Keep Your Feet in Training Mode with the Best Athletic Socks

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Pair those premium gym shoes with some high-quality stockings and set yourself up for unparalleled success. Warm Fuzzy Socks

Keep Your Feet in Training Mode with the Best Athletic Socks

Okay, so when it comes to setting up your ideal workout wardrobe, there is a bit of a tier system. Of course, you need your trusty gym shoes, followed by a quality pair of shorts. A fitness-centric top is nice, along with a handful of accessories and wearables to really round out the ensemble. The question at bay, though, is this — when's the last time you thought about your go-to gym socks?

While the hype around a good pair of socks pales in comparison to that of the latest CrossFit shoe or sleek weightlifting belt, their importance remains the same. Quality athletic socks can help your feet stay comfortable, protected and ready for whichever session you have planned for the day. That's why it's as important to pair your training footwear with a set of stockings designed for the tasks at hand.

One of the first aspects to consider when choosing your ideal athletic sock is the materials used in its profile. You want a textile that's breathable and comfortable against the skin, as this is going to be an area where you're constantly placing pressure and stress when in the middle of a workout or training session. Natural fibers like wool can be excellent options for these needs thanks to the fabric's non-abrasive, breathable and heat-retaining qualities. Other synthetic options like nylon and acrylic can also be popular choices, as these fabrics have shown to be plenty comfortable and durable across multiple fitness disciplines.

Above all else, though, make sure that your athletic sock is not solely constructed from cotton. This fabric can be fine for daily needs but could prove problematic in activities where you're prone to sweat and move more. Cotton has a tendency to absorb moisture rather than dispel it, which can lead to potential blisters and heavier steps throughout your regimen.

Another feature to consider when choosing the right athletic sock is the level of cushioning provided by the silhouette. This can range from ultralight models that give you the best ground feel imaginable, to maxed-out profiles making each step seem like you're striding on clouds. Take your personal comfort levels into consideration and find a pair that's ideal for you. For in-gym circumstances, I prefer a lightly cushioned sock featuring extra padding at the toe box and heel, as this can help keep my appendages comfortable yet lightweight when pushing through a hefty deadlift set or leg press. Be mindful, however, that extra cushioning in your sock means less room in your shoe, so a max cushioned stocking may compromise your footwear fit.

As is the case with most gym-specific apparel, you'll want to look for training-centric features that aren't necessarily required during daily activities. For athletic socks, you'll want a silhouette that fits snugly to the foot, so try and find a pair that features some form of compression around the midfoot. This can help keep the profile in place throughout your run or workout, leading to fewer adjustments in-between sets.

Additionally, because you're bound to sweat more in a workout setting than you would running around town, try and search for socks that offer moisture-wicking fabrics as well as some form of breathability. Socks containing these perks can keep the belly of your gym shoes more comfortable and sweat-free, helping prevent any potential blisters or discomfort that can form with other less-than-stellar options.

Finally, while not a necessity, I always recommend looking for athletic socks with some aspect of odor-control. After all, you're working up a good bit of musk and stench when pacing through a gym session, and lacing out of those sneakers can be like diffusing a stink bomb from all that perspiration. Athletic socks featuring odor-control technology can help dissipate that funk at least partially, saving your nostrils and fellow gym-goers in the process.

Lastly, when looking at athletic socks, you want to consider your personal style. Socks (for any discipline) have long passed the traditional neutral colorways. There are a number of varying hues and patterns to choose from that can easily match your personality or aesthetic. Also, make sure to consider how much coverage you'd want across your ankle. Athletic socks can range in height from no-show to knee-high, with each providing potential perks to your performance.

For trail runners and cyclists, I recommend opting for a crew collar or higher, as this added fabric can do wonders for defending against debris and other obstacles when out in the wild. For runners and strength training enthusiasts, you can choose whichever feels comfortable, although I prefer ankle-high or no-show cuts, as the lesser fabric can make for more cooling training scenarios.

While I've been wearing athletic socks for as long as I've been involved in athletics and fitness, I made a conscientious effort to pay attention to my stockings over the course of multiple weeks highlighting key features like compression, fit, material and other factors. I wore a number of the below athletic socks across multiple disciplines and workouts, noting how well they dissipated sweat and maintained positioning throughout each training session. Of course, bonus points were awarded for silhouettes featuring a dash of added style, but I understand that vibrant colors and patterns aren't everyone's cup of tea. All tested socks were also put through the wringer (literally) across multiple wash cycles to test how well these profiles would hold up as foundational components to any worthwhile gym ensemble.

Across multiple disciplines and movements, I cannot stress the performance baked into these impressive socks from Bombas enough. I really enjoyed the seamless toe design, and the airflow venting kept my digits from building up that uncomfortable sweat pool. Plus, The Blister Tab at the heel eliminated any chances of Achilles rubbing. I did feel some minor slipping in a few training shoe insoles, but overall, these stockings are well worth the consideration.

Across multiple training days and running routes, I was thoroughly impressed by the performance of the Flite XTs from Swiftwick. I appreciated the crew length adding a little more coverage, and the AnkleLock technology and snug fit definitely lent itself to a lockdown aesthetic. There’s also merit to the signature Olefin fiber that easily wicks away moisture for a cool and comfortable profile.

