The Best Athletic Socks for Men 2023, According to Fitness Experts
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Give your workout-weary feet the care, cushion, and comfort they deserve.
IT'S EASY to assume that a sock is a sock is a sock, right? It’s true that for everyday wear—your morning commute, relaxing around the house, or puttering between the refrigerator and your WFH setup—a six-pack of cheap cotton crews will probably get the job done. Unless you’re on your feet for hours every day, you might not think too much about your choice of sock. But if you’re at all athletic or into working out on the regular, your feet demand better. We’re talking about proper athletic socks.
Athletic socks should fit like your best pair of workout shoes. They should be snug but not so tight that they’re cutting off your circulation. You want them to grip your feet and stay put when you really get moving. There’s no better recipe for blisters and sore feet than loose-fitting socks that slip and slide during your workouts. Look for breathable, moisture-absorbing (a.k.a. “quick wicking”) fabrics, too. They help draw moisture away from your skin, which helps fend off blisters, skin irritation, and foot odor
If you’re ready to upgrade your athletic sock game and finally give your feet the care, cushion, and comfort they deserve, we’re here to help. Our in-house writers and Men’s Health fitness experts routinely put every kind of athletic sock to the test. In the roundup below, we’ve narrowed down our top picks for the best nine athletic socks for men in 2023.
Best Compression Socks for Men | Best Men's Workout Clothes | Best Moisture-Wicking Socks | Best Wool Socks
Every man needs a go-to cache of reliable crew socks in his wardrobe. Nike’s Everyday Plus Cushion Training Crew Socks maximize versatility and work for casual wear, the hardest workouts, and everything in between. These athletic socks stand apart from the typical Hanes 6-pack, thanks to a well-cushioned heel and forefoot, with a snugger, more supportive arch band. With a blend of roughly two-thirds cotton and one-third synthetics, you get the soft comfort of natural cotton with the quick-wicking, anti-odor properties of polyester and nylon. Plus, the added dash of spandex provides a bit of stretch, so they fit just right.
While most Nike products demand a premium, these athletic socks are surprisingly well-priced at just $22 for a 6-pack (direct from Nike). At that price, it’s hard to find much to complain about. With more than 18,000 buyer ratings—including over 14,000 five-star reviews—on Amazon alone, these are clearly a fan favorite, too. All of which is why these are our hands-down pick for the best everyday athletic socks for men this year.
What do buyers say? “The socks were a great quality and they were … a perfect fit. Super cheap for the quality,” said one Amazon reviewer.
Read more: Best Nike Shoes for Men
Besides Carhartt, few workwear brands are as well-known as Dickies. It’s a go-to favorite for apparel that’s comfortable, durable, and affordable. So, too, with Dickies’ Dri-tech Moisture Control Crew Socks. In our opinion, these can go almost toe-to-toe (get it?) with Nike’s Everyday Plus athletic socks above. The fabric blend—71% cotton, 27% polyester, and 2% spandex—is almost identical, meaning they’re moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and odor-resistant. They’re also incredibly comfortable for casual wear and for working out.
With roughly 200,000 reviews on Amazon, it’s no surprise that these are an Amazon Best Seller. More than 150,000 of those are overwhelmingly positive, five-star reviews to boot. Some buyers complain of issues with the sock bottoms rubbing through and developing holes prematurely. But, for the price (less than $14 for a six-pack), it’s hard to complain when you can stock up with three or four packs for around $50.
What do buyers say? “I am very impressed with their performance. My partner is a firefighter who does 24 hour shifts. These are the only socks he’s ever had that successfully keep his feet dry. And that’s a rare occasion. Might need to pick up some more,” said one Amazon reviewer.
Read more: Best Men's Socks on Amazon
Most people are either fans of no-show socks or they’re not; there’s rarely any in-between. If you’re in the “pro no-show” camp, you'll love Lululemon’s Power Stride No-Show Socks. The ultra-low-cut design means they’re virtually invisible inside any pair of workout shoes. The fabric is a simple synthetic blend of nylon and Lycra elastane that’s lightweight, breathable, and great at wicking away moisture, so your feet stay cool, dry, and comfortable. Unlike many no-show socks, these are cleverly designed with grippy tabs on the inside, so the back stands up and the sock stays put, even during hard workouts.
