Socks are an underrated, but super important part of your running kit.
Good running socks keep your feet cool and comfortable, reduce blisters, and compliment your shoes by supporting your foot in all the right places.
Yet we often overlook the need for good running socks, and think we can wear any old pair of cotton socks. This leaves us with nasty blisters on our feet, derailing training plans, and ruining our love of the run.
Luckily, there are loads of quality running socks for women available on the market. Whatever your sock preferences, no-show, ankle socks, mid-calf, or even up to the knee compression socks, there are plenty out there. And as women, style is also important! Luckily for us, running socks today come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and patterns.
In this guide, I’m going to take you through the different kinds of running socks, how to choose the right pair for you, and an in-depth look at some of the best socks available today.
Quick look: Our top running socks for women (full reviews below): id=”table”
What to look for in women’s running socks
A sock is just a sock, right?
When it comes to running socks, there are many varying features to look out for. These are the main ones:
Your socks should fit your foot or leg properly. Too big or too small will result in slippage, risking blisters on your heel. Too small socks will also crush your toes, while too big socks will bunch up and cause blisters.
When buying socks you should buy the same size as your running shoe, but make sure to check the reviews to see whether the socks you are considering come out big or small, or shrink in the wash.
Look after your running socks carefully too – many of them can’t be washed at a high temperature or be dried in a tumble dryer.
Breathable, quick-drying materials
Your running socks should be made of a breathable, sweat-wicking fabric. Out with cotton and in with man-made materials, or for the very posh – merino wool.
Breathable, quick-drying socks keep your feet dry, cool, and comfortable, reducing the risk of blisters. These fabrics also reduce the smelliness of your socks, and ultimately your shoes too!
Many running socks are padded in key areas, usually the heel or mid-sole of your foot. Every step you take when running puts a huge impact on your foot, so the extra cushioning helps soften that blow.
Good socks will vary the cushioning to match the impact and shape of the different areas of the foot. This is one of the main reasons your socks have left and right markings on them.
Types of running socks
When researching socks, you’ll come across the same descriptions again and again. Let’s take some of the mystery out now:
These socks have two layers. The inner layer stays with your foot, and the outer layer moves with your shoe, so they rub together, not against your skin. This limits friction against your skin, and significantly reduces the risk of blisters. The inner layer is usually made from moisture wicking material to keep your feet dry and comfortable.
Ladies compression running socks
Ladies compression running socks apply pressure to parts of your feet and legs, providing stability and support to the tissues and blood vessels.
Many long-distance runners wear compression socks because they reduce pain while you are running, and make recovery time between runs shorter.
Running compression socks usually come in two lengths – up the knee, or ankle length. Up to the knee obviously adds extra compression for the calves, achilles and shins and are very commonly scene on the marathon circuit.
The level of compression offered by a pair of socks is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), and most athletes wear socks with a compression level between 15 and 30 mmHg. When choosing a pair of compression socks you will need to make sure they are not too tight, but that they sit securely round your leg.
Which socks are right for you?
Running socks can be expensive, but the right pair of socks will pay for itself in pain-free runs and keeping you out of the physiotherapist’s office. Before you invest in your socks, think for a few minutes about the type of runner you are.
The last thing you want to think about when running is blisters or sore arches, heels, and toes. As a beginner your feet will also be soft, without the hardened soles and callouses that lifetime runners have.
Look for a good mid-range sock that is breathable or cushioned depending on your preferences. Over time you will decide what works best for you.
But definitely stay away from the cotton socks you wore for PE at school. Those are a blister-fest waiting to happen!
The everyday runner
Socks from breathable materials are perfect for everyday runs. They are versatile and stay cool, dry, and comfortable in any weather from cold winter mornings, to balmy summer nights. You can then choose whether you prefer thin socks, no show socks, ankle socks, cushioned socks, or others.
The long distance runner
Cushioned socks will take some of the impact every step. Perfect for protecting the soles of your feet over long miles. Compression socks are also great for marathon and other long distance runners, as they support your foot and leg, reduce pain, and even improve recovery times. For this reason many distance runners wear compression socks not only during runs but during the day and even to sleep.
