The 11 Best Socks for Every Activity of 2023

We’re particularly impressed by Bombas, which donates a pair of socks for every Merino Wool Hiking Calf Sock purchased

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Best Socks for Every Activity in 2022

Comrad / Cotopaxi

You might not consider shopping for socks a priority, but if you’ve ever had a favorite pair that fit perfectly, felt breathable, and looked nice, too, you’ll understand how much a good-quality sock can improve your comfort. But when nearly every clothing retailer under the sun carries at least one pair, how are you supposed to know which are the best?

Whether you’re on the market for a high-performance athletic sock, a no-show sock that actually stays put, a fuzzy sock for winter lounging, or simply a fun printed sock, it can be hard to know where to look. After some extensive research and interviews with fashion and fitness experts, we narrowed down the choices to just 11 worthwhile pairs. 

To make the cut, these preferably had to be super comfortable, made from high-quality yarn, size-inclusive, expertly designed, and/or guaranteed to elevate your street-style look. In collaboration with Cotopaxi, Bombas’ Merino Wool Hiking Calf Sock is a winner thanks to its part-repurposed yarn and durability, plus the fact that the brand donates a pair of socks for every one purchased.

Whatever your hosiery needs, these are the socks you’ll be buying on repeat.

Best Overall

Bombas Cotopaxi Merino Wool Hiking Calf Sock



What We Love: Bombas donates a pair of socks to charity for each pair purchased.

What We Don’t Love: They’re thicker than your average sock.

This model is just one variation on Bombas’ much-loved Hiking Socks, and although they’re technically designed for the great outdoors, they have so much going for them that we’re willing to bet you’ll want to wear them every day. “These socks are made to endure whatever you have to give,” says fashion writer Emerald Elitou. They “are amazingly soft and fashionable, but most importantly, the company donates one pair of socks for each one purchased.” These socks are made from part repurposed yarn, meaning each pair comes in a one-of-a-kind colorful pattern. Plus, they’re supportive, cushioned, and temperature-regulating. They’re probably not for you if you prefer a thinner sock, but that’s strictly a question of personal preference.

Size: S-XL | Colors: One-of-a-Kind | Multipack: No | Height: Calf

Best Value

NevEND 6 Pack Women's Running Ankle Socks



What We Love: They’re comfy and designed to stay put.

What We Don’t Love: They’re really, really basic.

Whereas most of us pick up a pair of socks here and there because we like the print or something similarly vague (guilty), style expert Katya Bychkova has developed an ironclad technique: She only ever buys these basic socks from Amazon. “If your socks are all the same; you don't [need to] worry about matching them after a wash,” she says. “Trust me: Folding the laundry is much easier.” Genius, in our opinion. But why these ones? “I'm not too fond of socks with logos (even if they are designer), so this clean and straight-to-the-point option is my favorite,” Bychkova explains. “They are soft and surprisingly high-quality for just $15 (for six pairs).” These are basic basic, only coming in black, white, and gray, but other than that they’re really pretty great: They’re cushioned, made from soft, breathable cotton, and designed to stay put.

Size: 5-10 | Colors: Black, White, Gray | Multipack: Yes | Height: Quarter

Best Splurge

Marc Jacobs The Sock


Marc Jacobs

What We Love: These make a real statement as part of your outfit.

What We Don’t Love: You’re paying for the logo.

A designer logo can be lots of fun, and a cool pair of socks like these are a great way to nod to a label without the price tag you would get with a handbag — but yes, you’re still paying for the logo here. “Monogrammed socks and accessories from big brands are a huge hit this season,” says fashion blogger and stylist AK Brown. “I love these Marc Jacobs embroidered socks that would pair well with low profile tennis or even strappy heels for a street style look.” Available in flashy orange and red as well as more classic colorways, these are true fashion socks rather than purely utilitarian, designed to be shown off as part of your outfit. They’re made from 100 percent cotton for breathability.

Size: XS-L | Colors: 5 | Multipack: No | Height: Calf

Best No-Show

Lululemon Power Stride No-Show Sock with Active Grip 3 Pack

Lululemon Power Stride No Show Sock


What We Love: They stay put through workouts, jogging and errands alike. 

What We Don’t Love: The sticky grip gets damaged in the wash.

“Great socks are a must for me, especially for working out,” says Candy Nicholson, personal trainer and fitness instructor at Candy Gyrl Fitness. She loves these Lululemon ones for working out and weight training, because “they grip the feet with just enough support so you don’t feel restricted, keep your feet cool, and don’t slide down,” she says. “They’re also great for jogging, especially on warmer days.” While these are meant as athletic socks and do that job well, there’s no reason you can’t benefit from their staying-put ability while you’re out on the town. Unfortunately, the sticky grip that keeps the sock still can easily get damaged in the wash, so you’ll need to take extra care on that front to keep them in tip-top.

Size: S-L | Colors: 10 | Multipack: Yes | Height: No-Show

Best Ankle

Girlfriend Collective Ankle Sock


Girlfriend Collective

What We Love: They come in a ton of colors and cost less the more you buy.