These are near-perfect, no-show athletic socks, especially if money is no object. While we can’t really say these are expensive, roughly $40 for a three-pack is a little steep compared to others in our roundup. But we think you often get what you pay for, and Lululemon is almost always worth the premium. If you’re shopping specifically for the best no-show athletic socks, these are your man.
What do buyers say? “Really great sock. Nice weight and does not stretch out. One of the only no show socks that stays up even when the back tape wears out,” said one Lululemon.com reviewer.
Swiftwick has long been a favorite of ours for its amazing hiking socks. If you’re into high-intensity activities, the Maxus Zero Tab Socks are the perfect blend of performance, support, and comfort. The relaxed arch band loosely snugs against your foot for maximum comfort with light compression. A microtab at the heel prevents blisters, while a seamless toe box minimizes friction and skin irritation at the front. But what truly sets these athletic socks apart is the thick, cushioned footbed designed to absorb impact during the most serious workouts.
Swiftwick’s socks almost always demand a premium, and the Maxus Zero is no different. At more than $40 for a three-pack, these are some of the priciest men’s athletic socks we’ve seen in 2023. But if you’re into hard workouts that demand maximum cushioning, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option.
What do buyers say? “Great fit and feel. I plan to order more soon. The price is a little high but to me, it's worth it,” said one Amazon reviewer.
If you’re a runner, you’re no doubt familiar with On’s amazing running shoes. But did you know it makes great socks too? The simply named On Performance Mid Socks balance performance and protection for runners (and any athletes, really) who prefer to split the difference between a crew-length and a low-profile or no-show sock. The latest edition is lightweight and breathable with a snug, but not tight, compression. A non-slip design ensures these stay put no matter what. Plus, the 100% recycled polyester fabric is temperature-regulating to keep your feet cool when it’s hot out, and warmer when the temperature dips.
There’s almost nothing we dislike about these athletic socks. As with everything in On’s lineup, these are damn-near-perfect. Our only gripe is the price. As with most of the brand’s premium products, you’ll pay handsomely for the best. At more than $20 per pair, these are among the most expensive athletic socks we’ve tested. (Side note: If mid-length isn’t your thing, these Performance Socks are also available in high and low lengths as well.)
Under Armour bills its Men’s UA Essential Low Cut Socks as “ultra-thin” with a “barely there feel.” We couldn’t agree more. Add to that a low-cut height and a breezy fabric designed for maximum breathability, and these are all but invisible in your shoes. That’s entirely thanks to a synthetic blend fabric (97% polyester / 3% elastane) that wicks away sweat and moisture like a champ, while keeping foot stink at bay. Embedded arch support and a contoured heel ease fitness-related foot fatigue, too, so you can push your workouts harder and longer.
Almost everything in UA‘s activewear catalog demands a premium, but these are surprisingly priced right at around $20 per six-pack. That’s less than $4 a pair for the best lightweight athletic socks we’ve seen all year. They’re also incredibly well-reviewed, with more than 1,200 five-star reviews on Amazon alone. Pick up a couple packs for under $50, and you’re likely to be set for athletic socks for the next year or so.
What do buyers say? “These are the perfect socks for casual and easy cardio days. They breathe well without jeopardizing the quality of the socks,” said one UnderArmour.com reviewer.
Read more: Best Underwear for Men
When it comes to sheer comfort, there’s no substitute for cotton. That’s why Nobull’s Crew Sock relies on a 75% cotton construction for a buttery soft feel that swaddles your feet like a cloud. Cushioning throughout the heel, sole, and toe helps absorb impacts for those who like to go hard with their workouts. With a healthy dose of polyester, these athletic socks are quick-wicking and fast-drying, too. Plus, a dash of spandex gives them enough stretch for snug, but not too tight, compression. The anatomical design (with a specific left and right foot) also ensures a better fit.
