Happy Feet: The Best Moisture Wicking Socks
‘What’s that smell?’
Is this the first thing anyone says every time you take off your shoe? Maybe your footsies are horribly blistered, or all your triumphs at the gym are hounded by blaring athlete’s foot. Simply put: if your dogs are barking, you need moisture wicking socks.
The best moisture wicking socks can help your feet breathe easy. They’ll be caressed in a tight-but-not-too-tight embrace of space-age fibers, nylon, spandex, or even wool. From our list, you can choose no-show moisture wicking socks (if you’re a millennial who’s still pretending it’s 2002), men’s moisture wicking socks (self-care is the new masculinity) or white moisture wicking socks (hi Hungry, I’m Dad).
How you choose is up to you. But foot care is paramount, and no dogs deserve to be abused. Think about it, they go everywhere with you and they’re the foundation of all that you do. In so many ways, your feet are your rocks (I instantly regret that painfully awkward mental image, but what’s done is done).
So, check out the best moisture wicking socks. You could be amazed at the difference in your feet — and so could your followers on OnlyFans.
- Best Wool Moisture Wicking Socks: Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Moisture Wicking Socks
- Best Value Athletic Moisture Wicking Ankle Socks: Saucony Mesh Ventilating Moisture Wicking Socks
- Best Moisture Wicking Work Socks: Dickies Dri-tech Moisture Wicking Socks
- Best No-Show Moisture Wicking Socks: Jormatt Mesh Knit Non Slip Moisture Wicking Socks
- Best Running Moisture Wicking Socks: Bombas Performance Running Calf Moisture Wicking Sock
- Best Warm Wool Moisture Wicking Socks: Smartwool PhD Outdoor Heavy Over-the-Calf
The Best Moisture Wicking Socks
Unless you’ve read my buying guides on GH fairly extensively (not likely), or visited my Instagram account (also not likely; pretty quiet over there for the last, oh, year or so), you might not know I’m a re-civilized dirtbag. But what if I told you I’d been wearing the same socks for four years?
That’s what I’ve done with my one — count it, one — pair of black Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew socks. The 61% merino midweight socks have been critical to climbing objectives, extensive hikes, and even some snowboarding duty. They’ve also been great for long overnights around campfires and, these days, responsibly fireless sessions that still involve heavy drinking.
I’ve found that Darn Toughs never give up and never get sweaty. I literally can’t think of a time when I felt uncomfortable in mine — though it’s worth noting here that I’ve probably never worn them in temperatures above about 50 degrees F. The wool/synthetic blend has always kept the funk at bay for days, and instead of getting all crusty after a few backcountry overnights, the footbed has stayed soft and pliable.
And even when they have gotten soggy (submersion, or very long strenuous uphill hikes in direct sun), they’ve dried quickly when placed on any hot rock. Merino wool is, to me, a fascinating fiber with its ionic charge and tendency to draw moisture away from the skin naturally. Of course, it also comes from fascinating animals. You should care about their well-being; Darn Tough does, with its Responsible Wool Standard certification.
All that and my DT hiker micro crews still seem as thick and cushiony today as they were on day one. Size small fits my size 7 feet perfectly. I’ve worn them comfortably in temps below 30 degrees F as long as I’m active. They’re not the most insulative socks Darn Tough makes, so level up if you’re looking for something for extreme cold.
But any complaint about their performance from me would be disingenuous. Verdict? Darn Tough hiking socks were dang tremendous during testing.
Responsibly sourced merino wool
Suitable for moderate-to-cold temperatures
Well established reputation for long term durability
- BrandDarn Tough
- Textile blend61% merino wool, 36% nylon, 3% lycra
- Sizes available5.5-7.5, 8-9.5, 10-12, 12.5-14.5, 15-17
- Quantities available1
- Colors available4
Extremely durable (as tested)
Footbed retains loft, sock resists saturation (as tested)
Sizing makes sense for smaller feet
A little pricey; you get what you pay for
Saucony’s Comfort Fit Performance ankle socks land with some flashy language, a proven fit and all the features you’d want in a moisture wicking athletic sock. “Ultra wicking fibers,” “airmesh venting,” “targeted arch compression,” what does it all mean? A sock made from a breathable fiber that’s fairly cheap, apparently, and comes in a pretty accommodating size range.
But first, a discrepancy. Saucony Comfort Fits aren’t no-show socks; they’re ankle socks, so they’re gonna reveal everything but your bony bits. They’re “show-ers,” if you will. Don’t buy them expecting the racy, anti-Puritan appeal of fully exposed ankles.
