daily use and training. They use Nike’s beloved Dri-Fit technology to reduce moisture, plus ventilation for airflow and high-friction yarns in the footbed for an even more secure fit. With a properly designed left and right foot fit, as well as a thick terry sole, the socks are also very comfortable.
8. Bombas Burchar Socks
Sweat-wicking socks with a distinct everyday look can be hard to come by, making these Bombas Burchars a great find. Thanks to a unique cotton-blend material, they’re much better at absorbing moisture than your typical everyday sock (although not quite as good as more performance-focused socks). They also feature an arch support, which is nice for long commutes or running errands.
9. Under Armour Adult Cotton Crew Socks
If you’re looking for a solid, go-to gym sock, check out this six-pair set from Under Armour. They feel a lot like a normal cotton sock, but they’ve been engineered with polyester and spandex for better sweat-wicking powers and better performance. Like any good athletic sock, they also boast arch support and cushioning where you need it.