Athletic Socks for CrossFit Review

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Let’s review the best athletic sock for CrossFit.

This is going to be a review of athletic and running socks. But, before you hit the back button – give it a chance.

ALMI all-day performance sock come in black, grey, and blue
The All-Day Performance Sock from ALMI is available in Blue (and Grey and Black). It’s an example of what we consider to be a great performance sock for CrossFit.

I’m the person that always bought cheap socks.

Whatever was cheap and available in a 12 pack – and usually $20 or less.

But after I started testing real athletic socks intensively – I found out all the benefits of a comfortable, performance sock that fits right.

So ditch those Costco socks and look at these options for the CrossFit WOD (or any other workout, really):

1/4 Sock Lightweight with Cushion (Darn Tough) Here's an athletic sock from Darn Tough. This sock is light up top for breathability but has extra cushion on the bottom. Made with 43% Merino wool - one of nature's greatest materials. Made in the USA, guaranteed for life.

Element No Show Tab Light Cushion (Darn Tough) Want a no-show height athletic sock? Check this one out - 44% Merino Wool and 5% Lycra Spandex for a perfect fit. And it's got a breathable mesh top with nice cushion on the bottom. Like all Darn Tough's socks these are guaranteed for life.

Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion (Darn Tough) Here's a running sock from Darn Tough in crew height - if you want more coverage. These are much like the other Darn Tough socks - and this is the version with CUSHION - because we think that's what works best for CrossFit. Merino wool/Nylon/Lycra Spandex - made in the USA

All-Day Performance Dress Sock (ALMI) Road warrior by day and fitness junkie by night? Save a lot of room in the roller bag by getting these dual-purpose performance socks. They work with a dress shoes and dress pants - or with your cross trainers in the gym.

No-Show Running Sock (MudGear) MudGear makes socks for mud runs and obstacle course races (OCR). But, this gear works great for the CrossFit WOD too, because it's tough, comfortable, and high-performance. This no-show running sock is made in the USA and fits like a dream. Because it's from MudGear it is also max wicking and fast draining!

Let’s review these socks!

Athletic Sock vs Running Sock – Is there a Difference?

First of all, let’s define what an athletic sock is?

And, is this the same thing as a running sock?

There is some overlap, and the line between the two is blurry, for sure. Here are the key differences.

Athletic socks are for general workout and physical activity (like exercise).

Athletic socks are light-weight, breathable, and usually have a mild compression effect. They have a stretchy, comfortable fit.

(The theory with compression socks is that the light compression will offer the same performance and recovery boost that other compression gear does).

So what makes a running sock then?

Running involves a lot of impact (over and over), and moisture.

Running socks tend to have significant cushion (on the bottom), as compared to your average athletic sock.

Run socks also expect moisture. They normally provide some form of moisture wicking material – to get that sweat away from your delicate skin.

Finally, running socks will normally combat the foe of all distance runners – blisters.

(This is usually done via materials that minimize friction.)

Running socks are a great idea if you are running a lot, and they work well for CrossFit too.

All that cushion on the bottom helps make cross-training shoes more comfortable – because they don’t have a lot of cushion.

With all of that out of the way, just remember – running socks and athletic socks are very similar.

We’ll look at many options from both types – so you can figure out which sock works best for your workout and gym activity.

What Makes the Best Sock for CrossFit?

What would the ultimate workout sock for CrossFit look like?

Here’s my thoughts.

I like a mild compression effect. I like a sock that gives a tight, but stretchy and comfortable fit.


It’s well known that compression clothing can help reduce muscle fatigue – and boost your recovery ability.

There’s also a possibility that compression clothing can also help reduce the chance of muscle strains.

And as an added bonus, it feels comfortable. So we’ll look at socks that provide that mild compression effect.

Do we need cushion in our socks?

Running socks tend to have a lot of cushion.

But for CrossFit (functional fitness workouts) we’re not going to be running much – maybe some sprints of a few hundred yards and not much more.

Running just doesn’t show up much in the WOD.

But, do you wear cross training shoes like the Reebok Nano X, Nike Metcon, or similar?

Those shoes have close to ZERO cushion.

All-Day Performance Dress Sock
Padded athletic socks like the ALMI All-Day Performance Dress Sock can make the minimal cushion of the Nano X more bearable for long periods of standing (or walking). I love my Nanos – but not when I have to walk in them all day.

Cross trainers have little cushion so they feel stable under a heavy deadlift, squat, snatch, or clean.

Cross trainers work great for heavy lifting, but the minimal cushioning makes them less comfortable in just about any other situation.

It’s not easy to increase the cushion in our shoe, but we certainly can get more cushion in our socks.

