The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Thorlos Experia XCCU Review

The best overall running sock is comfortable, fits perfectly, and does a great job managing moisture.
Thorlo Experia XCCU
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $15 List | $10.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Great fit, wicks and breathes well, perfectly placed padding
Cons:  Not as grippy within the shoe as some socks, low cut is a bit of a ‘tweener
Manufacturer:   Thorlo
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 16, 2017
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81
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 9
  • Comfort - 30% 8
  • Fit - 20% 9
  • Wicking - 20% 8
  • Padding - 15% 9
  • Slip Prevention - 15% 6

The Skinny

The Thorlo Experia XCCU was the best or near the best in every category that we tested for, landing it at the highest spot in our rankings of the best running socks. For this we are happy to award it our award for the Best Overall Running Sock. When it came to fit and padding, no other sock was better than the Experia XCCU. We loved how it came in a small size range that seemed custom tailored to our particular foot, rather than a wide range that our foot had to fit into. The sock was snug and supportive, but otherwise fit perfectly. We also thought that the light cushioning was exactly as advertised — targeted perfectly to only those areas that need it most, without leaving any area of potential rubbing uncovered. Not only that, but the looped fibers in the Thorlo pads did a great job of wicking moisture away from the foot. Overall, we don't think there is a sock that did a better job of meeting all of the needs of a trail or road runner, so we can easily call this the best overall running sock.

Looking for a different length?
The Experia line from Thorlos has a variety of lengths. Check out the ankle-length Thorlos XCMU Experia for the same $15 or the crew-length Thorlos XCXU Experia for a slightly more expensive $17.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Thorlo Experia XCCU is a very thin sock highlighted by its targeted use of Thorlo Pads made with their Thor-wick Cool fibers. The pads cover the entire heel area with a lighter pad over the Achilles, as well as under the forefoot, covering the toes, and also both sides of the feet from the front of the arch on forward. The areas without pads are a very thin blend of polyester, nylon, and Lycra that is stretchy, supportive, and super breathable.

Due to its perfect blend of padding and breathable mesh, it is both comfortable and fits really great, easily endearing itself to our heart and feet. It is a low cut sock that treads the line between no show and mini-crew, coming up to right about ankle height. It is perhaps most similar to the Smartwool PhD Run Light Elite Micro in its design, although it does not incorporate any merino wool fibers like that sock does. Its only flaw is that it isn't quite as sticky on the outside as some of the other socks in this review, namely the Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew, so it doesn't resist slipping inside the shoe quite as well. All in all, though, this was by far the highest scoring sock in our review, and easily one of our favorites.

Performance Comparison


The Experia XCCU make a great road running sock  as we discovered while testing them during winter in Colorado.
The Experia XCCU make a great road running sock, as we discovered while testing them during winter in Colorado.

Comfort


The Experia XCCU is a very comfortable sock with no instances of tightness or pinching anywhere. We loved the fact that the targeted pads cover all of the areas of potential rubbing, especially over the tops of the toes and on the sides of the feet from the front of the arch on forward. The Thor-wick Cool fabric in the pads, as well as the polyester and nylon blend throughout the rest of the sock, is super smooth and comfortable against the skin, right up there with the Balega Hidden Comfort, our Best Bang for the Buck winner and one of the most comfortable socks in this review. If we had to be really nit-picky and complain about something (which we do, because all of these socks are top quality), we would say that we wish the end of the toe seam did not come to rest against the outside of our big toe.


While our callused feet were plenty resistant to this small protrusion, we could identify this as a spot of potential rubbing. The Darn Tough Coolmax Vertex Tab No Show Ultra-light Cushion was a great example of a truly "seamless" seam, that we wish this sock fully emulated. Overall, though, this was a very comfortable sock; 8 out of 10 points.

Shown here is the grey padding that covers the sides of the feet and toes from the forefoot forward. We find that these areas often rub within a shoe  and are not always protected by a sock's padding.
Shown here is the grey padding that covers the sides of the feet and toes from the forefoot forward. We find that these areas often rub within a shoe, and are not always protected by a sock's padding.

Fit


For our size men's 11 feet we ordered a size large Thorlo sock, which is designed to be good for sizes 10.5 — 11.5. We were thrilled with the very small target range of sizes, and especially with the fact that our foot fell right in the middle of the range. A small range like this ensures that no matter what your size, you are likely to get a better fit, and is a feature we really wish would be adopted by some of the other manufacturers with super large size ranges, like the Feetures! Elite Light Cushion No Show Tab, which is sized from 9-12.

The low cut is a bit of a 'tweener  as they come up above the bottom of the ankle  but are not exactly mini-crew height. Also notice the small grey pad that covers the Achilles region of the heel  which is thinner than the Thorlo pads throughout the rest of the sock.
The low cut is a bit of a 'tweener, as they come up above the bottom of the ankle, but are not exactly mini-crew height. Also notice the small grey pad that covers the Achilles region of the heel, which is thinner than the Thorlo pads throughout the rest of the sock.


