Thick socks restrict blood flow, paradoxically making your feet colder. Choose a thin and well-fitted pair instead.
Thick socks restrict blood flow, paradoxically making your feet colder. Choose a thin and well-fitted pair instead. (Photo: Skistar Trysil/Flickr)
Gear Guy

What Are the Best Ski Socks?

They're more important than you think, and high-quality options are plentiful

Skistar Trysil/Flickr(Photo)

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Surprise! Good socks are one of the most important—and overlooked—elements of your ski setup. The best ones are thin, hug your feet like gloves (no heel or toe bunching), and come up above your calf. Socks like this aren’t just more comfortable, they’re also warmer: Thick, heavily cushioned models restrict blood flow, causing toes to freeze.

We tested four pairs of ski socks during a seven-day hut trip, multiple prework skins, and hot laps at the resort. They’re all lightweight, calf-high, and made from a blend of merino wool and synthetic yarns. While they all performed well at the resort and in the backcountry, there were a few clear winners. Read on for our results, ranked from lowest to highest performance.

#4: Lorpen T3 Ski Superlight ($23)

(Joe Jackson)

Material: 38% Primaloft Eco polyester yarn, 37% merino wool, 15% nylon, 10% EA Lycra

The Verdict: The 10 percent Lycra weave made these the stretchiest socks we tested. Made mostly from synthetics, Lorpen’s T3 Ski Superlight also wicked moisture faster than any other sock on this list. We liked them for single-lap skin trips at the resort, but the toe-box seam rubbed uncomfortably on long tours. These were also the least durable: We noticed pilling on the shin after only a few days of testing.

#3: Icebreaker Ski+ Compression Ultra Lite Over the Calf ($38)

(Joe Jackson)

Material: 55% merino wool, 41% nylon, 4% Lycra

The Verdict: These Icebreaker Ski+ compression socks struck a great balance between compression and weight. They’re light enough to prevent bunching and keep your blood flowing yet structured enough to provide your muscles with some support. Testers appreciated the extra-tight fit at the Achilles while skiing down after a long tour, but the socks felt too constricting for some of us after more than five hours of wear.

#2: Fits Sock Ultra Light Ski OTC ($20)

(Joe Jackson)

Material: 49% merino wool, 37% nylon, 10% polyester, 4% Lycra

The Verdict: As the name promises, the Fits Sock Ultra Light Ski OTC fit incredibly well and were the best choice for a 13-hour day skinning and hiking in Tuolumne Meadows. Credit the extra-deep, stretchy heel cup that completely eliminated bunching even on the longest days in the backcountry. This Fits style is the same length as the Icebreaker Ski+ Compression Ultra Lite but much less restrictive. You lose the benefits of compression but gain comfort during a long day on the slopes. Bonus: This is the least expensive pair in our test.

#1: SmartWool PhD Ski Light Socks ($24)

Material: 69% merino wool, 29% nylon, 2% elastane

The Verdict: The SmartWool PhD Ski Light had the most forefoot cushioning of any sock we tested. Testers appreciated this softness during long tours in the backcountry and found it wasn’t so thick as to restrict circulation. These socks were the warmest of the bunch, which made them our go-to for days at the resort. We also loved the length: the Ski Lights hugged testers’ calves, while the other socks we tested were all a bit long and bunched behind the knee.

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Lead Photo: Skistar Trysil/Flickr