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Best Trail Running Socks in 2022

 

When it comes to running, we obsess over getting the right pair of running shoes. But we might need to consider what kind of socks we wear inside our shoes!

We’ve put together a list of our best trail running socks to make life easier for you in this department. We’ve included pros and cons for each, so you can decide which will best suit your needs.

We particularly like the Swiftwick Flite XT Trail Sock. They’re versatile, offer comfortable, medium cushioning, and use GripDry Nanofibers to stay in place as you run.

Besides these, we’ve found 11 more to choose from! Read on to see our top picks.

Top 4 Best and Favorites

Swiftwick FLITE XT TRAIL Socks

 

  • Light compression to keep the socks in place
  • Traction under sock to keep it in place
  • GripDry Nanofibers
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Darn Tough Stride Micro Crew Ultra-Lightweight

 

  • Low profile
  • Lightweight, breathable material
  • Seamless toe
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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. Swiftwick Flite XT Trail Socks

The Swiftwick Flite XT Trail Socks have everything you need to run safely on the trail. They also come in two different heights, so you can choose whichever suits your trail running needs.

What We Like

A lot of technology has gone into developing the Flite XT Trail socks, making them performance-oriented and excellent for various situations. They’re unusually supportive for socks, featuring AnkleLock technology to support the ankle better while running, which is especially handy on uneven ground-like trails.

As well as locking your ankle securely, the socks offer excellent arch support and a comfortable deep-heel cup that cradles your foot as you wear it. Everything remains in place but isn’t restricted, keeping your range of motion natural.

The sock’s footbed is made from a blend of moisture-wicking Olefin fiber and the brand’s GripDry fiber in the heel and toe, which keeps your sock from slipping inside your shoe. The medium cushion adds more shock absorption to your steps, and the arch support adds light compression for comfort and increased circulation.

The rest of the sock is made of Merino wool, which allows you to run in these socks year-round as they regulate the temperature of your feet. They also have mesh panels across the foot for enhanced ventilation, which moves moisture away from your feet for evaporation.

Comfort is increased by the seamless toe, which does have a join, but it’s flat and has virtually no chance of chafing. You can choose between 5-inch or 2-inch non-slip cuffs depending on which feels better.

Why We Like It

These socks give you everything you need to hit the trails, including unparalleled support, high durability, and built-in tech. They’re versatile and comfortable, and you can choose between two heights.

What to Consider

The GripDry Nanofibers in the sock may stick to your feet when you pull the socks on. However, this is more of an annoyance than a problem with the socks.

PROS:

  • Versatile socks that can be used for several activities
  • Medium cushioning provides padding exactly where you need it
  • Mesh panels encourage ventilation that quickly moves moisture away from your skin
  • GripDry Nanofibers are grippy and prevent interior slipping in your shoe

CONS:

  • The GripDry material in the heel and forefoot may stick to your feet when pulling the socks on
 

Top Mid-Crew

2. Darn Tough Stride Micro Crew Ultra-Lightweight

If mid-crew is your desired sock length, we recommend the Darn Tough Stride Micro Crew ultra-Lightweight socks. As their name suggests, they’re highly durable and made to help you run on tough trails easily and with more protection.

What We Like

This sock is named the “Micro Crew”, but it’s mid-crew length, providing extra protection for your calves and shins on the trail. They maintain a low profile, featuring a performance-oriented fit with secure ankle cuffs—no slipping down as you run.

The socks are ultra-light and breathable and made of Merino wool with a fine-gauge knit. You can easily wear them in warm weather and still get plenty of airflow, or in the cooler months without your feet getting cold.

The blended material wicks moisture, dries fast, and has odor-resistant properties, keeping your feet comfortable, dry, and smelling fresh even after hours in your shoes.

For extra comfort, a seamless toe and extra thick sections in high-wear areas make them cushy as well as increase their lifespan. Not that you need extra years on these socks—they’re guaranteed for life by the company, if you buy them through an authorized seller.

Why We Like It

These socks are the perfect length for protection on the trail, and their Merino wool construction makes them ideal for year-round wear. We love the lifetime guarantee—it’s worth spending a bit extra just for this!

What to Consider

Those with large calf muscles might find that these feel a little tight around the cuff. Unfortunately, there’s no way to stretch out the cuff without damaging the sock.

