Socks are a more essential part of running gear than many of us give them credit for. You can have the best running shoes on the market, but if you’re wearing bad socks, it can lead to problems that compromise your performance.
Long socks work for some runners, especially if they have an element of compression. Ankle-length are nice for winter or trail running. But for many, no-show running socks are the most comfortable socks to wear.
Our first choice are the SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light Micro socks. They feature body-mapped mesh ventilation areas, SmartWool’s Indestructawool technology for extreme durability, and an Achilles tab for extra protection.
Try one of these brands – you’ll notice the difference!
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Micro
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Feetures Elite Max Cushion No Show Tab
ASICS Nimbus Single Tab
1. Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Micro
Smartwool makes their socks from premium quality Merino wool, so you won’t find a better quality pair out there.
Don’t worry about wool being too warm in the summer. Merino wool has amazing temperature-regulating properties. When the weather is warm, it keeps you cool and facilitates airflow, and when it’s cold, the socks insulate really well.
If you’re one of those runners who tend to destroy socks with your toenails, these make use of Smartwool’s Indestructawool technology for extra durability. You won’t need to replace this pair any time soon.
They’re reinforced on the heel and the ball of the foot, with extra cushioning for extra comfort.
Smartwool also uses a 4 Degree Elite Fit System to make sure your socks are snug and comfy. As an added bonus, they’re available in various sizes, so you can choose the one that suits your feet best.
Both the men’s and the women’s socks come in an array of colors, so you’ll look cool on the road while staying cool and comfy at the same time.
- Indestructawool technology for durability
- Strategically-placed mesh panels
- Available in various sizes
- Targeted cushioning on heel and ball of foot
- They seem to run small
2. Swiftwick ASPIRE Zero
As their name should suggest, these socks are designed for maximum moisture management. They use a fabric called Olefin, which is lightweight, quick-drying, and wicks moisture very well.
This great feature is not only for comfort. Keeping moisture to a minimum also helps prevent blisters.
As well as being great for keeping your feet dry, Olefin fabric is known for its strength. You shouldn’t need to get new socks any time soon, but they’re not immune to being stabbed with toenails!
They’re also designed to be quite supportive, with a compression band around the foot for strong arch support, and a Y-shaped heel for better fit, support, and comfort.
You’ll find them in four sizes – small to extra large – and a wide variety of colors.
- Sweat-wicking material
- Arch compression band
- Y-shaped heel for comfort and flexibility
- Mesh footbed for breathability
- They seem to be not as durable as others
3. Feetures Elite Max Cushion No-Show Tab
Is there such a thing as too much softness when you’re running? These socks are the most cushioned ones we reviewed, and to back up their quality promise, they come with a Lifetime Guarantee.
They have added compression support in the arch, which feels soft on the feet while absorbing shock. They’re a great extra layer in addition to your shoes!
A heel tab and seamless toes enhance the comfort factor, and the anatomical left/right foot design means a snugger fit and appropriately-placed cushioning.
- Maximum, thick cushioning
- Zone-specific compression
- Seamless toe
- Lifetime guarantee
- Some runners may find them too restrictive
4. ASICS Nimbus Single Tab
The best no-show running socks don’t necessarily have to be pricey. These are our best value choice, and they pack some great features into a very nice price tag.
They’re crafted from engineered mesh, which keeps them cool and allows for great airflow. The Dryarn NanoGLIDE material is anti-friction so your chance of getting blisters will be dramatically reduced.
Comfort is high with these socks, due to their ergonomic right/left foot design and dual-density cushioning. They’ve been reported to be medium cushioning, which is thick enough to protect your foot but not so thick that your feet overheat.
The ankle tab ensures that the socks don’t fall down while you’re on the move, and add a small extra layer of protection to the back of your heel.
Choose from four different colors and four different sizes to find the best one for you!
- Engineered mesh construction
- Anti-friction yarn
- Dual-density cushioning
- Medium cushioning
- Customers report that they run a little big
5. Balega UltraGlide
Blisters are one of our worst nightmares as runners. Not only do they ruin a good run, but once they’re there, they make every subsequent run harder.
These socks from Balega aim to prevent blisters from starting, ensuring a more comfortable, pain-free run every time.
They’re of medium thickness, but their targeted cushioning ensures that all hotspots are covered. Cushioning on the top of the foot reduces pressure caused by the laces, and cushioned heels and toes prevent extra rubbing there too.
Their Drynamix fabric blend is unique, adding a textile lubricant to the material to further reduce chafing.
Their flat-knit construction and compressive arch support up the comfort level too, and it helps that the socks are designed with a right foot and a left foot in mind for a more contoured fit.
- Front and heel tabs
- Drynamix poly blend fabric
- Contoured left/right construction
- Targeted cushioning
- There’s a possibility of the socks shrinking in the washing machine
Top Lightweight and Thin
6. Balega Ultralight
If you wear super-cushioned shoes and don’t need too much padding in your socks (or find too much cushion uncomfortable), a lightweight, thin sock would be a good choice. These are our top choice for the best lightweight, thin socks.
They’re made from high-performance yarn with a high thread count, which means a finer, thinner material.