What We Don’t Love: The fabric tends to pill after washing.

Available in 13 color options, most of which feature a cute contrasting stripe, these socks are both pretty and functional — the best of both worlds. As always with Girlfriend, they come in an inclusive size range and are sustainable thanks to their fabric made from 90 percent recycled plastic bottles — as well as being recyclable at the end of their life cycle. One downside: some reviewers noticed pilling after washing their socks, you should be fine as long as you follow the care instructions. As for what these feel like, they’re a thicker compression ankle sock designed for comfort, support, and healthy circulation. If that’s enough to convince you, you can happily stock up, since you get a bigger discount the more you buy ($2 off two pairs, $4 off three pairs, $8 off four pairs, and so on).

Size: 5-13 | Colors: 13 | Multipack: No | Height: Ankle

Best Crew

Paper Project Hemp Heather Crew Sock


Paper Project

What We Love: These socks are made from paper yarn for absorbing moisture and odors, and organic cotton for added softness.

What We Don’t Love: Paper Project isn’t an entirely sustainable company yet.

Paper Project is an Asian-owned company dedicated to creating beautiful pieces out of Japanese paper yarn, which is made from Manila hemp. The fabric lends itself seamlessly to socks because it’s thin, durable, moisture-wicking, and odor-absorbing. Because the paper yarn is naturally quite dry, these crew socks also use organic cotton to add a little softness into the mix. They come in five tasteful heathered color tones with a discreet embroidered logo and feature a ribbed style that’s just as suitable for tucking under your jeans as it is for showing off with some ankle boots. Though Paper Project isn’t an entirely sustainable company, they make an effort to consider the planet where they can, including donating a tree for every order.

Size: S-L | Colors: 5 | Multipack: No | Height: Calf

Best Compression

Comrad Knee-High Compression Socks

Comrad Knee-High Compression Socks


What We Love: They come in regular and wide sizes to fit everyone.

What We Don’t Love: They’re made from non-sustainable nylon and spandex.

Who says compression socks have to be sad and beige? Comrad puts the “fun” in functionality with these great nautical-striped knee-highs. By helping with circulation, they may remedy various aches and pains, especially as you get older. But you don’t need to have achy joints to wear them: they are a perfect choice for wearing post-workout, on long journeys, or if you’re pregnant. Reviewers who are on their feet all day love the breathability and design, which compresses the leg without pinching. 

Although they’re made from synthetic, non-sustainable materials, Comrad is fairly transparent when it comes to its production process: In particular, we appreciate that they use a dyeing method that saves water compared to traditional processes, and that they take steps to ensure their workers are treated fairly. Also, we love that these socks come in regular and wide sizes to fit different bodies.

Size: S-LW | Colors: 4 | Multipack: No | Height: Knee-High

Best for Hiking

Nike Everyday Plus Cushioned



What We Love: They’re sweat-wicking and cushioned for comfort.

What We Don’t Love: Some people find them a little tight at the ankle.

These socks from Nike go the extra mile — literally. “For longer distance running and hiking, I usually prefer a thicker sock, and my go-to is Nike's cushioned training ankle sock,” Nicholson says. “They are super comfortable and perfect for colder days. They absorb sweat, while the extra cushion will help keep blisters from forming without all the sliding and rubbing.” Available in black, white, or gray, this isn’t designed to be a fun sock, but it can definitely still look cool thanks to the classic swish. Plus, as Nicholson points out, these don’t miss when it comes to functionality. Some people find them a little tight at the ankle, but the majority find them very comfortable.

Size: S-XL | Colors: Black, White, Gray | Multipack: Yes | Height: Quarter

Best for Workouts

Drymax Running No Show Tab


Running Warehouse

What We Love: They keep your feet dry during sweaty workouts.

What We Don’t Love: They’re not very cute.

When it comes to her workout sessions, there’s only one sock for Anna Victoria, NASM-certified trainer and founder of Fit Body app: this no-show sports sock from Drymax. “They are ultra-thin but still give me the support I need during my workouts, and have both arch and heel molding so they don’t slip,” she says. They feature venting technology, plus a close-to-magic “sweat removal system,” both designed to minimize that uncomfortable sweaty feeling at the gym or during a run. They’re not the cutest-looking, but in terms of performance, you can't get much better than this.

Size: S-XXL | Colors: Black, White/Gray | Multipack: No | Height: No-Show

Best Fuzzy

Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Heathered Women's Socks



What We Love: They’re the softest ever.

What We Don’t Love: The toe seam is a little scratchy.

We know it might seem impossible to improve slipping into a pair of cozy socks after a long day, but we would like to introduce you to cult-favorite brand Barefoot Dreams. Made from the brand's signature CozyChic fabric — which FYI needs to be treated with extra care to keep the softness intact by washing cold and laying flat to dry — these socks feel incredibly soft. Some find the toe seam a bit scratchy, but that’s easy to look past. They don’t bunch or fall down while walking. Each colorway is speckled with white to create a delicate heathered look. Pick between six different shades, and if we do say so ourselves, they make great holiday gifts, too.

