When you're on the prowl for socks to exercise in, you can't use the same criteria you would when you're shopping for regular women's socks. The best athletic socks have special qualities that aren't as important when you're hanging out at home or vegging out in front of the TV.
First, they need to be moisture-wicking. While you don't work up much of a sweat watching Netflix, you'll definitely get sticky when you're out there running, biking, hiking, or doing other cardio activities. For that reason, the fabric needs to be able to transport perspiration away from your skin and dry it quickly. Materials like polyester and Merino wool are usually best for this.
Secondly, the material needs to be stretchy. You'll be moving your feet a lot, so the fabric has to be flexible and adaptable. That said, you don't want them to be sliding down the whole time, so it's key to find a combination that's snug but stretchy. This will also reduce chafing and blisters. Look for fabrics containing spandex, elastane, LYCRA, or other stretchy materials.
Lastly, look at the cushioning. Unlike the ones you wear around the house, your athletic socks sustain a lot of high impact. They need to be made out of durable materials like nylon or polyamide, and designed with lots of cushioning and arch support. Bonus points if they have reinforced areas around the heels and toes, too.
With all of that in mind, check out this list of the best athletic socks on Amazon.
1. The Best Athletic Socks For Most People
Balega Women's Enduro V-Tech No Show Socks
These no-show women's athletic socks offer a great combination of all the things you want in a performance sock — they're lightweight and breathable, moisture-wicking, anti-microbial, and they won't give you blisters. That's because the fabric is a durable mix of polyester, nylon, and elastane. I personally own tons of Balega socks, and they're by far my favorites in terms of comfort. When you slide them on, they just feel softer and more durable than your average ankle sock. This is partly due to the reinforced heel pocket that provides extra cushioning. On top of that, they have seamless toes that reduce abrasion and panels of mesh fabric covering your high-sweat zones, offering extra ventilation. As a bonus, they come in tons of cute colors and patterns.
- Available sizes: Small, Medium, Large
2. The Best Socks For Running
Under Armour Women's Essential Twist No Show Socks (6 Pack)
With almost 300 reviews, these popular women's running socks showcase soft, flat-knit construction that's super flexible and comfortable to move in. Like the Balegas, they have a reinforced heel to make them more durable, as well as arch support to fight foot fatigue during long training sessions. The polyester-spandex blend is both breathable and moisture-wicking, and the socks have the additional benefit of anti-microbial technology that reduces odor and bacteria. They come in a convenient six-pack at a great price, too.
- Available sizes: Medium
3. The Best Socks For Sweaty Feet
Adidas Women's Superlite Super No Show Socks (6 Pack)
If you're someone whose feet start perspiring as soon as you walk out the door, these are some of the best socks for sweaty feet that you can find. They're thin yet durable, with super lightweight construction that breaths easily and helps your feet stay cool. The moisture-wicking "Climalite" material, made from polyester and spandex, moves your sweat to the outer layer of the fabric so it can more easily evaporate. It also blocks odor-causing bacteria, so your shoes don't end up smelling by the end of the day. The well-ventilated socks, which have more than 400 reviews on Amazon, come in more than a dozen combinations of colors, sizes, and quantities.
- Available sizes: One Size (5-10)
4. The Best Compression Socks
CEP Women's Running Compression Socks
If you're looking for socks that will enhance the circulation in your shins as you work out, these high-performance compression socks are just the ticket. The fabric technology, which combines polyamide and elastane, applies gentle pressure to your muscles as you move, improving blood flow and minimizing post-exercise soreness and swelling. With 20 to 30 millimeters of graduated compression, they conform to your feet and shins, offering comfort and flexibility. The snug fit also keeps them from rubbing, chafing, and sliding down. Additionally, the ventilated knitting promotes airflow and keeps you cool. These socks are pricier than the others on this list but worth it if you're prone to muscle soreness.
- Available sizes: 2, 3, 4
5. The Best Socks For Hiking
Darn Tough Hiker 1/4 Cushion Sock
Made specifically for outdoor trekking, these durable women's hiking socks are perfect for wilderness excursions. They're designed to be performance athletic socks, wicking moisture and fighting odor while keeping your feet dry and happy. This can largely be attributed to the blend of materials, which includes nylon, spandex, LYCRA, and Merino wool. The crew-length socks also offer plenty of cushioning to keep your feet from getting tired as you zigzag across the switchbacks. Their seamless construction minimizes blisters, and the "snug yet comfy" fit prevents them from bunching up at your heels. Best of all, the socks are guaranteed for life, so if they ever get a hole or wear through, you can send them back for a brand new pair.
- Available sizes: Small, Medium, Large
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