New runners often neglect their socks. They go all out on the shoes, shorts, and shirts (maybe a hat), but don’t bother with the things on their feet.
But having the wrong socks is a surefire way to turn a run into a slog of misery and blisters.
Bad running socks are not only uncomfortable, but can cause blisters, hot spots, and other foot issues.
Merino wool socks are our prefered choice for running, because they wick moisture efficiently. They also regulate temperature, helping you keep cool in summer and stay warm in winter. Wool running socks tend to retain less odor and keep their shape better than materials like polyester and other synthetic fabrics.
So today we are going to cover the best merino wool running socks. These socks have been picked based on their overall quality and suitability for running. Most importantly, they will help you have a comfy and efficient run.
Our top pick is the Smartwool Ph.D. Run Light Elite Micro Socks. These socks win our pick due to their blend of lightweight construction with athletic performance.
But depending on outdoor temperature, where you run, and budget, there are other great options to consider.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Smartwool PhD Run Light Elite Micro Socks
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Darn Tough Vertex No Show Tab Ultralight
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Feetures Merino 10 Cushion No Show Tab
Best Lightweight No-Show Wool Socks
1. Smartwool Ph.D. Run Light Elite Micro Socks
Starting off our list are these lightweight running socks from Smartwool.
These socks feature Smartwool’s signature Degree Elite Fit System that molds to the shape of the foot. The Fit System has a flex zone near the ankle and a seamless toe joining for extra comfort.
Smartwool Run Light Elite socks also have strategically placed mesh zones that allow your feet to breathe while wicking moisture away. The unique pattern prevents blisters when hiking or running on uneven trails or rough surfaces.
These socks are comprised of a 56% 41% wool/nylon blend so they mix the best properties of both types of fabrics. The nylon gives it strength while the wool provides comfort, insulation, and moisture-wicking capabilities.
Smartwool makes versions for men and women, though they share the same core features.
- Flex design is free around the ankle
- Wool/nylon design is durable
- Mesh design increases breathability
- Seamless toe joint
- Will shrink if washed/dried on hot
- Low cut ankle design is not for everyone
Best Ultralight No-Show Wool Socks
2. Darn Tough Vertex No-Show Tab Ultralight
Darn Tough Vertex No Show Tab Ultralight socks – true to the name – are tough and durable, made from a wool, nylon, and spandex fabric blend.
These socks have an anti-slip, anti-blister design. Seams are minimized, which makes the sock fit smooth and comfortable.
Darn Tough Vertex socks also have antimicrobial properties. They repel bacteria and odor, and wick moisture in an efficient way. The merino wool fabric is breathable and dries quickly after washing.
These socks also feature a useful back tab. It’s a nice addition that lets you readjust your socks so that blisters do not form on the back of your heels. These socks also come with an unconditional lifetime guarantee, so you never have to worry about them wearing out prematurely.
- Form-fitting design hugs the feet in critical spots
- Seamless construction
- Antimicrobial properties
- Lifetime guarantee
- Low cut socks are not for everyone
Best Cushioned No-Show Tab
3. Feetures Merino 10 Cushion No Show Tab
These socks are all about comfort and cushioning. They are made with a high-density fabric, with extra thickness in key parts of the feet like the balls and heels.
These socks are also designed to modulate temperature and keep your feet insulated. When it’s cold, your feet are warm. When hot, they keep them cool. The merino wool fibers also have antimicrobial properties.
Feetures Merino 10 socks combine merino wool with bamboo fibers. This combo makes for a durable sock that is form-fitting and comfortable. The socks are made with a seamless design so there is no fraying from use.
Even better, these socks come in 7 different colors, from light blue to deep red and solid black. The socks are made with a special tab around the top that helps you put them on/take them off, and provides extra protection and cushion around the ankle.
- Form-fitting seamless design is comfortable
- Special tab near the top makes it easy to put on and adjust when running
- Lifetime guarantee replacement or refund
- Utilizes bamboo fibers
- Some runners find them too tight
Best Low-Cut Wool Socks
4. Swiftwick Pursuit One
Up next is the Swiftwick Pursuit One. These low-cut wool socks are designed for ultimate comfort when running. They come in two basic color options – gray and black – and feature a contoured design.
These socks manage to balance cushioning for a soft ride with enough ventilation to keep your feet cool.
Swiftwick Pursuit Ones are unisex and designed for both men and women. They hug your feet, which minimizes blisters and prevents them from bunching.
- Grooved design makes them breathable
- Fast moisture-wicking action
- Designed and made in the USA
- Reinforced heel
- Few color options
- Too thin for some people
Best Women’s Low-Cut Wool Socks
5. Smartwool Ph.D. Run Light Elite Low Cut Socks
Sitting at fifth is the Smartwool Ph.D. Run Light Elite Low Cut Socks. These women’s socks are designed for distance and performance, featuring a durable reinforced wool construction.
These women’s socks feature the signature Degree Elite Fit System flex design that dials in the performance and fit around the ankles. The durable yet breathable construction ensures you can wear them for long periods without discomfort.
PhD socks are reinforced near the heel and toes, providing an extra cushion in those crucial areas. These Smartwool socks are designed for both running and heavier-duty tasks like hiking. They also have an interesting and aesthetically pleasing appearance.
- Form-fitting durable construction
- Flex system gives ankle more mobility
- Good balance of durability and breathability
- Small fit not good for large feet
- Too short for some people
Best Quarter Lightweight Wool Socks
6. Swiftwick Pursuit Four
Swiftwick Pursuit Four quarter-length socks are higher than a no-show sock but shorter than a crew – the perfect length to prevent trail dirt from getting into your socks.
