The best 6 trail running socks you can buy
© Lorenz Richard/Red Bull Content Pool
Off-road running expert Keri Wallace reveals her favourite socks for happy feet whatever the mileage or terrain.
Trail running socks might seem like a simple bit of kit, but they are packed-full of subtle technology that can make a huge difference to your comfort as the miles tick by. Here, mountain runner and director of guided trail running company Girls on Hills Keri Wallace picks out her favourite trail running socks for 2019.
1. Injinji Run Lightweight No-Show
Best for: Long distance/ultra trail running
The best in show, this low-bulk sock with a unique five-toe design really does eliminates the inter-toe friction that can causes blisters.
The design also gives your toes a ‘free’ feeling inside your shoe for a natural feel on uneven terrain. Seamless construction helps create a surprisingly snug fit and the mesh top has COOLMAX® fibres to keep feet dry and cool. There is a clever under-arch band that contributes both support and added in-shoe stability.
The ‘no-show’ length is popular with both men and women and rests below the ankle (where, critically, there is a heel tab that is effective at preventing chafing and helps prevent your socks from slipping down!)
This sock’s original concept launched in 2012 without any predecessor, and has grown a huge following in the ultra-running community. Keep an eye out for the brand's new ‘Liner + Runner’ – a unique two-sock system from Injinji that is growing in popularity but yet to rival the classic design.
2. Balega, Hidden Comfort
Best for: Comfort and moisture management
Despite being the original sock from Balega, there are many reasons why the Hidden Comfort is still its best-selling line after 15 years on the market.
Densely packed Drynamix® yarns give excellent moisture management capability while creating protective cushioning that really lasts. The sock is designed with low-modulus elastane throughout and has an extra-deep heel pocket, giving a structured but non-restrictive fit.
There is plush under-sole cushioning that feels luxurious but adds great protection on the trail (and is reinforced in both the heel and toe for longevity). The mesh construction provides top-notch ventilation, while the Balega ‘hand-linked toe closure’ system gives a seamless fit to prevent hotspots.
3. Inov-8 (Race Pro Elite)
Best for: Long distance training runs
These slim-line socks from Inov-8 are perfect for long training runs where comfort and protection are paramount but durability and value for money are also a consideration.
New for autumn 2019, Race Pro Elite socks have zoned cushioning in the heel and toe, with compression knits in the arch. They also have vented panels and some protection in the ankles, and are finished off with a long heel cuff perfect for fending off dirt and scratches. These socks have a soft feel and slick-look which offers a flash of bright colour above your trail shoes, while their slim-line design complements the sense of feel and precision you get from running in Inov-8 trail shoes.
4. Bridgedale, TrailSport Lightweight ¾ Crew (Speedtrail)
Best for: Durability
These socks use Merino Cool Fusion Technology to provide resilient padding alongside natural moisture wicking and odour control. This construction also delivers outstanding durability.
The ‘Performance Fit’ feels close and supportive and doesn’t slip or bunch-up inside your shoe thanks to the elasticated arch and 3D-shaped heel cup (with a Women’s Specific Fit in the ladies’ version). A Lycra® construction, set by a ‘Thermo Fit process’ enables the sock to spring-back to its original shape and size after every wash!
The TrailSport Lightweight ¾ Crew launched in 2013 as an additional style to the existing range. Trail-running specific improvements for this sock included the T2 padding in toes, heel and underfoot for extra comfort and protection, as well as strategic padding underneath where shoelaces are tied, to give extra protection and prevent against rubbing.
5. Thorlos, Outdoor Athlete
Best for: Fast and technical racing
These form-fitting socks have compression-grade ankle and arch support, which is designed to protect the plantar fascia while fighting foot fatigue. They have a very snug fit and the ankle-foot transition gusset helps prevent bunching and twisting, so that there is minimal movement during high impact or intensity trail running.
They feel light but extremely plush underfoot thanks to the light-density padding in the ball and heel. THORWICK® Cool fibres and ventilation panels in the toe and instep help prevent the feet getting too warm or damp, despite the apparent thickness of the cushioned sock.
The quarter length with reinforced top is ideal for keeping out dirt and debris. This sock has become a Thorlos classic; it launched in 2017 and continues to be the most popular in the range.
6. Smartwool (PHD Run Light Elite Low)
Best for: All-rounder with style
New for 2019, these stylish but hard-wearing trail socks are packed full of running-specific smart features such as 4 Degree™ elite fit system, gender-specific fit and mesh ventilation zones and a Virtually Seamless™ toe. All this makes for a high-performance and slender sock that packs a punch in terms of thermal properties and durability.
Smartwool is a pioneer of Merino wool socks, and these are no different, and combine lightweight warmth, next-to-skin softness and natural odour resistance. The cushioning is targeted to the areas that need it and the sock is made with ‘Indestructawool technology’ (an innovative new construction that uses premium yarns, knitted in a way that fortifies each element), making these the toughest Smartwool socks yet).
The fashionable design sports a low-cut height and a wide range of colour/patterns for the more discerning trail runner.