Still, if you love the way your legs look, you’re probably in it to win it with some ankle socks. Either that or you live in a hot climate or are a millennial pretending you’re still 16 (read: wears Jordans and 2 oversize white T’s at once.) Either way, remember the days of “making” your own ankle socks/no-shows? If you weren’t there, here’s the procedure: take a crew sock (or in some desperate cases, a good old-fashioned tuber). Pull it on tight, then fold the top down, however far you have to fold it to achieve the desired degree of ankle/no-show-ness. Then, if the folded part sticks out past your foot, fold that back again. Repeat and somehow cram the whole damn awkward thing in your shoe without wrinkling it and go to school.
Saucony takes matters into its own hands, adding arch support and breathability, and eliminating the DIY hassle. Reviews range from “i love these socks!” to “big hopes, big disappointment” and arguably beyond in either direction. We’d bet on “They are OK,” which was a Canadian reviewer’s judicious analysis in 2020.
Various colors and sizes
Targeted arch compression
- Weight8.15 Ounces
- Textile blend98% polyester, 2% spandex
- Sizes available6-9, 8-12, 13-15, 15-17
- Quantities available6, 12, 18
- Colors availableMultiple
Relief to people who used to be teenagers that folded crew/tube socks into no-shows
Some users report they wear out too fast
Guys, I’m just here to observe and report. At a certain point, it’s best to let the experts handle the particulars. Here’s what Dickies says about its socks:
“Where there is WORK, there is DICKIES Socks.”
Seminal words from a seminal brand — you better believe there is DICKIES socks, and we’re damn well about to do work. Particularly, in the Dickies Dri-Tech: a 78% cotton, 19% poly blend with moisture control technology, arch compression and ventilation channels.
I can’t think of a more macho way to describe socks. I helped install ventilation channels at the last remodel I did. And if I’m gonna deal with moisture, you can bet I want to control it with technology. Now arch compression? That’s for the master craftsmen. My buddy Anthony, he can do a stone veneer arch that will bring a tear to your eye. Oh no, I’ve seen it — the last subdivision we did, I watched people hang their “Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much” signs up over his work, then step back to look, then take them down and just walk back inside looking ashamed.
But in all seriousness, Dickies does it right for work socks, as well as for work boots: they’re sensibly priced and their massive customer base reports they consistently work well. Frame rustic cabins, ride hogs on the open road, or grind metal and let the sparks fly, all in your Dickies Tri-Techs (brand-suggested uses). And do it for a long time, with the reinforced toe and heel. Not only that, but they also put in work for the big folks too, with a size 15-17 that would make Peggy Hill beam uncomfortably with embarrassed pride.
There is work, and then there is Dickies socks. And you can’t separate the two any more than you can separate freedom from love.
Moisture control technology
Reinforced toe and heel
- Weight10.4 Ounces
- Textile blend78% cotton, 19% polyester, 2% spandex, 1% nylon
- Sizes available5-9, 6-12, 12-15, 15-17
- Quantities available6, 12, 18
- Colors availableMultiple
Well-established reputation among massive consumer pool
Multiple colors, styles, and packages available
We’re not wearing them right now
Jormatt serves up its no-shows with a tactile combed cotton blend and a few sticky strips to help them stay put. The mesh fabric should make the cooling sock super breathable; we just wouldn’t size them too tightly, or you might end up wearing a wet net.
Combing is a process that both softens and toughens cotton. How? Short fibers, which are prone to stick out of the fabric and break, get removed during spinning. As a result, combed cotton is both smoother to the touch and more resilient.
That’s interesting for a mesh product, and possibly vital to its durability over the long term. Obviously, with less material to go around, you want the toughest fiber you can get. As far as fitment, 3% is actually a pretty generous measure of spandex, so they should stretch pretty agreeably. And the three silicone strips at the achilles will help keep your shoe from scrubbing it down your heel as you wear it.
Obviously, any material gets closer to breaking as it gets closer to its stretch limit, so don’t size the Jormatts too small. Otherwise, you should be good to get riské and show off those enticing, bony ankles atop your fave footwear.
For more quality options, be sure to browse our list of the best heated socks.
Combed cotton blend (softer, tougher)
Non-slip heel with silicone strips
- Textile blend80% combed cotton, 17% polyester, 3% spandex
- Sizes available6-10, 10-14
- Quantities available6, 8
- Colors availableGrays, blues, whites, greens
Mesh for increased venting
Heel strips limit slip
Combed cotton offers softer feel, tougher fiber
Could be short-lived, especially if over-tight
If there’s such a thing as the darling of the sock brand world, Bombas is it beyond question. Born of Shark Tank/Daymond John fanfare, the brand soared to popularity through its proprietary builds, bold looks and, eventually, good reputation. The calf running sock is an all-around workout sock infused with plenty of Bombas tech. Choose the striped color options to add flair to your sweat gear.
