For people who like to express their individuality or civic mindedness through their socks, the number of choices available has exploded in recent years, especially when it comes to technical socks. Athletes are no longer relegated to the white tube socks of the last century and can now find socks that are not only comfortable, but can help support their their athletic performance.
Here are five of the best sock brands that you may have never heard of. While these brands aren’t as widely distributed as some of the larger companies, they offer some of the most functional, innovative socks on the market.
Good sock brands provide additional cushioning and keep your feet dry. They prevent blisters and reduce foot odor. And depending on the activity you're using them for, you'll want to find ones made of a specific material or are a certain height.
Sock designers put cushioning, compression, and ventilation on various parts of the sock to support the foot in a variety of activities. A thick wool winter sock for snowshoeing will have different characteristics than a lightweight running sock for summertime sprints. Here are the best sock brands for a range of needs.
United By Blue’s Ultimate American Sock came to life after a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. The Philadelphia-based company wanted to reinvent the merino wool sock. Instead of sheep’s or alpaca wool, the Ultimate American Sock is made from bison wool. The company claims that bison wool provides more warmth and better moisture wicking than merino wool.
The socks are itch free, and all the fiber for the tarn is harvested and processed in the United States. These socks are ideal for hiking and cool-weather use. What's more American than bison down?
In addition to their incredible quality, a pair of Ultimate American Socks are worth buying for another reason. United By Blue is one of the best sock brands with a social mission.
For every item purchased from the company, they ensure that a pound of plastic is cleaned up from the ocean. They use a portion of proceeds to fund beach cleanups across the United States. This makes their product more than just a pair of socks. They become a meaningful piece in your consciously-purchased wardrobe.
Another great sock brand for active and outdoor types is Darn Tough. Made in Vermont, these sturdy socks are ideal for skiers and hikers. Everyone that tends to wear holes in their socks should invest in a pair from Darn Tough. Their socks are unconditionally guaranteed for life.
Darn Tough's high-density knitting ensures that the merino wool won’t break down. The wool is interwoven with elastic material and a cooling, wicking fiber. The socks have a secure fit and provide better sweat and wetness protection than wool alone.
Little River Sock Mill socks are a great choice for the conscious consumer. Unlike Ultimate American and Darn Tough, Little River Socks are made for everyday wear. These high-quality socks are great for home, work, and lightly active days.
Each pair is made in the USA from 100% organic cotton. If you usually wear wool, try Little River to see how cotton feels on your feet. Many buyers will be motivated by the fact that Little River product is American-made and organic. But the most compelling feature of Little River Socks is the visual designs, which includes colorful stripes and patterns.
Cotton can be a very dirty crop. Farmed conventionally, it requires huge amounts of pesticides. These pesticides pollute soil and waterways, threatening wildlife and public health. Even after the cotton is processed into fabric, traces of pesticide are still present in the cloth. Wearing non-organic cotton clothing has the potential to expose people to possible carcinogens.
These are problems that Little River Sock Mill is actively addressing. Instead of contributing to the business of dirty cotton, they use only USDA-certified organic cotton, which is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides. Little River Sock Mill socks are a better option for your feet and for the planet.
Attention runners: skip name-brand socks and try Swiftwick. These are seriously some of the most comfortable athletic socks in our opinion. Distance runners consider Swiftwick socks a favorite and they're the best option for people who run outdoors year-round.
This sock brand is made to last—run after run, wash after wash. The sock fabric is an engineered combination of high-tech fibers that wick moisture and provide warmth when needed. The socks are breathable, a great choice for warm weather. No need to switch socks with the seasons. Swiftwicks socks do the trick in rain, snow, or shine.
Swiftwicks are compression socks, popular among athletes today. Rowers, cyclists, and other athletes swear by them. Their line also features socks of different shapes and cushion levels.
On their website, Swiftwick shows each sock's characteristics on a bar graph, making it easy to figure out the best pair for your needs. Their customer service also stands out—order a pair, and if they don’t satisfy, Swiftwick is happy to send another, even from a competitor brand. A strong statement of their commitment to customer satisfaction.
Teko socks are great for people with foot pain because of their superior padding—especially in their “marathon super-cushion” designs. Padding is great shock absorption for runners with bad knees, high arches, or shin splints, and people who run on hard surfaces. When paired with a good quality orthotic insole, Teko socks help protect joints and ease pain.
Teko socks come in:
They are a comfortable option for overweight or aging people who are concerned about shock absorption due to falling arches. Tekos are also known for keeping feet blister-free.
Teko takes pride in what they call “eco-performance.” All the materials used to make their socks, packaging, and marketing materials is responsibly sourced. Unlike the other brands listed here, Tekos are made in Italy and sold primarily in Great Britain. Their quality is known worldwide.
If you've ever found yourself at the gym after work without a pair of athletic socks to change into, ALMI are perfect for you. These performance socks are designed to work for your professional life and your active life.
To keep your feet cool and dry, ALMI socks feature vented mesh zones to increase air-flow and are made from a moisture wicking material. They have padded heels and toes to keep your feet comfortable all day long, no matter what your feet are doing in them.
Made with ultra fine, 200 thread count nylon, ALMI socks offer the health benefits of compression, including improved blood flow, with an added bonus of not slipping. Plus, the antimicrobial silver used in them kills odor causing bacteria.
While socks are an important part of your foot care routine, they're not the only part. Good foot health also comes from wearing properly fitting shoes and getting the right amount of arch support.
If you've tried some of these socks, let us know how they worked for you. If you know of another sock brand that deserves to be on this list, chime in and spread the word.