Almost no piece of clothing can make or break your daily comfort like a pair of socks. Our apparel experts researched over 20 pairs of socks before picking 10 of the most popular options to purchase for side-by-side testing. We looked at the comfort of the material, functionality, breathability, odor control, and style. Bulky seams, scratchy material, or poor moisture-wicking abilities can leave you an unhappy camper, especially if you're on your feet all day for work. From budget multi-packs to premium pairs, our in-depth review will help you find the right pair of socks to keep your feet moving forward in style and comfort.A good pair of socks is a great place to start for getting your feet into a high-quality pair of shoes or boots. For example, if you're looking to step into a new pair of trail running shoes, consider buying a pair of running-specific socks. If you need something a little more durable with more cushioning to pair with our favorite hiking boots, consider a pair of hiking socks.
The 5 Best Socks of 2023
Our Top Picks
Our testers are always wary of bargains that seem too good to be true. With elastic cuffs that lose their integrity almost instantly and toes that blow out faster than it takes to walk around the block, cheap multipacks of socks often don't deliver. The Dickies Dri-Tech socks, however, break the mold for affordable socks. Complete with technology usually reserved for pricer pairs, these socks were some of our favorites regardless of the price. These socks were made to withstand whatever you throw at them with reinforced heels and toes, built-in arch support, and good ventilation.
One of the few drawbacks to these socks is the minimal heel cushion. They wouldn't be our first choice for sustained athletics with this missing element, but certainly not the worst. Whether you're on your feet working construction all day or cooped up in a sweaty office, these socks will keep your feet dry, comfortable, and looking good.
The Champion No Show socks are low-cut ankle socks made from a soft and stretchy blend of cotton and synthetics. This affordably priced multipack was extremely comfortable on the skin. The fit is tight but in a comforting foot-hugging sort of way. As far as style goes, these socks are fairly non-descript; the medium low cut has them sticking out just ever so slightly above your shoe line on an average pair of sneakers.
While the Champion No Shows are generally comfortable, they are missing some of the bells and whistles found in more premium options. The heels are a little thin, and the advertised arch support is minimal. All in all, these socks are great as a daily driver that might not excel in every metric but score decently across the board.
The CelerSport Ankle Athletic sock lives up to its name of being built for athletics. With reinforced ankles and cushioned heels, these socks perform great for sustained athletics. After a long day of pounding pavement or dirt trails, our feet stayed dry, odor-free, and comfortable.
While great for running or other sports, these aren't the socks we wear to the office or for a night on the town. The cushioned ankle keeps your Achilles from rubbing on your shoes, but the obvious bulky tab that sticks out over the back of your shoe is too casual looking for anything but recreational wear.
Arvin Goods is putting their best foot forward and aiming to produce socks that keep your feet happy and are also good for the planet. With a manufacturing process that uses recycled materials and a recycling program where they will take your socks back when they are finally blown out, this is a purchase you can feel good about. Thicker than your average no-show socks, they are surprisingly comfortable to stand around in all day, and the added piece of rubber in the heel keeps them from slipping off. Although hidden while wearing shoes, the fun colors these socks come in make for a stylish look while lounging around shoeless.
The caveat with no-show socks is that if they're not paired with low-cut shoes, their low coverage can cause some ankle bone chafing. We love these socks for casual wear or the office, but they wouldn't be our go-to for athletics or manual labor.
Stance socks are well-known in skate and snowboarding culture for their fun styles. The company has evolved to make socks and accessories for a wide variety of activities, including casual everyday wear. The Stance Icon has subtle styling details that keep you looking good but are still appropriate as workwear. With a slight amount of heel cushion and elastic arch support, they provide added comfort to keep you on your feet all day. The proprietary material feels almost slippery against your skin, but the fit is snug enough to not slip down your shins. With good moisture-wicking abilities, they are perfect for hot and sweaty days spent on your feet.
While we found the Stance Icon to be comfortable for casual all-day wear, they wouldn't be our first choice as a pair of hikers or runners. These stylish socks will take you from the office to the skatepark, and in a pinch, perform just fine on a short run.
