The Best Socks for Winter Running – 3 Picks for 2021

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As the weather cools, you may want to give up your running routine (we get you!). But, let’s face it, many fantastic outdoor things will keep you toasty regardless of the weather. The best socks for winter running are made of thick, warm fibers that will keep you warm over a long, freezing run – and even make you want to do it again.

Running in the winter can be difficult. However, if you can stay warm in cold conditions, it might be an excellent method to keep in shape. It is also critical to adequately prepare yourself to run safely and comfortably as the temperature drops. 

One of the most vital layers of clothing you’ll be wearing this winter is your socks, which are also one of the smallest. Just like the heated socks for hunting, the best cold weather running socks are not the same as those worn in the summer. They are no less significant. 

For starters, you’ll want something that covers the gap between your shoes and your pants by going above your ankles. Second, for increased warmth, a little thicker sock is usually better.

What are the Best Socks for Winter Running?

Finding the best cold weather running socks may make or break your pace, regardless of whatever route you take. Here’s a selection of tried-and-true solutions to keep you running comfortably throughout the year.

Best Overall: Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew  

Smartwool Performance Run Cold Weather Mid Crew Sock - Men's Black, XL
  • Material: 54% wool, 43% nylon, 3% elastane
  • Height: 6in

On cold morning runs, Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew may become your new best buddy. They’re made of a nylon and wool blend that’s soft and stretchy, and they hug your foot comfortably with a run-specific fit. 

These socks have a lot of technology in them. PhD technology from Smartwool ensures that they are made to perform. With two elastics, their 4 Degree Elite Fit System delivers a precise stretch and good recovery. 

Despite their lack of cushioning, the Indestructa Wool technology in these socks makes them more durable than many others, so they should last you longer than usual. There’s no chafing with a Virtually Seamless toe, so there’s minimal possibility of feet blister.

Facts:

Length: Mid-crew sits right below the calf
Material: 56% Merino Wool, 41% Nylon, 3% Elastane

Pros

  • Elite Fit System with a 4 Degree Angle
  • Virtually Seamless toe
  • Indestructa Wool technology
  • Run-specific fit

Cons

  • For just one pair of socks, these socks are a little pricey

Best Moisture-Wicking: Darn Tough Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion Sock

DARN TOUGH (Style 1014) Men's Vertex Ultra Lightweight w/ Cushion Run Sock - Black, Medium
  • ULTRA LIGHTWEIGHT WITH CUSHION - Provides a light layer of cushioning along the bottom of the foot. Ultra-Light, ultra-comfortable. True Seamless technology allows for an undetectable seam fusion for...
  • MICRO CREW HEIGHT - A shorter, more concise take on the traditional crew height. Peeks just above the top of a standard hiking boot. See chart below if other heights may be better for you.

Even on the coldest winter days, feet might sweat when running. Socks with the ability to wick moisture away from your skin are essential if you don’t want to run with wet feet. Blisters can be caused by moisture in your socks, making a run quite unpleasant. 

The most excellent moisture-wicking choice on this list is Darn Tough Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion Sock. They’re made of Merino wool, nylon, and spandex, and they work well at wicking moisture away from the skin’s surface so it can evaporate. They’re also naturally antibacterial, so your feet should be safe from bacteria and fungus no matter how much sweat they have to drain away.

Facts:

Length: Micro Crew Height
Material: 51% Merino Wool 43% Nylon 6% Lycra Spandex

Pros

  • A thin layer of cushion
  • Antimicrobial by nature
  • Guaranteed no-slip and no-bunch for the rest of your life

Cons

  • The padding may be too thin for certain persons

Best Waterproof: SEALSKINZ Waterproof All Weather Mid Length Sock

Recent Price Drop!
SEALSKINZ Unisex Waterproof All Weather Mid Length Sock, Black/Grey Marl, Medium
  • Waterproof - three layer construction for warmth, durability and waterproofing
  • Comfort - Merino wool lining for moisture control, insulation and comfort
  • Support - zonal elastication for added support
  • Close fit - four way stretch for comfort and stretch fit

For runners who live and practice in places where it rains or snows during the winter, choosing a waterproof sock may be a good option. They’d also come in handy on trail runs when you might find yourself stepping in a few puddles. When the possibilities of having your feet wet during a run are high, you want to give yourself the best chance of keeping them dry and safe. 

SealSkinz Waterproof All Weather Mid Length Sock has three layers. Nylon, polypropylene, and elastane make up the outer layer, which is very water-resistant. The inner layer is made of polyurethane, which is waterproof while yet being breathable. They used Merino wool for its moisture-wicking, breathability, and its outstanding insulating properties.

