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Balega Hidden Comfort Review

A sock that is very comfortable for a great price, but has a few drawbacks when it comes to performance.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $13 List | $12.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Excellent price, very comfortable, super stretchy
Cons:  Likes to slip off the back of foot, padding not targeted to most important areas
Manufacturer:   Balega
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 25, 2019
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 9
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Fit - 25% 5
  • Wicking & Breathability - 25% 6
  • Slip Prevention - 15% 7
  • Durability - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The Balega Hidden Comfort is comfortable and quite affordable. Since comfort is one of the most important considerations for a running sock, why wouldn't we recognize the one that gives the best comfort for the least price? While we love it for how easy it is to pull on at any time, and how great it feels to wear virtually all the time, we will admit that this sock didn't perform quite as well out on a run, and ranked near the middle of the pack in our overall rankings. It features a basic design that isn't congruent with all other contenders that offer a thoughtful architecture. While we don't mind wearing it for a run here or there, it's not our favorite for the daily wear. Though, we do love it for its comfortable fabric features.


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Price $12.00 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Excellent price, very comfortable, super stretchyGreat fit, wicks and breathes well, perfectly placed padding, unisex fitSuper plush and comfortable, ergonomic fit, men & women's versions, cute colorsSuper comfortable, fits great, durable, good padding.Deliciously comfortable, well-cushioned, affordable.
Cons Likes to slip off the back of foot, padding not targeted to most important areasNot as grippy within the shoe as some socks, low cut is a bit of a ‘tweenerMoisture management is sub-par, tight fit.Doesn’t wick moisture very wellBreathability is poor.
Bottom Line A sock that is very comfortable for a great price, but has a few drawbacks when it comes to performance.The best overall running sock is comfortable, fits perfectly, and does a great job managing moisture.A super plush and comfortable running sock with a compressive fit.A super comfortable and durable lightweight running sock.Comfortable and affordable for long days pumping out the miles.
Rating Categories Balega Hidden Comfort Thorlos Experia XCCU Feetures Merino 10 Coolmax Vertex Ultra-Light Balega Silver No Show
Comfort (25%)
10
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8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
9
Fit (25%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
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8
Wicking & Breathability (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
5
Slip Prevention (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
Durability (10%)
10
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5
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
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6
Specs Balega Hidden... Thorlos Experia XCCU Feetures Merino 10 Coolmax Vertex... Balega Silver No...
Material Drynamix Polyester 84%, Polyamide Nylon 14%, Elastique 2% 66% THOR WICK COOL, 20% Nylon ,1% Elastic, 13% Polyester Merino, synthetic 52% Coolmax Polyester, 44% Nylon, 4% Lycra Spandex 75% Drynamix Polyester, 23% Nylon, 2% Elastane
Warranty No Information Found 30 day guarantee Lifetime Guarantee Unconditional lifetime guarantee No Information Found
Ankle Cut No Show Tab Low Cut No Show Tab No Show No Show Tab

Our Analysis and Test Results

This sock is cozy and comfortable with a non-specific fit. While it's not the best running sock out there, its excellent price may persuade you to buy it for other activities like lounging around the house or taking a bike ride.

Performance Comparison


Crystal Lake is one of our favorite places to get in a short  relatively flat run (hard to find in these mountains) in an incredible setting. Here we are testing different socks against each other with a brown dog.
Crystal Lake is one of our favorite places to get in a short, relatively flat run (hard to find in these mountains) in an incredible setting. Here we are testing different socks against each other with a brown dog.

Comfort


There is no doubt that the Balega Hidden Comfort is very comfortable. As the most important characteristic of a running sock, this can't be overlooked. While wearing this sock we never noticed any pinching, tightness, rubbing, or excessive looseness anywhere or at any time. The predominantly polyester fabric felt very smooth against the skin and was rarely even noticed once it was put on.

A look at the non-specific but plush cushioning that we absolutely LOVE slipping our foot into.
A look at the non-specific but plush cushioning that we absolutely LOVE slipping our foot into.

The marketing speak on Balega's website claims that this sock has a ratio of "50 percent volume, and 66 percent cushion." We aren't exactly sure how to substantiate that claim and assume that it is in comparison to other Balega socks. Regardless, the top of this sock is made up of very thin fabric with a breathable weave, while the entire bottom of the sock is thick padded cushioning.

The ankle tab is highly protective with its cushioned collar. The elastic does a decent job at staying in place on flats and downhills.
The ankle tab is highly protective with its cushioned collar. The elastic does a decent job at staying in place on flats and downhills.

Rather than targeting the padding to just where it is needed, Balega chose to simply blanket the entire sole of the foot in padding. We don't think it's necessary to have the arch super padded and prefer lighter, more breathable fabric. The padding wraps over the tops of the toes but doesn't come up around the sides of the big and pinky toes, or the ball of the foot. It also stops short of the ankle cuff on the back of the heel, leaving an unpadded region over the Achilles tendon. We do, however, appreciate the padded collar around the top of the sock that adds to the comfort of this sock. Overall, this sock offers cushioning that is sufficient, but unthoughtful in its design.

