Best socks for runners – the best compression, ankle and hidden running socks for runners

best socks for runners

Whether you’re training for a marathon or your first mile, as a runner, looking after your feet is a must. Whilst everyone will tell you all about the importance of finding the right pair of running shoes for you, it’s often easy to forget socks. Yet, like shoes, a bad pair of running socks will still give you blisters and a good pair will offer extra protection where you need it most.

What to look for when buying running socks:

No, when it comes to running those old trainer socks will not do the trick, when it comes to finding a good pair of socks for running, there are a few important things to look out for:

1. Like the clothes you run in, your socks should be made from a breathable, quick-drying fabric to keep your feet dry as you clock up the miles.
2. Most running socks will offer extra padding in the areas of the foot that take the most impact when you’re running – think your toes, heels and arch. This is why, unlike everyday socks, running socks will have a right and a left foot.
3. Optional extras to look out for include compression technology and special fabrics that can help stop your socks from smelling, no matter how much you sweat.

What size should my running socks be?

As a general rule, your running socks should be the same size as your running shoes – socks that are too big or too small will cause blisters. If a brand sells socks in small, medium and large sizes, be sure to check the size guidelines.

What are compression socks and when should I wear them?

Compression kit is designed to help you move faster when you’re running and recover faster afterwards. They work by improving the rate that your body pumps waste-ridden blood out from your legs and nutrient-rich blood in; this reduces the amount of lactic acid building up. Whilst the research supporting the use of compression socks whilst running is a little ambiguous, their recovery benefits are well documented.

Related: 8 of the best compression buys for runners 

How should I look after my running socks?

Like most sports kit, tumble drying your running socks can make them shrink a little, causing your favourite pair to become uncomfortable overnight. Take a look at our guide to looking after your running kit here. 

What are the best running socks to buy?

We’ve summed up the best running socks on the market here:

Stance Distance Socks, £11.99, stance.eu.com 

best socks for runners - stance

Whether you’re looking for hidden socks, ankle socks, or just socks as bright as your mood, Stance have got it covered. With Air Channel Cushioning to increase the padding underfoot, and fresh vents to keep your feet dry, you’ll feel the support as you run and they’ll stay soft, no matter how many times they go through the wash.

Shop the men’s collection here. 

The Runderwear Anti Blister Ankle Running Sock, £12.00, runderwear.co.uk

best running socks - runderwear

There’s no doubt about it, Runderwear know a thing or two about anti-chafing. Their classic ankle socks have double layered technology, which prevents blisters as you run as the two layers rub against each other, rather than against your foot. Made from breathable fabrics and mid-foot grip to hold the sock in place, these are also available in a low-rise cut.

2XU Hyoptik Compression Sock, £25.00, runnersneed.com 

best running compression socks - 2XU

Designed with reflective panels to be worn on the run as well as afterwards, these 2XU running socks offer compression to support the shin, calf, ankles, achilles and arch. With padding for comfort and a graduated fit to promote circulation, these might not be as easy to slip on as other socks, but they’ll help keep your legs fresh.

Nike Elite Lightweight No-Show Tab, £12, nike.com 

best running socks - nike

If you prefer the hidden-sock look, these are the ones for you. Designed with Nike’s ventilated Dri-FIT fabric and arch compression for snug support as you run, they’re probably the most stylish socks-you'll-never-see ever. Available in white, florescent yellow and black, in UK sizes from 3.5 to 15.

Hilly Marathon Fresh Anklet, £11.00, runnersneed.com 

best running socks - Hilly

With polygiene odour control technology, these socks, as their name suggests, will stay fresh, even after a marathon. There’s plenty of cushioning in key pressure points for comfort, plus they are available in a number of different ankle lengths. Be sure to check the size guide beforehand, as Hilly socks come in small (UK 3-5.5), medium (UK 6-8.5), large (UK 9-11.5) and extra-large (UK 12-13).

Buy the men’s version here. 

Sweaty Betty Technical Run Socks, £15.00, sweatybetty.com 

best running socks - sweaty betty

A great choice for ladies who struggle with blisters, the breathable fabric with Coolmax panels wicks sweat away as you run. Thicker than most running socks, there’s a padded arch support, an anti-blister heel panel and a protective ankle lip to prevent rubbing. They might be one of the more expensive pairs on this list, but they stand the test of time.

Karrimor 2 Pack Running Socks Ladies, £11.99, sportsdirect.com 

best cheap running socks - karrimor

If you’re just starting out, or don’t want to spend more than £10 on a pair of running socks, Karrimor, the affordable Sports Direct-own brand are a popular offering. Available in a two-pack in both men’s and women’s sizes, these running socks provide soft, underfoot comfort, with a padded toe and heel in a Fresh Guard odour neutralising fabric to keep them fresh. They might not last forever, but they fit and perform well.

Buy the men's version here.

CEP Men’s Compression Run Socks, £29.00, runnersneed.com 

best compression running socks - CEP

Offering on-the-move compression for arch stabilisation and Achilles tendon protection, CEP claims that these socks reduce injury, thanks to this additional stabilisation. Comfy to wear, the padded foot section sits in the right places, whilst preventing blisters along the way. They’re also made with anti-bacterial, odour-reducing silver ions to keep them fresh. Available in a number of different colour combos, to suit every kind of runner.

Teko Marathon Running Socks, £11.95, tekoforlife.com 

best environmental running socks - Teko

Environmentally-friendly sock brand Teko create their socks from regenerated commercial fishing nets and used drinks bottles form Turin in Italy. Rest assured the socks feel like neither fishing net or plastic bottle, instead the soft microfiber is super-breathable and sweat-wicking, designed to fit well and keep your feet blister-free. Designed for longer distances, these socks have cushioning around the whole foot and heel, for enhanced comfort.

Related: 5 of the best environmentally-friendly running brands you might not have heard of 

Inov-8 All Terrain Sock Mid, £14.00 for two, inov-8.com 

best running socks - inov-8

Great value for money, these all-terrain socks from trail running brand inov-8 are designed to suit all your training needs. Whether you’re fell running or road running, the light underfoot padding and breathable panels will keep your feet dry and comfortable. Available in sizes small (UK 3-6), medium (UK 7-9) and large (UK 10-12).