Facts:

Length: Mid-Cut
Material: Outer : 2% polypropylene, 29% Nylon, 9% Elastane
Interlayer: 36% Merino Wool, 36% Acrylic, 18% Polyester, 5% Nylon, 5% Elastane

Pros

  • Ergonomic Design
  • Windproof and waterproof
  • A three-layer structure
  • Moisture-wicking

Cons

  • Because of their layered pattern, some runners may find these socks to be overly thick

What are the benefits of wearing running socks?

We’ve all met the person who will happily spend over $200 on running shoes but refuses to invest in a good pair of running socks. Running in fabulous shoes but terrible socks is like getting the best ingredients and drowning them with ketchup. It’ll get the job done, but the experience won’t be as enjoyable as it could have been. 

A decent pair of running socks is just as crucial as a good pair of shoes when it comes to jogging. It can help reduce blisters, wicked away moisture, and your feet are kept more comfortable with running-specific socks. While thermal running socks may be more expensive than generic athletic socks, their increased durability can make them a more cost-effective option.

Why are merino wool socks good for winter running?

Merino wool is used by the majority of producers for their winter socks. Running socks made of merino wool are our preferred choice because they wick sweat well. They also help control temperature, allowing you to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Because merino wool is so soft, it’s not very durable, so brands usually mix it with a synthetic material like polyester to extend its life. However, because merino wool’s temperature-regulating characteristics make it a fantastic option for warm-weather running as well, don’t put these socks in the back of the drawer when the trails thaw in the spring. Think of these socks as “all-season” socks.

How do I choose the best socks for winter running?

Wool, a type of fiber noted for its moisture-absorbing characteristics, would be ideal for chilly weather. The majority of sock makers use Merino wools for their winter socks. They’re softer than conventional wool, making them ideal for wearing adjacent to the skin. 

Your choice of sock length is entirely up to you. There are a few more things to think about when making your decision. Let’s take a closer look at the qualities you should seek in winter running socks.

Material 

Say No to Cotton

Wearing those low-cost cotton socks isn’t doing your feet any favors. Cotton absorbs moisture, heat, and friction, increasing the likelihood of blisters and hot spots. On the other hand, thermal running socks are made out of fibers that wick moisture away from your feet and dry quickly. 

Consider Merino Wool

These breathable, resilient, and moisture-wicking fibers are better than your mother’s scratchy sweaters. Merino wool regulates temperature, keeping your feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and its inherent odor resistance means you’ll never have stinky feet again. Merino wool is also better for the environment than synthetic petroleum because it is a renewable resource that produces less waste during the manufacturing process.

Sock Length

No-show, ankle-length, quarter-crown, crew-length, to calf-length – There is no hard and fast rule on which is the better. Most brands offer various options (sock length), and it is totally up to your preference. If you’re unsure about the winter temperature, longer socks are a better option because they protect you from harsh weather and frostbite.

Moisture Absorption 

You’ll need a pair of socks that will keep your feet dry and free of sweat. Merino wool, as previously established, accomplishes this. Sounds too technical? Merino fibers have a porous structure (many tiny holes) that absorb moisture from your foot and carry it away from your skin as vapors. This function maintains your feet odorless for a long time and won’t leave you with damp and cold feet after your runs.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I Need Waterproof Winter Running Socks?

Waterproof socks are beneficial in particular scenarios or can be an easy and economical item to keep your feet dry without investing in other, more expensive gear. Yet, they are not a must-have item in everyone’s adventure kit. When there is a lot of water and freezing outside, waterproof socks come in handy. Consider wearing waterproof socks to stay dry and warm on a trip that includes several chilly river crossings or other scenarios where a temperature loss could be dangerous. In most other situations, adequate clothing renders waterproof socks unnecessary.

Why do I need thermal running socks specifically for winter?

The best socks for winter running are not the same as the finest summer running socks. They’re better contoured to prevent blister-causing pressure points. Winter socks are also more cushioned and supportive, particularly in the heel. Summer socks are usually short to allow maximum foot ventilation, while long socks are preferred in the winter because they cover the gap between running tights or leggings and shoes, keeping them warm.

What do I consider in choosing the best cold weather running socks?

When it comes to buying a pair of winter running socks, there are two factors to consider—the cloth they’re made of, as well as the length. Merino wool, regular wool, or any polyester blend is a wonderful winter fabric. The longer the sock, the better it will hide the small gap between your legwear and shoes.

Final Word

Wearing socks meant to keep your feet warm is just as crucial as wearing winter-appropriate boots or shoes, but any fabric will not suffice. Whether you’re running in the summer or the winter, avoiding cotton is a requirement, and while wearing lightweight dry-wicking socks in the summer is a no-brainer, they’re not ideal for the winter. Wool, notably Merino Wool, is ideal for wicking sweat away from your skin while you’re on the go!

Comfortable running socks may make the difference between a fantastic run and a miserable one, but finding the best socks for winter running can be challenging. We hope you found this article useful. See you on the road!

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