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Best Trail Running Socks in 2020

 

When it comes to running, we obsess over getting exactly the right pair of running shoes. But we might not consider what kind of socks we are wearing inside our fancy shoes. The truth is that wearing the right kind of sock can make a big difference when it comes to achieving optimal comfort and performance during your run.

To make life easier for you in this department, our editors have put together a list of our most highly recommended socks for trail running along with reviews and pros and cons for each, so you can decide which one will best suit your needs and preferences.

Top 4 Best and Favorites

Smartwool PhD Pro Endurance Print Crew Socks

 

  • Shred Shield reduces the wear on toes
  • Great cushioning on sole
  • Seamless stitching for extreme comfort
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Darn Tough Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion

 

  • Helps prevent blisters, bunching, and slipping
  • Merino wool regulates temperature naturally
  • Great overall fit and feel
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Feetures Elite Light Cushion Quarter

 

  • Wick moisture to keep feet cool and dry
  • Right-left foot design for awesome fit
  • Seamless toe removes annoying toe seam
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Drymax Lite Trail Running 1/4 Crew Turndown

 

  • Grip around ankles keeps debris from entering socks
  • Turn Down feature for adjusting height
  • Plush design
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Best Overall

1. Smartwool PhD Pro Endurance Print Crew Socks

These PhD Pro Endurance Print Crew Socks from Smartwool were developed in conjunction with athlete Rob Krar in order to design the “ultimate ultra-run sock.” The features, design, comfort, and trail running suitability of this sock combine to make it an easy pick for Best Overall trail running sock.

This sock, which is purpose built for running, contains Shred Shield technology in order to reduce the wear on your toes as well as targeted and minimal sole cushioning and Achilles heel cushioning which is specific to the activity of running, especially when wearing shoes that are close fitting. They also feature malleolus ankle cushioning intended to protect you even on the most rugged of trails. The sock’s Virtually Seamless toe technology enhances the comfort of the sock.

The mesh venting system includes ventilation zones which offer maximum breathability as well as optimal moisture management. The sock is built with Indestructawool technology and a construction method that is patent pending to provide the utmost comfort and durability. The sock also features a 4 Degree Elite fit system which offers a performance oriented, dialed fit with a flex zone at the ankle joint.

This Smartwool PhD sock, which is made from 57% merino wool, 38% nylon, 4% elastane, and 1% polyester, is truly built for “Performance in the Highest Degree.” As such, it earns our pick for Best Overall trail running sock with ease.


PROS:

  • Shred Shield technology reduces wear on your toes
  • Targeted and minimal sole cushioning and Achilles heel cushioning suits running shoes that are close fitting
  • Virtually Seamless toe technology enhances the comfort of the sock
  • Mesh ventilation zones offer maximum breathability
  • Indestructawool technology enhances durability

CONS:

  • Somewhat pricey

Check Price on Amazon

Top Mid Crew

2. Darn Tough Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion

The Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion sock from Darn Tough, a Vermont company, gets the nod for top mid crew trail running sock. It is one of the lightest crew socks in existence but still offers you the perfect level of cushioning, so you can go as lightweight as possible without having to sacrifice on comfort.

This sock offers a performance fit that eliminates the problems of bunching, slipping, and blisters, and its Fast Action Wicking makes the sock fast-drying and wicks moisture away from your skin, further reducing the possibility of blisters. The 51% merino wool construction makes this sock comfortable, temperature regulated (warm in winter and cool in summer), breathable, and naturally antimicrobial, repelling odors and bacteria. The sock features True Seamless technology, undetectable seam fusion which offers an invisible, ultra-smooth feel.

The fine gauge knitting which provides unprecedented durability as well as a unique “put it on, forget it’s on” feel, while the ultra-light cushion offers a light cushion layer alongside the bottom of your foot to make it ultra-comfortable while keeping it ultra-light. The sock is made with 51% merino wool, 43% nylon, and 6% Lycra Spandex, and its micro crew height, a bit shorter than that of a traditional crew, will definitely keep any dirt and debris out of your sock when running. The lifetime guarantee offers you peace of mind.