The off-road/trail runner
Look for socks that cover your ankles, calves, and even knees to protect your skin from nettles, bugs, and more. You may also want a cushioned sock to absorb the impact of uneven terrain, and maybe even go with a merino sock if you’re expecting to run in wet conditions.
Our top women’s running socks
We’ve taken a look at some of the top running socks available in the UK. Here are our top picks, in no particular order:
1. Rockay Accelerate Anti-Blister Running socks
Get your anti-blister protection in these thin running socks. Coming just up to the ankle, these socks are made from sweat wicking material, with ventilation zones at the top, keeping your foot dry, comfortable, and odour free.
The Rockay Accelerate is relatively thin, but cushioning at the toe and heel areas protects your vulnerable spots, and a compression band on the arch adds support. Elastic at the top of the sock keeps them from slipping down exposing your heel.
As an added bonus, these socks are made from 100% recycled materials, so you can feel you are doing your part for the environment every time you wear them.
- Made from 100% recycled materials.
- Lightweight anti-blister sock.
- Toe and heel padding and mid-sole support.
- Best for runners who want a little extra on their thin socks.
2. Hylaea No Show Compression Socks
If you are looking for a hard-hitting anti-blister/ compression combination, these socks have it all. The Hylaea no-show sock is designed specially to remove sweat from your feet with a special blend of CoolMax fabric and combed cotton which will keep your feet dry, airy, and odour-free on every run.
Heavyweight cushioning on the soles, and a mid-sole compression band buffers your feet from the impact of every running step, relieving foot pain as you run.
The Hylaea socks combine great comfort, fabulous performance, and no-show style at an affordable price. Hylaea are so confident you’ll love them, they also come with a 90-day money-back guarantee.
- Great compression in a no-show sock.
- CoolMax fabric and cotton mix provides perfect moisture-wicking.
- Super comfortable fit.
- Anti-blister, extra padding, and midsole compression.
- 90 day guarantee.
3. 1000 Mile Women’s Fusion Running Anklet Socks
From the original makers of the dual layer sock, this ankle high sock does more than just keep your feet blister free. These attractive ankle socks have a padded zone on the heel to protect your Achilles tendon, and they come with arch support for added protection. And there’s more. The latest version of the socks come with extra venting at the top of your foot to help keep your feet feeling cool as you run.
These socks are designed to fit from the first moment you pull them on, so get your usual size. We like them a lot. Just keep them away from the tumble dryer!
- Dual layer for maximum comfort and blister protection
- Extra support for the Achilles tendon and arch
- True to size fit
- Asymmetric colour accents to keep you looking good
4. Injinji Run Lightweight No-Show Toe Socks
These socks are perfect for runners who find that their toes get squished together in other socks, or who suffer cuts and blisters from toenails rubbing on the toe next to it.
The separated toe design also keeps your toes properly aligned, keeping all your toes flat, and allowing your whole foot to engage in every step. Although their focus is on blister prevention, these socks don’t compromise on support with a band on the arch.
We looked at the no-show version, but Injinji’s range include ankle and mid-calf as well, and they come in lots of different colours and patterns, which is a worthy bonus in my book. A run is always more fun when you can enjoy it in style!
- Super lightweight, no-show socks.
- 5 toe design to protect your toes from blisters.
- CoolMax technology and moisture wicking materials to keep feet cool and dry.
- Arch support.
5. Karrimor Womens Running Ankle Socks
These soft, padded, ankle-high socks are both great value and super comfortable on runs of all distances. Made with moisture wicking fabric, these socks are breathable, and also come with an anti-odour treatment, keeping both your feet and shoes fresher for longer. The padding on the toe and heel, and women-centric design provide maximum comfort.
These socks are a good place to start for runners looking at running socks for the first time.
- Moisture wicking fabric
- Anti-odour treatment for fresher feet and shoes
- Padded heel and toe
6. Hilly Women’s Marathon Fresh Anklet Socks
Make these high ankle length dual layer socks your marathon running socks.
Designed with longer runs in mind, the Polygiene fabric contains low concentrations of silver salt to keep your feet fresh and odour free, and eliminate the potential for bacteria or fungi to grow inside the sock.
Lycra sport fibers keep the socks fitting closely, preventing friction and blisters in the later miles of your run.
Venting on the top of the sock keeps your feet cool, and cushioning on the middle of the foot provides support and comfort.
