Have you ever stopped to think about just how much time you spend wearing socks? Whether exercising at the gym, grinding at the office or just lounging around the house, odds are you’ve got on a pair of socks.
During each of these activities, your choice of hosiery will play an important role in both your comfort and style. With this in mind, the Gentleman Within team and I have written this in-depth article to highlight the 10 best men’s socks for every activity in 2021.
Before diving into the list, I’ll briefly introduce myself and explain what qualifies me to weigh in on men’s socks. My name is Nathan James and I am the CEO of Boardroom Socks, a North Carolina-based manufacturer of men’s dress socks.
The company was started by my parents back in 2010, drawing on our family’s multigenerational background in textiles and hosiery manufacturing. Day in and day out, I live and breathe socks. Drawing from this expertise, Khoi and I have assembled this list to help you level up your sock drawer.
Best Athletic Socks for Men: Running & Working Out
Selecting the right pair of socks is of particular importance when it comes to running and exercising. During these high impact activities, your feet are subjected to a significant amount of pressure and friction that a quality pair of running socks will help mitigate.
BEST: Balega Hidden Comfort Sock
Here is what we love about Hidden Comfort socks from Balega:
Padded Heel Tab
The tab at the top of the heel is cushioned which is extremely helpful for eliminating any irritation caused by shoes rubbing against your heel. The tab also prevents the socks from slipping down into your shoes.
The cushioning in these Balega socks is just right; there is enough to provide comfortable padding but not so much that they feel bulky.
These socks feature a linked toe, resulting in a toe seam that is virtually imperceptible. A bulky toe seam, typically found on cheaper running socks, is very uncomfortable and can lead to blisters and other irritation.
FYI, these socks are unisex and come in a variety of colors, sizes and styles; you may want to order some extra pairs as your significant other may confiscate them! My wife loves them and has “acquired” several pairs. You can also find them at REI.
HONORABLE MENTION: Swiftwick Maxus Zero Tab
The Maxus Zero Tab sock by Swiftwick is what I wear when playing golf. Similar to the Hidden Comfort socks from Balega, these have a tab at the top of the heel that does a great job of ensuring they stay up on your heel.
These are another great option and, as a fellow American manufacturer, I love that they are made in the USA! You can find them on their website or Amazon.
» You Might Like This Guide on the Best No-Show Socks for Men.
Best Dress Socks for Men: At the Office & Dressing Up
If you’re working at the office or attending a formal event such as a wedding, you’ll want to opt for a pair of dress socks that are as comfortable as they are stylish. In full disclosure I’m a little biased on this subject; as I mentioned above, my company manufactures men’s dress socks.
BEST: Boardroom Socks Merino Wool Over the Calf
What we love about these dress socks from Boardroom Socks:
Over the Calf Length
When it comes to dress socks, is there anything more annoying than constantly bending down to pull them up? These knee-high socks rest above the calf and stay up all day.
The ribbed design of these socks is a classic look that makes these socks incredibly versatile. Dress them up with a suit or dress them down with jeans.
Merino wool is the perfect material for socks; it breathes to keep your feet dry and comfortable in every season.
If you’ve never worn over the calf socks before, you might find the length to be a little overwhelming at first. Give them a shot; you’ll be amazed at how they comfortably stay up all day. If I haven’t convinced you to embrace the over the calf length, try out the mid-calf version of these socks.
HONORABLE MENTION: Pantherella Danvers Cotton Dress Socks
Similar to my company, Pantherella is another family-owned company that places a great deal of emphasis on quality.
While their socks are pricey, they are very well-regarded in our industry as a premier manufacturer.
» You Might Like This Men’s Dress Socks Guide (Everything You Need to Know).
Best Boot Socks for Men: Hiking & Outdoors
As an Eagle Scout I spent plenty of time backpacking through the North Carolina mountains, learning firsthand the importance of a great pair of boot socks.
Few things are more uncomfortable than developing blisters partway through a multi-day trek…Whether you’re hitting the trail for a long hike or wearing steel toes to work, you don’t want to cut corners with boot socks.
