Autumn means cooler temps, wet trails and a new harvest of running socks to choose from. Here’s a rundown of models we’ve been testing over the past several weeks.
Voormi Trail Sock ($30)
Fabric composition: 32% merino wool, 26% polyester,
19% polyester lycra, 15% spandex, 8% nylon
Voormi makes some of our favorite performance shirts, because of their dual-layer construction that combines a moisture-wicking layer next to the skin with a wool outer layer for insulation and comfort. Their new Trail Sock uses the same process that is highly effective at minimizing chafing and blisters – it’s like getting the benefits of a traditional dual layer sock with just a single layer. These socks have thicker moisture-wicking cushioning zones in the heel and forefoot, and a double cuff collar that stays in place around the ankle. The Trail Socks use anatomic left/right construction and a bit of spandex for a precise fit, but we found them to run quite large compared to our shoe size, so we recommend sizing down for the best fit.
Darn Tough Breakaway Micro Crew Ultra Light ($19)
Fabric composition: 54% nylon, 40% merino wool, 6% lycra spandex
The Breakaway is listed only on the men’s side of the Darn Tough website, but is equally suitable for women. It’s an ultra-lightweight sock that has impressive durability for a layer that is so thin we were originally concerned about wearing holes in them, but they’ve proven to be quite durable.* Fine gauge knitting creates a next-to-skin feel and the performance fit is very secure, whether on technical trails or fast track laps. Because they are so thin and have high merino wool content, the Breakaways have exceptional moisture- wicking ability, and they also resist odor better than any other sock in this roundup. (*If you should develop a hole for some reason, it’s OK – they’re guaranteed for life.)
Drymax Running Lite Mesh ($12-13.50)
Fabric Composition: 65% Drymax Olefin, 20% polyester,
8% nylon, 7% elastane
This year, Drymax has demonstrated its “softer side,” developing a proprietary method of twisting smaller yarns together while keeping the integrity of their outstanding dual-layer moisture removal system. One result of this refined process is that the socks feel much softer against the skin while retaining the strength of the filament yarns. The process also creates a cool heathered look, adding a bit of organic design to a technical synthetic product. Drymax has been gradually updating existing models in their product line to incorporate this new construction process, and the Running Lite Mesh is the mid-range product in terms of overall sock thickness in their lineup. Running Lite Mesh socks are available in No Show Tab, Mini Crew, Quarter Crew and Crew heights, with MSRP ranges between $12.00 to $13.50 depending on the size.
MudGear Quarter Crew Trail ($27 for 2-pair pack)
Fabric composition: 95% polyester, 5% spandex
MudGear socks and gear have been a staple in the Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) world for many years, and the Trail sock incorporates some key OCR design elements into a model designed specifically for trail runners. As you would expect from an OCR background, MudGear socks emphasize drainage technologies that allow for comfort even after full submersion. The overall fit has moderate compression through the foot and ankle. At the top of the sock this keeps the dirt out and in the body of the sock the compression helps maintain a secure fit even when wet. Light cushioning in the footbed and at the top of the ankle hits a smart balance of adding comfort without excess water retention, while elastic ribbing wraps the entire arch for support while still allowing ventilation. We were impressed with how this sock maintains its secure fit, especially at the reinforced collar in wet and muddy conditions.
Injinji Spectrum Trail Midweight Mini-Crew ($18)
Fabric composition: 66% CoolMax, 28% nylon, 6% lycra
Injinji socks are almost a category unto themselves, as the most prominent brand in the toe sock market. Advantages of toe socks include improved moisture management and blister protection around each toe that is individually wrapped in CoolMax sweat-wicking material, eliminating hot spots from skin-on-skin friction. Separation of the toes also allows the entire foot to be engaged in athletic activities. The Spectrum Trail sock has moderate cushioning on the footbed, and a mesh top for improved breathability. They also utilize a double cuff with a snug fit around the ankle, and have four outdoorsy color patterns to add some flair to your stride.
Gore Thermo Mid Socks ($30)
Fabric composition: 39% Polyamide, 24% wool, 24% acrylic,
9% Tactel polyamide, 4% elastane
You’ll recognize the Gore name as one of the original innovators in outdoor performance technology, and their modern product line is specifically geared toward endurance cyclists and runners. The Thermo sock is designed for cold and wet weather, combining high insulation capacity with strong moisture management properties. This is the thickest sock in our roundup, making it a great choice for cold conditions, and it also has enough thermoregulatory capacity for warmer days. Comfort mapping positions light padding in impact zones, and a grip band around the arch helps secure the fit. One feature we particularly like is the Achilles channel that provides elastic support from the bottom of the heel.
Swiftwick Pursuit Seven Ultralight ($22)
Fabric composition: 48% merino wool, 28% nylon,
11% olefin, 13% spandex
Earlier this year, Swiftwick debuted its Pursuit series socks. This particular model is made from a high percentage of merino wool for four-season performance in endurance sports. New this fall is an Ultralight version of the Pursuit Seven, named for the height of the sock: seven is crew height, and the range spans from Zero (no-show) to Twelve (full calf height). This model has the highest merino content of any sock in our roundup, giving it an extremely soft feel against the skin, and nylon elements that accelerate the wool’s natural moisture-wicking properties. A channeled upper helps ventilation on top of the foot, and reinforced abrasion resistance in the heel and toe provide increased durability.