Whether on the trail or in the office, thin breathable socks are a must on hot days. The Saucony Bolt Comfort Fit kept our feet the coolest of any of the socks we tried. While the thin material leads to questions of durability, they fit well into snug running shoes and provide amazing sweat-wicking abilities.
The large and uncomfortable toe seam was our biggest gripe, which is noticeable as soon as you slide these on. While it wasn't bad enough to be a dealbreaker, we really don't want to see any potential hot spots on our socks, especially ones we plan on using for athletics. Since these are cut to fit just above the ankle bone, we wouldn't classify them as no-shows. Best as a dedicated warm weather or running sock, these thin and breathable pairs will keep your feet cool and dry.
The Under Armour Resistor 3.0 No Show socks come in a pack of six and are designed for sports action. These socks are highly breathable, making them exceptional for working out or a jog around the neighborhood.
The socks were too thin to want to wear all day, and their length is slightly awkward. They are not true no-shows and are not tall enough to cover your ankles; they also aren't the most stylish socks we tried. The heels also started to show a surprising amount of wear during our testing process. These socks are best suited for people who want a breathable sock they can keep in their gym bag for a quick after-work gym session.
The designers at Gold Toe had one thing in mind when creating their socks: creating a sock that won't blow out in the toes. These athletic socks are designed to keep your toes where they belong with reinforced toe caps. The thin and primarily cotton material kept our feet and ankles from overheating even on hot days. We like the look of these mid-calf socks and found them to be a stylish option paired with shorts.
While the reinforced toes are a nice addition for durability, we found the material to be some of the least comfortable on our skin. We also found them to be some of the stinkier pairs we tried. To be a true pair of athletic socks, we wished the sole and heel were a little thicker. Overall these are decent socks that perform well for short athletic ventures in warm weather.
The Coovan Ankle Socks come in a pack of ten and are truly a bargain. With a soft material that slides on easily and is comfy on the skin, these were some of the most comfortable budget socks we tried on.
While the material is comfy, the fit was too baggy for our liking and felt loose around the arches through the ankle. We also found that they were not very breathable when it came to sweating. The polyester blend was one of the worst performers in terms of breathability and, as a result, became one of the stinkiest pairs after sustained use. We found these socks best for casual wear, ideal for busy students or office workers who want a surplus of clean socks to minimize trips to the laundromat.
Some people, no matter the quality, seems to destroy or lose their socks constantly. Whether it's in the school locker room or the depths of your closet, socks can somehow always find a way to disappear. The Fruit of the Loom Crew Socks fill the niche of a worry-free pair that you won't be stressed about using, abusing, and maybe even losing.
The material is a bit scratchy and quite thin. The overall fit is a little loose and feels like it could have trouble staying pulled up after a few washes. While not the best socks by any means, the low price point makes them perfect for kids with growing feet or a penchant for misplacing their things.
Why You Should Trust Us
First and foremost, socks need to be comfortable; we believe not many pieces of clothing can impact your comfort as much as a great (or bad) sock. As the barrier between you and your shoes, socks receive an incredible amount of abuse. For this review, we thoroughly researched the sock market before independently purchasing ten different brands and styles, ranging from budget multipacks to more premium options, to determine which ones will keep your feet the happiest.
Buck Yedor, our lead tester on this project, has walked the walk to understand the ins and outs of what makes a quality sock. From his time spent working with Yosemite Search and Rescue to years as a professional rock climbing route setter, having a comfortable and high-performing sock has always been crucial for long days spent working on his feet.
Analysis and Test Results
Socks are about as utilitarian as clothing gets. With subtle variations and designs, they often all look pretty similar. It's these subtle details, however, that can really set different pairs apart. Buck spent a full day in each pair, including a four-mile hike in each pair.
Comfort of Material
To test the comfort of the material, we evaluated how the different pairs felt on our skin. Beyond the initial test of simply putting a pair on, we wanted to know how the material felt after sustained use. A clear stand-out in this metric was the Arvin Goods No Show. Made from a blend of recycled fabrics, the material was thick, soft, and felt great from the moment we slipped them on in the morning to when we peeled them off later that night.