PROS:

  • Performance fit gets rid of blisters, bunching, and slipping
  • Fine gauge merino wool regulates temperature naturally, wicks away moisture, and is naturally antimicrobial to repel odors and bacteria
  • “Put them on—forget they’re on” feel
  • Guaranteed for life

CONS:

  • A tad pricey

Best Quarter Length

3. Feetures Elite Light Cushion Quarter

The Feetures Elite Light Cushion Quarter sock is our choice for best quarter length trail running sock.

The Feetures Elite Light Cushion Quarter offers targeted compression for superior support for your foot and is designed anatomically, with the sock specific to your left or right foot, in order to provide maximum comfort and an enhanced fit to eliminate the risk of blisters. (Each sock is marked clearly with an “L” or an “R” so you know which one is which.) The high density light cushioning offers comfort and added impact protection while getting rid of the bulk.

The perfect seamless toe design gets rid of that annoying toe seam, and the 3 inch quarter length provides you with the optimal level of ankle protection for dirt, rocks, and mud. The iWICK fibers wick moisture in order to keep you cool and dry.


PROS:

  • High density light cushioning offers cushioned comfort while reducing bulk
  • iWICK fibers wick moisture in order to keep you cool and dry
  • Anatomical right left specific design optimizes fit, maximizing protection and comfort by getting rid of blisters
  • Perfect seamless toe design gets rid of annoying toe seam

CONS:

  • If you buy several pairs, you have to worry about matching them because of left right specificity

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Best Adjustable Height Trail Sock

4. Drymax Lite Trail Running 1/4 Crew Turndown

We have found the Lite Trail Running 1/4 Crew Turndown sock from Drymax to be the best adjustable height trail sock. This sock, which was updated from its 2018 model to be smoother, more robust, and lighter, is the #1 selling trail sock from Drymax, and it is worth every penny.

This sock features enhanced padding around the ankles to keep debris from getting inside your shoe, and the Turn Down leg feature allows you to keep cooler when running on hotter days. Don’t be fooled by the “Lite” designation, as this sock is well prepared for even the most epic and challenging of trails.

These medium thickness socks, which have been streamlined through advanced knitting techniques, feel plush and comfortable and have gotten rid of that annoying toe seam as well as yarn ends next to your foot which could cause blisters or irritation. In order to eliminate the probability of dirt entering the socks, they are made without vents.


PROS:

  • Enhanced padding around the ankles keeps debris from entering shoes
  • Turn Down leg feature allows you to keep cooler when running on hotter days
  • Advanced knitting techniques make sock feel plush and eliminate toe seam and yarn ends next to your foot
  • Able to handle challenging trails

CONS:

  • May slide slightly into shoe for some wearers

Check Price on Amazon

Top Merino Wool Trail Sock

5. Farm To Feet Greensboro 1/4 Crew Light Cushion

The fact that 100% of the merino wool used in this Farm To Feet Greensboro 1/4 Crew Light Cushion sock is sourced exclusively from “sheep raised by American farmers on American farms” is just one of the reasons why it is our choice for top merino wool trail sock.

The Greensboro 1/4 Crew is obviously antimicrobial, odor resisting, breathable, and moisture wicking thanks to the responsibly sourced American merino wool with which it is constructed. But it also features a reinforced construction as well as a low-stress placement of seams in order to assure durability, reduce wear and tear, and increase the lifespan of the sock. The sock’s advanced knitting techniques generate a completely flat connection within the toe box, which reduces bulk and eliminates friction that can result in blisters.