We’re huge fans of Nobull’s entire catalog, and these socks are no exception. At $12 per pair (or $30 for three pairs), they’re a bit pricier than the cheapest options on this list. But that still puts them squarely in the midrange of our favorite athletic socks. If comfort is paramount for you while working out, there’s no better option than these crew socks.
What do buyers say? “I love these socks — they hug your feet! There is a left and a right and fit my feet better than other socks!” said one NoBullProject.com reviewer.
For ultra-affordable basics, it’s hard to beat Amazon Essentials. The brand’s Cotton Half-Cushioned Crew Socks are the most affordable we’ve seen all year at roughly $20 for a 10-pack. So, you can drop less than $50 and be swimming in decent athletic socks for years. The blended fabric includes premium rung-spun cotton for maximum comfort, plus 25% synthetics, so they dry faster and wick away sweat better than cotton alone. Cushioned soles absorb hard impacts for hard workouts and long runs. Plus, we love the smooth toe seam construction that helps prevent friction and blisters.
At just $2 per pair, it’s hard to find much to complain about with these basic men’s athletic socks. Beyond the incredible price, they’re also very well-reviewed, with more than 15,000 five-star Amazon ratings. The most common gripe among buyers is that the long-term durability could be better. Some report the socks only lasting a little over a year before wearing through. But did we mention they’re less than $2 a pair?
What do buyers say? Out of more than 20,000 Amazon reviews, 90% recommend the Amazon Essentials Men's Cotton Half-Cushioned Crew Socks with at least a 4-star rating.
Foot odor can be a serious problem, especially if your socks aren’t up to the task of fending it off in the first place. Balega’s Silver Compression Fit Performance No Show Athletic Socks integrate silver ions directly into the fabric. It’s a recipe that’s well-known to fight off odor-causing bacteria. These socks are made with a synthetic blend, including proprietary Drynamix, that’s soft, breathable, and delivers just the right compression. The overall design mimics some of the best running shoes, so they lock in the heel and mid-foot while providing your toes the freedom to move.
These aren’t just the best antimicrobial athletic socks but some of the best men’s athletic socks overall. The only downside? Price. At $20 per pair, these premium socks come with a premium price tag to match. But if you’re prone to foot odor and are looking to keep that stink at bay, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option.
What do buyers say? “I went from never wearing socks, to buying several pairs of these. They stay in place, are the perfect fit, and are comfy as heck,” said one Amazon reviewer.
Of course, shopping for socks isn’t rocket science. But there are a few key features to look for to find the right pair for you.
Above all else, athletic socks should fit snugly but not feel too tight. A relaxed to medium compression is ideal, as it will support but not squeeze your foot at the arch, which can lead to foot fatigue, especially during strenuous workouts. This is more of a subjective thing, and the only way to know for sure is to try a pair of socks on to see how they fit. If they leave fabric marks on your skin when you take them off after a workout, they’re probably too tight.
There is no one best fabric, however, as every fabric has its strengths. Cotton is naturally the softest and most comfortable. Synthetics like polyester and nylon are better than most natural fabrics at wicking away sweat, typically dry faster, and stave off odor better. The best men’s athletic socks usually combine natural and synthetic materials to get the best of both worlds.
Thankfully, even the best athletic socks are affordable. Several pairs we’ve listed above are available for just $3-$4 per pair—easily within just about anyone’s budget. The very best premium options can run between $15-$20 per pair. These socks are typically made with high-quality fabrics that are more comfortable, more durable, and better at wicking away sweat and moisture.
Our in-house fitness experts and workout-savvy writers researched and personally tested dozens of top-selling athletic socks over the last few years. We compared everything from fit and fabric to comfort and durability. For this roundup, we also considered men’s athletic socks with at least 200 positive buyer reviews on the ecommerce websites we trust most. The list above represents our carefully chosen picks for the best athletic socks for men in 2023.
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South Africa, and survived a near-miss great white shark attack in Mexico. His travel advice has appeared on the websites for Forbes, Travel + Leisure, CNET, and National Geographic. He loves the great outdoors and good bourbon, and (usually) calls Tulsa, Oklahoma home. Mike also enjoys speaking in the third person.
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