For such an innocuous piece of kit, socks are key to pair properly with your trail running shoes. 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.
It pays to be very particular about what you wear with your running shoes. After all, many long-distance runs have 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 a performance sock that goes about its job without letting you know it’s there. Sporting brands in the running for top honours in the sock department have, like all sports gear, got it down to a science. We've been testing and finding the best trail running socks out there.
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.
Padding: Socks that offer carefully placed padding around the heel, underfoot and toe are often winners on longer runs.
The best running socks
Lorpen T3 Trail Running Padded Eco
Best in Test
A concise summary of the Lorpen Trail Running sock is that you don’t notice you’re wearing them.
- Suitable for year-round use
- Fantastic breathability
- Effective multi-material design
- Tad pricey
1000 Mile Trail Sock Twin Pack
For the price, these are quite impressive running socks. They’re a relatively simple single layer
- Very affordable
- Great comfort
- Twin pack
- Not great for high intensity or warm weather
- No recycled material used
Bridgedale Trail Run Lightweight T2 Merino Sport 3/4 Crew
It was a close contest for best overall between these and the Lorpen socks. We just found that the
- Excellent cushioning
- Intelligent, effective design
- Great for long runs
- No recycled material
Smartwool Run Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Crew Socks
Best for winter
When you think of winter socks for the outdoors, you often think Sealskinz. We did test a pair –
- Warm yet breathable
- Merino naturally anti-odour
- Full crew length protects lower calves
Darn Tough Run No Show Tab Ultra-Lightweight Cushioned Sock
Best for summer
When the weather is warm, low cut socks are great for running. It’s almost like going from
- Excellent heel tabs
- Highly breathable
- Guaranteed for life
- Nylon used isn't recycled
Dynafit No Pain No Gain Socks
Best pattern design
If you like to have running gear that is as loud as it is effective, you’ll love these socks from
- Loud and proud
- Crew height for calf protection
- Four colour patterns available
- Too loud and too proud for some
- Doesn't use recycled material