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Best running socks 2023: Treat your feet to a perfect pair of running socks

Don’t skimp on your socks – once you’ve tried one of these top running socks, you will never go back to cotton

While runners will happily spend hundreds of pounds on shoes, and then splash out more money on specialist shorts, tees, jackets and all manner of other gear, it can be hard to convince them of the merits of proper running socks.

This is a shame, because once you try a pair of specialist socks, you will rue all the miles run in chunky cotton options, or whatever socks you happened to be wearing at work before your lunch run.

The best running socks combine eye-catching designs with technical fabrics that keep your feet dry, comfortable and blister-free. OK, maybe we can’t quite promise that last one, but you will definitely reduce the odds of blisters at least.

Below you will find our top picks, but first here’s what you need to look for in running socks.

READ NEXT: The best running shoes for men and women

Best running socks: At a glance

How to choose the best running socks for you

How much do I need to spend?

Let’s start with the good news – even the very best running socks on the market aren’t going to set you back too much. You will rarely have to spend more than £15 to £20 for standard running socks, and you can find excellent options for under £10.

If you’re looking for compression socks then the price can rise a little higher, but even there most pairs will cost somewhere between £20 and £40.

What features are important?

The material used is the key feature of running socks. It will be lightweight, wick sweat away from the foot, and dry quickly. This is in contrast to cotton socks, which are hot and retain sweat, increasing the odds of blisters. Most brands use synthetic materials like polyester and nylon for these materials, but there are also merino wool and bamboo fabric socks that achieve the same effect.

Running socks will avoid putting seams in places where they can cause rubbing, especially around the toes, and they have cushioning under the heels and toes for extra comfort. Mesh sections on the top of the foot are also often used to increase breathability.

Some runners prefer socks that use two layers of material, with the idea being that the layers will rub against each other, rather than one layer rubbing against your skin and causing blisters.

What else should I look out for?

Durability is naturally key with running socks, and you can be reassured that the picks below have been put through many miles of running. But for extra safety you can look out for brands offering long guarantees – some will even offer lifetime warranties on their socks.

Another fairly common feature is a compression layer around the arch of the sock. This helps to hold it in place and prevents the fabric bunching up, as well as providing some support for people suffering from plantar fasciitis.

One last thing to think about is whether you would like separated toes on your running socks, which can reduce the risk of getting blisters in between your toes if that’s something you struggle with.

Do I need compression socks?

Compression socks can help to increase circulation and many runners like the supportive feel of them, especially when struggling with injuries such as shin splints or plantar fasciitis. They are designed to help improve your recovery after hard runs, too, and are handy to have around when taking long flights to improve circulation in your legs.

The benefits claimed of compression socks can sometimes over-egg their attributes – while there is evidence to show they can help with recovery, it’s not established that they provide a performance benefit during a run. However, the downsides of using them are virtually non-existent if you don’t mind the tight feel, so they’re certainly worth considering.

READ NEXT: Best walking socks to buy

The best running socks to buy in 2023

1. Stance: Best all-round running socks

Price: £17 | Buy now from Stance

Stance socks offer the perfect blend of eye-catching designs and technical excellence, and having used a few Stance pairs almost weekly for a few years we can certainly attest to their durability as well.

The latest and best Stance socks use the company’s Feel360 tech. This keeps your feet dry and comfortable – and dries in a flash, even after long and sweaty runs – with its Infiknit material, which comes with a lifetime guarantee so you can get the socks replaced if they develop any holes or tears.

Buy now from Stance

2. On High Sock: Most comfortable running sock

Price: £20 | Buy now from On

You can get On running socks with hems that finish just below or above the ankle, but when the design is this good we prefer the mid-calf version so you can really show them off. Mesh panels on the socks help to keep your feet cool, especially on longer runs, and the pattern on the top of the arch isn’t just there to look nice – it apparently triggers sensory receptors to tell your feet it’s go-time.

Buy now from On

3. BAM Bamboo Trainer Socks: Best value running socks

Price: £18 (4 pairs) | Buy now from BAM

Four pairs of ankle socks for £18 might not seem like exceptional value, but the quality of these socks makes it a true bargain. The socks are made with bamboo fabric, which is soft – and, in our experience, remains so, even after many runs and trips through the wash. It also naturally resists odours, which is always a bonus in a running sock. There’s some extra cushioning at the heel and toes, and an ankle tab stops the sock from slipping into your trainer on the run.

Buy now from BAM

4. 1000 Mile Fusion Anklet Sock: Best two-layer running socks

Price: £13 | Buy now from Sports Shoes

If you’ve found that you’re getting blisters even when using dedicated running socks, it might be worth trying a two-layer sock such as this option from 1000 Mile. The inner layer is made of a material called Tactel, which is soft and fast-drying – it actually dries eight times quicker than cotton, which certainly helps to cut your blister risk. The socks also have flat seams on the toes to reduce friction there, while a padded zone around the achilles will stop your trainers rubbing that area on the run.

Buy now from Sports Shoes

5. 2XU Vectr Merino: Best compression socks

Price: £30 | Buy now from 2XU

Australian brand 2XU specialises in compression gear, and it has pretty much nailed it on the sock front with the Vector Merino. The sock has 2XU’S X-LOCK tech with focuses on the plantar fascia, arch and ankle. This provides support where it’s needed on the run, with the compression in the knee-high sock also bolstering your calf and shins.

Despite the compression fit the socks are not uncomfortable to wear for long stretches, and the merino wool used in them naturally resists odours while wicking sweat away from the skin. When combined with the polygiene anti-bacterial treatment used on the material, you get socks that you can wear during and after runs without worrying about smells developing.

Buy now from 2XU

6. Kiprun Running 500 Compression Socks: Best-value compression socks

Price: £18 | Buy now from Decathlon

As is almost always the case when it comes to running gear, those seeking a bargain should check out Decathlon’s own brand Kiprun. The socks are designed to be used on the run, and don’t offer as powerful a level of compression as options that focus more on post-run recovery. However, they will still increase circulation in your calves while also supporting the lower leg and foot in general.

Buy now from Decathlon

7. Soar Diamond Crew Sock: Best performance running socks

Price: £22 | Buy now from Soar

Come for the epic diamond design, stay for the technical quality. Soar’s socks are comfortable to wear even on your longest runs, with breathable mesh sections and a midfoot band that holds them in place so you don’t get any annoying bunching of material around the toes or heel. The reinforced sections at the toe and heel increase durability and add a little more padding on high-impact zones. The socks are also covered by Soar’s 100-mile promise – if you’re not satisfied with how they perform after you’ve run in them (up to 100 miles), you can return them for a full refund or a credit note.

Buy now from Soar

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