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Ankle socks are one of those basic wardrobe pieces you might put too much thought into. But since you probably wear them a lot, investing in the smartest way possible is essential.
“Similar to other clothing items, socks are used to provide a layer of warmth and protection between your skin and the outside surface,” says Dr. Miguel Cunha, DPM and founder of Gotham Footcare in Manhattan. “The socks absorb sweat from the feet and provide a ‘second skin’ for the feet that can be removed as the condition changes, preventing the formation of blisters.”
You can wear ankle socks — and get this layer of protection — for walking around the house, going out into the world and working out. An ankle sock works best with lower-profile shoes, like casual and running sneakers, so the sock comes up above the heel tab, says Dr. Raphael Lilker, DPM and the Foot Doctor of New York. A lower sock might slip off into your shoe, and a higher sock could get bunched up and feel uncomfortable.
The benefits of ankle socks
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. Anything that feels uncomfortable or moves around a lot defeats the purpose of what the sock is meant to do, aka protect the feet.
When your skin has the opportunity to touch the inside of your shoe, there’s room for abrasions to form. This can also lead to excess moisture buildup, which in turn can make you more susceptible blisters, says Dr. Lilker. A good ankle sock is meant to stay in place for as long as you have it on.
The best men’s ankle socks also help prevent bacterial infections, especially on feet that are sweating a lot. “Fungus loves warm, damp and dark environments, which makes your socks the ideal breeding place for it,” Dr. Cunha says. A high-performing, sweat-wicking sock can prevent fungus from forming. Also, Dr. Cunha advises changing your socks at least once a day — more if your workout sneakers tend to get extra sweaty, too.
Top Men’s Ankle Socks
- Best for Everyday Wear: Hanes Max Cushion Men’s Ankle Socks
- Best for Outdoor Sports: Swiftwick Pursuit Men’s Ankle Socks
- Amazon Bestseller: Wernies Low-Cut Ankle Socks
- Best for Workouts: Under Armour Elevated + Performance Men’s Ankle Socks
- Best for Running: Nike Everyday Plus Cushion Men’s Ankle Socks
- Also Consider for Workouts: Lululemon MacroPillow Tab Running Socks
- Best Merino Wool Socks: Smartwool PhD Run Light Elite Micro Men’s Ankle Socks
- Best for Work Shoes: Carhartt Force Performance Work Men’s Ankle Socks
- Also Consider Everyday Wear: Bombas Men’s Ankle Socks
- Best With a Deep Heel: Cooplus Men’s Ankle Socks
- Best for Stocking Up On: Saucony Performance Men’s Ankle Socks
- Best Cushioned: Balega Hidden Comfort Men’s Ankle Socks
- Best Midweight: Brooks Ghost Midweight Men’s Ankle Socks
- Best for Hot Weather: Icebreaker Merino Run+ Ultralight Men’s Ankle Socks
- Best Y-Heel Design: Feetures High-Performance Men’s Ultra Light Socks
- Best Anti-Odor: Rhone Essentials Ankle Socks
- Best for Cross-Training: Stance 3-Pack Run Light Men’s Ankle Socks
- Boss 2-Pack Men’s Ankle Socks
- Best Investment Socks: Falke Versatile Men’s Ankle Socks
- Best Hemp: Anonymous Ism Hemp Men’s Ankle Socks
What to look for in the best men’s ankle socks
When shopping for ankle socks, look for styles with a few key features.
- Basic Materials: Cotton and wool are probably going to be the materials you see and hear the most about. Cotton can be fine for everyday or low-impact activities, but the fabric is generally thicker and absorbs, rather than wicks away, sweat. As a result, cotton can make feet more prone to blisters, Dr. Cunha says. On the other hand, however, he mentions that wool, in addition to being lightweight and soft, has antimicrobial properties.
- Technical Materials: Basic materials aside, there’s a ton of innovation in sweat-friendly fabrics right now. “There are all sorts of spandex styles available that are great for sweating,” Dr. Lilker says. Look for fabrics that have antimicrobial, anti-odor and even anti-fungal properties, like nylon, polyester and merino wool — a slightly softer version of traditional wool that’s also ideal for keeping feet dry and comfortable in all seasons. “During the winter, a thicker sock made from merino wool provides the best warmth because the air pockets in its fibers help maintain the heat,” Dr. Cunha says. In the warmer months, go for a lightweight merino wool. For workouts, he recommends a blend of merino wool and nylon.