PROS:

  • Low profile with a comfortable performance-oriented fit and secure cuffs that keep your socks in place
  • Lightweight, breathable material is designed for all-weather conditions, making it a great option for long thru-hikes in hot or cold weather
  • The blended material is odor-resistant to keep your socks smelling fresh
  • Seamless toe prevents uncomfortable hotspots and irritation

CONS:

  • It may feel too tight on those with muscular calves
 

Best Quarter-Length

3. Feetures Elite Light Cushion Quarter

As quarter-length socks go, we particularly like the Feetures Elite Light Cushion Quarter. They’re high-quality and comfortable.

What We Like

There’s some handy technology in these socks, which makes them an excellent choice for those who like quarter-length socks. They have an anatomical, seamless design; both aimed to increase the comfort you feel when wearing them.

Thanks to the light, targeted compression built into these socks, you’ll get some arch support. There’s also light, but high-density cushioning that offers protection and comfort without the bulkiness.

iWick fibers in the fabric of the sock flick away moisture so your feet don’t get bogged down with sweat. They’re also fairly breathable, helping dry quickly and keep your feet cool.

Why We Like It

These quarter-length socks are ideal for navigating the trail without chafing, slipping, or discomfort on your own feet.

What to Consider

These socks are thin and may feel too light for some. They are “ultralight” in their design, but the thinness may be more than expected.

PROS:

  • Seamless design enhances comfort, as there’s no irritation
  • Targeted compression hugs and supports the foot in all the right places
  • Light cushioning provides underfoot protection and comfort without the bulk
  • Breathability in all the right places keeps your feet dry and prevents blisters

CONS:

  • Some may feel that these socks are too thin for comfort
 

Best Adjustable Height Trail Sock

4. Drymax Lite Trail Running 1/4 Crew Turndown

The Drymax Lite Trail Running ¼ Crew Turndown sock is the brand’s best-selling product, so you know they’re effective! We highly recommend them if you want a sock that can adjust to different heights.

What We Like

This sock is manufactured to be crew-length, but you can easily turn it down to expose more of your lower leg if you want to feel cooler. This handy feature keeps you warm in the winter and provides extra airflow in summer.

Aside from the turndown feature, these socks have other features that are handy on a trail running sock. The Drymax Dual Layer Sweat Removal System easily removes moisture, and MicroZap antimicrobial tech prevents odor-causing bacteria from growing at any time.

This also goes a long way to preventing blisters, working with the 3D Fit and seamless design to reduce your chances of chafing or rubbing on the toes or heel. You’ll also be pleased to know that there’s an arch-hugging support band in the sock for extra support and compression.

To extend the life of the socks and add extra cushion, high-abrasion nylon reinforcements are built into the parts of the sock that are most prone to wear. There’s also extra padding in the ankle shaft, plus double welts to prevent water and dirt from getting in.

The company also has a true-to-size fit thanks to their 3D foot models, upon which the fit was designed. You’ll find these socks in five sizes—small, medium, large, extra large, and extra extra large.

Why We Like It

We really like the ability to change the height of this sock based on how you feel on the day or the conditions of the trail or weather. The 5 different sizes also means there’s a sock for everyone.

What to Consider

There’s no grip assistance on the bottom of this sock, so there’s a chance that it could slide down into your shoe as you run.

PROS:

  • Turndown design lets you shorten the height of the ankle collar
  • Dual-layer sweat removal tech draws moisture away from your skin to keep your feet dry and free from friction
  • Enhanced durability as high-wear areas are reinforced with denser fibers
  • The soft fabric feels great against the skin but won’t shrink or lose shape over time

CONS:

  • No grip assistance, so the sock may slide as you run
 

Top Merino Wool Trail Sock

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

Many socks are switching to Merino wool for its myriad of excellent properties. If the miracle fabric is what you’re after in a sock, we recommend the Farm to Feet Greensboro ¼ Crew Light Cushion socks.

What We Like

One of the things we like about these socks is their commitment to using 100 percent American-sourced Merino wool. You can support local sheep farmers and keep your feet comfortable simultaneously!

The material is soft against your skin, and some say it’s the most comfortable they’ve ever worn. Merino wool is also naturally antimicrobial, odor-resistant, and temperature-regulating, making this the perfect sock for year-round trail wear.

