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.
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):
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.
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.
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.
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.
Want a shorter sock?
We would recommend you try the Element No Show Tab Light Cushion.
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.
And if you are looking for something with a lighter weight – they make a version of that sock without the bottom cushion.
How about a Darn Tough running socks?
Also good stuff.
The Vertex Micro Crew Ultra-Light Cushion is would be our top pick.
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).
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.
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.
What’s so great about these?
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
(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.
(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.
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.
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This website is not affiliated or associated with CrossFit, Inc. CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc.
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.