Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

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Farm to Feet Greensboro
Socks are one of the most underrated things a runner can do to help reduce things like blisters. There are a variety of qualities that socks can bring: whether it's adding grip so you aren't slipping and sliding in the shoe, providing warmth for winter runs, improving fit when the volume is larger than normal for you or sometimes add more cushioning depending on the thickness and material of the sock. A good running sock can also bring really great durability and odor control. Socks can also be overwhelming because there are a million and one choices available to runners today. In this feature, our team's testers share their favorite socks for winter and summer running to help narrow down your choices so you can find the best sock for your needs.

Swiftwick Aspire 4
The Best Running Socks for Winter
and Summer Running

A DOR Team Editorial

Writer's Picks: Content Manager Bach Pham

Saucony Inferno Merino Wool Quarter Socks
Winter: Saucony Inferno Merino Wool Quarter Socks
Material: 70% polyester, 16% Merino wool, 12% nylon, 2% spandex
Price: $21.95 for 3pk at Running Warehouse*

Shop Men | Shop Women

I love a good value, and while there may be better winter socks in general, Saucony's Inferno pack brings the right combination of value and quality to the table. These socks have a moderate amount of cushioning to them and keep me really nice and warm whether I'm lounging at home or on the run. I've ran in the same three pairs for two winters now, and they've held up well enough for the price. For days in the upper 30s-40s where I don't want a thicker winter sock, these really do a nice job of keeping my feet warm while still giving some breathability being not full on Merino wool, whereas some more winter-ready socks may get a touch too hot. If you live in milder winter climates and want that combination of solid quality and value, this is a great option to look into.

Positives: Huge value for winter socks. Great for mild winter running, and solid comfort underfoot as well
Negatives: Not full Merino wool. Slightly lower durability. Have some minor fraying after two winters and one sock has started a small hole

Summer: Farm to Feet Greensboro Low Cut
Material: 100% Merino Wool
Shop: $18 at Farm to Feet

I have had a pair of Farm to Feet Greensboro low cuts for over three years now, and they've been an absolute lifesaver to have in my sock collection. The Greensboro is ultra-thin, helping me fit into a wide variety of lower volume shoes with comfort. The durability has been incredible. No-show socks when they are low quality can start getting loose around the heel and losing their no-slip qualities. These have remained as sturdy and comfortable as they were on day one after repeated use. It's a bit of a price upfront, but they've held up remarkably and has gotten me through many a shoe testing without issue. Even if you decide to go with another brand, I highly recommend having an ultra-thin sock like the Greensboro in your arsenal for shoe fit if you have a large collection.

Positives: Highly durable, very comfortable, and ultra-thin. Dries quickly as well and has been odor-free for me over the years
Negatives: Upfront cost for a no-show is higher than average. Slightly harder to find than some popular running sock brands

Writer's Picks: Senior Contributor Nathan Brown

Mizuno Breath Thermo Racer Mid
Winter: Mizuno Breath Thermo Racer Mid
Shop: $20 at Mizuno

"Winter" can mean so many different things depending on where you live. For me, it is classified by ranging temperatures from 30 deg F down to -10 deg F (and even colder with wind chill). It also includes running on soft snow, slush, or ice depending on the time of year. Therefore I like finding a sock that facilitates keeping the toes warm without taking up all the room in the shoe due to being thick. This is why I prefer the Mizuno Breath Thermo Racer Mid sock. It holds the foot snug with compression in all the right areas without constricting the toes. It also has a mid-crew construction, which also provides an extra layer over the ankle to seal the gap between the tights and the shoes. Finally, Breath Thermo tech simply works, and these socks have kept my feet warm in 2+ hour runs when the temperatures were far below freezing without being overly thick. 

Positives: Secure, but roomy for toes, not too thick, mid-crew
Negatives: Only for cold winter use, they definitely get warm in the summer

Summer: Swiftwick Aspire Four
Material: 67% Nylon / 28% Olefin / 5% Spandex
Shop: $18.99 at Running Warehouse*

I had been using Feetures for most of my running for a long time. I still love Feetures and have recently raced a marathon in the Elite Light Cushion Mini Crew (and would do it again). However, for my daily running, I've come to prefer the Swiftwick Aspire Four over the past year. The main reasons are that they are thin yet durable and sit securely on the foot. I have not had any blister issues when wearing the Aspire Four and don't expect to anytime soon. I also appreciate that they are not side specific in their compression profile, so I can just easily slip them on regardless of what sock on grab first. I find that my favorite Feetures compress my toes just a bit more than I'd like for daily training, and that's why I lean to the Aspire Four. For race day, I might lean toward a sock that is just a bit thinner. 

