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A minimalist alternative to crew-length socks, ankle socks not only offer a more inconspicuous look but are also ideal to wear in warm weather and when working up a sweat. That said, it can be hard to find a comfortable pair that doesn’t bunch inside shoes or slip off the heel as you wear them.
When shopping for ankle socks, look for styles with a few key features. Strong elastic ribbing at the cuff and a Y-heel construction can help keep socks upright. Pairs made of lightweight cotton are great for everyday wear.
In terms of pairs for working out in, you’ll want to stay away from pure cotton styles as the material absorbs moisture. Instead, look for options made with mesh and moisture-wicking materials like nylon, polyester and merino wool. (Bonus points if they include antiodor technologies to keep socks smelling fresh) Also, consider styles that have a deeper heel pocket and elasticized arch compression for extra underfoot support, as well as heel tabs to prevent blisters and sock slippage during high-energy movements.
When it comes to cushioning in the sole, choosing the amount comes down to personal feel preference. Some styles are lightly padded, while others offer a plusher feel underfoot, which can help absorb shock when you’re running or working out.
For shopping made easier, we rounded up a variety of men’s ankle socks for different occasions.
Carhartt Force Performance Work Ankle Socks
Prone to sweaty feel? Carhartt’s Force Performance Work Low Cut Socks boast FastDry technology — which wicks away sweat while fighting odors — cushioned soles and Racetrack mesh panels to help prevent feet from overheating.
Key Features: Reinforced heel and toe areas protect against blisters. Compression arch design provides support and prevents bunching. They come in multiple sizes and colors. You get three pairs.
Cooplus Ankle Socks
Cooplus Ankle Socks are equipped with mesh ventilation to regulate foot temperature, an elastic compression band in the arch and fully cushioned soles for premium comfort.
Key Features: 3D Y-heel design and tab cuffs at the back prevent them from slipping down. Reinforced in high-stress areas for enhanced durability. Offered in multiple colorways. Six pairs come in a pack.
Hanes Max Cushion Ankle Socks
Delivering a bit more coverage, Hanes’ Max Cushion Ankle Socks are crafted from a ComfortBlend fabric that’s soft, durable and sweat-wicking. They also have plush cushioning underfoot and comfort toe seams to prevent irritation.
Key Features: FreshIQ advanced odor-protection technology attacks odor-causing bacteria to help you feel fresh all day. They’re offered in black and white. These come as a pack of six.
Under Armour Performance Tech Low Cut Socks
Designed with a moisture-wicking HeatGear fabric, Under Armour’s Performance Tech Low Cut Socks should keep you cool. They also feature ventilation channels and anti-odor technology.
Key Features: Strategic cushioning minimizes bulk and offers flexibility. Dynamic arch support helps reduce foot fatigue. These are also available in different color options and packs of three and six.
Smartwool PhD Run Light Elite Micro Socks
Unlike the others on our list, Smartwool’s PhD Run Light Elite Micro Socks are made of a merino wool fabric blend, making them naturally moisture-wicking, anti-odor and temperature-regulating.
Key Features: An Achilles tab helps reduce irritation. Lightweight cushioning provides comfort with bulk. Strategically-placed mesh vents promote a cool, dry environment. Offered in various colors and sizes.
Feetures High Performance Ultra Light No Show Socks
Coming in a pack of three, Feetures’ High Performance Ultra Light No Show Socks are designed to contour to each individual foot for an anatomical fit that reduces movement to help avoid blisters.
Key Features: iWick synthetic fibers keep feet cool and dry. The Y-heel design and heel tabs should help prevent the sock from slipping inside shoes. The Perfect Toe construction reduces the chance of irritation. Different color and size options available.
Balega Hidden Comfort Ankle Socks
Balega’s Hidden Comfort Ankle Socks are knit with Drynamix fibers to help keep your feet dry, cool and feeling fresh all day. Additionally, breathable performance mesh panels enhances air flow.
Key Features: Extra-deep heel pockets help ensure a great fit. Seamless design minimizes irritation. Dense cushioning boosts comfort. Reinforced heel and toes add durability. Array of colors and sizes.
Nike Everyday Plus Cushion Ankle Socks
Embroidered with the brand’s signature Swoosh, Nike’s Everyday Plus Cushion Ankle Socks deliver a classic look and come in a pack of three. They’re crafted from a soft, stretchy cotton-polyester fabric blend.
Key Features: Sweat-wicking Dri-FIT technology provides breathable comfort. Arch band contours around the foot for a locked-in fit and feel. Ribbed cuffs help to keep the sock securely in place.