Breathable, comfortable, non-slip, and personally recommended by women who run almost every day, these socks will take your runs to the next level.
While running socks tend to get overlooked easily, they actually play an important role in your fitness wardrobe and even have the ability to make or break your run. Wearing the wrong type of socks will not only be uncomfortable, but can also become a distraction by slipping off your heels, causing blisters, or getting soaked with sweat—and no one wants to deal with these annoyances while trying to focus on getting a good run in.
To make sure this doesn’t happen, you’ll want to do your research ahead of time and invest in a pair of the best running socks that are comfortable, supportive, non-slip, and quick-drying. But if you’re not sure where to start on your search for top-quality running socks, we’re here to help—we tapped six avid runners to ask about their all-time favorite running socks. Their suggestions include warm wool socks that are great for cold weather runs, highly durable sweat-wicking options, cushioned ankle socks, breathable socks best for long-distance runs, and more.
These are the best running socks for women in 2021:
- Best-Rated: Balega Hidden Comfort Athletic Running Socks
- Best Non-Slip: Adidas Superlite Stripe No-Show Socks
- Best Sweat-Wicking: Nike Dri-FIT Cushion No-Show Socks
- Best for Marathons: Balega Enduro V-Tech Quarter Socks
- Best for Winter Runs: Darn Tough Vertex Micro Crew Cushion Sock
- Best Compression Socks: CEP Ultralight Performance Running Socks
- Best Cushioned: Under Armour Run Cushion No-Show Tab Running Sock
- Best for Distance Running: Thorlos Experia Multi-Sport Padded Low-Cut Sock
- Best for Trails: Stance Versa Infiknit Crew Socks
- Best Odor-Resistant: Balega Silver Antimicrobial No-Show Sock
- Best With Arch Support: Feetures Elite Max Cushion No Show Tab Sock
With these recommendations in mind, we’ve compiled a list below of the 11 best socks for running that cover a wide variety of fits, brands, and price points. Hard-core runners know that you should never underestimate the importance of a good sock—and with these choices, you can embark on your next run without any uncomfortable distractions. Wear your new socks with a pair of the best running shoes and your favorite running leggings, and you’ll be ready to give it your all—distraction-free—next time you pound the pavement.
Best Rated: Balega Hidden Comfort Athletic Running Socks
Former Health editor and running enthusiast Sarah Klein recommends these seamless, no-show running socks by Balega and calls them her “absolute favorite socks to run in.” When searching for running socks, she looks for “a cushion-y heel tab to protect my Achilles and prevent slipping, and support through the arch”—which these have. Given that they’re the number one best-selling running socks on Amazon and have more than 11,000 five-star ratings, it’s safe to say that Klein isn’t the only runner who absolutely loves them.
“These socks will make you feel as though you're walking on marshmallows, without the sticky feeling,” one shopper wrote. “I cannot say enough about how extremely comfortable these socks are. They are designed in a way so that you have cushion specifically in all the right places without the sock being too bulky or thick. I especially like the cushion on the back where your heel might otherwise rub the back of your shoe. The socks breathe very well. I wear them for running in a warm and humid climate, and they stand up well to regular wear.”
Best Non-Slip: Adidas Superlite Stripe No-Show Socks
With a no-show silhouette, breathable mesh material, and compressive design, this running sock excels in every comfort category for runners and comes recommended by Road Runners Club of America-certified running coach Lauren Sheu. Regardless of the type of runner you are, you don’t have to worry about blisters or foot fatigue thanks to the targeted cushioning on the heel and toe, which also improves durability. Plus, plenty of reviewers have vouched that the sock won’t slip down, giving them a 4.6-star rating on Amazon.
“These are the best socks,” one said. “They hug your feet nicely without being too tight or slipping off your heel. They are the perfect thickness.”
Best Sweat-Wicking: Nike Dri-FIT Cushion No-Show Socks
During her winter runs, former NCAA Track & Field athlete Brittani Cotton only wears Nike’s Dri-FIT running socks. She specifically loves these no-show ankle socks because they’re “great at absorbing sweat.” Aside from the superior moisture-wicking capabilities, these lightweight yet supportive socks feature cushioning and slight compression on the arches for added comfort without the bulk. Customers on Zappos also love the fit and feel of this pair, with many raving about how comfortable they are.
“These socks are perfect,” one wrote. “They are thick enough for comfort without being bulky. I have had them for at least a year now and they have held up very well. They do not show over the tops of my shoes.”
Best for Marathons: Balega Enduro V-Tech Quarter Socks
Former Health fitness editor Rozalynn S. Frazier, an avid marathon runner, is also a fan of Balega socks—she specifically loves the Enduro V-Tech socks and wears them when she runs marathons. The supportive, quarter-length socks feature slight compression and cushioning for shock absorption and comfort. They also have a reinforced heel pocket and mesh material for ventilation and breathability, so it’s no wonder Frazier favors them for long-distance runs. “They feel comfy, and my feet don’t hurt after [the marathon] when I wear these,” she adds. Balega socks are a favorite among many runners who say the unbeatable quality is worth the price tag, and this pair is no different. More than 1,200 Amazon shoppers gave them a perfect five-star rating, with multiple users calling them “the best running socks” they’ve found.
