Everyone knows spring is a perfect time for cleaning. As the days get warmer and many of us set aside leggings for shorts, it’s also an ideal season for purging some of your ratty old socks in favor of some fresh styles and vibrant patterns to run headlong into your high mileage training. We’ve tested a handful of new models for this spring, and some of our favorites are below.
Florida-based Zensah’s roots are in compression sleeves, and the Grit is their first foray into trail-running specific socks. They come with a lifetime guarantee, and are built to provide maximal protection from the elements. Fabric construction is 40% polypropylene, 26% nylon, 22% merino wool, and 12% spandex; the combination of merino wool and synthetic polypropylene creates accelerated wicking. Grit socks have left/right anatomic fit, targeted arch support, seamless toe construction, and hexo-padding underneath impact areas for increased comfort. The high spandex content of this sock provides mild compression to the plantar fascia and Achilles area, for a pleasant feeling of support without the typical tightness of true compression socks.
Feetures! is a family owned and operated company based in North Carolina who have been steadily making inroads to the trail running market. Their Elite Merino+ is a thin yet durable technical running sock for wet springtime running, with a fabric blend of 36% nylon, 31% rayon, 30% merino wool, and 3% spandex. These socks also have seamless toe construction, anatomic left/right fit, and Sock-Lock targeted compression for enhanced fit; they form to your feet exceptionally well to prevent hot spots from forming. The rayon is produced from bamboo, which combines with the merino wool for an extremely soft overall feel against the skin – they are definitely the most comfortable of the socks in this roundup.
The Feetures! Elite Light is one of our favorites from a style standpoint, with three different color and horizontal stripe options to choose from. They are a 96% nylon, 4% spandex fabric blend with similar construction elements as the Elite Merino+, along with higher density cushioning in impact areas for extra protection.
Another company from the Tar Heel state is Farm to Feet, a brand committed to several key missions: creating high quality wool socks from 100% American sourced materials, using American manufacturing, by American workers. Their product line doesn’t include a running-specific model, but the Raleigh is a durable multisport sock that is fully capable of handling high-mileage trail running. It’s composed of 49% nylon, 46% merino wool, and 5% lycra spandex, with increased cushioning throughout the bottom of the foot, and half-density cushioning on the inside of the sock to add extra softness without excess bulk. The Raleigh has a seamless toe closure, and circumferential comfort compression from the top of the sock through the arch for additional support. Another cool construction element is hidden nylon plaiting, which sandwiches stretch yarns between two layers of body yarn to create a smooth exterior and snug fit for active movement. The relatively high wool content in these socks gives the Raleigh natural softness and effective odor control.
Drymax’s credentials in the ultrarunning community are well established by elites as well as back-of-packers; they’re consistently ranked as a favorite among UR staff and in race surveys. In recent years they’ve increased their partnership with elite runners to include design contributions for specific sock models, which now include the (Ian) Sharman and the Sage (Canaday). These two models are fairly similar in terms of construction: both of them are variations of Drymax’s super-durable Maximum Protection Trail socks, using a fabric blend of 51% Drymax/Olefin fibers, 28% profilen (or PTFE, a high performance polymar thread), 8% nylon, 7% polyester, and 6% elastane. Both of them utilize PTFE fibers in impact areas, as well as Drymax standards such as flat toe seams, arch bands, dual knit layers, an anti-slip wedge in the heel, and breathable mesh on top.
The Sharman is a blue and gray quarter-crew model that can be turned down at the ankle to fly the Union Jack if you want to salute Ian’s homeland, while the Sage is a mini crew that is slightly thinner overall and comes in a gray/green (sometimes known as sage) combination that goes great with springtime pastels. Drymax are consistently the most durable and dependable socks in our lineup when it comes time to crank out heavy mileage.
Almost nobody beats Colorado-born Smartwool when it comes to wool content, and this spring nobody beats them for showing springtime flair on the trail either. Their PhD Run Light socks consist of 54% merino wool, 42% nylon, and 4% elastane, with targeted cushioning on the ball and heel of the foot. As with other PhD run socks, these feature a seamless toe line, targeted ventilation zones for optimal breathability, and a 4-degree Elite Fit System of criss-crossed elastic fibers to provide stretch while simultaneously keeping the sock in place. These have the highest wool content in our roundup, meaning they have the strongest natural odor protection; we often wear Smartwool socks for back-to-back runs without any funk issues at all. However, what we like best about these is their bright near-argyle styling that’s like a celebration of the season.