Bombas’ Hex Tec construction adds breathability and moisture management. Vents built into its proprietary fiber blend (majority polyester, also a lot of cotton) increase the effect. A seamless toe delivers comfort up front, and the y-stitched heel mimics the shape of the foot. It’s also got proprietary arch support, and each sock is contoured specifically for the left or right foot — so no more ragged-out, loose ends crammed into the ends of your shoes.
Bombas is also a cool brand in terms of social responsibility. The certified B corporation gives a pair of socks to a homeless shelter with each sale, which has resulted in over 50 million donations so far. B corporation status also holds companies responsible for various sustainability and ethical standards.
It’s hard to go wrong with hip, high-performance Bombas. We all knew socks were important; Bombas took it to the next level by making them cool.
Loaded with proprietary tech
- Textile blend51% polyester, 33% nylon, 12% cotton, 4% spandex
- Sizes available6-9, 9.5-13, 13.5-16
- Quantities available3, 6
- Colors availableMultiple striped, plus gray, black, white
B corporation status backs up company’s responsibility
If I lived in a cold climate (arctic, high-altitude alpine, etc.), I’d probably wear nothing but Smartwool PhD outdoor heavy socks. Smartwool brings it in terms of durability, and its 74% merino construction makes the sock breathable even though it’s heavy. Built-in vents also help keep your feet warm but not sweaty. And the over-the-calf construction shuts down any chilly drafts that might get up your pantlegs.
The PhD Outdoor starts with Indestructawool, the name of which I’m not too good to admit I’m amused by. Not much is known about it at the moment, but it appears to be a construction method more so than a particular fiber. Either way, it’s designed to enhance durability. The brand also builds in mesh vents and a 4-way fitment system at the ankle, to add all-day-long comfort.
High percentage merino wool fiber
Mesh vents built in
- Weight1 Ounces
- Textile blend74% merino wool, 24% nylon, 2% elastane
- Sizes available3-5.5, 6-8.5, 9-11.5, 12-14.5
- Quantities available1
- Colors availableBlack
Warm and tall
Proven brand performance
Various comfort features
Biggest sizes unavailable
Why Trust Us
Because we’re constantly on our feet. Though many among our team of outlaw journalists do their best work off their feet (meaning ‘at their desks,’ you rascal), we’re always running from place to place, orchestrating multi-sport days, and generally chasing our tails. The adventurous life requires sweat wicking socks to keep your feet cool and dry — even, and especially, when the going gets tough.
Who This is For
If you’re a human, you can benefit from wearing moisture wicking socks. Unless you go barefoot everywhere, you’ve probably experienced crap socks. You know the feeling — at first it’s a just a little warm. Then it’s suddenly what you might call ‘moist’ — perhaps best described as ‘jungly.’ Then, before long, you’re full-on squidgy, and your feet are sliding around in socks like you’re trying to mud wrestle an anaconda. —
How We Picked
Picking socks is personal. And since each and every one of you has your own special snowflake personality, we had to pick a lot of socks. So a ton of varieties are on the table, from brands both time-tested and brand new.
How We Tested
You know how they say when your purpose aligns with your actions, you’re truly happy? I don’t know if my god-given purpose has ever aligned better with a GH testing assignment. Wearing socks was right in my wheelhouse and I knocked it out of the park every time. Sometimes, I tested all day long, and when the sun went down, I just kept on testing. It was like magic.
Features To Look For In Moisture Wicking Socks
Thickness — Witness! You could have thin moisture wicking socks or Lizzo-status moisture wicking socks. We’re confident you’ll choose the appropriate thickness for the situation at hand. Our rule of thumb? We like thin socks if we’re going to be active, no matter what the temperature. For chilly hangs like ice fishing, hunting or, well, let’s be more realistic, drinking outside in cold weather, we rock up the thick woolies.
Moisture Wicking Materials — The most common synthetic moisture wicking materials are nylon and polyester. No, cotton is not considered moisture-wicking. Actually, it famously absorbs water, which is why working out in jeans is reserved for Shaolin practitioners, people whose favorite beer is Busch, and anybody whose first name starts with Billy (Billy Bob, Billy Joe, Billy Joe Bob, Billy Jack, Billy Ray, Billy Stevie Winwood, Billy Ricky Bobby, Billy Purvis, Billy Two Shoes, etc).
Anyway, whether or not those categories describe your life, you’re probably familiar with moisture wicking textiles. It’s mostly the same thing in socks. Merino wool is another fiber found in only the best moisture wicking socks — we suggest you source your merino wool responsibly, as shearing can be either a gentle or a traumatic process.
