Running in winter can be challenging. But it can also be a wonderful way of keeping yourself fit, assuming you can stay warm in cold weather.
It is essential, therefore, to gear yourself up properly in order to run safely and comfortably when the mercury drops.
Of all the clothing you’ll be layering up with in winter, perhaps one of the most important is also one of the smallest – your socks! The best winter running socks are quite different from socks you’d wear in the summer. They are also no less important.
For one, you’ll want something that goes above your ankles to cover that gap between your shoes and pants. Second, a slightly thicker sock usually works best, for some added warmth.
The number one pair of socks we’ve chosen is the Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew Socks. They’re made from cozy wool with Indestructawool technology, 4 Degree Elite Fit System and Smartwool’s Virtually Seamless toe for extra comfort.
But we’ve got some other nice options to fit your budget and style. Read on to see our favorites…
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew Socks
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Danish Endurance Merino Wool Booster Running Socks
Feetures Merino 10 Light Cushion Crew
1. Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew Socks
These woolen socks may be your new best friend on winter morning runs. They’re made from a combination of nylon and wool, so they’re soft and stretchy and hug your foot comfortably with a run-specific fit.
The length of these socks is mid-crew, which sits just below the calf, so it’s more than enough to prevent a gap between shoes and pants. They are also very lightweight, but with a 200 thread needle construction.
There’s plenty of technology in these socks. Smartwool’s PhD technology ensures that they are built for performance. Their 4 Degree Elite Fit System creates a perfect stretch and a good recovery with dual elastics.
Even though they are minimally cushioned, their Indestructawool technology makes this pair of socks more durable than many others, so they should last you longer than usual. A Virtually Seamless toe means there’s no chafing – less chance of getting blisters.
The downside: some people might find these socks to be expensive for just one pair.
- 4 Degree Elite Fit System
- Virtually Seamless toe
- Indestructawool technology
- Run-specific fit
- These socks are slightly expensive for just one pair
2. Danish Endurance Merino Wool Booster Running Socks
Socks might be just a small piece of clothing, but they can get pricey. Merino wool socks especially often break into the price range many would call “an investment.” Thankfully, there are budget options.
The Danish Endurance Merino Wool Booster Running Socks are our top choice for best value socks. When you buy these, you’ll get a 2-pack of high-quality socks that should last you many runs.
They’re not called Booster Running Socks for nothing. Everything about them is designed to improve your running performance.
For winter running, their thermo-regulating properties will keep your feet toasty in all conditions. The Merino wool gives them an extra layer of warmth, and it’s sourced in an animal-friendly manner.
They feature ventilation grooves for the best airflow possible and specialized anti-blister cushioning so your feet stay comfortable no matter how much work they do.
If you still aren’t convinced, these socks are tested by Danish Olympic athlete Stina Troest. Considering the price of these socks and the fact that they’re developed in conjunction with a high-profile runner, they were an easy choice for our top value socks.
They may run slightly small, so you might need to order a size up.
- Thermoregulating properties
- Breathing panels
- Anti-blistering cushioning
- The sock size can run small and you may need to order a size bigger
Best Formfitting Winter Socks
3. Feetures Merino 10 Light Cushion Crew
These socks fit your feet like a glove. They feature targeted compression for a tight, custom-like fit, which stops them from falling down when you’re running.
Length-wise, they come up to mid-calf, which offers plenty of coverage to prevent your ankles from being exposed to the cold.
They are created from a mix of Merino wool and Tencel fibers, which are known for their soft comfort and are also environmentally-friendly and sourced responsibly. Both the Merino and the Tencel also contribute to moisture-wicking and odor-control.
The anatomical design with zone-specific compression, as well as a seamless toe, makes this foot-hugging and comfortable while reducing the chance of your feet blistering. The socks keep their insulation properties even when wet, so they’re ideal if you live somewhere that rains or snows in winter.
Feetures socks come with a lifetime guarantee. The only possible negative is that the targeted compression may feel too tight and uncomfortable for some individuals.
- Anatomical design
- Targeted compression
- The Perfect Toe
- Merino wool and Tencel fibers insulate when wet
- The targeted compression could be too tight for some
Most Versatile Design
4. Swiftwick PURSUIT Seven
The mid-calf length of these socks makes them great for wearing when running, cycling, or just layering up against the cold.