- Polygiene fabric for freshness and odour control.
- Mid-foot cushioning.
- Upper foot venting.
- Perfect for long runs.
7. Runderwear Anti-Blister Running Socks
The two layers in these socks are specially designed to rub against each other and not your feet, so they reduce friction, remove sweat moisture, and prevent blisters. These socks tick all the right boxes to make your feet as comfortable as possible in every run – moisture wicking fabric to keep feet dry, Lycra arch support for comfort, an ergonomic fit designed for women, and cushioning to protect the soles of your feet.
Runderwear socks are designed by runners for runners, and it shows in the care and attention they have put into making these socks ideal for runners of any distance. We’re big fans of these ones!
- Dual layer to prevent friction and blisters.
- Lycra arch support.
- Breathable moisture-wicking material.
- Perfect for long runs.
8. ZEALWOOD Merino Wool No Show Running Socks
These socks are for the runner who likes things natural. Merino wool is the most breathable material nature has to offer, wicking moisture away from your feet and allowing it to evaporate quickly so your feet stay cool, dry, and blister free as you run.
These socks are super lightweight, invisible above your shoe line, and come with extra cushioning on the toe and heel to absorb the shock of every step and extra arch support for protection and to avoid injury. The natural material in the socks also keeps them odour-free.
Merino wool socks are recommended by many running coaches and physios, so if they’re in your budget it’s worth trying out a pair. Many runners who try them, especially trail runners, swear they’ll never wear anything else!
- Merino wool is naturally breathable and light.
- Cushioning on toes and heels.
- Arch support.
- Great for running everyday.
9. Cambivo Knee High Compression Socks
If you are looking for a pair of knee high compression socks for that extra support on long distance runs, these socks are for you. High compression at the ankles gives way to moderate compression up your legs to keep the blood circulating on those long long runs without cutting off your range of motion. 4 dimensional stretchable material allows your foot and leg to move naturally.
And importantly, these socks are made with moisture wicking materials so they dry quickly, and keep your feet and legs comfortable. Anti-odour technology also keeps them hygienic, which is important for those long runs.
If you’re in the marathon scene you’ve likely seen these often during race weeks and on the course itself. They’re touted as great for recovery, as well as during long runs to keep the blood flowing and the swelling down. If your feet swell, or you tend to recover slowly, give these a try, they might be exactly what you’ve been missing.
- Graduated compression for support up the leg.
- Breathable fabric.
- Anti-odour material.
- Ideal for long runs and marathons.
10. Physix Gear No Show Compression Socks
These are also a compression sock, but a different style that only runs ankle high and leaves the rest of your lower leg free. If it’s mostly your feet that bother you during those tough runs, these may be the socks for you.
Gradient compression runs from the arch of your foot to below your ankle, offering targeted support where you need it most. As well as the extra support from the compression, these socks have everything you’d expect with moisture wicking material, seamless toe design, and chafing protection at the heels.
Great choice for a low profile compression sock that’s very popular and has great reviews too.
- Targeted support for your foot.
- Moisture wicking material.
- Chafing protection at the heels.
- Push your feet to the limit.
Our top picks!
Much of your choice is going to come down to personal preference. Some people prefer no-show socks to minimise leg covering, and maintain a natural foot movement. Other runners feel more secure with a sock that comes up their ankle or leg, while still more runners want the additional support of a compression sock. As you log your running miles, you will learn more about what socks serve you best. And luckily for you, women’s running socks options are practically unlimited.
For an all-round sock that can take you through the gears from 5km to a marathon, the Runderwear anti-blister sock will give you the cushioning and support you need alongside excellent blister protection. If this is your first pair of running socks, you can’t go wrong starting with these.
For specific long distance or marathon socks, we’re recommending the Hilly Women’s Anklet socks. We like how minimalist they are, while still giving you all the support you need. Comfort is key in long distances and we think you’ll love these.
If you’re one of those people who get after it every day with a vengeance and need compression in your life, we’re happy to recommend the Cambivo’s. Suitable for any distance, and for recovery times as well, we think they’re a great tool for the hard runner.
Ready to buy? Click here to return to our table of top picks.
Do you have a favourite running sock? Tell us about it below.
Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API