Best Trail Running Socks in 2020

Natalie Cecconi
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Hitting the trails with your best friend, taking a walk to relax or getting some exercise and fresh air are all great ways to get out of the house and into the fresh air.

We’ve recently covered a lot of the top socks for hiking in terms of foot protection and breathability, but what about trail running? There are a whole lot of differences between the two, and just getting some “regular” hiking socks for trail running can be a recipe for disaster.

Feet can get seriously hurt on the trails, and, if you don’t keep your feet protected from thorns, rocks, and other natural nuisances, you will come back with all sorts of trouble.

So, I’ve done my research, and here are the best trail running socks for your hiking/jogging adventures in the mountains or back in the woods.

NameCategoryProduct
Injinji Women's Trail Midweight Mini-Crew SocksBest Overall
Injinji Women's Trail Midweight Mini-Crew Socks
Swiftwick – VIBE ONE Trail and Road Running SocksBudget Pick
Swiftwick - VIBE ONE Trail and Road Running Socks
Smartwool Men's PhD¿ Pro Endurance PrintUpgrade Pick
Smartwool Men's PhD¿ Pro Endurance Print

1. Injinji Women's Trail Midweight Mini-Crew Socks

Our rating: 9 / 10


Injinji Women's Trail Midweight Mini-Crew Socks

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Pros:

  • Available in wide range of colors
  • Reinforced heel and toe
  • Extra cushioning
  • Microwave (included) heat-molding option
  • Proprietary three-point fit
  • Strong but thin material
  • Helps with preventing shin splints
  • Compression to help strengthen arch
  • Great grip for treks
  • Great for hiking

Cons:

  • Takes a while to get used to
  • Can roll at the heel

The Injinji Women’s Trail is a great option if you’re still looking for a trail running sock. They’re great for hiking, jogging, and casual wear as well. They have thin nylon material combined with superior moisture management and a compression arch bridge to help with preventing shin splints.

The footbed provides amazing traction as well. These socks have a three-point fit, also designed to enhance traction and reduce pressure on the feet.

In addition, they’re also microwave-friendly. If the nylon isn’t warm enough for you, just heat it up with the microwave to enjoy the ultimate comfort. Just be sure to test it before you roll it on because you might get a rather unpleasant burn.

2. Injinji Men's Trail Midweight Mini Crew Toesocks

Our rating: 9 / 10


Injinji Men's Trail Midweight Mini Crew Toesocks

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Pros:

  • Breathable mesh fabric
  • Ultra lightweight
  • No-slip cuff
  • No-sew toe
  • Sizing is true to size
  • Machine washes well

Cons:

  • Feet might not fit together in these socks
  • You will need to buy the larger size in order to fit both feet in the same sock

The Injinji Men’s Trail Midweight Mini Crew Toesocks are an excellent choice for trail runners for their breathability and lightweight design. The synthetic material also allows them to dry out extremely quickly so they can be worn multiple times without having to be washed.

The no-slip cuff around the ankle does an excellent job of preventing the socks from slipping during a run, which further protects the feet and lower legs as a result.

In addition, the socks are designed to provide protection from blisters, blisters, and other common foot issues encountered in outdoor athletes. That’s because they are made with a no-sew toe design to prevent rubbing and irritation in that area.

3. Smartwool Men's PhD¿ Pro Endurance Print

Our rating: 9 / 10


Smartwool Men's PhD¿ Pro Endurance Print

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Pros:

  • Great value
  • Lots of color options
  • Good padding
  • No slipping or bunching

Cons:

  • Non-regulation sizing
  • Not ideal for sloshy conditions (rainy weather, etc.)

If you’re looking for an inexpensive but high quality trail running sock consider Smartwool. It comes in a variety of colors and styles, enough for anyone to find something they like.

The Smartwool PhD Pro Endurance is a mid-calf sock with an extremely fine pedigree. Sometimes, as a trail runner, you’re looking for something a little cushier. While the PhD Pro doesn’t offer that, it’s still a high quality sock. The fine gauge, tightly packed fibers form a stronger fabric with less give. In addition, it’s relatively lightweight and quick drying so it will help to prevent blisters and keep your feet cool.

It has a cushioned heel and toe, which will keep your feet comfortable and fresh longer. The Smartwool PhD Pro also includes a flat toe seam. This helps to eliminate friction and chafing.

