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8 best men’s socks for walking, running, hiking and more

These will keep your feet warm, dry and help you avoid blisters

Charlie Allenby
Monday 08 November 2021 13:35 GMT
A good pair of socks will be comfortable on all parts of your feet – all the way from your ankles to your toes
A good pair of socks will be comfortable on all parts of your feet – all the way from your ankles to your toes (iStock/The Independent)

Socks are a funny old thing. The standard stocking filler present, they get a bad rep for being the most boring item in the underwear draw. But there’s much more to a pair of socks than the novelty designs that plague the present pile come Christmas.

A good pair of socks will be comfortable on all parts of your feet – all the way from your ankles to your toes. They should offer some level of support without being restrictive, and the ability to wick sweat away – whether it’s a hot day or you’re doing a strenuous workout – will not only keep your feet feeling fresh, but could minimise blisters too.

There are also a range of sock styles, and each one is designed to perfectly fit the job at hand (or foot). A pair of wellington boots call for boot socks, but you wouldn’t wear the same pair for a run, after all.

How we tested

For this article, we tested a number of different categories of socks, and put a number of competing brands through their paces to find the best in each style. We tested the socks in the settings they were designed for – so trail running socks on trails, and hiking socks when hiking – and each had to cope with its fair share of conditions.

To be considered, the socks had to remain comfortable throughout their use, do what they claimed and keep blisters at bay. They also had to stand up to being washed a handful of times and not lose their shape, support or stitching.

Read more:

The best socks for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Stance Icon 200 crew sock: £12.99, Stance.eu.com
  • Best for walking –Darn Tough decade: £20.79, Webtogs.com
  • Best for hiking – 1000 Mile three season: £14.85, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for running – On Running mid sock: £18, Sigmasports.com
  • Best for trail running – Columbia light weight mid trail running sock: £12.50, Columbiasportswear.co.uk
  • Best for toe socks – Injinji ultra run crew running toe socks: £18.99, Feetus.co.uk
  • Best for boot socks – Darn Tough scout boot midweight: £28.95, Amazon.co.uk
  • Bestfor cycling  Assos spring falls socks: £17, Wiggle.co.uk

Stance Icon 200 crew sock

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Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

If you’re the sort of person who has never really invested any attention or money into what you put on your feet, then the Icon 200s from Stance will literally blow your cheap, multi-pack socks off. The cushioning on the toes and heel has a luxurious, soft feel, and the socks lovingly hug your feet, providing all-day support. The elastic above the ankle grips your lower leg without being restrictive, and they never feel like they will slip.

At £12.99 per pair, they are certainly something of an outlay, but your feet will thank you. What’s more, Stance offers up a lifetime guarantee with all of its Infiknit-featuring socks, so if they rip, tear or get a hole, it’ll replace them for free.

  1. £12 from Stance.eu
Prices may vary
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Darn Tough decade

PXL_20211006_153724801 (2) copy.jpg

Best: For walking

Rating: 9/10

Walking in bog standard socks will soon leave you wishing for a bit more support – especially if you are strolling on footpaths and bridleways. These socks from Vermont-based brand Darn Tough are an answer for all but the most intense off-piste action.

Made from a blend of Merino Wool and nylon, they are comfortable, breathable and keep sweat at bay, but also offer up some warmth on colder days. The socks didn’t slip or bunch once during our regular walks in them, and still look as fresh as their first wear. Darn Tough guarantees them for life too, so they should live up to their decade name.

  1. £20 from Webtogs.com
Prices may vary
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1000 Mile three season

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Best: For hiking

Rating: 8/10

Blisters are a common issue with hiking. Ensuring that walking boots fit properly is the first thing people tend to do, but having hiking socks that are up to scratch can be just as much of a revelation.

The three season socks from 1000 Mile are boot length and are ideal if you have mid-height boots (ones that cover the ankle). Padded zones offer protection for the Achilles, ankles, toes and ball of the foot, keeping blisters at bay.

Our favourite thing about the three season socks though was how breathable they were. Even when on testing scrambles in mild conditions, our feet stayed bone dry and comfortable.

  1. £14 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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On Running mid sock

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Best: For running

Rating: 9/10

Running is another sport where it’s best to invest in a dedicated set of socks. The mid sock from Swiss brand On Running is certainly premium (setting you back £18 per set), but is a worthwhile investment. The first things you’ll notice is how lightweight they feel and how much support they offer to your foot’s arch. When running, this translates to a sock that prevents your feet from getting sweaty (even on hot days) and one that stays comfortable and secure, mile after mile.

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Columbia light weight mid trail running sock

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Best: For trail running

Rating: 8/10

Pounding the pavements requires a certain amount of support from your sock, but when you head off-road, it’s handy to have some extra protection to hand. These trail running socks from Columbia provide just that. Their mid-height length extends about 10cm above the ankle, and gave us protection from brambles, ferns and overgrown greenery when hitting the trails. A mesh zone above the toe box kept the air flowing freely, and arch support felt great even on the toughest terrain.

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Injinji ultra run crew running toe socks

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Best: For toe socks

Rating: 9/10

While they might look strange and alien-like, toe socks are actually great if you find that you suffer from blisters on the tips or sides of your toes. By encasing each toe in its own little compartment, skin-on-skin rubbing is minimised, keeping you comfortable long into a walk or run.

Although aimed at ultra-distance runners, these socks from Injinji were amazing even on short sprints around the block. If that wasn’t enough, they are super soft to touch. They do come up quite high on your calf, but we found this just offered up even more support and protection on trails.

  1. £18 from Feetus.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Darn Tough scout boot midweight

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Best: For boot socks

Rating: 8/10

When wearing boots like wellingtons, you need a long sock that won’t slip down but also offers up some warmth against the rubber insides. Another pick from Darn Tough, the scout boot midweight’s merino wool and nylon blend keeps your toes feeling snug even on ice-cold starts, but leaves your feet dry and comfortable – even in the clammy confines of a wellington boot on a milder day. The socks didn’t slip once when testing and provided a snug and reliable fit without feeling restrictive.

  1. £28 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Assos spring falls socks

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Best: For cycling

Rating: 8/10

Unlike all other sports, your feet don’t actually move that much when cycling – sure, they go round and round on the pedals, but cycling-specific socks don’t require the protective features seen on hiking or running socks. Instead, their whole mission objective is to be lightweight, breathable and supportive.

The spring fall socks from Assos do just this and more, and quickly became the pair we reached for in the sock drawer before going for a ride. As can be guessed from their name, they’re designed to deal with a range of temperatures. We found that they could handle anything the British late summer could throw at them – from unseasonably warm afternoons to those cold, grey days.

  1. £17 from Wiggle.co.uk
Prices may vary
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The Verdict: Men’s socks

The Stance Icon 200 crew socks were some of the most comfortable socks that have ever graced our feet, and we wish we had enough pairs to wear every day of the week. Darn Tough’s decade socks were the perfect companion for walking and light hikes, while a special mention should go to the On Running mid sock, which was a great addition to our running wardrobe.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on running socks and other sports essentials, try the link below:

You’ve got the socks – now check out our review of the best running belts for carrying phones, water bottles and keys

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