Some people like to wear tall socks for the deadlift. (It’s not fun to drag the barbell up your shins – this causes a lot of scrapes).

Remember that if you are doing the deadlift correctly the barbell will be CLOSE to your body at all times.

For that we recommend, looking for socks in the “over the calf” length. These are a popular option for the ladies.

The CrossFit workout of the day tends to be a sweaty and hot workout.

Therefore the more moisture-wicking, anti-odor, and cooling we can get the better.

We’ll see that all of these socks provide these essentials.

Let’s look at specific socks now. We’ll tell you where each of these ranks in our on foot testing.

Athletic Socks for CrossFit from Darn Tough

We’ll start with Darn Tough. They make excellent athletic and running socks (and more).

Darn Tough socks are made in the USA (knitted in Vermont) and they all use Merino wool (which may be imported).

Why Merino wool? It’s one of the best natural materials for a sock. They help you “thermoregulate.” Merino wool keeps you cool when it’s hot, and warm when it’s cold.

Even better, Merino wool is six times more durable than cotton.

But, this isn’t old fashioned, uncomfortable wool. Merino wool is much finer than traditional wool and it is very comfortable.

Here’s the 1/4 Sock Lightweight with Cushion. Being 1/4 Sock Height means it sits just above your ankle. This feels perfect – fast and light – and it will work with any running shoe or cross training shoe.

Darn Tough Athletic 1/4 Sock LIghtweight with Cushion Sock
The 1/4 Sock Lightweight with Cushion from Darn Tough is a great sock for what we’re looking for. Light and breathable, but with cushion on the bottom. Made with Merino wool.

This version of the sock has extra cushion on the bottom.

Perfect for making those bare-bones cross training shoes more comfortable – especially if you are going to be standing for a long time.

Darn Tough Athletic 1/4 Sock LIghtweight with Cushion Sock with Nano X
Shown with the Reebok Nano X – the height is perfect – and the extra cushion on the bottom is appreciated – as the Nano does not have a lot of midsole cushioning.

These socks are are made from a 53% Nylon / 43% Merino Wool / 4% Lycra® Spandex bland.

The spandex gives it a stretchy, comfortable fit – no bunching or excess material. The sock conforms to the shape of your foot perfectly.

Darn Tough Athletic 1/4 Sock LIghtweight with Cushion Sock
Made with Merino Wool – these carry a lifetime guarantee!

Want a shorter sock?

We would recommend you try the Element No Show Tab Light Cushion.

Darn Tough Athletic No Show Tab Lightweight Sock
Cushioned bottom, lightweight breathable mesh top, and Merino wool/spandex in a no-show height.

It has all the same features as the other Darn Tough sock – but in a no-show height.

Being a shorter sock, it seems to have a higher Lycra Spandex content – probably to ensure that the fit is perfect (and to help the sock stay put).

The “Tab” on the heel also helps in that regard.

Darn Tough Athletic No Show Tab Lightweight Sock
The greater spandex content and tab on the heel help these stay put.

And if you are looking for something with a lighter weight – they make a version of that sock without the bottom cushion.

Darn Tough Athletic No Show Tab Lightweight Sock with Nano X
Being a no-show sock – there’s not much to see here – as you’d expect.

How about a Darn Tough running socks?

Also good stuff.

The Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion is would be our top pick.

Darn Tough Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion - Running Sock
Micro Crew height comes up to your ankle – and this is a ultra-lightweight running sock. Why add weight to your feet? These do have cushion on the bottom for extra comfort.

How does this “run sock” differ from your average athletic sock?

It’s ultra-lightweight and made with 51% Merino wool/43% Nylon/6% LYCRA Spandex.

This makes total sense – you want light-weight running shoes – so why would you add extra weight?

But, this is still a cushioned sock (for reasons we already explained – those bare-bones cross trainer shoes).

Darn Tough Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion - Running Sock with Nano X Cross Trainer
Darn Tough Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion – Running Sock with Nano X Cross Trainer

Added bonus – it looks great.

Darn Tough socks are “guaranteed for life” by the way.

No strings. No conditions. For life.

Are these expensive socks? Not if they last forever – and if you love wearing them (and you will).

These are high-quality socks, with great fit and just enough stretch.

Darn Tough Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion - Running Sock
Thanks to Lycra/Spandex you can get stretchy, form-fitting comfort all day.

Athletic Socks for CrossFit from ALMI

Any business travel coming up?

Staying fit on the road is a challenge – trust me, I know.

I travel a lot for work – domestic and international. Travel Rule #1: never check a suitcase. I’ve had luggage lost so I always cram it all into a roller bag.

That requires me to be choosy about what I pack. And for business, I need dress pants and dress shoes (rarely a tie – thankfully).