The lightweight full density cushioning that runs along the base of the foot provides plush comfort while eliminating bulk and makes the sock suitable for all-season wear, and the 1/4 crew height which ends right about your ankle reduces weight and limits friction at your Achilles tendon while still being tall enough to keep dirt and debris out of your sock (and not sliding into your shoe). The sock is made in the US from 51% U.S. Merino Wool, 45% U.S. Nylon, and 4% U.S. LYCRA® Spandex but still maintains a decently affordable price.


PROS:

  • Lightweight full density cushioning along base of foot provides comfort while eliminating bulk and makes sock suitable for all-season wear
  • 1/4 crew height reduces weight and limits friction at Achilles tendon while still being tall enough to keep dirt and debris out of your sock and keep sock from slipping into shoe
  • Advanced knitting techniques make a completely flat connection within the toe box (seamless toe closure), which eliminates blister-causing friction
  • Made in the US from 51% U.S. Merino Wool, 45% U.S. Nylon, and 4% U.S. LYCRA® Spandex
  • Guaranteed for life

CONS:

  • None

Check Price on Amazon

Best Toe Sock for Trail Running

6. Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew

These Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew socks are the perfect toe socks for trail running. They are specifically cushioned and engineered for traversing quickly across uneven, shifting terrain and combine protection and comfort with support and agility.

This sock features COOLMAX fibers which wick away moisture from each toe so that your foot stays drier and thus more comfortable than in conventional socks, Lycra which maintains fit, and nylon which offers durability. Each sock is left right specific and enables built in arch support and the full utilization of your foot in athletic activity as well as complete blister prevention and friction elimination through the individual protection, separation, and proper alignment of the toes.

The sock’s footbed contains extra protective cushioning to enhance comfort, the mesh top offers maximum ventilation and breathability, and the thicker double cuff, which is snug but not restrictive, holds the sock in place comfortably and reduces chafing. The mini-crew height prevents grit, dirt, and debris from entering, and the unique toe design of the sock allows you to use your entire foot on the gnarliest of trails. The sock is made of 39% COOLMAX, 58% Nylon, and 3% Lycra fibers.


PROS:

  • Specifically cushioned and engineered for moving quickly across uneven, shifting terrain
  • COOLMAX fibers wick away moisture from each toe to keep feet drier and more comfortable
  • Arch support, full utilization of foot enabled
  • Prevents blisters with individual protection for each toe
  • Double cuffed mini crew height holds sock in place and keeps out dirt and debris

CONS:

  • May draw some funny looks due to the unique toe design (but who cares? Unless you do)

Top Blister-Preventing Trail Running Sock

7. Balega Blister Resist Quarter

These Blister Resist Quarter Running Socks from Balega are the top trail running socks we have found when it comes to preventing blisters. They blend technology and nature perfectly to generate the top blister-preventing quarter running socks.

The enhanced elastic grip construction in the rib top of this sock offers added comfort and no-slip security while keeping out grime, grit, and debris. The socks eliminate the risk of blisters from sheer friction and keep your feet cool and dry through the optimal combination of Balega’s signature Drynamix fiber moisture wicking technology and mohair. The reinforced panels of microfiber mesh vents also enhance breathability and moisture management.

The seamless toe is hand-linked to maximize comfort, the arch support band has been enhanced and widened to offer maximum support and comfort, and the extra-deep heel pocket provides a perfect fit. Mohair, with which this sock is woven, boasts a flat scale structure which is unique and famous for its elimination of sheer friction blisters even when dealing with sensitive skin, is a natural durable performance fiber, is antimicrobial, and offers comfort and strength as well as resistance to shrinking. The mohair in this sock as well as its other features make it the top sock for preventing blisters while trail running.


PROS:

  • Made of sheer friction blister-preventing mohair and Drynamix fibers
  • Enhanced elastic grip construction in rib top offers added comfort and no-slip security and keeps out grime, grit, and debris
  • Enhanced and widened arch support band offer maximum support and comfort
  • Seamless hand-linked toe

CONS:

  • Some users have raised durability concerns

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Best Trail Running Sock for Ultras

8. Feetures Merino 10 Ultra Light Quarter

The amazing lightness of the Feetures Merino 10 Ultra Light Quarter sock makes it our choice for the best trail running sock for ultra distances.

