Brighter days and longer miles during the spring months help build a base for fun adventures throughout the year. Just in time for your ramp up in training, we’ve tested a new crop of socks to keep your feet comfortable.
Darn Tough Pacer Ultra Lightweight Running Crew ($20)
Fabric composition: 49% nylon, 47% merino wool, 4% Lycra spandex
Our favorite combination of style and performance this spring comes from Darn Tough, featuring a tortoise on one side and a hare on the other. The sock is equally suitable for fast efforts or slow and steady cruising. High merino wool content with a fine gauge knitting process makes them exceptionally soft against the skin, and the fabric naturally breathes well while remaining odor resistant for multi-day use. A seamless performance fit with redesigned flex and arch support zones help distinguish this sock from Darn Tough’s extensive collection of hiking models, with improved stability of fit at high speeds. The Pacer stays in place nicely without slipping or bunching, even on irregular terrain or when completely wet, and targeted cushioning underneath the foot adds comfort and a small amount of rebound. As with all Darn Tough socks, these are guaranteed for life. If they ever wear out, send them back to the company for a new pair. Available at www.darntough.com.
Drymax Hawks Extra Protection Hot Weather Quarter Crew ($26)
Fabric Composition: 65% Drymax olefin, 13% PTFE, 10% polyester, 9% elastene, 3% nylon
This specialty model is the namesake of Hayden Hawks, who contributed to its creation with the goal of developing an ideal sock for extremely hot conditions: think Badwater or Marathon de Sables. These socks start with a base of Drymax olefin, which has very low moisture absorption and low thermal conductivity, and add PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) fibers that have an exceptionally low coefficient of friction – it’s a highly effective combination for limiting heat buildup with high mileage or in extreme conditions. PTFE fibers are positioned in the heel, forefoot and toe areas, while the top of the foot has open mesh striped ventilation channels to further disperse heat. The ankle collar stays in place securely, and the quarter crew height is ideal for keeping grit out of your socks while letting your legs breathe a little better than crew length models. Available at www.drymaxsports.com.
Smartwool PhD Pro Endurance Krar Print Crew ($26)
Fabric composition: 57% merino, 38% nylon, 4% elastane, 1% polyester
Smartwool has continued its partnership with Rob Krar, and this sock gets an updated artistic flair evoking the hot sun in Arizona, Krar’s long-time training turf. These have the highest merino wool content in our test group, with Indestructawool construction technology that makes them very durable and comfortable on all-day outings despite having limited cushioning underfoot. They have a comfortably 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. We’ve been impressed with how these have maintained their snug-but-comfortable fit even after multiple washings, when some wool socks start to loosen up. This model comes in a women’s-specific model that drops the Krar name, called the Women’s PhD Pro Endurance Print Crew, and has an outer space color theme. The women’s-specific model has a slightly narrower heel and slimmer overall profile than the Krar men’s version. Available at www.smartwool.com.
Injinji Ultra Run Mini-Crew ($18)
Fabric composition: 64% nylon, 33% Coolmax polyester, 3% Lycra
For the toe sock lovers out there, this new Injinji model is an in-between height option in the company’s Ultra Run collection that also has crew height and no-show versions. Although it’s categorized as “mini,” the height of this sock is comparable to a quarter crew from other brands. All socks in the Ultra collection feature cushioned terry throughout the entire foot, including the toes, to help soften the impact of high mileage, with Coolmax fibers and strategically placed ventilation zones to enhance moisture transfer. As with all Injinji socks, the five-toe sleeve design eliminates skin-on-skin friction between your toes to prevent blisters, and allows your toes to splay naturally. The fit of these socks is further enhanced by linear knit arch support lines on the underside of the foot, and light compression throughout the sock prevents slipping or bunching. Available at www.injinji.com.
Swiftwick Aspire Seven ($19)
Fabric composition: 65% nylon, 29% olefin, 6% spandex
The Aspire is marketed as a cycling sock, but it’s a nice option for runners who prefer super thin socks with a bit of compression support. Olefin fibers wick moisture effectively, and the thin overall profile makes these socks very cool and breathable in hot conditions. While these aren’t technically classified as compression socks, the Aspire has a firm fit that contours to the shape of your foot like a second layer of skin, and they provide a small amount of resistance to swelling during long activities. The exterior surface of these socks is slightly slick, which is effective for minimizing friction, but you may feel a bit of movement if your shoes aren’t properly secured. Aspire series socks are available in a number of heights, with corresponding numeric product names, ranging from Zero (no-show) to Twelve (full calf height); the Seven we tested is a traditional crew height. Available at www.swiftwick.com.
CEP Neon Mid Cut Compression Socks ($19)
Fabric composition: 86% polyamid nylon, 14% spandex
If you’re looking for true compression socks, CEP has a full line of height options, from no show to knee high, and some cool designs such as Old Glory, 80s Gym Class or basic solid colors. The Neon model we tested also comes in white versions with subtle color accents, and the mid cut height is slightly lower than a traditional crew height. These socks are built with targeted compression in the ankle and arch, with graduated compression from the lower half of the sock to the ankle collar to relieve swelling and soreness. We found them especially helpful on days when we had lingering Achilles or plantar fascia pain. Performance padding on the footbed adds a bit of impact comfort, and the polyamid fibers wick moisture nicely while breathing well in warm temperatures. Available at www.cepcompression.com.
Bombas Performance Running Calf Socks ($16)
Fabric composition: 51% polyester, 33% nylon, 12% cotton, 4% spandex
This Bombas model comes in eight color options, so you can choose varieties for every mood. They are anatomically designed with specific left-right designations, with increased contouring through the arch, along with a honeycomb arch system that wraps the midfoot for increased support. The lower half of the sock combines generous strategic zone cushioning in the heel and forefoot with a large airflow venting channel in the midfoot to optimize breathability and moisture-wicking. A seamless toe in front and Y-stitched heel in back provide additional comfort and fit measures, and mild tension through the top half keeps the sock in place. The Performance Running Sock is part of Bombas’s program that promises one donated pair of socks for each pair purchased. Each customer purchase is matched by the company donating one new pair to homeless shelters in the United States. Available at www.bombas.com.