Despite the thin, lightweight fabric, the heel and toe are reinforced to provide enough protection and durability while remaining light.
There’s also a broad elastic strap in the mid-foot for arch support, as well as extra ankle support.
Four sizes and a vast array of colors to choose from are extra bonuses.
- High thread count
- Made from hi-tech performance yarn
- Broad elastic arch support strip
- Seamless toe prevents blisters
- Customers report them to run quite small
7. Darn Tough Coolmax Vertex No-Show Tab Ultra-Light Cushion
Socks can get kind of smelly after a long, hard run. A moist environment is also a heaven for bacteria, so if you want to stay as fresh and clean as possible, an antimicrobial sock is a good idea.
The Darn Toughs are made from a blend of Merino wool, nylon, and Lycra spandex. The Merino offers superb temperature-regulating properties, making these socks a great asset in all weather.
We like that they’re antimicrobial, which means that if you do happen to sweat a little in them, they repel not only odors but also inhibit the growth of bacteria.
When you get home, just peel them off and throw them in the washing machine for an easy cleaning experience.
With a fine gauge knit, the socks are lightweight and hardly felt on the feet, but they seem to sacrifice a bit of quality and durability for that.
- Repels odor and bacteria
- Machine washable
- 51% Merino wool
- Fine gauge knit
- Customers seem to find the price high for the quality
8. Balega Hidden Dry
Nobody wants soggy feet on a run (or after a run, for that matter!). These socks win first place for best moisture-wicking socks.
Their usefully placed ventilation panels and their light, Drynamix fabric make them very capable of wicking away moisture. They’re also fairly thin, which helps wick sweat away easily.
Although they feature a deep, Y-shaped heel pocket, elastic grip ankle and arch construction, and microfiber heels, toes, and arch support, their padding may not be enough for some who prefer more cushioning.
- Drynamix moisture-wicking fabric
- Added ventilation panels
- Deep heel pockets for anti-slipping
- Hand-linked seams
- May feel too thin for runners who like plenty of cushioning
Top Merino Wool Blend
9. Feetures Merino 10 Cushion No Show
We love Merino socks. They’re pretty much the perfect all-year-round socks and their temperature-regulating properties are fantastic.
Feetures Merino 10 Cushion No-Shows are crafted from super-fine Merino wool on a high-density knit pattern, making them lightweight and both cooling or warming when you need them to be.
Feetures also states that their Merino+ fibers are enhanced with anti-odor technology, so you’ll get a cool/warm, dry, and odor-free run.
They stand behind the quality of their product, offering a Lifetime Guarantee.
- Super-fine Merino wool
- High-density knitting
- Arch compression
- Washing in warm water may cause them to lose their shape
10. Drymax R-Gear No Show Tab
Even socks can get pricey when you start working out your running gear budget. Most of them are only sold in a single pair! These ones, though, come in a handy 3-pack so you get more bang for your buck.
MicroZap Antimicrobial technology fights odor-causing bacteria for a fresher-for-longer feel and smell. Their Drymax technology is a double-layered moisture-wicking fabric that helps move moisture from the inner layer to the outer layer quickly and efficiently, where it’s easily absorbed.
These socks come in 4 cushioning levels – thinnest, thin, thin cushion, and medium. Choose carefully when buying online – it can be easy to select the wrong one! A slight downside is that, at the time of writing, no thick socks are available – only thin and medium.
When you buy these socks, they come with a “1000-mile blister-free promise.” If your experience doesn’t support that, simply contact the company and explain your predicament. Their customer support is great.
- Drymax tech for moisture-wicking
- Flat seams for less chafing
- Double cushioning in forefoot and toes
- 1000-mile blister-free promise
- No thick cushion socks available (only thin/thinnest/medium)
Unsure if no-show running socks are the best socks for you? Here are some common questions to help you decide.
What Features Should Great Running Socks Have?
Technically, a sock is a sock. But not all socks are great for running. High-quality running socks should:
- Fit snugly on the foot and not move while you run.
- Come in different sizes – one-size-fits-all is not always best!
- Be moisture-wicking and quick-drying.
- Have hand-linked seams for extra comfort.
- Have extra heel support, and possibly arch support.
It may sound petty, but the quality of your socks can make a bigger difference to your running than you may realize. Find a pair that ticks all these boxes, and you’ll feel the difference on your feet.
What About Cushioning And Arch Support?
Socks can have cushioning and support just like shoes. Choosing a sock with added support and padding gives you just an extra layer of softness and makes your run easier on your feet.
Many well-made running socks include:
- Cushioning across the top of the foot, to reduce the pressure of the laces on your feet.
- Compression support on the arches.
- A reinforced heel and toe for extra durability.
- Strategically-placed ventilation sections to keep your feet breezy.
- A flat-knit design to make sure the sock doesn’t move on your foot.
If you’re running in any old socks right now, you won’t even know that you’re missing all of this!
But these seemingly little things can really make a difference to the comfort of your feet and the durability of your socks.
What Else Should You Consider When Buying Socks?
While comfort and support are important in the best running socks, there are other things to consider when shopping for the socks that are right for you.
- Color range.
- Type of material (quality and feel).
- Where they are made.
- Customer reviews.
- Customer service in case of problems.