Size: One Size | Colors: 6 | Multipack: No | Height: Calf

Best Decorative

Hotsox Women’s Golden Gate Bridge Socks


Sock Shop Haight Street

What We Love: The patterns bring us joy.

What We Don’t Love: The brand doesn’t provide sustainability information.

For those who prefer something a bit more fun, enter HOTSOX’s extensive collection of Very Fun Socks. We love this sweet city-themed pair, but you can get some with hedgehogs, coffee, or the Mona Lisa, too. “HOTSOX is popular among the public and celebrities for their hilarious and colorful designs, but also their quality,” explains Lisa Sanchez, in-house stylist for The Nines. “They make great gifts that last a long time and word spreads quickly about them. Vanessa Hudgens is a big fan.” When it comes to fabrication, these socks don’t have any fancy features, just a durable cotton blend, and that’s really all you need. We’re not seeing any sustainability info, though.

Size: One Size | Colors: Turquoise, Dark Blue | Multipack: No | Height: Calf

What to Keep in Mind

Shoe Size

There isn’t really a conventional sizing system for socks, so make sure you check out each brand’s guide before you buy. Some come in one size, which is the most straightforward option, while some use regular shoe sizes, which is also intuitive. Others use a custom numbered scale, as is the case with Girlfriend Collective (their sizes, labeled 1, 2, and 3, cater to women’s shoe sizes 5 through 13). 

The most common sizing model, however, consists of letter sizes. Unfortunately, though there’s some overlap, these aren’t necessarily consistent across brands: For example, Nike’s size S corresponds to women’s shoe sizes 4 through 6, while Paper Project’s size S fits sizes 5 through 8.5, so you do need to double check individual size guides.


The different sock heights, from tallest to shortest, are thigh-high, knee-high, calf, quarter (a high ankle sock), ankle, and no-show (a short ankle sock). Your choice of sock height will depend on what you’re using them for: A thigh- or knee-high sock will keep you warmer and is great for layering in the winter, or for lounging around the house. Calf socks are perhaps the most common, and are suited for making sure there’s no chilly gap between your shoes and your pants, or alternatively for a fun little accent in your outfit (think: our picks from Marc Jacobs and HOTSOX). Ankle socks are most suited for warmer days and for all your sporty needs — quarter-length socks are best for a little extra coverage, and no-shows are great for sports or for wearing in boat shoes, for example.

Your Questions, Answered

How Do You Keep No-Show Socks From Falling Down?

We love how functional no-show socks are, especially for slim shoes that might look odd with a taller sock, but because of how often they fall down, you might think they’re not worth it. To avoid this happening,  “make sure they are the right size to start,” Brown advises. “Sometimes even getting socks half or one size up will help.”

Sanchez also says that “silicone grips around the lip of the sock are a huge help” — as with the Lululemon no-shows. “If you are in a pinch and your socks keep slipping, try some clothing tape to keep the cloth adhered to you,” she adds.

What Do You Need Compression Socks For?

Although a healthcare provider may advise you to wear compression socks — a type of sock that gently presses your foot and leg to improve circulation — there are also a ton of other reasons you might want to. "Compression socks have a variety of benefits that range from recovery-focused to performance-focused in relation to sports or exercise,” explains Jack Wright at CRX Compression, a medical grade compression garment company. “Wearing compression socks after training can allow for a reduction in Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.”

Wright adds that “they are also very beneficial to those who don't regularly train.” They’re great to improve circulation on long-distance flights, as well as to help prevent any unwanted swelling from daily activities, for example, if you’re attending a festival where you have to walk long distances, or you have a job that requires you to be on your feet for hours at a time. Essentially, they serve to prevent all sorts of discomfort in your legs and feet.

When Should You Replace Your Socks?

“You might not need to throw out socks as soon as a small hole has appeared,” Sanchez says. Bychkova agrees, and likes to try her hand at repairing those smaller holes from time to time. That said, both experts advise that you should throw out socks that have become threadbare. “If your socks have lost elasticity, the cost of buying a new pair is much cheaper than attempting repairs,” she says. “If you hate throwing out clothes, check out companies like For Days that offer clothing recycling programs.”

In this case too, Bychkova stands by her method for sock-buying: “The beauty of having all your socks in the same style is that you could save a ripped one and pair it with another good one,” she says, and we’re not gonna lie, we’re kind of sold.

Why Shop With Us

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based freelance journalist, author, and copywriter. She covers everything from celebrities and relationships to fashion and beauty for numerous publications, like InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Bustle, Women’s Health, and many more. For this story, she interviewed numerous experts — including fashion writer Emerald Elitou, style expert Katya Bychkova,  fashion blogger and stylist AK Brown, Lisa Sanchez, in-house stylist for The Nines, Candy Nicholson, personal trainer and fitness instructor at Candy Gyrl Fitness, Anna Victoria, NASM-certified trainer and founder of Fit Body app — on what to look for in a sock and how to get pesky no-show socks to actually stay up.

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