There was a time when many runners chose a thicker sock to help bridge gaps on shoes that didn’t quite fit, and to provide additional cushioning. Today’s shoes, however, tend to have more flexible, adaptable uppers with smooth inner layers that fit close to the foot, plus, they have ample cushioning, from thick, high-tech foam midsoles to plush sock-liners underfoot. When a shoe fits right, socks have one priority: stay out of the way while doing their job.
That job is to prevent blisters and keep the foot cool and dry. The best socks accomplish this — and stay out of the way — by combining ultra-thin design with advanced materials that encourage moisture transfer, reduce odors, and stay soft and smooth against the skin over the long run.
Here are 10 models we tested that make our feet happy, plus what makes each unique:
Voormi Run Sock | $25
“Comfy” is the first word one tester used for Voormi’s nice-fitting sock — a relaxed comfort that makes you want to wear them around the house in the evening. But hidden in that comfort is a ton of engineering, with different weaves on tops and bottom and different fibers inside and out. Next to the skin is a high-tech, moisture-phobic fiber than wicks moisture quickly out to the merino outer layer. The sock bottom features ribbed support while the top is covered with multiple mesh vents. All of it stays thin enough that they don’t add bulk in your running shoes, and the merino absorbs odors well enough you can, indeed, keep them on after the run.
True Energy Pro Series | $20 for 3 Pair
The True Energy socks are thin and simple, made with a stretchy poly/cotton/nylon/spandex blend that feels good against the skin, and a relaxed fit that wraps the midfoot with a bit of arch compression. What makes them stand out are the infrared nanoparticles woven into the fibers. These particles capture some of the energy released in body heat and redirect it back into your feet, claiming to improve circulation and speed up healing. There is some science behind these claims, and medical professionals we’ve talked to say they may indeed improve healing. We just know our feet feel good in them, and, the price is a bargain, particularly compared to other apparel with this tech.
Swiftwick Aspire 0 | $15
This virtually no-show, ultra-light sock is constructed with a firm compression and mesh pattern in the footbed that will support every indentation of your foot. The thin, narrow cuff sits just below the ankle with enough compression to not slink down the foot, and the moisture-wicking, engineered-pattern knit equates to maximal airflow ventilation that kept our feet cool and dry on even the stickiest, 80+ degree days. A goldilocks nylon/olefin/spandex fiber is thin yet cushioned just enough to provide a bit of responsiveness without compromising the breathability of the sock, appeasing even the touchiest of sock-snobs.
Rockay Agile Sock | $14
You may not have heard of Rockay before, but their socks are worth checking out, for multiple reasons. First, they are made of 100% recycled materials, with half of that reclaimed from ocean waste, like abandoned fishing nets. But you don’t need to sacrifice to do good: these socks are soft, smooth, breathable and durable. The knit is denser on bottom and more open on top, with a nicely-placed narrow compression band around the arch just behind the metatarsal heads, and a thin, stretchy ankle collar and Achilles tab that fell and snugged just right. We found ourselves pulling them out of the wash to wear again — and finding them neither stiff nor smelly, due to their anti-odor coating.
OS1st TA4 Thin Air Performance Socks | $13
OS1st, who makes medical-grade compression and bracing sleeves, enters the running sock market with a highly-engineered model designed for maximal air movement and minimal bulk. Woven with a soft and stretchy nylon/lycra microfiber, the top of the sock is an airy, see-through-thin weave. The arch is wrapped with a moderate-compression band that includes what they call “lift bars” — longitudinal stripes on either side of the instep that raise the fabric between to allow airflow up the foot. We appreciated the secure comfort of the anatomical fit and how they allowed for full proprioception of the shoe while providing superior blister protection and cooling.
Feetures Elite Ultra Light | $16
Feetures socks are known for their targeted compression and these ultra-thin versions live up to their reputation. Longitudinal ribs lie under the arch of the left and right specific sock, creating a KT-tape like proprioceptive support. On top, the weave is thin enough to be translucent, but the tight weave and 95% nylon blend ensures durability. Testers appreciated the precise fit that snapped into place when they pulled the socks on, and praised the front tab that blocked chafing from the creative tongues of today’s shoes.
Darn Tough Vertex No Show Tab Ultra-Light | $16
Darn Tough socks, made in Vermont, are popular with ultra runners for their durability and comfort. Knit with small needle, fine gauge machines, the socks have a thin, dense weave that hugs the foot and is guaranteed for life. Darn Tough analyzes warranty returns to continually improve the next version, creating socks like this 41% merino blend model that a tester said, “feels structured, like it is supporting all of my foot, in a way that feels like it is an invisible part of the shoe.” We particularly loved the fit of the collar of this no-show model — low in front, with a just-right-height tab to protect the Achilles. The same ultra-thin knit is also available in ¼ height, and graduated-compression over-the-calf.
Drymax Hyper Thin Running No Show | $12
The Hyper Thin socks were so thin one tester had to adjust her shoe laces to dial in the fit — and she thought she already was wearing thin socks. Within that thin weave, however, is plenty of tech, most noticeably two layers of fibers, a hydrophobic layer next to the skin that won’t absorb any moisture, keeping your skin dry, and a moisture-attracting layer on the outside that pulls sweat away. Ribbed vents over the arch make the sock even cooler. Besides the cool, dry feel, testers appreciated the simple, adaptable fit that didn’t require aligning parts of the sock with the foot and felt immediately comfortable.
Bombas Performance Running Ankle Sock | $16
These lightweight running socks are engineered with high-quality materials to maximize heat-release and wick away moisture. Yarned together with polyester and cotton, they strategically cushioned our testers’ feet, left/right arch-support system included, for optimal performance and minimal interference. Aesthetically, the groovy color schemes had our testers feeling fly while the seamless toe and blister tab was pleasing to our soles. And knowing that Bombas donates a pair to homeless shelters for every pair purchased pleases our souls.
Balega Ultralight No Show | $14
Balega socks are all about fit. The superior fit starts with the deep, contoured heel pocket that anchors the sock, reducing heel slip and letting the arch move freely. Anatomical left/right shaping further enhances the custom fit, while a high-stitch-count knit makes the feel of the polyester blend soft and luxurious. Microfiber mesh panels on top create even more breathable zones. Testers gave these the highest praise for a sock: “You don’t even know they are there.”