I initially started biking as a hobby about five years ago just to lose the extra weight that I was carrying then. I didn’t pay much attention to accessories, I just wanted to have a bicycle that works and a decent pair of cycling shoes to start with. It was when I started to really get into it that I realized how important cycling accessories –specifically, cycling socks– are.
Blisters started growing despite having plasters on my feet and it just made my cycling sessions really uncomfortable. So after one cycling session, I asked some of my buddies if they get blisters as well, which they did, but not to the degree that I was having. They said the secret was cycling socks.
I did my own research and found out that cycling socks are as important as my shoes, my gloves and the rest of my bike. For one thing, wearing great-fitting socks reduces the pressure on my feet. Add to that the comfort of simply having my sock securely placed during long rides.
I also found out how cycling socks are designed to be the thinnest and have the lightest cushioning which was the suspect of why I got so many blisters. I was using regular sports socks back then which had padding on places that shouldn’t.
Another plus that I discovered was cycling socks are made of synthetic fibers, contrary to regular sports socks which were made of cotton or other natural materials. Synthetic fibers are much closely knitted together, which is very effective for moisture management and protects your feet from dirt.
So when I found out all of these, I quickly listed down the best cycling socks on the market today in the hopes of helping new cyclists and prevent them from experiencing the same thing I did.
Best Cycling Socks Compared and Reviewed
|Top||DeFeet Men's Woolie Boolie 6-Inch Socks||DeFeet||Check Price on Amazon|
|veloToze Cycling Socks||veloToze||Check Price on Amazon|
|Swiftwick ASPIRE FOUR Trail Running, Cycling Crew Socks||Swiftwick||Check Price on Amazon|
|Swiftwick - ASPIRE ONE Running & Cycling Socks||Swiftwick||Check Price on Amazon|
|POC - Essential Road Light Socks||POC||Check Price on Amazon|
#1 - DeFeet Men's Woolie Boolie 6-Inch Socks
Boldly claimed as the most popular socks for winter, DeFeet detours from its usual line of reliable summer socks and produces the Woolie Boolie 6-inch sock. I would bet on this product to provide your feet the comfortability and protection it needs during long and cold rides. I bought one last winter, and biked at around 20 degrees Fahrenheit or less. I must say that it kept my feet warm well.
The Woolie Boolie is made of 70% merino wool– a material that offers a lot of versatility in terms of temperature. It regulates the temperature fantastically well in that it keeps you warm through its insulating properties on cold days, and on the other hand, helps keep you cool on the hottest of days.
Another plus of having socks made from merino wool is that it can keep your feet odor-free throughout your ride. It also has a great fit on your feet, almost compression-like, but breathable enough to manage moisture effectively. No doubt this product became DeFeet’s most popular product.
What are people saying about this product?
“These socks simply complete my gear for winter riding. It’s an absolute need for me. Over the last 10 years, I’ve had a lot of pairs (about 15?). Poked a few holes on these bad boys finally, but it totally gave me my money’s worth. Of course, I immediately bought the replacement pairs.” – Cathy N.
Here’s a product information video from DeFeet:
#2 - veloToze Cycling Socks
Coming from the humble town of Sonoma, California, the products of Velotoze are created for cyclists by cyclists. The brand started off with shoe covers and evolved to produce one of the most reliable socks today: veloToze Cycling Sock – Active Compression with Merino Wool Blend.
One of its best features besides being made from Merino wool (although I don’t know how much of it is merino wool since they didn’t state it on their website), is the active compression property.
Having that feature on your sock allows improved blood flow from your feet to your legs then your heart, preventing cramps and swelling. It also doesn’t restrict your feet or calves which is usually what you expect from wearing most compression socks.
Another major plus is that it’s super lightweight. You barely feel any padding. It’s perfect for those who are looking for compression socks but are still looking for that ‘snug-fit’ feel on your foot. I would not only recommend this for cyclists but can be used for any outdoor activity as well.
What are people saying about this product?
“If you like thinner socks and don’t mind dropping a Benjamin to have five days worth, I’d highly recommend these VeloToze.” Loam Wolf from https://theloamwolf.com/2019/03/23/review-velotoze-socks/
#3 - Swiftwick ASPIRE FOUR Trail Running, Cycling Crew Socks
Providing the best socks you’ll ever wear for athletes from different sporting lines for a decade now, Swiftwick claims and guarantees the best customer experience for everyone who purchases their products. This doesn’t exclude those who buy their Aspire Four Firm Compression Fit socks. This is one of the most popular socks from their line with good reason.
The Aspire Four is made of 28% Olefin fiber— a material that has a round cross-section and is very resistant to moisture and other properties. They call it the Fiber First Moisture Wicking property which manages and moves moisture while allowing breathability and gives you that dry feeling.
What’s unique about this product is it has a countered compression fit. It’s best for triathletes and those who want every corner of their foot covered, without any gaps or lumps from the sock in between.
This helps to reduce stress points on the foot during long rides on the saddle. As one of the most affordable from this list, it provides a lot of promise and has a 60-day refund or refund policy too.
#4 - Swiftwick - ASPIRE ONE Running & Cycling Socks
Another sock from Swiftwick is the Asipre One Running & Cycling Socks which can also be used for golf. At 2” high from the ankles, this sock is perfect for those who are looking for the right amount of compression but don’t want to restrict their calves.
Similar to the Aspire Four, the Aspire One socks are made of the same materials: Nylon, Spandex, and Ofelin, but have 39% more Ofelin than any other Aspire variant.