Compression — Compression socks help stimulate blood flow in the lower extremities for people who spend long hours on their feet. Nurses, for instance, swear by them. If you’ve never worn them, it’s pretty comforting at first. Then, after a while, they start to feel a little tight. After a little while longer, you may notice they now feel what you might call “intense,” and then (from my personal experience) they induce a state I can only describe as “desperate panic.”
Have you ever tried to crawl inside a pipe that’s a little too tight for your body to fit in? You struggle for progress, either forward or backward, as your breath gets shallow and rapid. You’re acutely aware of your heartbeat and the geometry of your limbs. You can’t look behind, but looking ahead, you can see only the terminal void. You don’t know how you got in here, and now you don’t know how to get back out. In fact, you can barely move. You’re completely stuck and highly frustrated when a notion intrudes like a barbed stick: I might never get out of here. You cease struggling abruptly and picture yourself slowly dying of thirst and despair, trying not to burst into tears because you know you can’t waste the bodily fluids it would require. Staring into the darkness, you contemplate like that.
Now picture yourself as a foot and you’ve pretty much got the idea of compression socks.
Seamless — Seamless sock technology is quite nice. It’s a sewing technique that minimizes the seam at the top of the toe, and sometimes cuts down on the little nubbin of thread at the corner of said seam.
Fit — We deserve better than “fits sizes 4-12.” Have you ever compared a size 4 foot with a size 12 foot? Not the same thing.
And no matter how big or small your foot is, don’t you prefer sizing options that help your clothes fit? In fact, isn’t that the express purpose of clothing sizes?
But I’m not bitter. It’s just better to have size options that work for your body.
Durability — If your cheap socks disintegrate into gauzy, net-like structures with equal parts cloth fiber and foot funk within a month, were they really worth the savings? It’s annoying to keep re-buying things that keep wearing out or breaking. You know what, it’s not only annoying — it’s wasteful. Durability matters, so we put it to the test.
Comfort — This may seem like an obvious one, but ah — sometimes, not all is as it would seem. Say you’re wearing a cozy pair of thick wool socks, gettin’ snuggly with it. Now picture yourself doing so while going for an afternoon jog in mid-August. Those babies are gonna end up as soggy as your techy cooling towel, and in short order. Sock comfort depends on your situation; choose judiciously.
Value — Cheap socks rarely last; it’s just the nature of the beast. What can you expect from a polyester pouch, sewn by people working in abhorrent conditions for little money?
The real question is, what is the value you’re purchasing? Immediate low expense or long-term monetary efficiency? Throw-away convenience or lasting durability? These are the sliders; we don’t have all the answers and somewhere the platonically perfect idea of a sock exists, uniting comfort, cost, effectiveness, worker welfare and everything in between to attain the perfect, yes: value.
But if it’s out there, we don’t know about it. You’re gonna have to compromise somewhere.
Moisture Wicking Socks FAQ
Q: Why purchase moisture wicking socks?
A: Only purchase them if you can’t get them for free. But if you do have to pony up, there are plenty of good reasons: they’re good for your feet, your skin, and your overall wellness including your mental well-being. It sucks a lot less to do something that sucks if you’re not wearing socks that suck. And if you’re doing something that doesn’t suck at all, why introduce a suck element by wearing a sock that sucks?
Q: How do moisture wicking socks work?
A: Action! Moisture wicking socks transport moisture away from your skin via “capillary action.” That means that tiny channels in the fabric attract moisture through molecular forces. Once it’s off your skin and outside the fabric, it can evaporate, leaving you with dry tootsies. Most of the time, brands either engineer or ionically charge their fabrics to facilitate “capillary action.”
Q: What are moisture wicking socks made of?
A: The best socks to keep feet dry and wick sweat are made of high-tech stuff, dude. OR — or — they’re just wool. Most times nature does it best, and that can definitely be the case with moisture wicking materials. Wool naturally wicks moisture by absorbing it into the core of its fibers, then releasing it through openings in the other side.
Cool, huh? The most common synthetic moisture wicking fibers are the ubiquitous polyester and nylon.
Q: Do cotton socks wick away moisture?
A: Nope. Wear a pair to play a game of 3-on-3 at your neighborhood basketball court in 102-degree heat to a) find out first hand and b) get large and painful blisters.
Q: Do moisture wicking socks wear out faster than regular socks?
A: Nah. Or, more helpfully: by the time they do wear out, you won’t be able to tell whether they died faster than your good-ol’s. And you’ll probably be more happy wearing them, with more comfortable, less smelly, and very bacterially-repellent feet.
Q: How do you wash moisture wicking socks?
A: Man! U! Faksh! Erer’s instructions, baby. Toss ‘em in the wash on cold, 99% of the time. For the best results, try out one of GearHungry’s best laundry detergents.