They are a bit different from other socks because the material isn’t the same thickness all the way through. Some runners might feel like they don’t get good insulation based on that. But in reality, their Merino wool construction provides good insulation against cold and wind.
They also have mid-level cushioning, so they are well-padded where necessary and include a reinforced heel and toe for extra support. A compression fit with “flex zones” of half-density material ensures that the socks don’t bunch up or slide down while you’re moving, and they’re also less likely to get hot spots that cause blisters.
Despite being insulating, they keep your feet ventilated with a channeled upper that increases breathability from the top of your foot down. In addition to this, the socks are moisture-wicking and should keep your feet from getting soaked by sweat or light rain.
Swiftwick also has a “Best Sock You Will Ever Wear” guarantee.
- Reinforced heel and toe
- Contoured compression fit
- Channeled upper
- Mid-level cushioning
- If you have well-built calves, these socks might feel too tight on the calf muscle
Top Reflective Socks
5. Salomon Predict High
In winter, it’s naturally darker. That means you may need to take extra precautions when it comes to safety on the road, whether you run during the day or at night.
These socks from Salomon are our top reflective socks, and they’re everything you ever wanted in a sock plus a bright light in the darkness.
Engineered from soft, breathable Softair micro polyamide, this sock is soft on the skin and just elastic enough to provide a tight but comfortable fit. An extra thick band around the ankle keeps the sock exactly where it should be, so there’s no chance of discomfort from your socks slipping.
A reinforced heel is layered with silicon yarn to provide ample padding, which is perfect for heel strikers. It also prevents the sock from sliding around on the sole of the shoes, so this pair of socks is incredibly stable.
Above the ankle, you’ll find a reflective pattern that lights up when hit with headlights. These socks would be a great addition to your gear if you’re looking for a way to increase your visibility on the road while getting a soft, stable ride.
- Anatomical design
- Non-sliding sole
- Elastic arch & ankle support
- Distinctive reflective print
- These socks may not be quite as warm as others made of Merino wool
Best Blister-Preventing Socks
6. Balega Blister Resist Crew Running Socks
Blisters may be small, but they can ruin a few days of running and cause pain and discomfort.
This pair of socks is created to reduce the chance of developing blisters and prevent you from having to interrupt your training while waiting for blisters to heal.
They’re made from a unique combination of fibers, including nylon, elastane, microfiber, mohair (known for its durability and insulation), and Drynamix, which is a moisture-managing fabric developed by Balega themselves. Mesh ventilation panels increase airflow to keep your feet fresh as well as dry.
Mohair is a great addition to winter socks, as it keeps the heat in and the cold out. These socks would also be good for summer running, as mohair has impressive moisture-wicking properties. Adding the Drynamix just enhances this feature.
For comfort, these socks have a deep heel pocket and a seamless toe to prevent chafing, and a wide band around the arch to provide support and light compression without leaving pressure marks.
- Made with mohair
- Synthetic Drynamix
- Deep heel pocket
- Hand-linked seamless toe
- Some people may find that sock is too thin for them
Top Foot Compression Socks
7. Zensah Grit Runnings Socks
Compression socks can help if you struggle with bad circulation and need something to stimulate blood flow. They’re also helpful for recovery, getting blood and oxygen flowing to the muscles to help them recover faster.
These socks have targeted arch support that serves as compression around the arch and bridge of the foot. Add Zensah Compression Technology, and these socks become the perfect gear both on the road and off. The compression fit also helps support the arch and relieve pain from plantar fasciitis.
Hexo-Padded technology and a seamless toe closure contribute to the soft padding that absorbs impact on the foot strike. Merino wool adds to the sense of comfort, as well as keeping your toes toasty on winter days.
Some runners may find that the compression becomes painful if worn for too long.
- Hexo-Padded technology
- Moisture-wicking polycolon fiber
- Targeted arch support
- Temperature-regulating Merino wool
- The compression fit may start to hurt the foot if worn for too long
8. Darn Tough Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion
Even when running on the coldest winter days, feet can sweat. It’s important to have socks with the ability to wick moisture away from your skin so that you don’t end up running with damp feet. Moisture in your socks can contribute to blisters and make a run very uncomfortable.