“Balega are the best athletic socks I have found, and they are worth the price,” one reviewer vouched. “They fit snugly, not tight (I’m a medium), stay in place, and are so supportive.
Best for Winter Runs: Darn Tough Vertex Micro Crew Cushion Socke
Former Shape executive editor Liz Doupnik, who typically starts training for spring half-marathons in the winter, calls these running socks a must for her outdoor winter runs. “Getting out the door and facing that first frigid face blast is legit more than half the battle when I'm getting my training runs done in January and February,” says Doupnik. “Having a high sock that protects that awkward gap between your leggings and shoes—with a peppy color and saying to boot—reminds me of my goals.” She adds that the wool fabric blend of the socks keep her feet warm and dry, so she doesn’t have to worry about anything except logging miles.
“Thick, warm, comfortable socks,” one Zappos shopper wrote. “Literally tough. I used to buy Smartwool. These are far better quality. I’ve never had a Darn Tough sock get a hole in it and I wear their brand every day… Haven’t worn a pair out yet and I’ve been wearing them for four years now.”
Those who prefer ankle socks over a crew fit will enjoy hitting the pavement with Pure Athlete’s Running Socks, which are made from merino wool to lock in heat without trapping moisture. They also feature anti-blister cushioning in the heel and toe for optimal comfort.
Best Compression: CEP Ultralight Performance Running Socks
Whether you’re bouncing back from a foot or ankle injury or just want some extra support, compression socks are your best bet. When Frazier had to wear compression socks to recover from an ankle injury, she loved this pair by CEP. She started out with the taller pair—CEP’s athletic long socks (from $43, amazon.com)—for extra support, and then transitioned to these low-cut, lightweight running socks. “These helped keep my ankle from swelling and just made it feel secure as I was returning to running,” said Frazier. CEP’s line of compression socks are loved by many runners who rave over how well they work for swelling, pain, injuries, or long hours on your feet.
Best Cushioned: Under Armour Run Cushion No-Show Tab Running Sock
The best cushioned option, these Under Armour no-show running socks come recommended by Frazier because of their superior comfort without the added bulk. Along with strategic cushioning and extra support in the arches, they’re also made with a moisture-wicking material that dries quickly and uses anti-odor technology—so you’ll never have to worry about sweaty, smelly feet while wearing these. Frazier loves the socks because they feel “luxe and high-end”—but without the expensive price tag.
Best for Distance Running: Thorlos Experia Multi-Sport Padded Low Cut Sock
Doupnik, who’s prone to blisters after longer runs, says these padded socks—which feel super plush and breathable—are the key to keeping her feet “happy and healthy.” Doupnik adds, “I love the extra cushioning around the bottom of the heel and ball of the feet, and the secure feeling of the elastic around the arch of the foot.” And since these socks have more than 2,000 positive reviews and a 4.7-star rating on Amazon, it’s clear that Doupnik isn’t the only runner who considers them a favorite.
“Let me tell you, they are some of the best socks to run in for long distances,” one person shared. “First, the extra cushion under the ball of your foot and on your heel are great. If you need cushioning for your run, these socks will give you that. It also provides compression, which helps with blood flow... I sweat a lot. These socks really help to keep the moisture out.”
Best for Trails: Stance Versa Infiknit Crew Socks
Those who prefer running on trails rather than pavement need an extra supportive sock, like this crew style from Stance that comes recommended by RRCA-certified running coach Elizabeth Peper. “The snug fit and thin material of these compression-like socks offer slightly more ankle support than your average pair, making them perfect for quick direction changes on the trails,” she explains. “The higher calf height ensures rocks and dirt don't make their way into your socks.”
Best Odor-Resistant: Balega Silver Antimicrobial No-Show Sock
Made with Balega’s signature performance yarn that kills odor-causing bacteria, these no-show socks from Balega keep your feet dry and smelling good during even the sweatiest runs. Designed to mimic the shape of a running shoe, they’re also a favorite of Peper’s because of their medium-level cushioning and lightweight feel, which she says makes them great for runs of any length. “These are always the socks I always pull first from my drawer,” she tells Health, adding that the included heel tabs prevent them from slipping down. Peper isn’t the only one that loves these socks—they have more than 5,000 five-star ratings on Amazon.
“If you aren't using running socks yet, you must buy these,” according to one shopper. “I was introduced to these many years ago at a local running shoe store and will never go back to wearing other socks. These are comfortable, give extra padding and arch support, and wick sweat off your feet, keeping them clean and dry. My feet are never smelly and I never get blisters or corns. They change the running experience completely.”
Best Arch Support: Feetures Elite Max Cushion No Show Tab Sock
These targeted compression socks from Feetures come highly recommended by Peper for arch support. “Each pair is right [or] left specific to allow for strategic wrapping under each arch. I love the light cushion version for a Goldilocks ‘just right’ comfort.” Made with sweat-wicking materials, each sock also has a seamless toe area to minimize blisters and all-around cushioning for even more support.
“These socks are the best,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “Built-in arch support, L and R markings, extra cushioning in all the right places. Never had a sock that felt right until I found these. These are the socks I run in and wear when I know I'm going to be on my feet all day.”