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One of the best feelings in the world is getting home after a long day at work and kicking off your shoes and sweaty socks. It may sound gross, but clammy feet are simply a fact of life.
Most people don’t think much about their socks and what yarn they’re made of, what features they have, or even what brand they are. For years, I went for the cheapest option and hoped they’d work. Last year, I bought a few multi-packs of AND1 no-shows from Walmart, which are nice to have because they’re simple and cheap, before ultimately realizing their drawbacks: mainly that they’re simple and cheap.
During the day, I’m almost always on my feet or moving from one place to another, so having a pair of socks that’s built for endurance is beneficial to me. A little extra engineering goes a long way when you’re constantly standing. So, I’ve hit the books (read: internet) and scoped out some of the best socks on the world wide web. Here are six brands I’ve found to offer my feet a little extra love…
Swiftwick was started by a mountain biker looking for gear that caters to high-intensity athletes. I tried the ASPIRE Zero and MAXUS Zero Tab models. The ASPIRE is made to feel like it’s barely there, and I’m not surprised it’s the brand’s most popular running sock. The MAXUS is an extremely plush and comfortable flatbed sock.
Immediately after I started wearing the ASPIRE, I forgot that I was wearing anything. They’re tight and breathable. The MAXUS made my feet more cushioned, and just as a matter of preference, were my favorite. A good comparison is that the ASPIRE would be better for someone running a 100M sprint and the MAXUS is ideal for a marathoner. Now, they’re the first socks I’ll grab (as long as they're not in the laundry)!
As you may be able to tell from the name, this brand is designed using alpaca fiber. The company claims that the fiber stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer, doesn’t absorb moisture (unlike wool), and is five times warmer than wool. Apparently alpaca fiber is as soft as cashmere because the materials have the same micron count. To back all of this info up, Pacas offers a softness guarantee.
While Pacas now has an extended line – including summer wraps, throws, and hats – its main product, socks, come in either casual or performance and low cut, no show, or crew fits. Out of almost 5,000 reviews, Pacas boasts a 4.9/5.0-star rating with comments like “By far the most comfortable sock that I have ever put on my foot… Just like the late great macho Man Randy Savage, they ARE the CREAM… of the crop.” Call me convinced.
Bombas—very much the Warby Parker of socks—is a company that both sells really great socks and adopts the same buy-one-give-one program as WP. Though the brand now offers underwear and shirts, Bombas started as a sock company after the co-founders discovered socks were the most requested clothing item at homeless shelters.
The brand has a wide array of socks for performance, casual wear, and dress wear. One of its most popular items, the Men’s Ankle Sock 12-Pack ($132.60) has over 30,000 reviews with a 4.8/5.0-star average. Unlike Pacas, Bombas uses more traditional materials like cotton and polyester, but Bombas also implements features like its Honeycomb Arch Support System that “cradles the arch of your foot, like a firm but comfortable hug around your midfoot.
Definite Articles is a new brand launched late last year by Untuckit co-founder and CEO Aaron Sanandres. DA claims to be the most environmentally friendly performance sock on the planet; because of a natural additive in the yarn that accelerates biodegradation, these socks take more plastic out of the environment than they put in.
The brand’s selection is pretty limited at the moment, with only a few styles and basic colors – but in addition to men’s and women’s sizes, DA offers fits for little kids, big kids, tweens, and teens. All of the styles are made of the same blend of sustainable nylon, Better Cotton Initiative cotton, recycled polyester, and spandex, and a pair retails for $7.50 to $16.95.
Comrad was founded as a brand all about compression, boasting of “Socks with Benefits.” Compression socks are designed to put pressure on your legs that increases circulation. The result? Comfort all day, more energy, and faster recovery.
Last month, the brand rolled out The Casual Collection, featuring its first non-compression socks. In addition to the original Knee-High Compression Socks ($28), Comrad now offers a No-Show sock ($9) that actually lives up to its promises, plus Combed Cotton Crews ($12), reinforced with targeted compression for all-day support and no bunching, itching, or rolling.
Balega is one of the original performance sock brands to rethink how socks should be designed. The brand was started in 2003 and has long been a favorite in the running community. In high school, I had one basic white pair of Balega socks that I would always wear on race day because they were so much more comfortable than any others that I had.
The company now has styles for more sports including cycling, hiking, and golf. Balega’s secret weapons are its Drynamix moisture wicking fibers and the fact that the brand inspects every single pair of socks for quality. A pair of Balega socks is typically within the $15-$20 range.
While these brands are quite a bit more expensive than my $1/pair AND1 socks, putting up the extra cash for socks that will last longer, give my feet more air, and ultimately give me more comfort and support as I’m moving throughout the day, may be worth it. The only downside? I may not have as nice of an evening ritual as before because my feet will have been so comfortable throughout the day!
Five More Brands to Consider:
1. Lasso: The “Tesla of Socks”: Compression socks built for intense movement
2. Injinji: Performance that cover each individual toe for more natural foot movement
3. Arvin Goods: Socks with organic and recycled cotton that produce minimal waste
4. Feetures: Running socks that give back through different partner charity organizations
5. ONDO: No-show socks using organic cotton with a no-slip guarantee