These socks are the best moisture-wicking option on this list. Made from Merino wool, nylon, and spandex, they do a good job of moving moisture away from the surface of the skin so it can evaporate.
They are also naturally antimicrobial, so no matter how much sweat they have to wick away, your feet should stay safe from bacteria and fungus.
The cushioning is light, so if you prefer well-padded socks these may not be for you. It would be suitable for runners who are looking for an ultra-lightweight sock for sprinting or speed. They’re also a little shorter than your normal crew length, so runners who don’t like very long socks would benefit from these.
Darn Tough has an Unconditional Guarantee for Life. The only things they won’t cover are missing socks that the washing machine ate, socks that have been torn up by pups and socks that have been damaged by fire (although their socks are flame-resistant).
- Light layer of cushioning
- Naturally antimicrobial
- No-slip and no-bunch
- Guaranteed For Life
- Some people may find the cushioning to be too thin
Top Lightweight Winter Sock
9. Icebreaker Merino Multisport Light Mini Socks
The best winter running socks don’t need to be thick. Icebreaker’s Merino Multisport Light Mini Socks are the best lightweight winter socks, so if you’re a sprinter or a runner who is training for speed, they may be suitable for you.
The Merino, nylon, and elastane mix is light but warm. It’s also soft and feels comfortable against the skin with no chafing.
Some of their helpful features include arch support as well as Achilles support, which is unusual to see but could be a good feature for those who have suffered from Achilles injuries or strain. A mesh panel increases the breathability and the toe has no seam, so your feet will stay cool and comfy. The cushioning is light but sufficient for a decent length run.
Some runners may not like the length of these socks, as they’re shorter than the others on this list. If you wear shorter tights, you may find that wearing these socks leaves a gap that can be exposed to the winter elements.
- Achilles and arch support
- Mesh panel for breathability
- Seamless toe closure
- Light cushioning
- If you wear tights that aren’t too long, these may leave a gap
Best Waterproof Winter Sock
10. Randy Sun Waterproof Merino Wool Socks
Choosing a waterproof sock could be a good idea for runners who live and train in areas that get winter rain or snow. They would also be helpful on trail runs where you may end up stepping in a puddle or two. When the chances of your feet getting wet on a run are high, you want the best chance possible of keeping them dry and safe.
These socks are double-layered. The outer layer consists of high-waterproof nylon, polyester, and elastane. The inner layer is made from polyurethane and is waterproof while being breathable at the same time.
The lining is made of a combination of materials including Merino wool for moisture-wicking and breathability, but also for its impressive insulating properties. This layering ensures that your foot remains comfortable with a soft lining, but no water gets in from the outside. The outer layer is also wind-resistant, keeping you away from the cold.
Because of their layered design, they can be quite thick. Some runners may feel that this enhances the cushioning, but others may find the thickness uncomfortable.
- Ergonomic design
- Waterproof and windproof
- Three-layer construction
- Some runners may feel that these socks are too thick due to their layered design
Why do I need running socks specifically for winter?
The best winter running socks are different from the best socks for summer.
Winter running socks are designed differently from summer socks. They are more contoured to prevent pressure spots that can cause blisters. Winter socks also have more cushioning and support, especially on the heel.
Summer socks are usually quite short, to allow for the best foot ventilation. In winter, long socks are preferable because they cover the gap between running tights or pants and shoes, protecting it from the cold.
What is important in winter running socks?
Two things are important when choosing a pair of winter running socks. The type of fabric they’re made of, and the length.
A good winter fabric is Merino wool, normal wool, or any other polyester blend. For length, the higher the sock is the better, so it can cover the little gap between your legwear and shoes.
Why is Merino such a great fabric?
Merino wool is a wonderful fabric for winter running gear because of its properties. It is thermoregulating, which means in winter it keeps the cold out but in summer it will keep the cool in and the heat out.
Beyond keeping you warm when you need to be, and cool when you need to be, Merino wicks moisture away from your skin, so it keeps you dry. Even if the fabric does happen to get wet, it will still keep you warm. It also resists odor and keeps you fresh.