5 High Performance Socks Under $25

Although often overlooked, socks are an essential part of almost any outfit, whether casual, formal or sporty. More importantly, they are often taken for granted. A good pair of socks can do more than just add a layer between your skin and your shoes. Socks, such as the pairs described below, can provide improved support, cushion, and comfort. Good quality performance socks are moisture wicking and quick drying thanks to premium materials. Socks can be the difference between a comfortable hike and one filled with blisters and aches. However, with such a saturated market and so much jargon to get to grips with, finding the right pair of performance socks can be a difficult task.

I have personally tested all five and can attest to their quality. My favorite pair was the Bombas Merino Wool Calf socks due to their comfort, versatility and innovative design, but each had their own benefits.

My favorite overall performance socks

Bombas men’s morino wool socks

Men’s Merino Wool Crew Socks



At the end of the line : If you’re looking for a high quality pair of general purpose socks made by a socially and environmentally responsible company, look no further than these merino wool socks from Bombas.

What you will love: Thanks to their merino wool fabric and innovative design, these socks are versatile enough to wear at home, in the gym or on the hiking trails. Although wool is usually reserved for cold weather garments, these socks are lightweight, breathable and more than able to adapt to a variety of temperatures thanks to their breathability. The wool blend is also naturally odor resistant and also wicks away moisture. Like all Bombas, these socks feature the company’s unique honeycomb arch support band, which provides soft support and added comfort. In addition to the arch support elastic band, these socks are strategically reinforced with spandex fibers in high stress and high movement areas, increasing mobility and durability. Last but not least, the tube portion of these mid-calf socks is designed to be just snug enough to hug your calf and stay in place without cutting off circulation.

What you should consider: When I’ve hiked and snowshoeed in these socks, I found myself wanting a bit more cushion on the top of the foot. Although there is ample support, particularly around the arch, the top is lacking and as a result my foot became slightly sore in that area after a few hours snowshoeing.

Cold Weather Performance Socks

REI Co-op Merino Wool expedition hiking socks

REI Co-op Merino Wool Expedition Crew Hiking Socks

REI Co-op Merino Wool Expedition Crew Hiking Socks


At the end of the line : REI has earned an excellent reputation for producing high quality outdoor gear, and their Expedition socks are a great example of this. These socks offer protection as well as comfort in extremely cold weather, which is a testament to their overall performance and quality.

What you will love: Despite these socks being bulkier, they aren’t so big that they changed the fit and feel of my hiking boots when I tested them. What sets the Expedition hiking socks apart from other light and medium hiking socks is their high merino content: these socks are made from 79% merino wool and are sublimely soft. Merino wool is more than just insulation, it is also breathable and moisture wicking. Expedition socks have plenty of cushion, not only underfoot, but also distributed over other critical areas such as your Achilles tendon. I had the chance to test these socks out on the ski slopes and liked the extra cushioning in the toes, it’s handy when cornering.

What you should consider: Although this is not always a disadvantage, you must take into account that these socks are bulky, especially compared to lightweight hiking socks and traditional socks. Another disadvantage of these socks, which is partly related to the thickness of the wool, is the fact that they do not dry quickly. If you’re hiking in the snow or crossing a river, you’ll definitely want to bring a backup pair.

Lightweight performance hiking socks

Smartwool Classic Light Cushion Hiking Socks

Hike Classic Edition Light Cushion Crew Socks

Hike Classic Edition Light Cushion Crew Socks

smart wool

At the end of the line : Don’t let the name fool you: these socks outperform most of the competition in a number of categories.

What you will love: If you’re looking for a simple pair of socks that offer cushioning, comfort and performance, look no further than these Smartwool socks. These socks are made in the USA and contain 31% recycled nylon, 56% merino wool, 11% nylon, and 2% spandex. While nylon and spandex increase moisture resistance and stretch, merino wool provides a great amount of warmth. The Classic Light Cushion socks also feature a flat knit seam on the toe, which makes them a bit more expensive but definitely more comfortable in your boot. To top it off, these socks are reinforced with intentionally placed elastic sections that provide subtle compression and support and prevent the sock from slipping on your foot.

What you should consider: Similar to REI’s Expedition socks, these socks don’t dry as fast as I would have liked. Also, they weren’t as breathable as similar socks with less synthetic fibers.

The Best Sports Performance Socks

Wrightsock Coolmesh II Crew Socks

Coolmesh II Crew

Coolmesh II Crew



At the end of the line : If you frequent the gym or are an avid runner, these socks will be perfect for you. With a unique double-layered design, they are designed to prevent blisters and reduce sweaty feet.

What you will love: The unique two-layer design of the Coolmesh II socks allows for increased airflow and reduced skin chafing. In fact, the space between the inner layer that touches your foot and the outer layer that comes into contact with the shoe creates an air space that helps your feet regulate their temperature. This air channel helps trap heat in the colder months and allows it to escape when the weather is hot. As well as helping your feet stay comfortable in terms of temperature, the inner layer is made from hydrophobic materials like nylon and spandex, which makes these socks quite effective at wicking away moisture and eliminating associated discomfort. to perspiration. Another cool aspect of the dual-layer design is the fact that it allows your foot to move slightly in the sock, which drastically reduces the risk of blisters while protecting any calluses that have developed. Overall, if you’re looking for a pair of socks that suits an active, always-on lifestyle, the Coolmesh II is a great choice.

What you should consider: Although these socks are designed for intense activity, they are not ideal for prolonged activities, such as day hikes, as they are completely cushionless. Another thing to consider before purchasing the Coolmesh II socks is the fact that they provide no noticeable compression. Not only does this reduce comfort over long periods of time, but it also makes the fit a bit looser than other socks on this list.

Best Rugged Performance Hiking Socks

Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Lightweight Hiking Socks

Men's Light Hiker Micro Crew Lightweight Hiking Socks

Men’s Light Hiker Micro Crew Lightweight Hiking Socks



At the end of the line : The name says it all: not only are these socks durable, but they’re also backed by Darn Tough’s famous lifetime warranty.

What you will love: Darn Tough socks are made in Vermont and feature unique fabric blends. The quality of Darn Tough’s materials and manufacturing process have made them an industry leader in the 15 years since the company was founded in 2004. Light Hiker socks are quite durable, thanks to the fact that they are made from 47% merino wool, 46% nylon and 7% spandex. The high spandex content makes these socks stretchier and stronger, especially in the arch, heel and toe area. The slight compression provided by spandex makes up for the relative lack of cushioning in terms of comfort. Although these socks are lightweight, they still provide more than enough warmth for hiking in early or late winter. Also, if you’re not a fan of the crew cut, you can opt for a pair of invisible socks with the same technology.

What you should consider: These socks have two disadvantages that should be considered before buying them. First and foremost, they are not cheap. Although they are high quality and guaranteed to last a lifetime, getting a few pairs will cost a pretty penny. Second, these socks really live up to their lightweight rating. They probably won’t provide enough warmth for extreme winter conditions and they don’t provide as much cushion as other lightweight competitors.

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