For increased circulation, comfort, and better performance, light gradient-stitched compression is built into the sock. Underfoot, there’s full-length cushioning to absorb shock and add soft comfort.

A seamless toe adds to the comfort, lowering your chance of developing blisters. There are also light reinforcements in high-abrasion areas, so the socks should last longer than you expect.

Why We Like It

The American-made Merino wool socks are perfect for wearing all year round. You’ll be protected from cold, heat, sweat, odor, bacteria, and scratchiness!

What to Consider

The manufacturer states that these socks should be dried flat to maintain their shape, not hanging over a chair or clothesline. This isn’t a huge problem, but it may be difficult to remember this when you’re hanging up all your other socks!

PROS:

  • Made from 100 percent American-sourced Merino wool
  • Gradient stitching offers gentle compression from your Achilles to your underfoot
  • Full-length underfoot cushioning helps absorb impact and protect your feet
  • Seamless toe construction removes blister-generating friction

CONS:

  • It may be hard to remember that these socks need to be dried lying flat
 

Best Toe Sock for Trail Running

6. Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew

Toe sock fans, the Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew sock is recommended for running trails. They’re extremely comfortable and come in a variety of colors to suit your style and mood!

What We Like

One of the best things about toe socks is that they naturally prevent friction between your toes, decreasing the chances of developing blisters on your run.

Another advantage of choosing toe socks over regular socks is that they allow your toes to spread more naturally, potentially enhancing your balance on uneven ground.

Made of synthetic materials, it’s got built-in Coolmax technology to keep the socks breathable and comfortable. The cushioning is bolstered around the ankles, the heels, and the ball of the foot, for increased comfort and shock absorption.

There’s no bunching up or slipping, partly due to the toe-sock fit and partly the high quality of these socks. We also appreciate the quarter-length design, which does a good job of keeping dirt and debris out of the sock.

Why We Like It

Fans of toe socks will love this one for its snug fit, reduced blister risk, and help with your balance. They come in many different colors, which we also like.

What to Consider

These socks may hold onto moisture in cooler weather. Keep this in mind if you run in a cooler environment!

PROS:

  • Toe-sock design prevents skin-on-skin friction, which prevents blisters between your toes
  • Quarter-length height with a double elastic cuff keeps trail dirt and debris out
  • You’re able to spread your toes while you run, which increases your balance
  • Dense cushioning in high-impact zones like your heel and ball of the foot

CONS:

  • May hold onto moisture in cooler weather
 

Top Blister-Preventing Trail Running Sock

7. Balega Blister Resist Quarter

The Balega Blister Resist Quarter sock is our top choice if you need extra help preventing blisters while you run.

What We Like

These socks’ names tell you what you need to know about them. They’re built for comfort and performance, but they focus on preventing blisters as you run, which is a huge bonus for those prone to blisters.

Multiple features contribute to the “blister-resistance” title. A seamless construction removes any extra material that could rub or chafe. There’s also a good bit of breathability in the sock, and it wicks away moisture in hot weather fairly effectively.

Plush cushioning is built into the forefoot and the heel, protecting you from shock and adding more comfort. It keeps its shape without flattening, extending the lifespan of this sock too.

Under the arch, it thins out a little for breathability. The material is also slightly stretchy, so it can accommodate feet that are narrow or wide.

Why We Like It

Who doesn’t want better blister prevention on the trail? These socks offer the best moisture management, plush comfort, and a long lifespan.

What to Consider

This sock is quite thick underneath because of the thick cushioning. So it may not be the best choice for hot summer months. If your feet are prone to overheating, these might not be for you.

PROS:

  • Plush, protective cushioning in the forefoot and heel helps absorb shock on harsh terrain
  • Moisture-wicking material keeps your feet comfortable on short or long runs
  • The soft, stretchy material can accommodate wide and narrow feet
  • It keeps your feet cool on hot days and warm on cold days

CONS:

  • These socks run a little warm in summer
 

Best Trail Running Sock for Ultras

8. Feetures Merino 10 Ultra Light Quarter

Planning on running ultras? The Feetures Merino 10 Ultra Light Quarter isn’t just ultra-light, but it’s packed with excellent features to keep your feet fresh, safe, and comfortable for many miles.

