In preparation for longer days and big adventures, a new pair of socks can be the perfect accessory to make sure your feet stay comfortable. Here is a crop of new offerings for the season ahead that we have tested extensively over the past few months.
Drymax Lite Trail Running Crew ($18)
Fabric composition: 52% Drymax Olefin, 32% Polyester, 11% Elastane, 5% Nylon
Given that this is the most popular sock from the most popular brand among trail runners, Drymax was smart to avoid any drastic changes to this specific model. The feel of the material is softer than previous versions, thanks to a refined manufacturing process of twisting smaller yarns together for a smoother surface, while preserving fiber strength and the integrity of Drymax’s standard dual-layer moisture removal system. The base material is Drymax olefin, which has very low moisture absorption and low thermal conductivity. These two factors combine to offset heat buildup around your feet in extreme conditions. The socks stay in place extremely well even when soaked, thanks to elastane throughout, and a dynamic arch band at the midfoot. Although these are the Lite version in the Drymax trail lineup that includes standard thickness and max protection options, they are more than durable enough for ultra-distance efforts, and there are three height options (mini, quarter crew and crew) to choose from. The Lite Trail Running Crew is available in three color options at www.drymaxsports.com.
Darn Tough Grit Micro Crew Ultra-Lightweight Running Sock ($20)
Fabric composition: 55% Nylon, 40% Merino Wool, 5% Lycra Spandex
This new model in the Darn Tough lineup injects a bit of lightweight construction to the performance benefits of merino wool and bold color to the standard design elements of their running socks. The Grit Micro Crew uses Darn Tough’s lowest profile yarns and a fine-gauge knitting process to create a fabric with no excess bulk, and a small percentage of Lycra helps the sock wrap your foot like a second skin. A performance fit combines uniform light compression, seamless construction to eliminate chafing and mild arch support to prevent slippage, while flex windows bend with your foot throughout the gait cycle. A high percentage of merino wool increases their odor resistance and allows them to dry quickly, with very strong durability in comparison to their thickness. We’ve worn Darn Tough socks in numerous ultras, and this new model is more than suitable for long efforts. Even if you should happen to wear a hole through these, they’ll replace them in accordance with their lifetime guarantee. Available at www.darntough.com.
Definite Articles Ultra-Thin Striped Crew Sock ($16)
Fabric composition: 51% Sustainable Nylon, 23% BCI Cotton, 23% Sustainable Recycled Polyester, 3% Spandex
Definite Articles recently emerged as a role model in sustainable manufacturing and construction methods, and are unique among our test group for building socks that are completely microplastic-free and rapidly biodegradable. They utilize a natural additive called ciclo which allows their socks to biodegrade within 3-4 years after entering a landfill. The Ultra-Thin Striped Crew is a lightweight version of the company’s standard crew sock, and the stripe adds a retro design accent. They have a small amount of cushioning in the sole for comfort and protection, and 360-degree arch compression for a secure midfoot. We’ve been impressed with the multi-functionality of these socks for road and trail use, fast training sessions or long cruiser days. They retain moisture after full water immersion a bit longer than wool fabric or synthetic materials, but overall breathability is very effective and their durability has been solid after months of continuous use. These are available in four color options at www.definitearticles.com.
Feetures Elite Light Cushion Mini Crew ($20)
Fabric composition: 94% Nylon; 6% Spandex
Feetures has a huge number of active performance socks to choose from, broken into three categories: high performance, elite and merino. The elite socks take the anatomic lasts (specific left and right contours) and snug fit of the original high performance socks, and add targeted compression through the midfoot to further ensure a secure fit. We noticed these socks stayed in place securely after stream immersions. High density cushioning at the heel and forefoot adds a bit of comfort without added bulk, and specialized iWick fibers pull moisture away from the skin to the outer layer of the fabric for rapid evaporation. These socks have a very soft feel against the skin when dry and manage moisture quite effectively aside from getting completely saturated. The mini crew is the tallest of three height options (including quarter crew and no-show), and there are 10 color options to choose from including solids and colorful patterns. Feetures socks also come with a lifetime guarantee for replacement and are available at www.feetures.com.
Smartwool Athlete Edition Run Print Crew ($27)
Fabric composition: 54% Merino Wool, 32% Nylon, 10% Recycled Nylon, 3% Elastane, 2% Polyester
The “Run Print” series of socks is where Smartwool likes to get stylistically creative, and this season’s athlete edition is no exception. The sock features bold artwork that evokes the Arizona landscape of elite athlete Rob Krar, who contributed to the design of this sock. A high merino content (the highest in this season’s group) is built with Indestructawool technology that combines wool fibers with strong nylon filaments for optimal durability over repeated use. If we had to use one pair of socks repeatedly on multi-day excursions, these would be our choice. They have a snug fit, with mesh ventilation zones for moisture management and breathability, plus an elasticized flex zone at the ankle joint to further stabilize the fit. These socks come in a women’s-specific model that has a slightly narrower heel and slimmer overall profile than the men’s version. Two color options for women and one for men are available at www.smartwool.com.
Patagonia Ultra Lightweight Performance 3/4 Crew ($22)
Fabric Composition: 70% recycled polyester, 28% nylon, 2% Lycra spandex
This model isn’t advertised as a running-specific sock, but is intended for hybrid use in trail running, hiking or with climbing shoes. They are the softest and most comfortable socks we tested this spring, but also the thickest and bulkiest in comparison to the sleeker, run-specific models in our review. As with most Patagonia garments, this model uses a high percentage of post-consumer material sourcing and creates a low-density knit that feels light against the skin despite its thickness. A soft, terry-loop footbed adds cushioning in the heel and forefoot, with thinner stretch mesh on the top side for flexibility and breathability. The fabric also utilizes HeiQ Pure odor control technology—a responsibly sourced, mint oil-derived textile treatment that prevents microbial buildup. These are our favorite option for when we run early but need to keep the socks on for the rest of the day. Available at www.patagonia.com.
CEP Ultralight Tall Compression Socks ($60)
Fabric Composition: 60% Polyamide Nylon, 25% Elastane, 15% Polypropylene
For those who prefer compression socks, this model from CEP is light enough to wear in warmer months, but still provides the compression of the company’s standard knee-high models despite being 25% lighter. They feature graduated compression of 20 to 30mmHg from bottom to top, with fibers that encircle the lower leg musculature more than 300 times. The fabric is built with hydrophobic fibers for moisture management and has seamless construction for blister prevention. The thinner fabric definitely produces greater breathability and improved comfort in warm conditions compared to regular compression socks. Minor padding underfoot adds a touch of comfort without adding bulk. As with many compression products, pay attention to the sizing, as CEP foregoes traditional sizes in favor of a Roman numeral system that is based on calf circumference. Available at www.cepcompression.com.