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If you are anything like us, slipping into fresh fitness apparel is often enough to motivate you to exercise. And yet, socks aren't typically the thing people get super pumped about. But while they aren't always visible, they're essential for most workouts, helping to control odors and prevent blisters while keeping your feet as comfy as possible.
So then, what are the best socks for exercising? The answer depends on your workout of choice and your personal preferences. There are sweat-wicking socks for running and HIIT, plus compression styles for cycling, grippy socks for barre and yoga, all-purpose tube socks, no-show designs, and everything in between.
With that said, these are the best workout socks for everyone, every workout, and every fitness level.
Best Overall: Bombas All-Purpose Performance Ankle Socks
"I absolutely love Bombas socks when I'm working out," says Dianna Falzarano, certified personal trainer and founder of Dynamic Fitness LLC. "I've been using Bombas for a few years now, and each pair keeps its shape and elasticity. I don't have to worry about them falling in my sneakers or not feeling comfortable while I'm working out."
These all-star performance socks can be worn for a wide range of fitness activities. From hiking and running to golfing and dance cardio, they'll keep your feet dry, cool, and endlessly comfy. Plus, they come in a bunch of cute colors, and for every pair purchased, another is donated to someone in need.
Best Budget: Hanes Women's Comfort Fit Ankle Socks
On a budget? Pick up a pack of Hanes Comfort Fit. You'll get six non-bulky ankle socks with arch support and zoned cushioning. What's more, they're designed to adapt to your body temperature to cool you off while you sweat.
Best Splurge: Alexander McQueen Logo Ankle Socks
Open to splurging on something that makes you feel extra fancy as you get your fitness on? Check out this fashion-forward pair by Alexander McQueen. Featuring brilliantly stretchy and semi-thick cotton knit with a playful striped heel counter, these Italian-made workout socks walk the line between performance apparel and streetwear with ease.
Best for Running: Rockay Accelerate Anti-Blister Running Socks
Tested for durability and foot protection on a variety of terrains, these anti-blister socks were made for runners. Not only that, but they're woven from a special Nylon yarn created out of recycled ocean plastic. And almost unbelievably, they're backed by a lifetime condition-free guarantee.
Best for Walking: Lululemon Daily Stride Low Ankle Sock
If you ask us, walking is a totally underrated workout, but it's finally getting the attention it deserves, thanks to the rise of fitness trackers. With that said, the best socks for your low-impact stride are these beauties from Lululemon. Padded cuffs contour the ankles, a midfoot knit structure offers 360-degree support, and the brand's TerryToe cushioning covers your digits with a seamless layer of protection.
Best for Cycling: Paplus Ankle Compression Sock
Whether you like biking around town, competing in cycling races, or feeling the burn right at home on a stationary bike, Paplus has you covered. These ankle-height compression socks are designed to encourage blood flow and improve your reaction time by targeting different areas of your feet and ankles with varying levels of firmness.
Best for Strength Training: Nike Everyday Cushion Crew Training Socks
"Nike mid-calf socks are my go-to when strength training," Falzarano tells Byrdie. "I like having the support past my ankle and can still get a good grip while strength training. The bonus is that since the socks are higher, I don't have to worry about them falling."
Best for HIIT: Saucony Women's Performance Heel Tab Athletic Socks
Are you all about high-intensity interval training? Your best bet is Saucony Heel Tab Socks. They're designed with targeted cushioning in areas that see the most impact, plus woven mesh ventilation keeps your feet cool as you train.
Best for Yoga: Muezna Non-Slip Yoga Socks
If you're on the hunt for the perfect grippy yoga socks, you can't go wrong with a pair of Muenzas. Made of a 100% cotton weave, these best-sellers are breathable and naturally moisture-wicking. And the silica grips on the soles keep you steady on your feet during your flow.
Best for Barre: Tavi Noir Savvy Non-Slip Socks
The best barre socks are by Tavi Noir—no question. Made of a blend of organic cotton, polyester, and elastic with slip-free soles, the cult-loved brand's Savvy line provides the perfect amount of stretch and grip. These bad boys sit just below the ankle and offer comfy arch support as you dip, lift, plié, and pulse your way to a toned physique.
Best for Zumba: Zella 3-Pack Tab Back Socks
For dance cardio devotees, we recommend the Zella Tab Back collection. These undeniably plush yet not overly thick socks offer just the right amount of cushioning and heel protection. We also like that the soft, stretchy knit fabric wicks sweat while you dance away the calories.
Best No-Show: Bandier Ultra No Show Sock
Bandier's Ultra No Show Socks are designed to be completely concealed within your shoes without slipping down as you train. Unlike others in their category, these socks are adequately cushioned with a contoured fit.
Best Cushioned: Polo Ralph Lauren Women's Sport Ankle Socks
If you like the feel of semi-thick socks when you're working out or need to break in new trainers, slip into a pair of Polo Sport Socks. The polyester-spandex material is woven with extra cushioning on the soles and breathable mesh on top—and finished with the brand's signature logo at the ankles.
Best Moisture-Wicking: Balega Hidden Comfort Socks
When it comes to moisture-wicking designs, Balega Hidden Comfort Socks are tough to beat. Constructed with the brand's proprietary Drynamix fabric, they draw sweat away from your feet while providing ample ventilation so your skin stays dry. And thanks to deep heel pockets and high back tabs, the no-show silhouette stays in place while you crush your workout.
If we could only recommend one pair of workout socks, we'd have to go with Bombas All-Purpose Performance Ankle Socks. The supportive, moisture-wicking design keeps your feet dry, cool, and endlessly comfy through a broad range of workouts. However, if you're looking for something a little easier on your bank account, we suggest getting a pack of Hanes Comfort Fit Socks. With zoned cushioning, arch support, and cooling technology, they hold their own against pricier pairs.
What to Look For When Buying Workout Socks
One of the most important attributes of workout socks is the material. Whether you opt for nylon, 100 percent cotton, or a stretchy cotton-poly blend, you'll want to look for a lightweight, breathable fabric designed to wick away moisture. The best options typically feature a slightly thicker material on the soles and a lighter mesh fabric on the forefoot.
Workout socks come in various cuts and styles, and the right option for you is mostly a matter of preference. No-show socks are designed to be concealed within your shoes, whereas ankle socks will peak out one to three inches over the top. You'll also find socks with rubber or silica grips on the soles, which are designed to prevent slipping during yoga, barre, pilates, and other low-impact mat workouts.
Then there are mid-calf socks, which can be solid, printed, or feature a classic tube style for an effortlessly cool retro vibe. "I love a biker short and Nike mid-calf sock combo when lifting," says Falzarano.
Compression socks have a slightly tighter fit, typically going over the ankles and sometimes over the calves. They're designed to help with blood circulation, prevent swelling, and alleviate discomfort from high-impact or otherwise strenuous workouts, like running, cycling, and HIIT.
Meet the Expert
Dianna Falzarano is certified personal trainer and founder of Dynamic Fitness LLC.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Theresa Holland has several years of experience creating beauty, wellness, and fitness content. Her favorite workouts include barre, HIIT, and walking, during which she can usually be found rocking Bombas, Tavi Noirs, or Nike socks. You can check out more of Theresa's work on Verywell Fit, The Spruce, and MyDomaine.