What We Like

These socks are one of the lightest you’ll find, meaning there’s a decreased chance of chafing while you’re moving. Various factors in the socks contribute to your foot health over many miles.

An anatomical fit—separate left and right socks—create a better, more snug fit on your feet. As they’re made of Merino wool, your feet will benefit from consistent temperature regulation over the miles. Your feet should stay neutral and comfortable no matter the conditions during your run.

They’re also extremely soft, although they have the thinnest cushioning to remain lightweight. While there’s less cushioning—your shoes should take care of the cushion—there is targeted compression.

This increases blood flow to the feet, which means your foot muscles are receiving a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients. It can help to keep the muscles strong and full of stamina, keeping you going for longer without fatiguing.

Use them with a pair of lightweight trail running shoes if you want to stay as light on your feet as possible!

Why We Like It

The combination of ultra-lightweight construction, multiple properties of Merino wool, and light compression in these socks help them to improve your performance during long-distance running.

What to Consider

These socks are made to be thin. There’s not much cushioning in them, so if you’re looking for a bit more comfort underfoot, these may not be for you.

PROS:

  • Merino wool construction makes them excellent for all-weather wearing
  • Anatomical design provides a better fit that has less chance of chafing
  • Targeted compression increases blood flow, improving muscle performance
  • The thin cushion makes the sock exceptionally lightweight

CONS:

  • Some may feel that there’s not enough cushioning in these socks for them to feel comfortable on the trail
 

Top Sock for Hiking

9. Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Six

Prefer a good hike to a trail run? They’re similar enough that you can use trail running socks for hiking and vice versa. These are the ones we particularly like for hikes.

What We Like

The Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Six is a great choice of sock for protecting your feet while in hiking boots. A 6-inch height means there’s a layer of cushioning between your ankle and the boot, no matter how high your hiking boot cuff is.

It’s lightweight enough to fit easily into a hiking boot, which should naturally have a snug fit. There’s no need to worry about the thickness of the sock compromising your fit or causing chafing.

Made from a blend of Merino wool and Olefin, the sock has many amazing properties. Aside from being incredibly soft, the fabric provides a natural regulation of temperature inside your shoe, as well as odor-resistance and natural antimicrobial properties to prevent an odor from developing after many hours of hard hiking.

Olefin is moisture-wicking, and the sock mesh underside helps let air circulate effectively. This combination keeps your feet cool and dry no matter how many miles you hike.

There’s an arch band built into the sock. This not only adds light support and a touch of compression, but it also helps the sock to maintain its shape over time.

Why We Like It

The Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Six is the perfect height and thickness to work with a hiking boot. Merino wool and moisture-wicking Olefin make the ideal match to provide all the properties you need to stay cool and comfortable during your hike.

What to Consider

These socks are somewhat expensive compared to similar socks. If budget is a consideration, you may want to choose a different sock.

PROS:

  • Merino wool and Olefin blend keeps your feet comfortable and chafe-free in all weather
  • Lightweight cushioning doesn’t take up space inside tight-fitting hiking boots
  • The arch band helps the sock to maintain its shape while providing light support
  • Mesh footbed increases the breathability of these socks

CONS:

  • More expensive than most socks
 

Other Favorite Trail Running Socks

10. Balega Enduro Quarter

The Balega Enduro Quarter is an unassuming sock but ideal for the runner who wants a medium-cushioned, medium-height, comfortable sock for training or racing purposes.

What We Like

There’s a lot to love about these socks. Drynamix moisture management yarn, helps to keep your feet dry no matter how much you sweat and prevents your feet getting cold.

Medium-density cushioning offers light comfort but doesn’t feel chunky. At the same time, you can feel some padding underfoot, so the sock doesn’t feel too thin.

Compression bands in the arch, complete with the brand’s VTech Arch Support System, deliver some support to the foot and subtle compression, reducing foot fatigue.

To prevent your sock from slipping down while you run, there’s a ribbed top that’s designed to hold the sock up without being constricting or painful.

Why We Like It

These socks offer everything the average trail runner needs to stay comfortable on the trail and prevent debris from landing in your socks.

What to Consider

Users have reported that these socks tend to pill a lot. You may need to keep a close eye on them to ensure that they don’t get damaged.

