FEW people appreciate the importance of running socks, but every runner will have wished they’d invested in a better pair at some point during a particularly gruelling session.
It doesn’t have to be as drastic as a flimsy pair that rides down one leg to ruin a good run – comfort and fit are key considerations, but protection is also vital.
For instance, many runners assume blisters are par for the course, but in most cases, they’re caused by socks that don’t adequately combat heat, moisture and friction.
Material is important, of course. For some runners the mantra is “cotton is rotten”, so opting for synthetics or similarly tightly-woven durable fibres is preferred.
Compression socks are also worth considering, although if sweaty feet are a persistent problem, a better bet would be single-layered socks with ventilation and padding on the toes, heel and arch.
Ultimately you want a pair that’s breathable, provides good arch support, and blend into your feet so you’re not actually aware of them as you run.
This is why the best pairs come with a dedicated left foot and right foot.
We’ve rolled out some of the best unisex running socks around for you to slip into.
Why do people wear running socks?
It's as important for a runner to wear great running socks as it is to own a pair of high-quality running shoes.
Not only do they prevent minor injuries like blisters, running socks act as a bandage to protect joints.
They're much more breathable than your average cotton sock: they absorb sweat, and transfer it to the running shoe.
The padding under the ball of the foot and heel acts as a cushion to prevent wear and tear.
If you're running regularly, it's usually a crucial investment: the price may be steeper, but you get quality and durability with it.
Do you need running socks?
All runners and athletes can benefit from running socks, but it's up to you whether you need them.
It can be a crucial purchase, and probably more important than a fitness tracker or any fancy running gadgets.
With that in mind, here's our pick of the best.
1. Runderwear Cushioning No Show
- Runderwear Cushioning No Show Running Socks, £12 at Runderwear – buy here
Combining a lightweight cushioned construction with high-performance technical fabric, The Runderwear Cushioning Socks minimise dreaded chafing thanks to the cushioned panels above the foot.
They also keep blisters at bay through the high tab at the back.
The mid-foot grip is fitted with elastane to support the foot arch and keep the sock in place, while the breathable moisture-sucking fabric combined with reinforced mesh panels help regulate foot temperature and prevents overheating.
2. Rockay Accelerate
- Rockay Accelerate – £16.95 at Amazon – buy here
Made from a mixture of polyamide, organic Merino wool and elastane, the Rockay Accelerate ensures optimal temperature for both warm and colder environments, which helps the prevention of blisters and chafing.
The compression-fit, arch support and heel tab that blends with the ankle cuff makes this an ideal pair for distance running.
3. Drymax Extra Protection Hyper Thin
- Drymax Extra Protection Hyper Thin, £20.45 at The Ultra Marathon Running Store – buy here
Billing itself the world’s lightest running socks, the Drymax avoids being flimsy thanks to the thin-padded heel, forefoot and toe impact areas.
Open mesh stripe vents and mesh arch allow heat to escape to provide the socks with breathability, with its anti-fungal properties keeping sweaty feet as dry as possible (not to mention toning down the odour).
With abrasion resistant nylon fibre reinforcements and friction-free blister prevention, this is a firm favourite among marathon runners.
4. Balega Silver
• Balega Silver No Show Unisex Running Socks, £16.99 at Run For It – buy here
Runners who’d rather throw away a pair than risk it stinking out their gym bag have nothing to fear with the Balega Silver, thanks to its moisture-wicking fibres covered in silver ions acting as highly effective antibacterial agents.
A full mesh panel in each sock provides extra ventilation, while the seamless toe design minimises blistering and chafing.
The deep heel pocket prevents slippage, with the high heel tab liner which offers a snug fit and added comfort.
5. Falke Achilles
- Achilles Men Socks Health, £30 at Falke – buy here
True to its name, the Falke Achilles reduces the risk of Achilles tendon problems through 3D silicone pyramids that massage the tissue on the side of heels, improving blood circulation while they’re at it.
The compression fit offers ankle stabilisation provided by a compression zone, while the triple-layered material structure gives rapid moisture-wicking to keep the feet dry.
What are the best running socks?
You want your running socks to be able to cope with anything your feet throw at you
From sweaty feet to discomfort, you'll need a pair of running socks to get you through anything from a light jog to a marathon.
How much impact your feet feel, and how hot they get can make the difference between coming first or last.
We've selected a few that will keep your feet in their prime, from the likes of Runderwear to Falke
Avid gym-goer? You'll need a foam roller, check out our selection of the best foam rollers
Enjoyed our roundup of the best running socks? For more fantastic health and fitness recommendations, be sure to check out our dedicated section.
Looking for something else entirely? Sun Selects is all about helping you find the best products at the best prices.
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