- Cushioning: 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 and can help absorb shock when you’re running or working out.
- Strong elastic ribbing at the cuff and a Y-heel construction to help keep socks upright.
- Deeper heel pockets for extra underfoot support.
- Heel tabs to prevent blisters and sock slippage during high-energy movements.
- Arch compression to support the arch, which is “put under a lot of pressure when walking or running under hard surfaces,” Dr. Cunha says.
Ahead, shop the 20 best men’s ankle socks for every activity, according to our experts and this writer’s own testing.
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Hanes Max Cushion Men’s Ankle Socks
Best for Everyday Wear
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. FreshIQ advanced odor-protection technology attacks odor-causing bacteria to help you feel fresh all day. They’re offered in black and white and come as a pack of six.
Swiftwick Pursuit Men’s Ankle Socks
Best for Outdoor Sports
Your sweat levels might differ depending on the weather, and being outside means you might be subject to a whole bunch of weather changes in a single day. Dr. Cunha recommends Swiftwick’s Pursuit ankle socks, which are made of moisture-wicking and temperature-regulating merino wool that ensures your feet never get too hot or too cold. The heel and toe areas are reinforced for enhanced durability, and the cuff is double-layered for added support and protection while cycling, hiking, trail running and more.
Wernies Low-Cut Ankle Socks
Bestseller on Amazon
These Amazon bestsellers with over 13,000 five-star reviews have the ideal cotton-spandex blend for a price that’s hard to pass up. One reviewer who wears these for running, playing golf, and everyday activities where a low-cut ankle socks are necessary says, “The elastic is good and they do not slip away. I feel like I can never have enough ‘no show’ socks, and these fit the bill.”
Under Armour Elevated + Performance Men’s Ankle Socks
Best for Tough Workouts
Designed with a moisture-wicking HeatGear fabric and ventilation channels, Under Armour’s Elevated + performance socks should keep you dry and cool. They also feature anti-odor technology, strategic cushioning that minimizes bulk and offers flexibility and dynamic arch support to reduce foot fatigue. Get them in various colors in a pack of three or six, and throw a few pairs inside your gym bag for quick changes post-workout.
Nike Everyday Plus Cushion Men’s Ankle Socks
Best for Running
Socks are an important piece of running gear, as they’re really put to the test by all that up-and-down movement. Nike’s Spark cushioned running socks have extra cushioning at the bottom of the foot, where a lot of the impact goes, and a bit of arch support that helps you feel locked in. Mesh up top keeps your foot aired out as you sweat.
Lululemon MacroPillow Tab Running Socks
Also Consider for Workouts
Lululemon’s MacroPillow tab running socks are packed with tons of high-tech features. They’re super lightweight — one of the lightest pairs on our list — and have a tighter feel than you might be used to, which is great for keeping the sock in one place while you lift, jump or do really any kind of movement in the gym. The cuff on the back comes up a bit higher, enhancing the stay-put fit. Plus, these are treated with Lululemon’s “No-Stink Zinc,” which stops bad-smelling bacteria from finding a place to grow.
Smartwool PhD Run Light Elite Micro Men’s Ankle Socks
Best Merino Wool Socks
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. Merino wool is one of those fabrics both podiatrists we spoke to mentioned, thanks to its built-in moisture resilience. It doesn’t mean you don’t sweat, says Dr. Lilker, just that the socks don’t get wet when you do. An Achilles tab helps reduce irritation. Lightweight cushioning provides comfort with bulk. Strategically-placed mesh vents promote a cool, dry environment.
Carhartt Force Performance Work Men’s Ankle Socks
Best for Work Shoes
Prone to sweaty feet? 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. The reinforced heel and toe areas protect against blisters. A compressive arch design provides support and prevents bunching. These come in multiple sizes and colors. You get three pairs.
Bombas Men’s Ankle Socks
Also Consider for Everyday Wear
Bombas’ ankle socks will change your whole world, if they haven’t already. Truly, I did not know what a difference socks could make until I tried Bombas’ styles. These have strategically cushioned around higher-impact areas of the foot, with an extra pillowy heel tab for ensuring the sock stays up above the top of your shoe. The magic here is in the honeycomb arch support in the middle of the sock, which feels like the hug you didn’t know your foot always needed.