The sock provides insulation to your feet even when they are wet, keeping them warm in cool, wet weather, and the targeted compression of the sock as well as its anatomical left-right specific design offer a fit that is as if they were custom made for each foot and deliver the maximum level of protection and comfort through the elimination of blisters. This is the thinnest cushion option available from Feetures, and it offers a cooler, lighter feel.

The Perfect Toe technology gets rid of the toe seam, and the 3 inch quarter length provides you with the perfect degree of ankle protection from dirt, rocks, and mud. The sock is made from 36% nylon, 31% rayon, 30% wool, and 3% Spandex to offer durability, breathability, maximum lightness, and comfort for your ultras.


PROS:

  • Insulates feet when wet—keeps them warm in cool, wet conditions
  • Anatomical design and targeted compression offer perfect fit, providing maximum protection and comfort by getting rid of blisters
  • Thinnest cushion option with Perfect Toe
  • 3 inch quarter length provides protection from rocks, dirt and mud

CONS:

  • If you buy several pairs, you have to worry about matching them because of left right specificity

Check Price on Amazon

Top Sock for Hiking

9. Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Six

If you want to go out a slower pace, a hiking sock is ideal. We recommend the Pursuit Hike Six Merino Woolhiking socks, which are light and extremely comfortable.

They have a snug but flexible fit that is great for day hikes or short backpacking trips. The comfortable fit reduces any feel of rubbing on sides or back of the foot.

The best part of these socks is their ability to keep your feet dry. And for a light sock, it feels comfortable with enough cushion to support your feet.

There is minimal shrinking when washed. This is due to the merino wool, which doesn’t shrink as easy as typical wool does.

While the Pursuit Hike Six is a great sock, we found the crew portion to be little tight. Additionally, this sock is definitely more of a spring, summer, and fall sock. It cools your feet down quickly, but in colder weather it almost makes your feet cold.

In the summer, though, it is an excellent choice. Overall, it is an ideal sock for those days you spend exploring your local parks or on overnight backpacking trips.


PROS:

  • Comfortable fit that discourages rubbing and blisters
  • Good at keeping your feet dry
  • Great for spring, summer, and fall

CONS:

  • Not ideal for colder weather
  • Crew portion can be a little tight for some people

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Other Favorite Trail Running Socks

10. BalegaEnduro Quarter

The Enduro Quarter sock from Balega may not be the top in any category, but it is a fantastic sock regardless. These socks mold perfectly around your foot’s contours, lock in your midfoot and your heel, leave room for your toes to move, and prevent heel blisters.

The signature V-Tech Arch Support System offers a perfectly structured sock fit that matches the exact contours of the feet, generating perfect fit and comfort. The Drynamix moisture wicking fibers combined with reinforced panels of microfiber mesh vents enhance breathability and moisture management, keeping your feet cool and dry. The cushioned sock design provides impact resistance while maintaining a running sock construction of medium volume.

The sensitive rib top and seamless hand-linked toe maximize comfort, and the extra-deep heel pocket ensures a perfect fit. The quarter length of this sock keeps out dirt and debris while providing non-slip security with compression sock bands that don’t constrict circulation.


PROS:

  • Signature V-Tech Arch Support System enables a perfectly structured sock fit that matches the exact contours of the feet to generate perfect fit and comfort
  • Drynamix moisture wicking fibers and reinforced panels of microfiber mesh vents enhance breathability and moisture management
  • Extra-deep heel pocket ensures a perfect fit
  • Quarter length of this sock keeps out dirt and debris while providing non-slip security

CONS:

  • None

Check Price on Amazon

 

11. Injinji Trail Midweight Crew

These Injinji Trail MidweightMidweight Crew socks are excellent toe socks for trail running. They are specifically cushioned and engineered for traversing quickly across uneven, shifting terrain and combine protection and comfort with support and agility. They are exactly like the Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew socks (our pick for best toe trail running socks) other than their taller crew length height. So if you prefer taller crew length socks and you want toe socks, these are the ones for you.

