Finding the best running socks can be intimidating. With so many options out there, how do you know what makes for great running socks that will fit in seamlessly with your running shoes? As you're shopping for the perfect pair of running socks, you'll find that some key features make all the difference in finding the right pair depending on your running shoe, how you run, and what your overall goals are (run faster, run further, and specific types of training). Here are some terms to keep in mind as you search for the perfect pair.
Lightweight socks that offer no additional cushioning and are designed primarily to act as a modest barrier between your foot and the shoe. These socks have less bulk, are highly breathable, and are quick drying so they work best in warm conditions. Thin socks are often a good choice if your shoe fits very close to your foot and additional volume will compromise shoe fit.
Medium-thick socks offer additional cushioning through out the entire sock or heel and forefoot. The benefits of added cushioning are greater comfort and impact protection, a more secure shoe fit, and less opportunity for friction between your foot and the shoe. Most medium-thick socks adapt well to most temperature conditions.
Thick socks offer additional supplemental cushioning, usually across the bottom of the foot for maximum impact protection. These socks work best for people who have thin fat pads under their feet or need additional bulk to improve shoe fit. Thick socks because of their added volume work well in cooler temperatures as added insulation.
Mapped cushioning is a hybrid cushioning method that incorporates the best of what traditional thin and medium cushioning offer. Rather than cushioning the entire foot, the needed cushioning is strategically placed in only the high impact and high friction areas of the sock. Mapped cushioning allows for impact protection, but reduces the weight of the sock, enhances the fit, and allows for maximum breath ability.
The lowest sock height available that offers little or no sock appearance above the heel collar of the shoe.
A tab sock has an additional portion of fabric that protects the upper heel and Achilles area of the foot. Usually found on no-show and low-cut socks.
Low-cut socks offer a modest rise above the shoes heel collar and usually stops at the middle of the anklebone.
Quarter socks rise from the shoe to usually cover the anklebone entirely. Runners wear these if they are experiencing heel blistering resulting from shoe friction.
Crew sock heights can vary but usually rise 6-8” above the shoe line. Best choice for cooler temperatures or if you need added lower leg protection due to rocks and brush, for example trail running.
Knee high socks rise to just below the knee and cover the entire lower leg. These socks are usually associated with compression socks that provided additional performance and support.
Moisture wicking socks:
Many runners opt for a sock that can wick moisture and keep their feet dry in warm temperatures or on long runs. Aside from running socks, moisture wicking clothing is common among runners to regulate their body temperature and prevent them from overheating.
Running socks aside, most socks are made from cotton. In general, though, cotton socks are not ideal for running. Sock Geek primarily sells from synthetic fibers as an alternative. Cotton retains moisture and heat and can easily cause blistering.
Merino wool socks:
Keep your feet dry with merino wool socks. Wool socks may not be the obvious choice when running, but this material makes for a good running sock. Many runners enjoy the moisture wicking materials and they come in light weight options for summer running.