We felt that this sock fit very nicely and was perfectly shaped for a foot. The Lycra and nylon fibers in the arch and on top of the foot stretched nicely to fit over our feet, and then successfully hugged and cradled them without feeling tight or constrictive. It fit pretty much the same as the Darn Tough Coolmax Vertex Tab No Show Ultra-light Cushion, although was slightly more spacious than that sock. There were no baggy or loose areas of this sock, it fit perfectly. As such, it received the top score for Fit — 9 out of 10 points.

Wicking


In our two separate wicking and breathing tests, we determined that the Thorlo Experia XCCU is indeed effective at wicking away moisture from next to the foot, although perhaps not quite as good as the DryMax Running Mini Crew. In our 15 minute on-the-foot test, we noticed that the sock was quite damp all over the outside, while on the inside we found that the Thorlo pads made of Thor-wick Cool fiber were by far the driest parts, almost completely dry.


On the other hand, the polyester and nylon fibers in the arch and top of the foot remained wet. This led us to believe that the sock is doing an effective job of moving moisture from the pads to the outside of the sock. In our simple one hour drying test, we found that this sock was the third driest after the allotted time, seemingly tied with the Smartwool PhD Run Light Elite Micro. Again, the Thorlo pads were the driest part of the sock. As one of the best wicking socks in the review, we awarded it 8 out of 10 points.

The white mesh of the Thorlo Experia XCCU is so thin and breathable that you can basically see through it. This was the thinnest sock in this review  but we didn't notice any durability issues during our test period.
The white mesh of the Thorlo Experia XCCU is so thin and breathable that you can basically see through it. This was the thinnest sock in this review, but we didn't notice any durability issues during our test period.

Padding


According to Thorlo's marketing language, this sock affords great protection without the weight. We would have to say that they have accomplished this goal very well. The Thorlo pads are thick while still soft, and cover all of the critical areas of abrasion and wear, including under the forefoot, over the toes, on the sides of the feet from the arch forward, and around the entire heel cup.


There is a thinner grey padding that covers the small area of exposed Achilles tendon above the heel, unlike some other socks such as the Balega Hidden Comfort, that leave this area under-protected. The rest of the sock is made of a super light and thin breathable mesh, providing no unnecessary material. With the exception of the Smartwool PhD Run Light Elite Micro, no other sock delivers what it claims as well as the Experia XCCU, and so we awarded it 9 out of 10 points for padding.

Close up of the grey Thorlo pads made of Thor-wick Cool polyester fibers  and the nylon blend of very thin and breathable mesh (white and blue).
Close up of the grey Thorlo pads made of Thor-wick Cool polyester fibers, and the nylon blend of very thin and breathable mesh (white and blue).

Slip Prevention


If there was one scoring metric where the Thorlo sock under-performed, it would be slip prevention. We found it to only slightly better than the Balega Hidden Comfort in this department, and not as good as the top scoring Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew. In very loose shoes the smooth outside of this sock was able to slip a bit when running up and down steep hills, although this was not an issue in tight shoes.


The low cut was a bit of an odd fit, as it rested right across our ankle, rather than above or below it, and we found was ever so slightly prone to slipping downward, depending on the shoes we were wearing. We wish it had a tab feature to help it stay up. We will concede that these criticisms are a bit harsh for something that really wasn't much of a factor, but in comparison to the performance of the other socks, this one wasn't the best for once. 6 out of 10.

The Thorlo Experia XCCU is a great dock for either trail or road running. Here we are testing it on the Ridgway bike paths on a warmer winter day.
The Thorlo Experia XCCU is a great dock for either trail or road running. Here we are testing it on the Ridgway bike paths on a warmer winter day.

Best Applications


The Thorlo Experia XCCU is a fantastic all around sock that would be applicable in many situations. Marketed as a workout sock, we think it would be great for all sorts of activities besides just running. Due to the low cut, it must be worn with a low cut shoe to not slip down annoyingly, so wouldn't be great as a sock worn in a hiking boot. Since it is very thin and breathable, it will shine in the warmest temps, and might be a bit lacking in cold weather.

Value


This sock retails for $14.99, which is about average for the socks in this review. As the highest scorer and one of our favorite socks that we ran in, we think this presents a great value, and highly recommend it to our readers.

Running on the bike paths above the Uncompahgre River with Mt. Sneffels in the background  in a polyester blend running sock  the Thorlo Experia XCCU.
Running on the bike paths above the Uncompahgre River with Mt. Sneffels in the background, in a polyester blend running sock, the Thorlo Experia XCCU.

Conclusion


The Thorlo Experia XCCU is a lightweight running sock that packs a lot of soft cushioning in a very targeted manner. It gives you everything you need for running comfort with the least amount of superfluous fabric. As the highest scorer in our testing, we are happy to name it our Best Overall Running Sock, and recommend it to anyone in need of the best performance that they can get while running.


Andy Wellman