4. Balega Blister Resist Quarter Socks

Our rating: 9 / 10


Balega Blister Resist Quarter Socks

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Pros:

  • Very soft with a luxurious feel
  • The threads are tightly knit
  • Exceptional breathability
  • Provides just the right amount of ventilation
  • No-blister, no-rub, and no-itch fabric that’s breathable
  • Deep heel pocket for maximum comfort
  • Supportive and comfortable no-show sock
  • Great for both training and competitions

One effective way to prevent blisters on long runs is to wear socks that are designed to reduce friction on your feet. One of the most popular socks for trail running and even more popular for ultra-marathons, the Balega Blister Resist Quarter Socks have also found their way into the running shoe industry.

Thanks to thousands of user reviews, most of which are positive, this sock was reputed as the most reliable sock for high-intensity running. They can also be worn in team sports, such as basketball.

Balega Blister Resist Quarter Socks are designed with athletes in mind. They are specially designed for the shape of the foot and have an anatomical fit that forms to the contours of the foot.

5. Injinji Trail Midweight Crew Socks

Our rating: 8 / 10


Injinji Trail Midweight Crew Socks

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The Injinji Trail Midweight Crew socks offer a different feature set when compared to competing products. In fact, they may end up being the best choice if you’re looking for a casual trail running sock.

The Trail Midweight socks come in two versions – Crew and No-Show. They’re made to provide comfort when it’s cold outside. Injinji uses CoolMax fibers for moisture wicking and breathability.

The socks are built to stay comfortable while they stay protected from the elements thanks to their 100% merino wool composition.

6. Darn Tough Women's Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion Sock

Our rating: 8 / 10


Darn Tough Women's Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion Sock

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Pros:

  • Ultra-light cushioning technology
  • Extra-wide toe box for maximum comfort
  • Good grip on foot
  • Superior durability
  • Doesn’t compress easily
  • Works just as well with trail running, hiking, or mountaineering

Cons:

  • Can be pricey for some people
  • Sizing runs small
  • The company (Darn Tough) is not transparent about the materials used
  • We’re not sure how the high thread count is beneficial

The Darn Tough Women’s Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion socks are a trail running sock with a highly breathable mesh top and extra-wide toe box for ultimate comfort. It’s designed for both men and women featuring structured, arch support that helps absorb shock.

Its cushioning technology provides an ultra-light feel for increased performance. Its superior breathability not only helps keep your feet dry but also allows your feet to vent. The Vertex is basically a synthetic sock made from reinforced nylon and spandex to offer durability and great support.

7. Swiftwick- PURSUIT HIKE SIX MD Hiking Socks

Our rating: 8 / 10


Swiftwick- PURSUIT HIKE SIX MD Hiking Socks

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Swiftwick’s Pursuit Hike sock is the ideal sock for anyone who likes to spend time by the water in the forest. This pair of socks is constructed from high-end merino wool that’s breathable and antimicrobial, which prevents odors. Not to mention it will keep your feet cool and comfortable while hiking.

The extra cushioning makes them excellent fits for people with flat feet, running injuries, or people who just like to feel a bit more comfortable on their feet. The arch support is also great for people who need extra support for their arches.

There also comes in two different sizes, small/medium and large/extra-large. This allows the socks to be fit most foot types. Not to mention they come in even sizes too. The socks are also available in over 16 different colors to choose from for both men and women.

8. Farm to Feet Men's Greensboro Lightweight 1/4 Crew Socks

Our rating: 8 / 10


Farm to Feet Men's Greensboro Lightweight 1/4 Crew Socks

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Pros:

  • Great socks for trail running
  • High-quality bamboo blend material
  • Good cushioning and comfort
  • Great fit and support

Cons:

  • Socks are a tad too long in the toe area, which is common with calf-high socks
  • Some complaints regarding the durability of the socks

Are you looking for a great pair of socks that will keep you warm during the cold winter months and help you stay cool when running through hot trails during summer? Then you will want a pair of the Farmers Feet Men’s Greensboro Lightweight 1/4 Crew socks. This pair of socks is made out of the bamboo polyester blend material which is super soft and very durable.

