I would have been baffled if you had asked me a decade ago what the best athletic socks for walking, running, or hiking. I never worried about choosing the best athletic socks; I was fine as long as they were clean. But, since I began to pay attention to the socks I wear and how they affect my feet’s health, comfort, and performance in any activity, I’ve learned to differentiate between which socks are best for walking and which are not.
A good pair of walking socks are designed to keep you comfortable and safe, whether going on a multi-hour countryside ramble or hitting the pavement for some sightseeing. Choosing the proper socks is critical. They are not only your first line of defense against blisters and chafing, but they also provide much-needed support to your feet’s soles. Investing in a good pair of socks is always a good idea because they provide excellent value.
So I have pulled together this guide to share all I have learned in the past nine years to help you select a quality pair that provides maximum comfort and optimal performance. This guide includes various walking sock options, allowing you to choose a team that meets your specific needs and preferences.
Let’s dive in.
1. Stance Divide Crew Sock (Unisex)
Buy now on Stance
Buy now on Amazon for $17.19 – $19.99
The Divide Crew is warm and breathable, thanks to the brand’s Infiknit fabric technology, which it claims never rips or tears, and if it does, Stance will replace it for free and 34 percent merino wool.
It also has a luxuriously soft feel, so much so that you’ll soon be wearing them for more than just walking. The crew height is suitable for mid-calf, providing ankle protection without excess fabric and working well with boots. This sock is ideal for taking those long walks through the park and can easily step in as your everyday wear, and the 95% of buyers who rated it five stars on Amazon agree too.
The only drawback to these socks is that they are not thick.
2. Feetures Elite Light Cushion Mini Crew Socks (Unisex)
Buy now on Feetures for $20
Buy now on Amazon
This pair of lightweight walking socks are also suitable for summer walks. Instead of being bulky all over, these have a more streamlined fit with mesh zones, light padding, and a seamless toe section.
Your toes will thank you for wrapping them in the Elites because Feetures socks are always super-soft. It is mid-calf high, providing ankle protection without adding bulk, and fits well with boots.
Their customer service and refund policy are also excellent.
The only problem is that for $20, they are a bit expensive. The socks are also not great for people with wide feet.
3. Rockay Flare Quarter Socks (Unisex)
Buy now on Rockay for $21
Buy now on Amazon
The Rockay Flare Quarter Socks may be the best walking sock for you if you want a sock that protects without ruining the look of your summer outfit.
The Rockay Flare Quarter Socks have a seamless toe construction to prevent chafing, and the breathable mesh zones allow air to circulate on your feet. They are also qualitative enough and provide good quality for money.
They won’t work with boots because they’re only ankle height (they’re not tall enough to cover the upper part of the ankle), but they’re perfect with walking shoes or trainers.
4. Under Armour Women’s Essential No Show Socks (Women)
Buy now on Under Armour for $16
Buy now on Amazon
I recommend this Under Armour pack for a super affordable but high-quality sock to get the most bang for your buck.
These socks provide excellent arch support and feature anti-odor technology. They have a scooped welt design that follows the lines of your shoes rather than cutting a straight line across your ankle.
The sweat-wicking material keeps your feet dry and comfortable, whether taking a short walk around the block or a long walk in the park.
Despite all those qualities, some people may find them tight. I am also unsure if the quality is the same as before, as the recent ones I bought already have holes. The support is also not that great.
5. Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather Ankle Length Sock (Unisex)
Buy now on Sealskinz for $45
Buy now on Amazon for $38.34-59.00
A waterproof walking sock should be your go-to if you live somewhere particularly drizzly, aren’t afraid of a little stormy weather, or don’t want to risk getting your feet wet in any circumstance. These Sealskinz socks are made of three layers: a waterproof hydrophilic membrane, a Merino wool liner (for warmth and sweat-wicking), and a Polycolon exterior with 4-way stretch.
They’re an excellent way to keep your feet dry if your shoes aren’t waterproof. They are also highly breathable and prevent blisters.
Now for a pair of waterproof socks, the price tag of $45 is ridiculous. The fact that others have suggested the waterproof quality didn’t work for them (it did for me to an extent) is a red flag. Their customer service is horrendous.
6. Darn Tough Solid Basic Crew Light Socks
Buy now on Darn Tough for $23
Buy now on Amazon for $20
The Darn Tough Element sock is pure merino wool. Because of one of the best natural materials available: merino wool, these socks have a mesh forefoot and naturally regulate temperature. In the summer, they’ll be cool, and in the winter, they’ll be warm.
This material is also sweat-wicking, drawing moisture to the surface of the fibers and allowing them to evaporate away from the skin. These socks are exceptionally breathable.
Darn Tough has “undetectable” seam fusion to prevent chafing and discomfort and a fitted silhouette from preventing slipping, bunching, and blistering. The light cushion variety provides just enough oomph on the footbed’s base without being too bulky. These characteristics make it ideal for walking.
For socks this great, the design is flawed.
This extra fabric flap sticks out from the front of your foot and bunches up at the end of your shoe. The return policy is also tricky, as attested to by many buyers, not to mention their site doesn’t contain reviews by buyers. They also lack
They are also too thin for my liking.
7. Smartwool Hike Light Cushion Crew Sock
Buy on Smartwool for $24
Buy on Amazon for $23-25
One of the best all-around walking socks available, these have everything you need in a walking sock. Made from 69% Merino Wool, 30% Nylon, and 1% Elastane, they’re light and breathable.
They’re not too bulky but rather have a more streamlined fit with mesh zones and padded sections for a custom fit that’s not too hot but still provides the padding you need to stay comfortable. There is nothing worse than a sock slipping down inside your boot and disrupting your walk than a sock slipping down inside your boot and disrupting your walk.
They are a little pricey, which is why they aren’t higher on this list. You can also choose ankle-height socks for a more minimalist look or ‘Full Hike’ for more padding. They also stretch even after machine washing and are not durable enough.
When shopping for a good pair of socks, ensure they wick away moisture to prevent sweat and odor buildup, provide cushioned support, and are the right size for your feet.
Finding foot support while walking extends beyond the shoes you wear. Socks can also provide moderate support to reduce pain and discomfort during physical activity. Before purchasing a pair, look for padding on the instep, heel, and sole.
The material of your socks influences their breathability, how well they wick moisture, and how they feel in your shoes. Lightweight, breathable blends of polyester, nylon, and spandex offer the best experience, while those made of cotton can cause blisters and lock in and absorb moisture, making them uncomfortable.
Hopefully, this guide helped provide some helpful insight into the benefits and considerations of wearing the best athletic socks for walking while exposing you to some brands worth exploring when buying your next pair.