It’s hard to imagine a week where at least one pair of Nike Everyday Plus Cushioned Crews haven’t adorned my sock drawer. Despite the heavy cotton makeup, these socks can be excellent for a bevy of fitness scenarios from running local 5ks, to chasing a new bench press PR, to competing in a statewide slowpitch softball tournament and more. The versatility is unmatched, but be prepared to adjust these socks more often than not — there’s simply not enough grip at the cuff to keep these mainstays standing overtop your ankle and calf for extended amounts of time.

Merino wool is regarded as one of the best fabrics for its lightweight frame and heat retention, and when your workouts take you into the frozen tundra that is winter, it helps to have a sock that’s up to the task. Whether trudging along my winter running routes or pacing through my normal (indoor) lifting regimens, I was happy with the comfort and performance brought to my feet thanks to these Smartwool stockings. Additionally, the Indestructawool technology was one of the best performers through multiple wash cycles, showcasing this silhouette’s ability to support your long-term training goals with some added warmth underfoot.

Okay, so toe socks might not be for everyone. With that said, after working out with these quality socks from Injinji for a few weeks, I can believe in the hype. The blister prevention is impeccable and the breathable mesh top is on par with other high-performing stockings. I would recommend these for those that are based in warmer climates, however. After sweating through a workout and rushing to my car across the parking lot, these socks did showcase a colder sensation that wasn’t as prevalent in other silhouettes during testing.

Compression is promoted to help improve blood flow and facilitate better in-training performance, and these socks definitely deliver when it comes to that welcome constriction. I also appreciate the merino wool construction providing lightweight structure with an added dose of warmth and breathability — perfect for any upcoming wintertime races you may be partaking in. Just be sure to pay attention to 2XU’s size chart, which puts an added emphasis on your calf size and could leave your toes swimming in unwanted in-sock space.

While these socks are marketed toward running scenarios, I fairly enjoyed their performance when battling through various weightlifting workouts. The thin makeup lent itself to better grounding when trying to achieve a proper stance, and the material seemed to hold up well throughout multiple wash cycles. I will say, however, that you’re definitely reminded of the effort you put into the gym when you take your shoes off — these socks have a tendency to hold in any funk and stench built up over those long-fought workouts. For the underfoot comfort and durability, however, I’m willing to hold my nose post-training.

Sometimes, you don’t need all the bells and whistles when it comes to training apparel. These impressive socks from Near Earth boast anatomical silhouettes and Lycra fiber that truly upgrades every comforting, breathable step. I’ve run countless miles with these stockings and cannot boast about the coziness enough. After all, these were listed as the best running socks in our recently-released fitness awards. Unfortunately, however, these socks are only available in a crew length. While that’s fine for my training style, I understand that some athletes may want to forgo the extra fabric.

When it comes to these Feetures silhouettes, I really appreciated the strategic cushioning placed in the toe bed as well as the exaggerated underfoot comfort. This made those morning walks around my neighborhood or household much more enjoyable. Plus, the snug low collar helped keep these socks in place across the varied steps and strides. I do recommend these athletic socks for less intense scenarios, however. While there is some compression and snugness, it didn’t hold up as well when testing through more fast-paced workouts.

I really like these socks from Darn Tough thanks to their breathability as well as their durable build. Despite the stressors and debris thrown at these socks across a handful of workouts, they look to be holding up with exceptional resilience. Now, there were some scenarios that I began to feel the interior seams, which could lead to some rubbing and discomfort down the road, but unfortunately, the weather has been less than cooperative, so more testing may be needed to gather a well-rounded opinion of this silhouette. From everything I’ve experienced, however, these socks are more than capable of fulfilling all your outdoor training needs.

No matter whether you’re dodging debris on the trails, the road or the errant dust particle when pedaling on your indoor bike trainer, cycling socks do require some added coverage. I loved the comfort and efficiency sewn into these impressive stockings from Rapha, but the best quality was definitely the compressive collar at the cuff. This kept the crew-height silhouette in place no matter how far I rode, and the multitude of colorways available should be capable of matching most training aesthetics.

I prefer to get into yoga flows without the use of footwear, and these socks made it far more achievable thanks to the silica grip components across the underfoot. The anti-skid technology easily allowed me to achieve the proper footing for a number of poses and stretches without any worry of compromised form across a variety of yoga mats. Just be careful about how you wash these socks, as I did begin to notice some stretching and slippage after a handful of washes.

The last thing you’re probably thinking about post-workout is switching out your socks, but if you take a page out of Lieutenant Dan’s handbook, “Take good care of your feet.” I really enjoyed the feel and comfort displayed across these silhouettes from TrueEnergy thanks to the seamless toe and comfort welt top, but the big factor making these ideal post-training go-tos is the inclusion of Infrared Technology. TrueEnergy grinds and infuses infrared ceramic crystals into the polymer yarn, which works with your natural body heat to help improve circulation and tissue regeneration. The result? Better circulation and blood flow for more precise and speedy recovery.

Keep Your Feet in Training Mode with the Best Athletic Socks

Fuzzy Winter Socks I’ve been a big fan of Stance for years, and naturally, there are some situations where you’d rather just wear one sock throughout the entirety of your day. Thanks to the nylon blend, light cushioning and premium comfort, these stockings have always been the go-to when it comes to scenarios where my daily schedule calls for ample trips across town as well as a prescribed in-gym regimen — as well as the occasional meet-up immediately post-workout. Do these socks hold their placement across my ankle and calf as well as others? No. Do the colorways and partnered patterns lend themselves to ample wearability outside the gym? Resoundingly, yes.