This is a great hiking, trail running, and walking sock option. It is designed with 100% stimulate bamboo fiber, which is known for its temperature regulation benefits. The Sherpa lining keeps you warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. It has great stretch and breathability. They are lightweight socks with a thin top band. The toe and heel areas are constructed out of extra padded areas which help provide maximum cushioning. This reduces the risk of wearing out the socks faster and takes the pressure off of your feet.

9. Darn Tough Men's Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion Sock

Our rating: 8 / 10


Darn Tough Men's Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion Sock

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Pros:

  • Good for running, hiking, traveling
  • Very warm for winter
  • Designed with a cushion heel
  • Pretty well-built and stretchy
  • Cool design
  • Lasts long

Cons:

  • A bit pricey
  • Width not enough for wider feet

One of the best trail running socks we have come across is the Darn Tough Men's Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion Sock. It's made of three-ply merino wool, and merino wool is known to be naturally odor resistant, which is great for running, traveling, or hiking as you don't have to worry about any bad smells.

This pair of socks is an ultra-light cushioned option, which means it will give your feet a comfortable feeling as you wear these shoes. It also means that the socks are affordable and will be able to fit into your running checklist without any problem.

The Darn Tough Men's Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion Sock is made in the USA, and the company also has a policy of putting a lifetime guarantee on their products. Reviews have been very positive, and in our mind it's pretty obvious why.

10. Swiftwick – VIBE ONE Trail and Road Running Socks

Our rating: 8 / 10


Swiftwick - VIBE ONE Trail and Road Running Socks

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Some of the best trail running socks start with what’s on the inside. It’s simple things like cushioning for comfort and moisture wicking fabric for durability. This being said the Swiftwick VIBE ONE Trail and Road Running Socks offer both and more.

These socks are super comfortable and they provide a soft cushion which keeps you warm during colder temperatures. They also feature a six fiber yarn construction that makes them completely breathable. This eliminates moisture which can cause blisters and runners’ foot.

They’re built with a VIBE band which runs along the arch to eliminate pressure points and enhance arch support. This also adds to its high comfort level.

11. Feetures Merino 10 Ultra Light Quarter Sock

Our rating: 7 / 10


Feetures Merino 10 Ultra Light Quarter Sock

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Pros:

  • Extremely comfortable
  • Wicking ability of 180% and temperature regulation
  • Cooler than cotton
  • Anti-osmotic
  • Durable
  • Odor resistant
  • Breathable
  • Stays in place

With the double layered mid-foot, a seamless toe, and the multi-layer merino wool design, the Feetures Merino 10 Ultra Light Quarter Sock provides excellent foot security and a tight, friction-free fit. It utilizes a stay-put heel for a secure fit, with no pressure points. It also has an ultimate, lightweight construction, which makes it fit well with running shoes and trail shoes.

Notable Features:

The Feetures Merino 10 Ultra Light Quarter is made of 80% merino wool and 20% nylon. It is designed to be seamless in the toe area. The inside fabric is given a second layer. This helps prevent blisters. It feels comfortable and snug on your feet and stays in place. And it is absolutely odor resistant.

12. Balega Enduro V-Tech Quarter Socks

Our rating: 6 / 10


Balega Enduro V-Tech Quarter Socks

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Pros:

  • Fit really well
  • Thick enough to avoid blisters
  • Provide a lot of cushion

Cons:

  • Not a lot of colors to pick from
  • Cost more than other options

This is an all-around versatile trail sock. Balega Enduro V-Tech Quarter Socks are a good option for general trail runners, weekend warriors, and gym rats.

They have all the bells and whistles you would expect on a trail sock, but keep things simple in all the right ways.

It’s made of a blend of 85% merino wool, 5% nylon, 5% Lycra, and 5% spandex. Plus it’s made in the USA. The blend provides extra comfort and allows the wool fibers to breathe.

13. Feetures! Elite Light Cushion Quarter Sock

Our rating: 6 / 10


Feetures! Elite Light Cushion Quarter Sock

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Pros:

  • Great fit
  • Significant improvements in fit and support
  • Great ankle support
  • Comfortable, breathable material
  • Keeps feet dry
  • Absorbs shock, preventing blisters
  • Sizing is accurate
  • Bring fantastic biomechanics to your feet
  • Premium material quality
  • Wide plethora of color options

Feetures Elite Quarter socks provide an extreme level of comfort and versatility. They offer the ideal amount of compression for every usage scenario and are great for high aerobic performance. They come with a phenomenal material and design that makes them a reliable choice for any runner out there.