Positives: Not foot specific, durable, soft yet thin
Negatives: Maybe slightly too thick for race day

Writer's Picks: Senior Contributor Andrea Myers

Mint The Mason 5"
Winter: Swiftwick Aspire Four
Material: 67% Nylon / 28% Olefin / 5% Spandex
Shop: $18.99 at Running Warehouse*

Yes, I chose this sock as my winter pick and Nathan chose it for his summer pick. It is obviously highly versatile! While I prefer thin socks, some of my shoes fit a little bigger, requiring a thicker sock to take up a little more room in the shoe. The Swiftwick Aspire Four has quickly become my favorite thicker sock, which I also reach for in very cold temperatures. I like that the cuff hits just below the calf and does not slide down during running. While Swiftwick says that this sock provides firm compression, I find that it fits just right, staying in place without actually feeling like a compression sock. I have used it for many long runs, including in the rain, and have experienced zero irritation or blisters. They have also held up longer than other brands I have used in the past, with no visible wear on the bottom of the sock after many months of use. I also greatly appreciate that they do not shrink in the dryer. 

Positives: Comfortable and secure fit, durable material, nice 3 stripe design    
Negatives: Too thick for racing

Summer: Mint The Mason 5"
Material: 80% polyamide/20% elastane
Shop: $24 at The Freshly Minted

I prefer thin socks for most of my running and racing, and a friend told me that Mint socks are her favorite running socks and even her choice for Ironman racing. I decided to try a pair and quickly agreed because of how thin, breathable, and comfortable they are. Mint socks are marketed as cycling socks, but I think they are gaining a bigger following in the running world due to their exceptional quality and design. The socks are definitely a step above as compared to most running (and cycling) socks that are on the market. I now own several pairs and despite taking them through a marathon training block and beyond, every pair looks brand new. There is no wear or pilling anywhere on the socks and I expect they will last much longer any other running sock I have tried. They do not get bogged down if you run in the rain and I have never gotten a blister in these socks. Another thing I really like about the brand is that they are always coming out with new designs, which are often bold colors and patterns. While they are more expensive than most running socks, the premium material and durability makes them worth every penny.

Positives: Premium fabric, exceptional fit, excellent durability, great design
Negatives: Higher price, recommended to wash on delicate and line/air dry only

Writer's Picks: Chief Editor/Founder: Matt Klein

Saysky High Combat Socks
Winter: Brooks High Point Quarter
Material: Merino Wool Blend
Shop: $18 at Brooks Running

Although I typically prefer thin performance socks, the Brooks High Point Quarter has proved itself to be a fantastic cold-weather running sock. This is my first experience with Merino Wool and while I was a little concerned at first about the slightly thicker feel, the High Point Quarter offsets this with a protective, warm and durable ride. The fit is close to the foot, providing a warm environment that has kept my feet from getting cold. The only negative is that these socks tend to get warm in anything but cold climates. This makes the High Point a specific tool for colder runs, particularly on the trail when you need something tough.

Positives: Tough, Durable, Protective Sock that will keep your feet warm
Negatives: Can get a little too warm in higher temperatures

Summer: Saysky NMFW High Combat Socks
Material: 69% Polyamide, 21% Polyester, 8% Elastodiene, 2% Elastane
Shop: $9 at Saysky

I prefer thin performance socks as they are often quite secure and provide a tiny bit of extra room in my shoes. The Saysky NMFW High Combat Socks are high calf socks that have almost all those components. The thin material sits securely on the feet with a close fit throughout the length of the sock. 
The secure fit gives me the confidence that these will not slip and I have not had any blisters even with track spikes. This feels great almost everywhere, although I did find my toes were a little cramped until the socks broke in. A little extra material sits at the arch and heel that lock those areas in without adding extra mass. The High Combat Socks are solid performance socks that I reach for on daily runs, workouts and races. 

Positives: Thin, secure performance sock with a comfortable and breathable fit
Negatives: Snug fit up front around the toes

*Editors Note: Running Warehouse links in article are affiliate links that support Doctors of Running. This did not influence our decisions regarding sock choices.

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