PROS:

  • Drynamix moisture management yarn keeps you comfortable in all conditions
  • Compression bands provide a stimulating feeling without being restrictive
  • Sensitive rib top is designed to keep your sock up without being constricting
  • Medium cushioning adds both comfort and durability to these socks

CONS:

  • These socks tend to pill
 

11. Injinji Trail Midweight Crew

We spoke about the Mini-Crew socks above, which share the same properties, with a comfortable crew length. These are a great option if you need extra height on your socks to protect your legs from being scratched or to keep debris out.

What We Like

The separate protection of each toe serves a few purposes. One, it significantly reduces friction between each toe, so your chance of developing blisters is diminished.

Two, it allows each toe to move independently of the others, so they can splay comfortably, which helps you to maintain better balance on tricky terrain.

You’ll also find built-in arch support, which isn’t restricting but helps to reduce muscle fatigue and provides a snug, comfortable fit.

Coolmax technology in the material wicks sweat away from your skin, so you should stay cool even if it’s a warm summer’s day. The crew-length design ensures that your lower legs stay protected from debris and scratches.

Why We Like It

Toe socks are an excellent choice if you can handle the feeling of material between your toes! Each toe is protected from friction and can splay more naturally, enhancing your balance on rough ground.

The crew-length design keeps debris from ending up inside your sock.

What to Consider

Some users have mentioned that the socks hold onto odor. If you’re wearing them for extended periods, be aware of this and take steps to reduce odor.

PROS:

  • Toe-sock design significantly reduces the chances of developing blisters
  • Effective arch support provides both a snug fit and improved blood flow
  • Coolmax fabric helps your feet to stay comfortable in heat
  • Crew length protects the lower legs from scratches and debris

CONS:

  • These socks may hold onto odor
 

12. Swiftwick Vibe Zero

The Swiftwick Vibe Zero is perfect for long, warm trail runs. It has a low-profile design that exposes most of your lower leg, so we recommend it for summer runs.

What We Like

This sock is sleek and has a low-cut ankle collar. Its length is perfect for wearing in hot weather, so your ankles aren’t covered or restricted. The thin upper also makes the sock cooler.

Lining the foot is Olefin fiber, which provides light cushioning and moisture-wicking properties. The cushioning is moderate, so you can wear them in any kind of shoes without them feeling bulky.

There’s also a handy “flex zone” on the top of the foot, which allows your foot to flex naturally without bunching, chafing, or wearing away the sock at that flex point.

However, if you need extra protection, you may consider using a pair of trail running gaiters for full coverage.

Why We Like It

These socks are minimalistic but provide all you need to run comfortably for long distances. We like the low-profile design, which is ideal for warm-weather running.

What to Consider

The manufacturer recommends hand-washing these socks, which means if you want them to last, you may need to wash them separately from all your other running gear and socks.

This is slightly annoying, but they may only last for a short time if you throw them in the washing machine.

PROS:

  • Olefin fiber lining the footbed ensures that you stay dry throughout your run
  • Mid-level cushioning makes these suitable for even minimalist shoes
  • Moderately compressive in the arch for support and keeping the socks in place
  • Low-profile design and thin upper provides maximum breathability

CONS:

  • These socks should be hand-washed only
 

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. These socks 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 blister prevention), 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 that 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.

FAQs

What Are Trail Running Socks?

Trail running socks might look like regular running socks, but they usually have better cushioning and are more durable. You can get them in a number of heights, but choosing long socks will help to protect your lower legs a little against nature.

Why Do Trail Runners Wear Long Socks?

Wearing long socks on the trail can help to protect your shins and calves from getting scratched by foliage or covered in mud. If you choose compression socks, they also provide light support and better circulation.

Do You Wear Hiking Socks With Trail Running Shoes?

You don’t have to wear hiking socks with trail running shoes, but you can if you want to. Make sure they’re not too thick; otherwise they’ll cause your feet to overheat and may contribute to blisters.

Why Do Trail Runners Wear Compression Socks?

Compression socks are comfortable and provide light support to the calf muscles. This helps to protect them from the vibrations of each step. Compression socks also increase blood flow, which improves the muscles’ performance and also keeps your legs a little warmer.

Ben Drew

Ben Drew

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.

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