BEST: Farm to Feet Damascus Crew Sock
What we love about these boot socks from Farm to Feet:
Merino wool is the only material you should wear when it comes to boot socks; it’s breathability helps to keep your feet dry and odor-free, even on a lengthy outdoor adventure. Farm to Feet uses a fine, low micron merino wool for these socks.
Worn by the Military
Soldiers practically live in their boots and Farm to Feet is one of the US military’s suppliers of boot socks. That is quite the endorsement!
Truly Farm to Feet
The brand’s name pays homage to their 100% US-based supply chain. They put a great deal of emphasis on American-made quality every step of the way. You can find them on Amazon in addition to their website.
» You Might Like This Guide on Best Chukka Boots: Everything You Need to Know.
HONORABLE MENTION: Darn Tough Midweight Hiking Sock
These boot socks by Darn Tough are another great option for hiking and other outdoor activities. Made with merino wool and featuring some targeted cushioning, they check many of the same boxes as the Damascus Crew from Farm to Feet.
Darn Tough also backs their socks with an impressive lifetime guarantee. They also have an Amazon store.
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Best Compression Socks for Men: Sitting, Standing & Traveling
When seated or standing for long periods of time, wearing a pair of compression socks can greatly improve your comfort. These are commonly worn by doctors, frequent travelers and even individuals suffering from a variety of medical conditions like plantar fasciitis.
Compression socks also improve circulation to reduce swelling, aches, pains and general discomfort.
BEST: Sockwell Moderate Graduate Compression Socks
What we love about these compression socks from Sockwell:
You’ll notice that most reputable compression socks are made using merino wool. For all of the reasons we’ve mentioned above, this is hands down the best material to use in socks.
A seamless toe is a great feature if you plan on wearing a pair of socks for an extended period of time. This is also another indicator of quality.
If you’re planning to be on your feet for an extended period of time, the cushioned sole will definitely come in handy. Sockwell can be found on their website as well as on Amazon.
HONORABLE MENTION: Feetures PF Relief Crew Sock
Feetures is another well-known sock brand, and these PF Relief crew socks are a good second option for men who prefer a crew length sock.
The targeted compression in these will help avoid the pain and discomfort typically associated with long periods of sitting and standing by providing achilles tendon support.
» You Might Like This Guide on the Types of Shoes Every Man Needs (And A Few Nice to Haves).
Best Casual Socks for Men: Lounging at Home
When you’re hanging around the house, you’re going to want a pair of socks that is soft and comfortable. Ragg socks, also known as camp socks, perfectly fit the bill for relaxation and I consider them to be the “pajamas of socks.” This style of sock is soft and warm but also has a slightly looser fit.
BEST: L.L. Bean Ragg Socks
What we love about L.L. Bean’s Ragg Socks:
Soft Wool Blend
Comfort is king when you’re lounging around the house and L.L. Bean’s blend of merino wool is exactly what you’re looking for.
When your feet are propped up on the ottoman, a loose and relaxed style of sock is perfect for the occasion.
Ragg socks are an authentic, American sock so I really love that these are made here in the States.
HONORABLE MENTION: Land’s End Ragg Sock
For all of the reasons that we recommend L.L. Bean’s ragg socks, you’ll find these from Land’s End Ragg Socks to be very similar.
The marl yarns used in these make for a neat aesthetic and the merino wool/cotton blend yields a soft hand that is ideal for lounging.
» You Might Like This Guide on Types of Boots for Men (And How to Wear Them).
Parting Tips for Finding the Best Socks for Men
I hope that this article has been helpful! I’d like to conclude with just a couple parting words of wisdom to assist you in finding the best men’s socks:
Always purchase socks made primarily with natural materials such as wool or cotton; avoid polyester; try over the calf socks – I think you’ll really enjoy them.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article and best of luck in your sock shopping endeavors!
Nathan James is the President of Boardroom Socks, a North Carolina-based manufacturer of fine men’s socks. He is passionate about supporting local textile traditions and is committed to American manufacturing. Outside the office, he can be found fishing and exploring the outdoors.
What are some of your favorite sock brands?
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Looking forward to seeing you in there.
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