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Best athletic socks

Which athletic socks are best?

Choosing the right socks for the right activities is surprisingly important. You can’t wear bright white athletic socks to a black-tie event without standing out for the wrong reasons, and you shouldn't wear thin dress socks to exercise — they won’t provide enough support. But there’s more to athletic socks than just support; you should also consider features like cuff types and material.

The best athletic socks are the Balega Hidden Comfort No-Show Running Socks. They have cushioning all along the bottom with plenty of arch support, plus they’re highly breathable and moisture-wicking.

This article was reviewed and approved by Judd NeSmith, the BestReviews Fitness Expert.

What to know before you buy athletic socks


Athletic socks come in eight lengths with terms that may vary based on the brand. Longer and shorter socks have no true benefits over the other, aside from making you feel most comfortable. The most common lengths are crew, ankle and no-show.

  • Over-calf socks rest just below the knee.
  • Crew socks rest at the mid-calf.
  • Mid-crew socks rest between the ankle and the calf.
  • Ankle socks rest above the ankle.
  • Low-cut socks rest around the ankle.
  • No-show socks rest below the ankle.
  • Super no-show socks rest high on the foot but well below the ankle.
  • Liner socks rest low on the foot.


Like most socks, athletic socks tend to come in multipacks that include several pairs. However, packages of athletic socks typically include fewer pairs than non-specialized socks due to their enhanced features. Most packages include three or six pairs, though high-end and budget socks can come in packs of one or 12, respectively.

What to look for in quality athletic socks

Heel tabs

Ankle-length athletic socks have an uncomfortable tendency to slip down into the shoe, causing bunching that can lead to blisters. Premium ankle-length socks avoid this issue by incorporating a thick heel tab that latches onto the back of your shoes. These are a must for ankle-length enthusiasts.


The best athletic socks provide cushioning in various places around the bottom of the sock. This cushioning can be only in the heel and/or ball of the foot to lessen impacts or throughout the entire bottom of the sock for maximum comfort.

However, it’s possible to have too much padding. If your shoes are already tight around your foot, socks with excess padding will make your shoes fit too tightly and cause blisters.

How much you can expect to spend on athletic socks

Athletic sock prices vary depending on the brand, material and quantity. For example, you can spend $20 on a single pair of premium socks or $20 on six pairs of midrange socks. Generally, you can expect to pay $10-$50.

Athletic socks FAQ

Why should I use athletic socks?

A. There are several reasons why you should wear specialized athletic socks when exercising or engaging in active pursuits.

  • Moisture-wicking: Athletic socks have varying degrees of moisture-wicking to help keep your feet dry, whether wet from water or sweat.
  • Bacteria control: An additional benefit of staying drier is a decreased chance of bacteria growing, meaning your socks and feet won’t develop nasty odors or growths.
  • Temperature moderation: Athletic socks tend to be both warm and breathable. This keeps your feet warmer in cold weather and cooler in hot weather.
  • Support: Athletic socks potentially include many ways to support your feet. The most common are cushioning along the bottoms and tight arch support.
  • Comfort: Athletic socks are designed specifically to fit inside athletic footwear, meaning they won’t be too thin or thick.

How do I care for athletic socks?

A. Athletic socks are cared for like any other type of sock — simply wash them well after each use. Most are machine-washable with no particular care requirements past being laundered with like colors to avoid color-bleeding. Washing them inside out helps them get cleaner. If they still have perspiration or other odor after being washed, let them soak in a tub of water and white vinegar for half an hour before rewashing.

What are the best athletic socks to buy?

Top athletic socks 

Balega Hidden Comfort No-Show Running Socks

What you need to know: These are as premium as it gets.

What you’ll love: These socks have a heel tab to stop the socks from slipping into your shoes and a seamless toe to prevent blisters and chaffing. The top of the sock is fine mesh for maximum breathability, and the bottom uses plush cushioning for comfort and shock absorption.

What you should consider: You only get a single pair of socks for the same average cost of six pairs of socks, marking them as extremely expensive.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Top athletic socks for the money

Champion Double Dry Cotton-Rich No-Show Socks

What you need to know: These are comfortable at a low cost.

What you’ll love: The soles are padded to absorb impacts, and there’s special arch support through the center. The cotton-polyester material wicks away sweat and is breathable, perfect for even the hottest weather. They come in packs of six or 12 pairs and your choice of black or white.

What you should consider: Some customers reported they run a little small, so they may feel a little tight. They may leave fuzz on your feet even after multiple washings.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Worth checking out

Adidas Athletic Cushioned Crew Socks

What you need to know: These are great all-around socks from a strong brand.

What you’ll love: The cuffs are snug against the calf to prevent the sock from slipping without being overly tight. The polyester material is breathable with some moisture-wicking properties. The bottoms of the socks are cushioned for comfort, and the arch is compressed for support.

What you should consider: Some purchasers reported that they develop odors more easily than they should. Others dislike how high up the calf they sit.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Kohl’s

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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