This means that it’s fiber moisture-wicking property is more pronounced and it ensures that the sock dries more quickly. Add to this is the signature lightweight and breathability of Swiftwick Aspire socks making it one of the best socks that provides ankle support.
#5 - POC - Essential Road Light Socks
POC is a company that started in Sweden which has a strong mission: To protect lives and reduce the consequences of accidents for athletes and anyone inspired to be one.” They started developing products for sports gravity and cycling but nowadays, cater to a wider market.
The one main feature that sets the POC Essential Road Light socks apart from the other socks on this list is its mesh panel design using Tactel fabric.
This guarantees that your socks are two times softer, dries eight times quicker than cotton, and about 20% lighter than any other fabric used today. Basically, it cools and dries your feet faster than any other sock on the list.
At the curve of your sole, you will feel the elastic band that secures the sock on your foot, providing ample support as you go up or downhill. It also comes in subtle colors and a small design on the calf, perfect for the minimalist cyclist.
My Number One Pick
Critical Things To Consider When Buying The Best Cycling Socks
There are a lot of things to factor in when you’re buying cycling socks. One of the major drivers is, of course, preference. What might be working for you, might not work for me.
The commonality though is that most beginners are reluctant to spend a few extra bucks for this because as most say: socks are just socks. Not knowing that buying the best shoes would be useless if you don’t wear great cycling socks.
But it also doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to buy the exact pair that Maximilian Schachmann wears. Again, this will rely heavily on your personal preference and a whole lot of trial and error.
The main purpose of this guide is to give you information about what to look for as you go about buying the best socks for you. Some critical things to consider are:
Cycling socks, as you’ve read from my list, are not just made of one material. It can be a combination of nylons, wools, spandex, and Tactel fabric– each offering a distinct property to the sock.
Like Swiftwick’s Aspire line is mostly made of the material Ofelin. Ofelin is a synthetic fabric harvested from oil production. It is highly durable and resistant to moisture making it a great material to be woven into a sock. Or the brand POC using Tactel fiber for its unique ability to dry faster while still remaining soft and light compared to other fabrics.
Material is one of the things you have to consider as this will directly affect how you will perform as a cyclist— beginner or not. You’ll surely find a wide range of materials available per manufacturer as one combination will not be optimal all the time if you factor in weather conditions, so they try to come up with as many combinations addressing all needs as they can.
The ability of your sock to protect you from extreme weather conditions will also affect your cycling session. Merino wool has been found to be a great temperature regulator both in hot or cold conditions. If you prioritize this over anything then DeFeet and veloToze have the perfect fabric combinations that would suit your needs.
The soles of your feet are one of the parts in your body which produces the most sweat and that comes with odor too. For this property, synthetically-made fibers are more efficient as it is able to retain 1% moisture.
A great brand to address this would be Swiftwick. Its Aspire line is woven with the material Olefin which is found on the sole.
Now, design might not be able to take you to new lengths as a cyclist and is all about the aesthetic, but when you know you look good, you feel good as well. How you are feeling about yourself will greatly affect your performance. Placebo or not, the design is also one factor to consider when choosing your sock.
If you are the trendy and adventurous type, Swiftwick’s Aspire line will be a good choice. On the other hand, for a more minimalist vibe, POC should be your brand.
The length of your sock is also considered an aesthetic preference. Long, medium or short, there’s no added value on longer socks versus shorter ones. Simply that longer socks seem to look better for most cyclists. Some claim that they also add a layer of protection against crashes, but that doesn’t have any proof to it at all.
Be mindful as well that longer socks tend to give more heat during summer as its length covers more than half of your calves. On the other hand, it’ll be nice and warm during winter rides. Again, it’s all a matter of preference.
Your budget is directly related to the quality of the sock you’re getting. But with cycling socks, it’s all about the small things. Price ranges from single-digit to over fifty bucks and the 10-dollar difference of one sock to the other might not have significant differences.
A specialized sock though, say those made for the most extreme weather conditions can reach as high as 70 to 90 USD. But as I’ve said earlier, you will experience a lot of trial and error in choosing the best cycling socks, so it’s advisable to seek a manufacturer who allows refunds.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cycling Socks
Q: How long should I use a cycling sock?
A: There are many things that should be considered when talking about the end-of-life of a sock: how frequent it was worn, how it was washed or how it was worn. Most cyclists wear socks until they have holes in them, some when they start to feel the fabric breaking (roughness on the insole). If you start to see any printed label starting to fade, you might want to consider that as old already.
Q: What is the right way to wear socks?
A: Before sliding your feet all the way inside the sock make sure your feet are cleaned and if needed, put some anti-odor or anti-bacterial cream to it. Once the cream or powder has rested on your skin, make sure your toes are wide apart as you slide your feet into your sock. If you tighten your toes as you go in, it could cause blisters to form in between the toes.
Cycling socks are as important as your cycling shoes, gloves and the bike itself. Buying cycling socks is a form of self-care and would help equip you as your rides become longer and more challenging. I’ve experienced it firsthand. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t buy the best ones for you the first time, be patient and start with the list I’ve provided.
As you work towards building up your cycling gear arsenal, check out our post on cycling gloves as well. And make sure you check out our detailed article on preventing injury while cycling, there’s a few tips in there you may not know about.
If you have any feedback or have other suggestions of your own, why not include them in the comments below box? Thanks everyone I hope this has helped you. Not long, you’ll be on your way to better rides.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.