A look at the division between the breathable upper mesh and the cushioned underfoot.
A look at the division between the breathable upper mesh and the cushioned underfoot.

Fit


In general, the fit, at first, feels a little small, but over time it does stretch out. The sock is pretty simple in design, resembling a large tube of fabric. As we mentioned above, the cushioning isn't targeted but it still offers a decent fit. Of the socks tested, it is one of the easiest to simply slip over your foot.

A well-fitting sock that doesn't bunch at the toes. It's elastic and comfortable for all-day wear. However  it does stretch over time.
A well-fitting sock that doesn't bunch at the toes. It's elastic and comfortable for all-day wear. However, it does stretch over time.

While this stretch was at first appreciated, we noticed that it doesn't hug or support the foot as well as it should. There is a burly elastic around the ankle, but the elastic that fits the circumference of the foot doesn't really keep the sock in place. There is a quite thick padded tab in place over the heel, designed to hold the sock up above the top of the shoe.

The sock comes just under the ankle bone and high enough for high backed running shoes.
The sock comes just under the ankle bone and high enough for high backed running shoes.

This worked just fine for us as long as we were wearing low-cut running shoes, but if we tried to wear any type of shoe whose ankle cut was higher than that of this sock, it quickly rolled off the heel and bunched under the foot. As a result, the fit isn't the best out there, but it works for a shorter training run or to wear just around the house.

A look at the fit on our male main tester  showing a similar level of height in the shoe.
A look at the fit on our male main tester, showing a similar level of height in the shoe.

Wicking & Breathability


This running sock does not supersede others in this category. In fact, because of its thicker construction, it didn't do too well in our breathability and drying tested. In our 15-minute foot drying test, we found that after the time was up it was still a bit damp on the inside, and the padded parts were noticeably moist. In the one-hour drying time test, we again found that the inside of the sock remained slightly damper than the outside of the sock, suggesting that the fibers are not moving moisture to the outside on their own.

The breathable upper provides some ventilation  but the cushioned underfoot does have a hard time moving moisture. The looped cushioning does wick well  but the moisture gets stuck in the fabric.
The breathable upper provides some ventilation, but the cushioned underfoot does have a hard time moving moisture. The looped cushioning does wick well, but the moisture gets stuck in the fabric.

While running we noticed this same trend. Our feet felt hotter than they should on warm days, and the sock absorbed moisture more than other thinner contenders. While the hooked stitching can wick well, it doesn't breath as well as we'd hope. That said, it works great for cool weather but should be left at home when it starts to get super hot outside.

Slip Prevention


Slip prevention is another metric where the Balega Hidden Comfort struggled a bit. The super stretchy fit that we have talked about above also led to it allowing a bit of movement of the foot within the sock. The fabric on the outside of the sock was also slick: it slipped around inside the very loose shoe on steep inclines. With a loose fit it was also able to slip at times over the heel, although that problem was only due to how we were testing, and when we tightened our shoe up enough for running this wasn't a problem. That said, it wasn't as slippery as thinner contenders and did relatively well overall in this category.

While these are comfortable  the exterior does slip a little bit in shoes that are looser or slipperier. We especially noticed this with super wide trail running shoes on the downhill.
While these are comfortable, the exterior does slip a little bit in shoes that are looser or slipperier. We especially noticed this with super wide trail running shoes on the downhill.

Durability


Overall durability proved to be about average to sub-par. After just a few uses and washes this sock began to pill. After about 30+ miles of use, the level of cushioning compressed, providing less comfort and cushion. While we didn't experience any holes, some online reviews do lend to the idea that they experienced holes after just a few uses. All that said, our observations of durability infer that these socks should last a while, but it will take some time to find out how long.


Best Applications


With its no-show cut and padding that does not cover the sides of the feet, we feel that this sock is best used for any type of running in cooler weather. We absolutely loved it for wearing around the house as well. Just avoid it for hot days.

Trail running  road running  and wearing around the house are all great places for this protective sock. Avoid it if you sweat a lot on your feet or if you need something that breathes especially well. It will perform better with a tighter fitting shoe.
Trail running, road running, and wearing around the house are all great places for this protective sock. Avoid it if you sweat a lot on your feet or if you need something that breathes especially well. It will perform better with a tighter fitting shoe.

Value


This sock almost won our Best Bang for the Buck award because of the fact that it retails for only $13 while still offering fantastic comfort. Instead, we gave this to the Balega Silver No Show because it presents a better value. While it is more expensive (by two dollars), it offers a better level of comfort and overall performance. If you're looking for a super cheap option, this is also a good sock that we would recommend.

Conclusion


The Balega Hidden Comfort stays hidden and supremely comfortable within a running shoe, delivering on the promise implicit in its name. It stretches easily over the foot for optimal comfort. That said, due to its stretchiness, underperforming wicking ability, and non-targeted padding that simply extends the length of the foot it's not great for super hot weather or steep uphill climbs where you might find your self sweating buckets.


Andy Wellman