Elite Quarter Socks are constructed of DRI-TEK mesh fibers with arch support and include Anatomical Left and Right compartments that add the ultra-light compression levels. It comes with a breathable mesh top and the signature Feetures’ Air Channel’ to enhance airflow and promote a drier feel.

The sock comes with an anatomical level of padding and has 3D construction in the toe to ensure that all toes get enough coverage. Feetures Elite Quarter Socks also have a Halo top that encompasses the entire brace to prevent slipping.

14. Drymax Lite Trail Running 1/4 Crew

Our rating: 4 / 10


Drymax Lite Trail Running 1/4 Crew

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Pros:

  • Merino wool and nylon blend
  • Very lightweight
  • Odor and sweat resistant
  • Trail-ride-race-train-repeat approved
  • Multi-terrain tested: run, hike, climb, and bike…
  • They also work for cold weather sports and activities
  • Superior moisture management and temperature control
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • For some, they may take some getting used to due to their cushioning and type of material
  • They may feel a bit tight

This trail running sock is a 1/4 height crew sock. It is made of a combination of merino wool and nylon material. The combination of performance plus wicking nylon and merino wool makes it lightweight and durable for long-term wear.

It has also been designed to provide a temperature neutral environment for a pleasant fit.

The Drymax Lite Trail Running sock features odor and perspiration resistance. It will win over those who have allergies or are sensitive to smells.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why do trail runners wear long socks?

Because wicking away moisture is a very serious business. Moisture is your enemy to the trail runner. Once it catches the fabric of your socks, there is no way to get it off. And, once moisture gets into your socks, chaffing happens.

Long socks hold moisture out of the equation. Trail runners know a proper pair of socks can be the difference between making it up the mountain to the peak and having to turn around and give up.

What socks do marathon runners wear?

For most runners, this is a question with a straightforward answer: compression socks. These socks help control the swelling and soreness that can come with training and races. Compression socks come in both below-the-knee and over-the-knee varieties.

Compression socks are arguably also among the lightest socks available today. The are also one of the most popular options for base layers due to their comfort, breathability and range of colors.

How do I choose the right running socks?

Make sure they wick away moisture: You sweat as you run, and your socks will keep that sweat from evaporating. This means that the moisture will act like a sponge, and depending on the material of your socks, the moisture can quickly lead to blisters and other problems. Look for socks that will wick away moisture faster than it can build up in your socks.

90%+ of running injuries are the result of impact and moisture buildup. Having the right running socks will:

  • Prevent blisters
  • Increase blood flow
  • Reduce pronation and supination
  • Prevent injuries like shin splints and plantar fasciitis

Should running socks be thick or thin?

Most running shoes today come in socks that insulate. Heavy insulation running socks keep your feet fresher for longer after a training session but in the summer, thin running socks can absorb sweat better and release it into the atmosphere better.

Most running socks have gel or padding zones in the impact zones for the toes, heels and forefoot. This will reduce the amount of stresses on your feet and knees. They help to absorb the shock better than unpadded and non-impact zones, which is beneficial for runners.

For general running, I would opt for thicker socks as they are more padded, insulate better and have better support. You can always wear thinner socks in the summer when it's hot.

Conclusion

Do you want to know the best running socks for trail running? There are several options out there, but we’ve picked the top 3. They’re also all great picks for longer distance races and day hiking.

Not all socks are created equal, and Trail running socks are a unique breed of socks that need to be tested in specific ways.

The good news is that we’ve tested the best out there and reviewed them for you. Whether you’re looking for the best running socks for long distance racing, day hiking, hunting, backpacking or camping, we can guide you in the right direction.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Injinji Women's Trail Midweight Mini-Crew SocksBest Overall
Injinji Women's Trail Midweight Mini-Crew Socks
Swiftwick – VIBE ONE Trail and Road Running SocksBudget Pick
Swiftwick - VIBE ONE Trail and Road Running Socks
Smartwool Men's PhD¿ Pro Endurance PrintUpgrade Pick
Smartwool Men's PhD¿ Pro Endurance Print