Cooplus Ankle Men’s Socks
Best With a Deep Heel
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. A 3D Y-heel design and heel tabs at the back prevent them from slipping down, while reinforcement in high-stress areas enhances durability. Available as a pack of six in multiple colorways, these are a great deal for people who fall into that sweaty feet category and could benefit from a sock change midday.
Saucony Performance Men’s Ankle Socks
Best for Stocking Up On
If you feel you could benefit from a once-a-day sock change, or find you need to change your socks immediately after a workout, this six-pack of Saucony ankle socks is for you. The performance styles are pretty lightweight and don’t have quite as much cushion as some of the other options on our list, but they include a comfortably tight band around the top and midfoot as well as some extra padding around the toes. Buy a set or two to keep on hand for whenever you might need them.
Balega Hidden Comfort Men’s Ankle Socks
Balega’s Hidden Comfort ankle socks are knit with Drynamix fibers to help keep feet dry, cool and feeling fresh all day. Additionally, breathable performance mesh panels enhance air flow. Extra-deep heel pockets help ensure a great fit while the seamless design minimizes irritation. Dense cushioning boosts comfort. Reinforcement at the heel and toe areas add durability and a feeling of total security inside the sock.
Brooks Ghost Midweight Men’s Ankle Socks
Sometimes, you need an ankle sock that’s a little thicker for added warmth. For wear during the colder months, or for feet that don’t tend to get quite as sweaty, go for Brooks’ Ghost midweight ankle socks. These use quick-drying DriLayer nylon to keep your feet comfortably dry and have that extra band of arch support for a secure fit.
Icebreaker Merino Run+ Ultralight Men’s Ankle Socks
Best for Hot Weather
Dr. Cunha recommends Icebreaker’s Merino Run+ Ultralight socks for hotter weather because of their ventilation features on the top of the foot and merino wool construction that prevents feet from getting overly sweaty. Despite being super lightweight, these still offer cushion and durability on areas of the foot that are more likely to get irritated.
Feetures High-Performance Ultra Light Men’s Ankle Socks
Best Y-Heel Design
Coming in a pack of three, Feetures’ High-Performance Ultra Light no-show socks are designed to contour to the shape of each foot for an anatomical fit that reduces the chances of rubbing and blisters. The moisture-wicking synthetic fibers keep feet cool and dry. The Y-heel design and heel tabs should help prevent the sock from slipping down inside shoes. The Perfect Toe construction reduces the chance of irritation. Different color and size options are available.
Rhone Essentials Men’s Ankle Socks
If your feet and shoes tend to smell throughout the day, getting a sock specifically designed to prevent this is key. Enter: Rhone’s Essentials ankle socks with anti-odor technology. They’re low-profile but still have an extra-cushioned heel, arch support and a reinforced toe. Wear these for your workouts or just on the daily.
Stance 3-Pack Run Light Men’s Ankle Socks
Best for Cross-Training
Stance’s Run Light socks are made for running but excel in any workout environment, including for CrossFit. They have secure arch support and are made to be anti-friction (friction inside shoes — which often occurs as a result of a bad sock or during high-energy movements like jumping — is a main cause of blisters). These are knit in such a way that brings as much airflow in and sweat out as possible.
Boss 2-Pack Men’s Ankle Socks
These cotton pairs from Hugo Boss are ideal for everyday use, rather than intense workouts where you’re sure to work up a sweat. These hit a little higher up the leg than some other ankle silhouettes do, making them great to wear with slightly taller shoe styles, too. These have a reinforced heel, which is great for protecting against blisters you might get from breaking in new work shoes.
Falke Versatile Men’s Ankle Socks
Best Investment Socks
Falke’s Versatile ankle socks are one of the priciest options on our list, but their materials and fit are top-notch. They’re made with eco-friendly organic cotton and recycled nylon and are expertly constructed to feel incredibly supportive. Because of the cotton makeup, these do better on less-sweaty feet and in colder weather. Wear these with high-top sneakers.
Anonymous Ism Hemp Men’s Ankle Socks
When it comes to non-performance ankle socks, brands are getting creative in what materials they can use for everyday wear, too. Anonymous Ism’s hemp socks are made from hemp, cotton, polyester and spandex, which makes them stretchy but heavier weight. They’re a great option for people with typically cold feet that need some daily attention and almost feel like a pair of slippers, although you could also wear them with your slippers for ultimate warmth.