Running socks can make or break a run. They can’t slip, need to withstand hundreds of miles, hold up in the wash and most importantly, wick sweat. On top of that, it doesn’t hurt for them to look good as well. Every running shoe brand makes running socks, but if a brand makes terrific sneakers, it doesn’t automatically mean its socks live up to the same standard.

Socks are your first line of defense against blisters, hot spots and the dreaded toenail loss situation. There are thick and thin socks, high and low and everything in between. What works best for you is a preference, but the below socks are some of our favorites — and some of the highest performing pairs on the market.

No-Show Socks

Nike Elite Lightweight No-Show

While many would write off Nike socks based on the all-cotton versions you’d find at your local sporting goods store, that would be a mistake. The Elite Lightweight No-Show is one of the best socks on the market. They’ve held up for one of our resident testers over the course of two years despite seeming rather thin.

Feetures! Elite No Show Tab

The Feetures! Elite No Show Tab is a great option if you like thin socks. The back tabs of these socks are double lined to provide added support from the collar — and help prevent injuries to the achilles. They also offer a seamless toe, so there’s no tugging at your socks to move the threads away from sensitive areas on the top of the toe.

Lululemon T.H.E. Sock Silver

The T.H.E. Sock features silver particles woven into the fabric, which destroys bacteria that causes feet to smell and prevents post-workout stink. Lululemon’s training and running socks are seamless, foot-specific (left versus right) and thin, yet provide enough coverage for sneakers with a high collar.

Quarter Height

Farm to Feet Roanoke Ultra Light Sport 1/4 Crew

The merino wool used in these socks is an adjustment from typical performance socks. While not itchy, the fabric has a slightly rougher hand-feel than many synthetic socks. Wool is naturally odor- and bacteria-resistant, so the socks work well in hot sweaty places, like running shoes. They’ll last for multiple days on trail runs without the need for a wash. One thing to note is that there’s very little padding in both the heel and toe.

FITS Light Runner – Low

While these fall just slightly below normal quarter sock height, they’re still comfortable and provide plenty of ankle protection. The tightness of FITS socks means there’s no extra fabric rubbing in places it shouldn’t, and the super-fine merino wool mixed with nylon and polyester makes them comfortable enough for even 10 milers. As one GP tester notes: “FITS are simply the best socks on the market — across the board.”

Darn Tough Vertex 1/4 Ultra-Light

For a brand named Darn Tough, these socks are thinner than you would think possible. But nevertheless, they defy their thin-ness and are virtually impossible to put a hole in. They’re guaranteed for life — if they’re not the most durable, comfortable and best fitting socks you’ve ever worn, Darn Tough will take them back or replace them.

Six-Inch Socks / Crew Socks

District Vision Sindo Performance Socks

These socks are one of District Vision’s first expansions into other markets. As with the brand’s sunglasses, there’s plenty of research and science behind them. But more importantly, they feel good. Three layers of fabric sound like a lot, but the socks are surprisingly thin. There is added cushion under the toe and heel, but on the calf, you’ll feel a slight compression of the thin fabric.

Feetures! Elite Light Cushion Mini Crew Sock

These Feetures! have graduated compression, which means they’re tight at your ankle, and get gradually less tight as they move up. They aren’t as tight as the District Visions (which also have graduated compression), which makes them an easy first step into the compression world. Don’t read too much into the ‘mini’ in the title — it’s just a quarter of an inch shy of the District Vision’s calf height (6″ from heel to top). The socks wick sweat well and stay cool throughout long distance runs. The fabric is fairly thin, reinforced in the toe and heel and is extremely soft to the touch.

Balega Blister Resistant Crew Sock

Slightly thicker than the other options on this list, the fabric on the Balega is better suited to cold weather runs. If you like plush and cushioned socks, these are for you. While the color options leave something to be desired, the rest of the sock is up to snuff. A thin layer of fabric surrounds the arch to keep the socks in place and even after a long day of wear, they don’t smell. Insider tip: These also work well for hiking.

Stance Sediment Crew

Stance is a brand whose socks look cool and still ace performance. The fabric prevents rubbing and chafing, and the reflective details are an added bonus for early morning and night runs. They also feature left and right articulated arch support that feels great when running at any distance.

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