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Our Quest for the Ideal Pair of Men's Everyday Socks

Hiking, running, and just living—here's one pair to rule them all

Does your sock drawer look like a bomb went off? We got you. (Photo: Sarah Jackson)
Socks

My sock drawer was absolutely overflowing. While trying to cut down the sheer number of pairs so I could get the drawer to close, I realized how many specialty socks I own. I had them for running, skiing, hiking, and everyday use. It felt out of control. While my ski socks have to be specialized, I started searching for a pair that could perform the other three activities equally well. Here’s what I found.

The Test

  • Everyday Use: I wore each of these five socks for two full days and walked a minimum of four miles, either running errands or going to coffee shops for work, in a pair of Five Tennies shoes. I took notes on comfort and style.
  • Athletic Movement: I ran for an hour in Hoka Challenger ATR 5 shoes on a mixture of trails and roads in each pair of socks. I took notes on their interaction with the shoe, how well they wicked, and their overall comfort. I also worked out in each of these socks for one hour at my local YMCA. I kept the exercises relatively standard—mainly stair-stepping, squats, lunges, and box jumps for ski season prep. I took notes on overall shoe and foot interaction, wicking, and overall comfort.
  • Odor Mitigation: I took a deep whiff of each sock after 48 hours of use and the aforementioned runs and exercises—sans wash.

The Results

Socks
(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

Fits Socks Light Hiker ($22)

  • Fit: 5
  • Everyday Use: 5
  • Athletic Movement: 5
  • Odor Mitigation: 5 

The Fits Socks Light Hiker was a clear winner in this test, because they—cough—fit so well. The elastic along the arch coupled with the deep heel cup hugged my feet like an old friend I hadn’t seen for years. That translated into top marks in all of the individual categories. (Odor mitigation was unrelated but still superb.) These socks were a delight to walk around in every day, and the remarkably snug fit meant I could slide them into my tied shoes without them riding up my heels. They also didn’t migrate around on my foot during lunges and box jumps. The design was my favorite of the bunch, adding a little flair to my daily outfit.

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Socks
(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

Darn Tough Vertex Micro Crew Ultra Light Cushion ($20)

  • Fit: 4.5
  • Athletic Movement 5
  • Everyday Use: 5
  • Odor Mitigation: 4

I usually eschew cushioned socks for lightweight ones because my feet are sweaty in normal situations, much less when I’m exercising. The Darn Tough Vertex Micro Crew has a just-right amount of cushion in the heel and forefoot to soften the jarring blows of an eight-mile road run or from hitting the ground after a box jump. The rest of the sock is extremely thin—you can see through the thin parts under a light—which delivered excellent breathability for everyday and athletic use. They were knocked out of first place because they didn’t fit as snugly as the Fits and hung onto a bit more odor.

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Socks
(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

Icebreaker Lifestyle Light Crew ($20) 

  • Fit: 4
  • Everyday Use: 5
  • Athletic Movement: 4
  • Odor Mitigation: 4

The reinforced heel and toe, plus ample Achilles support, made the Icebreaker Lifestyle Light Crew perform like athletic styles. During a 600-foot climb on a five-mile run, I noticed that these socks moved around less on my foot than a lot of running-specific socks I’ve tested in the past. Those performance chops and the muted color with mountain graphics made these an excellent daily driver for office environments. Even though I love them, they took third place because the fit was not as tight as the first two. They rode up on my heel and needed to be adjusted when I slipped them into shoes, though the fit was by no means sloppy. 

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Socks
(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

Balega Blister Resist Crew Running Socks ($18)

  • Fit: 3.5
  • Everyday Use: 3
  • Athletic Movement: 4
  • Odor Mitigation: 4

The Balega Blister Resist Crew uses mohair and a proprietary synthetic blend to make a damned comfortable sock. Like the pairs above, these mix fit features along the arch with cushion at high-impact spots like the heel and forefoot. The friction on my feet was minimal during activities, but these socks did not fit as well as the styles above—they migrated along my heel during stair and hill climbs—and there was more material than I like on a run. Their thickness also meant they held onto more moisture than any other sock on this list.

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Socks
(Photo: Sarah Jackson)

Feetures Men’s Everyday Atherton Cushion Crew ($20)

  • Fit: 3.5
  • Everyday Use: 5
  • Athletic Movement: 4
  • Odor Mitigation: 4

My first note after running in the Feeture Men’s Everyday was, “Whoa! Really runs like an athletic sock.” Like the Icebreakers, these are labeled as everyday socks, but they use compression and cushion in the right places to make a hell of an athletic sock. The nonpadded parts were light enough to dump heat during my gym workout. These ended up taking last place because the right toe showed wear and tear after two days of use. 

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Filed To: SocksRunningExercisesStyleClothing and Apparel
Lead Photo: Sarah Jackson

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