ALMI (“A Little More Invincible”) makes the All-Day Performance Sock.

All-Day Performance Dress Sock
All-Day Performance Dress Sock – works in the office and the box.

What’s so great about these?

ALMI's All-Day Performance Sock is great for business travel. It is equally at home in the office, or the gym.
ALMI’s All-Day Performance Sock is great for business travel. It is equally at home in the office, or the gym.

They are a blend of dress and athletic. With conservative styling for the board room during the day, but they also have the performance you need in the gym afterward.

By the way, these are 200 needle fine knit – just like a regular pair of dress socks.

All-Day Performance Dress Sock
These are made with a fine 200 needle count knit – just like your fancy dress socks.

They have a conservative look – but still, pack the performance features we look for in a premium athletic sock. They are available in 3 colors – Grey, Black, and Blue.

They give you mild compression. They are comfortable and have a stretchy fit that I prefer.

These have a lightly padded toe and heel area. That makes them great for standing all day or walking long distances in dress shoes. They work nice with the Reebok Nano X and Metcon 5 shoes, too.

All-Day Performance Dress Sock
All-Day Performance Dress Sock with the Reebok Nano X. This is a good combination because the padded toe and heel in the sock makes the minimally cushioned Nano X feel better.

These have excellent arch support.

See the striped pattern? That’s not just for looks. Each is a breathable mesh zones – so that you can get rid of excess body heat.

These are anti-microbial, anti-odor, and built for comfort and durability.

ALMI gives you a generous 30 days to try. Don’t like them? Return them no-questions-asked.

You’ll probably want to keep them though.

All-Day Performance Dress Sock
With the Reebok Nano X

Athletic Socks from MudGear

MudGear is also in the sock game. They make tough stuff too – they have to.

Here’s the MudGear no-show Running Sock (Buy on Amazon) – It’s a great no-show sock that meets all our criteria for an excellent workout sock.

MudGear No-Show Running Socks - Black/Gray
MudGear No-Show Running Socks – not just for mud runs and OCR – these are fantastic all-around.

MudGear specializes in apparel for mud runs and obstacle course races (or OCR, as it is known).

What should you expect from their socks? Comfort and toughness – and an improved ability to handle water immersion.

MudGear No-Show Running Socks - Black/Gray
These are very sturdy and very well made (in the USA).

(Remember, they build stuff for mud runs).

These are made in the USA – and they have an extra supportive midsole – and that means no slipping and bunching.

MudGear No-Show Running Socks - Black/Gray
As no-show socks – there’s not much to see when you have shoes on. The MudGear branding is visible in most shoes. These are Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 running shoes.

(You can’t stop to adjust your socks when you are running a race against the clock).

These have been put to the test by experienced trail runners and endurance runners too.

MudGear No-Show Running Socks - Black/Gray
Here’s the MudGear No-Show Running Socks with the Nike Free Metcon 3.

Why Cheap Socks Stink

If you are buying socks in bulk, you can’t beat the price of that dozen-pack of thin cotton socks.

(As long as you don’t care how they fit).

But here’s where cheap workout socks are a false economy.

They usually wear out quickly. I’ve had cheap socks that ripped literally the first time I wore them. They are just TOO thin (that’s why they are so cheap – there’s hardly any material to them).

They are usually made from cheap cotton.

That means there won’t be a compression effect and the fit is usually very poor.

With no stretch to them, they fit your feet like an oversized trash bag. That means a lot of bunched up material in the heel, in the toes, or both.

The elastic tends to be poor – or outright fail. They certainly don’t get better with age.

Cotton is simply not a high-performance material. It takes forever to dry also.

The socks we’ve reviewed here are made from modern, premium fabrics, and they provide high performance.

Best Athletic Sock for CrossFit – In Summary

Cheap socks for the CrossFit WOD are a false economy.

They fit poorly, they don’t boost your performance, and they don’t last very long.

The best athletic sock for CrossFit will have a performance-boosting compression effect, breathability, sweat-wicking, and a nice, comfortable fit.

Perhaps more importantly – they’ll work consistently – over and over and over.

I don’t mind paying a lot for socks – especially if they are comfortable and last a long time.

Looking for versatile cross training shoes for the WOD? Check out our review of the Best CrossFit Shoes for 2021.

Photo Credits

Some product photos on this page are property of the manufacturers.

This website is not affiliated or associated with CrossFit, Inc. CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc.

Affiliate Disclaimer

We are an affiliate of ALMI, Mudgear, and Darn Tough. If you buy socks after clicking the links in this article, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps us to bring you in-depth information and content on these training aids.

MudGear No-Show Running Socks - Black/Gray
MudGear No-Show Running Socks with Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 running shoe – it’s a great combination.

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