Another high-performing pair was the Stance Icon, which are constructed from a soft, fully synthetic fabric. The Gold Toes are made primarily of cotton and were some of the scratchiest socks we tried. We found that when they were a little damp from sweat, they became more comfortable. Not inherent to the material, but we also found that the Saucony Bolts had a pronounced and uncomfortable toe seam.
All Day Performance
When looking at performance, we are looking at how the socks hold up to sustained wear. Do they slip, do they provide support, do they chafe? In our mind, the ideal pair of socks are almost unnoticeable while being worn, and they also mitigate foot discomfort throughout the day. The Dickies Dri-Tech socks are exactly this; tight in all the right places with a good amount of heel cushion. These socks carried us through the day without our thoughts turning to our feet.
Needing no adjustments, step after step, this pair went the distance. The Stance Icon also held up to long days on our feet. Thinner than the Dickies, they fit well into snugger shoes. Our favorite pair of athletic socks were the CelerSport Ankle Athletic. With a tight fit, elastic arch support, and padded heels, these socks were perfect for repeated high impacts on concrete or trails.
The Fruit of the Loom Crew Socks were overall the least functional for all-day use. With elastic that did a poor job of keeping them from sliding down and a loose fit overall, our feet were not pleased after spending a long grueling day schlepping around in them. The Coovan Ankle Socks also had a baggy fit, which felt like our feet were swimming around in.
Beyond a good fit for all-day comfort, a quality sock will be highly breathable and moisture-wicking. A sock's breathability comes from a combination of material and weave. The Stance Icon, made from a proprietary synthetic blend, is highly breathable and excellent at wicking moisture. Even after being caught in a rainstorm, these socks were dry in no time. The Dickies Dri-Tech, true to their name, also did a good job keeping moisture out. Our feet didn't overheat for how thick they were, nor were they at all soggy when we took them off.
The Gold Toes are made of cotton; they have an airy weave that is quite breathable, but when we sweat hard in them, they stay damp. The Fruit of the Looms had subpar breathability and moisture-wicking capabilities.
Odor retention is essentially just taking into account how stinky the socks will get after a nice long day of wear. Odor retention is mostly a product of the material the sock is made from. The better it is at wicking moisture, typically, the less stinky the socks will become. That being said, some materials, even if breathable, just seem to trap that stinky sock smell. Both the Stance Icons and the Dickies Dri-Tech were high performers in this metric. Despite days filled with sweat and moisture, neither pair ever got stinky.
The fully synthetic Under Armour Resistors were not incredibly smelly after taking them off but odorous enough to notice. However, the Coovan Ankle Socks are made from a thick and fully synthetic material that wasn't very breathable and, as a result, got quite stinky very quickly.
Style is all about how good the socks look from an aesthetic point of view. While not entirely important for athletics or work, it's nice to have a good-looking pair of socks for casual wear out on the town. The only pair of true no-shows (despite others being described as such) was the Arvin Goods. Sitting just beneath the ankle bone, these socks disappear from view and are perfect for low-cut sneakers and slip-ons. The Stance Icons were the most stylish of all the socks we tried on. These look good with shorts or cuffed pant legs with subtle branding and nice vertical ribbing on the shin and calf. The Dickies were another good-looking pair that were long enough to disappear under the cuffs of your pants and, if you're into the tall socks look, worked well with shorts.
Most of the socks we reviewed fall squarely into the moderately unstylish category. They get the job done but aren't winning any fashion contests with lengths ranging from just above your ankle bone to mid-ankle.
After researching over 20 different pairs of socks, our review team settled on 10 pairs they wanted to slip onto their own two feet to see how they performed. Through a series of side-by-side comparisons and rigorous field testing, we were able to determine how each pair performed in real-life conditions. We tested everything from no-shows to calf-length socks, made from various materials, and offered at every price point. Our testers looked at the comfort of the material, functionality, breathability, odor control, and style. Hopefully, our comprehensive results will make your next purchase fast and easy.
— Buck Yedor
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