This sock features COOLMAX fibers which wick away moisture from each toe so that your foot stays drier and thus more comfortable than in conventional socks, Lycra which maintains fit, and nylon which offers durability. Each sock is left right specific and enables built in arch support and the full utilization of your foot in athletic activity as well as complete blister prevention and friction elimination through the individual protection, separation, and proper alignment of the toes.

The full crew height prevents grit, dirt, and debris from entering, and the unique toe design of the sock allows you to use your entire foot on the gnarliest of trails. The sock is made of 39% COOLMAX, 58% Nylon, and 3% Lycra fibers.


PROS:

  • Specifically cushioned and engineered for moving quickly across uneven, shifting terrain
  • COOLMAX fibers wick away moisture from each toe to keep feet drier and more comfortable
  • Arch support, full utilization of foot enabled
  • Prevents blisters with individual protection for each toe
  • Full crew height holds sock in place and keeps out dirt and debris

CONS:

  • You may get some funny looks due to the unique toe design (but who cares?)

Check Price on Amazon

 

12. Swiftwick VIBE Zero

These VIBE Zero socks are designed for long trail runs. The design is sleek and is more rugged than other Swiftwick socks. The footbed has a high density of knitting to help adapt as you hit different surfaces. It also is designed to be blister-free with a seamless toe that helps to avoid rubbing on the inside of the sock.

You’ll love that it’s anti-wick so that no matter how hard or how long you’re running, your feet shouldn’t get super sweaty. It’s great to wear for long periods of time without any discomfort. You have a medium cushion so that you have a little bit of support without overdoing it. It also has a contoured compression fit, so it will hug your feet in a firm, but comfortable way.

The only downside we noted is that there aren’t many color options. If you’re someone who likes to wear crazy colored socks, this could be a bummer. It does, however, come in gray with several highlight colors, so it’s more variety than just white, black, or gray socks.


PROS:

  • Rugged design great for longer runs
  • Comfortable to wear for long periods of time
  • Anti-wick so your feet won’t get sweaty

CONS:

  • Could be more color choices

Check Price on Amazon

 

Buyer’s Guide

These are the features you should consider when purchasing trail running socks:

Fabric

The material from which the sock is made is essential for choosing the best trail running sock. What you want is a kind of fabric that wicks away sweat and moisture.

Merino wool is a fantastic choice for a running sock, as it wicks away moisture, regulates temperature, and also doesn’t retain odors. They can be pricey, however.

If you are limited in terms of your budget, synthetic fibers like polyester can also work well in the moisture wicking department and also prevent blisters, but they might wear out on you faster than wool socks and retain more odor.

Thickness

When it comes to running socks, you will find that socks with thin to medium thickness are the most popular, because they offer enough cushioning for your feet. Socks that are too thick will offer your feet plenty of cushioning, but they are not ideal for trail running, as they can get too sloppy and heavy when trail conditions are muddy and wet.

You can also look for a sock that is of thin or medium thickness overall but which has slightly more cushioning underfoot, which will allow for a plush, cushy experience without adding too much extra bulk, heft, or sloppiness.

Height

For trail running, crew length socks and above the ankle socks are the most popular, since the height of these socks will help prevent dirt and debris from getting inside your socks. No-show socks or ankle length socks are simply not that practical for trail running (no one likes getting dirt or those tiny little rocks in their socks.

Durability

When it comes to the durability of a sock, you should expect your sock to last as long as your shoes do (or longer).

Look for trail running sock brands which offer a lifetime warranty against premature wear. That way, if your socks wear out unexpectedly or unusually fast (faster than your shoes do, for example), you’re covered.

The Wired Runner