Fall demands a little more out of our sock game: more insulation, more durability and more dynamic performance to accommodate rainy weather and dropping temperatures. Here’s a new harvest of styles to keep your feet comfy as the days get darker and colder.
Feetures Merino 10 Light Cushion Crew ($26)
Fabric Composition: 37% nylon, 30% wool, 26% tencel, 3% spandex
All Feetures performance socks utilize targeted zone-specific compression that provides more support across the arch and midfoot areas, with light cushioning in the heel and forefoot. This model uses a new Merino 10 fabric that combines merino wool and wood-sourced tencel which increases softness while accelerating the dry rate. The fabric is spun with 200-needle thread count to stay sleek against your foot, and the socks are crafted with anatomical design and separate right/left contours. The merino wool content helps this sock provide insulation when wet, and in our testing, these socks hold their position against the foot well even when drenched. Merino and tencel both have very high durability, so these socks can handle frequent mud exposure without compromising their protection or comfort. Available at www.feetures.com.
Swiftwick Vision Five Winter ($20)
Fabric composition: 49% merino wool, 43% nylon, 8% spandex
This festive sock provides our favorite seasonal designs this year, with snow-covered trees and winter wolf options available in a few different color schemes. They look like they’d be right at home relaxing by the fireplace, but their performance elements can handle virtually any high-demand outdoor activity. A relatively high merino percentage (second highest in this roundup) provides strong insulation in cool or wet conditions, and rapid-wicking nylon fibers help manage moisture and prevent hot spots. The Vision Five Winter has medium cushioning underfoot for comfort, and a moderate amount of compression with a contoured fit that wraps the foot securely and stays in place when traversing irregular terrain. Available at www.swiftwick.com.
XOSKIN 5.0 QRT Crew Sock ($18)
Fabric composition: 65% RAPIDriCOPPER, 20% nylon, 15% elastane
The “secret sauce” of XOSKIN products is the dynamic RapiDriCopper fabric that combines polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) particles and copper throughout the entire sock (as opposed to being positioned strategically in smaller areas). PTFE provides extremely fast moisture movement, low friction, and high durability, while bonded copper provides antibacterial and skin health support, plus remarkable odor control with extended use. The 5.0 QRT sock is constructed with targeted compression zones around the ankle tendon, instep support to evenly distribute pressure and light padding in impact areas. High elastane content keeps these socks locked around the foot like a second skin, and air channels provide enhanced moisture management on top of the sock. Available at www.xoskin.us.
Darn Tough Stride Micro Crew Ultra-Lightweight ($19)
Fabric composition: 52% nylon, 42% merino wool, 6% Lycra
This redesign of a popular running model in the Darn Tough collection, is an un-cushioned model with a lightweight feel. Fine gauge knitting gives a softness to the merino wool content, and seamless construction eliminates any potential chafing areas. These socks wick moisture more effectively than most merino socks we’ve tested, making them well suited for year-round use. They breathe well in warm conditions but maintain strong insulation when cold or wet. An anatomic arch support helps offset muscle fatigue, and flex windows prevent bunching or slipping. Available at www.darntough.com.
Smartwool Run Cold Weather Mid Crew Socks ($22)
Fabric composition: 56% merino wool, 41% nylon, 3% elastane
A cold-weather companion to Smartwool’s popular Targeted Cushion running socks, the Cold Weather Mid Crew is knit slightly thicker than standard Smartwool Run socks to provide more insulation. The wool content is significant, the highest in our test group, and features Indestructawool technology that fortifies the yarn for increased strength and durability. Mesh venting zones allow for breathability on warmer days and more rapid drying when wet. Moderate cushioning in the heel and forefoot areas provide a bit of shock absorption, and the X-patterned elite fit system of elastic fibers creates a natural flex zone through the thinner top of the sock. The fit of this entire sock stays in place quite well even when fully drenched or caked in mud. Available at www.smartwool.com.
CEP Short Compression Socks 3.0 ($19)
Fabric composition: 88% polyamide, 12% spandex
As the name implies, this is a short version of CEP’s full-calf compression socks, made for runners who want compression support around the foot and ankle but don’t like compression higher up the leg. Even at a lower height, their muscle support and arch stabilization is effective at decreasing muscle fatigue towards the end of long efforts, or if you have nagging Achilles or plantar fascia issues. The 3.0 version of this sock has been redesigned with a new anatomic right/left contour and utilizes Smart Dry yarn with strong moisture and temperature management. Performance padding on the footbed adds a bit of impact comfort. These socks stay in place so well that we often use them for double duty, including speed workouts at the track. Available at www.cepcompression.com.