These durable socks are made from breathable fabric with special grooves for added airflow. Pursuit Four socks also have extra cushion around the toes and heel.
The upper portion of the socks is made with a double cuff construction to help hug your ankle. This design choice prevents bunching and keeps the socks tight around your feet.
While Pursuit Four socks are great for running, they also work well when cycling and hiking. The plush merino wool blend effortlessly wicks moisture away and keeps your feet dry. Lastly, these are designed and made in the USA.
- Quarter length design is convenient and keeps the socks taut on your leg
- Grooved design increases breathability
- Designed with athletic performance in mind
- Socks are too tight for some
- Lack of color selection
Best Quarter Ultralight Wool Socks
7. Darn Tough Vertex ¼ Ultra-Light
Vertex 1/4 socks are designed to be extremely tough and feature a merino wool and nylon blend. These socks have a seamless design that prevents blisters and hot spots.
Darn Tough Ultralight Wool Socks use fine-gauge knitting that makes them extremely light yet durable. You can put the socks on and forget they are there. The fast action fibers wick away moisture efficiently and keep your feet dry and comfortable.
These socks are made in the US and come with an unconditional lifetime guarantee.
- Quarter length design
- Mesh fabric is breathable
- Seamless construction fits the foot
- Lack of color selection
Best Mini Crew Lightweight
8. Smartwool Ph.D. Run Light Elite Crew Socks
You can probably put two and two together at this point and see that we really like Smartwool’s Ph.D Run Light Elite socks, no matter what the length. The crew socks in this line are no different. They are made with the same durable reinforced stitching around the heels and toes as the other lengths.
The crew height of these socks – between the ankle and bottom of the calf – keeps them in place while preventing grime and dust from getting into your shoes. Like the other Smartwool socks, these are made with the trademark Elite Fit system that provides extra ankle mobility.
These socks have a mesh design that increases breathability yet insulates well. They are ideal for wearing in colder weather or for hiking.
- Durable nylon/wool fabric blend
- Elite Fit system allows ankle mobility
- Reinforced cushion on heel and toes
- Not everyone likes long socks
Best Mini Crew for Cold Weather
9. Smartwool Ph.D. Run Cold Weather Mid Crew Socks
Smartwool’s Run Cold Weather Mid Crew socks are made from a durable nylon/wool blend that insulates your feet and prevents blister formation when wearing heavier shoes. These socks also have the Design Elite Fit system for ankle mobility.
The durable yet breathable fabric does a great job wicking moisture, keeping you feeling dry and comfortable. The mini crew length is shorter than a full crew but less than a quarter crew.
- Durable winter-friendly design
- Insulates and cushions the feet
- Mini crew design is not too high, nor too low
- Heavier and thicker than other socks
Best Trail Running Socks
10. Smartwool Trail Running Socks
Smartwood Trail Running Socks are made from a durable nylon and wool blend that is made for high-impact performance. These socks also feature an aesthetically pleasing color palette.
They are extra reinforced around the heels and toes to prevent blisters and fabric wear. The mesh is breathable and wicks moisture efficiently. A nice design add-on is the special ankle cushion designed to minimize pressure on your joints from your shoes.
Despite how durable and tough these socks are, they still manage to be light while providing excellent protection. The wool has anti-microbial properties that prevent odors.
- Cool colorful design
- Reinforced heel and toe provide cushion
- Breathable mesh construction keeps feet dry
- Will shrink when washed with hot water
- Socks are too tight for some
Best Budget Wool Socks
11. Pure Athlete Merino Wool Socks
Our best budget wool socks are from Pure Athlete and are made from durable merino wool. Even given the low cost, they are designed for high performance. The socks have a reinforced heel and toe region, coupled with a special cross stitch that keeps tight on the feet.
These merino wool socks have several color options and are great to wear in either the summer or winter. The cushioned technology prevents blisters and provides support to the important parts of the feet.
- Very affordable
- Excellent quality/cost ratio
- Cross stitching design keeps the socks form-fitting
- Relatively cheaply made
- Seams can fray
Why should I wear merino wool socks instead of polyester running socks?
Merino wool is a great choice because it removes moisture efficiently to help keep your feet dry. Wool socks do not retain odor and they are better at insulating than polyester, even when the wool is wet.
How fast do merino wool socks dry?
Merino socks dry very quickly, at least compared to other common materials such as cotton. Merino wool is particularly good at absorbing moisture which is why it is used for running socks.
How do you wash merino wool socks?
You should wash your wool socks periodically to keep them in good condition. Ideally, you should hand wash your wool socks with a natural detergent and leave to dry. Make sure you do not use any bleach or fabric softener as these can damage the wool fibers.
You can machine wash your merino wool socks, but you need to be careful. Put your sock in the wash on a gentle cycle with cool or warm water. Do not wash in hot water, as this can shrink the wool fibers. If you machine dry, it is recommended you tumble dry on low.
What should I look for when buying merino socks?
The main thing you need to look for is that they fit your purposes. For example, do you want merino wool socks for hiking or something similar? Then you will probably want a slightly thicker sock to protect you from your boots.
The time of year also affects the thickness of socks you should choose.
If it’s in the summer, you will most likely want a thin sock. If it’s during the winter you will most likely want a thicker sock.
However, a lot of the time this judgment will just come down to personal preference.
The height of the socks is also important. If you are getting running socks, you will likely want something about ankle length or shorter.
Quarter to crew-height socks are generally better for trail running, as they can keep dirt and grime out of your shoes, socks, and off your ankles.
No-show tabs are the most popular with road runners.
As always, everyone will want a different sock, so there is no one true answer to what the best merino wool sock is. The key thing is to find something that works for you, even if it might not work for others.