For such an innocuous piece of kit, your socks are a key player for walking and trail running. Long gone are the days when you’d go for a run in a pair that didn’t feature some serious breathable, temperature management technology let alone an anti-chafe build. But it makes sense to be very particular about what you wear with your trail shoes. After all, many a long-distance run has been destroyed by an unwise selection from your sock drawer – that pair that you wear with your Sunday best simply will not do the job.
Instead, look for lightweight, performance apparel that goes about its job without letting you know it’s there. It’s worth mentioning that the sporting brands in the running for top honours in this instance have really got to grips with this piece of clothing and if there are any differences, they’re tiny! Look for elements like flat toe seams, ventilation, anti-bacterial qualities and of course, looks.
What to look for in trail running socks
Seamless construction: This feature makes a world of difference for a more comfortable fit.
Breathability: Temperature management is hugely important in aiding comfort and performance.
Compression: For some runners, socks that offer compression will help with recovery.
Antibacterial qualities: Wear them longer with less pong! Which, of course, also means you’ll need to wash them less – good for the environment.
Material: It's tit for tat in regard to materials. Lightweight merino offers excellent temperature regulation and antibacterial qualities. Synthetic alternatives can (but not always) be cheaper, more durable, and can also benefit from antibacterial treatments.
The best trail running socks
Bridgedale Trail RUN Lightweight T2 Merino Sport
Pros: Great construction, seamless, breathable, lightweight
Cons: Finding them in retail outlets can be tricky
It’s not by chance Bridgedale has rapidly established itself as a key player in this competitive market. Hugely popular with the trail walking crowd, the unobtrusive Lightweight T2 (also available in men's and women's low-cut) has attracted attention for all the right reasons.
From a technical point of view, expect Merino Sport Fusion Technology which provides resilient padding, moisture wicking, odour control and durability on the trails. The Sport Fit gives supportive compression for stability and balance around the ankle and mid foot and the zero debris cuff gives an extended close fit to prevent debris getting in and this means your sock won't slip down or bunch in your footwear.
And you thought they were merely socks!
Darn Tough Run NoShow Ultra Lightweight Cushion Socks
Pros: Fabulous lightweight feel
Cons: Can wear a little quickly
For a sock that does as it promises – you can’t see it with your running shoes on – it sports a lot of tech and represents good value. It’s made from a blend of synthetic fibres and merino wool, which is naturally breathable and odour resistant. There’s an anti-chafe cuff, high performance flex zones and, perhaps most important of all, they are guaranteed for life. Nice.
Lorpen T3 Trail Running Padded ECO
Pros: Softest in the test, which you may (or may not) like
Cons: On the steeper side when it comes to cost
Comfortable and soft to the touch, these feature three key technical features. The Tencel fibres provide that soft feel, while the Coolmax fibres wick moisture away. As ever, there’s not much to report in that apart from that slightly softer warmer feel, they just do what socks do.
1000 Mile Trail Twin Pack
Pros: Fabulous price
Cons: Just a little thicker than others, but we’re talking fine margins
These are always a favourite with us. The price is superb and we challenge you to find a trail runner who has never worn a pair, such is their popularity and competitive price point. As you’d expect, they’re not short on tech, namely a Merino wool blend and its natural anti-bacterial qualities.
EDZ Merino Running Socks
Pros: Suitable for just about every distance
Cons: Can wear a little too quickly
An everyday kind of offering at an everyday price. These socks are 50% merino wool and provide a lightweight feel.
Sealskinz All Weather Ankle Sock
Pros: They’re waterproof, say no more!
Cons: Unusual feel
Interesting. This is a brand that really gets to work if bogs, river crossings and very wet days are on your agenda. Certainly, there’s a slightly unusual feel to the socks but after that initial wariness you’ll love them. Yes, our test team were dubious initially but found themselves raving about them (if it’s wet outside that is). Warmth, comfort and dry feet.
Runderwear Merino Running Socks
Pros: Comfortable, everyday kind of socks
Cons: You’ll wear them everywhere…to work, shopping and therefore you’ll wear them out!
You’ll be aware of the sporting underwear this brand has – sports bras, men’s underpants – but perhaps less so of the sock range. Well, here they are and like its underwear, these running socks are fantastically comfortable.