The Best Socks for Every Kind of Vacation

Versie Dortch

For years, I dismissed socks as an unessential accessory that wasn’t worth paying much for. My default plane socks for well over a decade were a fuzzy $3 pair with paw-shaped grips on the soles that I picked up at a night market in Taiwan. But when my feet accidentally got drenched in water early on in a race, I realized the error of my ways. After I limped across the finish line, I went straight to the first aid tent to have them reveal the shameful damage from my cheap socks.

As it turns out, it doesn’t take a race for our feet to generate so much moisture. “Most people, whether they know it or not, sweat a good pint of water out of their feet every day,” New York University’s Dr. Louis Iannuzzi, who’s on the Pedorthic Footcare Association Board of Directors, says. “Socks protect the foot from blisters primarily.”

Like in a race, the last thing you want to do on vacation is be forced to deal with foot issues. From compression socks for lengthy plane rides to powerful moisture-wicking socks for long, active days exploring a town or hiking up a new peak, here are the best socks worth splurging on for every type of trip, to make sure your feet stay comfortable and blister-free. Take it from me—your feet will thank you for the upgrade.

Active socks

Pack for: hiking, camping, and biking trips; morning runs

Wrightsock Coolmesh II women’s specific tab socks

One of the first pairs of running socks I bought after that fateful race was from Wrightsock, a brand that promises to be anti-blister, thanks to its two-layer system that absorbs friction and reduces chafing. The Coolmesh II is the most popular in the line since it’s so lightweight, despite its double construction, and has fast-dry fibers to wick away moisture.

Brooks Carbonite socks

Don’t let the adventure end as the sun goes down. A brand known for their stable running shoes, Brooks has also figured out how to make sweat-wicking socks shine—literally. These fitted crew lengths are wrapped around the ankles with 3M Scotchlite Carbon Black Stretch material that makes you visible up to an impressive 600 feet away.

Merrell cushioned hiker crew socks (three-pack)

While many active socks go light on design, these Merrells lean into the pattern with three-packs that come in purple or navy tones. The hygge-inducing socks are made with a polyester yarn that’s breathable, plus a more durable NanoGlide technology in the heel and toes that gives it strength.

Swiftwick Pursuit One Ultralight

Another brand I turn to for runs is Swiftwick, which specializes in socks primed for adventure. While there hasn’t been a bad sock in the bunch, this Pursuit One Ultralight is a highlight. It’s so lightweight that it feels like a second skin, but it’s capable of wicking away moisture and odors, plus regulating heat, whether it’s warming you up in the winter or keeping you cool in the summer.

Royal Robbins Bug Barrier Venture crew sock

This hemp-blend sock is mixed with recycled polyester, making it feel buttery soft against the skin, but also regulating temperature, whether it’s too hot or cold. Treated with InsectShield, the odorless technology keeps ticks, mosquitoes, and other bugs away, so you can adventure on worry free. On top of that, for every pair bought, Royal Robbins gives one percent to the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund to help conservation efforts in areas that depend on tourism.

Ski socks

Pack for: snowy adventures

REI Co-op Powderbound lightweight snow socks

The higher-than-calf length cut of this snow sock protects shins from any ski boot chafing. Plus you can feel good that the socks are made of 51 percent Responsible Wool Standard (RWS)-certified merino wool.

Goldwin winter wool high socks

This made-in-Japan pair is all about the intricate details. By using a fabric design that mimics athletic tape, the sock provides lateral and longitudinal arch support. That design helps both absorb impact as well as push forward. Ankle cushioning and shin piling help make the wool, polyester, nylon, and polyurethane blend feel supportive and warm.

Rossignol men’s wool and silk ski sock

French ski wear company Rossignol has upped the chic factor with this blend of wool and silk that promises to help regulate temperature through entire days on slopes without giving your feet a second thought.

Plane socks 

Pack for: air travel

Away The Compression Socks

For a brand that’s put so much thought into the usability of a suitcase, you can imagine how thorough Away has been while making a travel sock. Unlike so many compression socks that make you break a sweat just pulling them on, the give-and-take of the organic cotton with Coolmax polyester, lycra, and nylon slips right on, yet still gives calves and ankles that secure hug they crave. Plus, the anti-odor technology means they can be worn several times before needing a wash—and when they do, the material dries in a snap.

Read more: The Best Compression Socks for Travelers

Ugg Leda cozy sock

Combat cold airplane cabins with that fuzzy feeling only Uggs can provide. These crew socks are as stretchy as they are soft—and will make you feel like you’re kicking back by the fireplace, even at 30,000 feet.

Arvin Goods x SeaVees casual twisted socks

Sometimes, cozy footwear is all it takes to add comfort to a plane ride. The best sock for the job just might be this collaboration between sustainable socks company Arvin Goods and casual shoe company SeaVees. The fun throwback style harkens 1960s football socks, and they’re made of 95 percent recycled materials—with 10 percent of sales going toward the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, which protects southern California coastlines.

Dress socks

Pack for: business trips, romantic getaways, destination weddings

Coach Signature Socks

Sometimes all you need to class up your look is the right pair of socks. Coach’s logo design cotton socks—with a touch of retro striping at the cuff—is an instant upgrade, whether you choose to go with an elegant wine hue or a softer pale pink shade.

K. Bell Soft and Dreamy cable knit crew socks

There’s something about these cable-knit socks, with its classic stitch, that’s a throwback to a simpler time. The soft yarn blend stretches knee high so it’s the perfect under-the-boot height.

Bombas lightweight calf socks (eight-pack)

Upgrade your dress sock selection with this eight-pack that mixes stripes, solids, and patterns in hues of your choosing. With a seamless toe, Bombas socks slide right on, yet they never slump. And for every pair bought, the company donates a pair to the homeless community, with community partners in all 50 states.

Everyday socks

Pack for: city vacations, sightseeing trips

Patagonia lightweight Merino daily crew socks

These solid Patagonia socks just might be the perfect everyday pair. The mid-calf height design comes in five colorways and four sizes, and uses RWS-certified merino wool, nylon, and spandex to create a soft yet sturdy feel that’s been known to last more than four years. Bonus: The material is woven at a family-run factory in the U.S.

Vessi crew socks

The company known for its waterproof shoes has also designed an uber-durable sock. With the classic vibe of a good ol’ fashion crew sock, the security of the ribbed knitting, and cushioning along the footbed, these can keep you on your feet all day long.

Arc’teryx Merino wool lightweight low cut sock

This low-cut sock is ready for any situation. It’s got all the essentials—eliminating moisture and odor, while remaining breathable to help regulate temperature. Made of merino wool, the clean-cut look can complete any look from casual to chic, high-adventure to lounging around.

Ministry of Supply Atlas ankle sock

Ministry of Supply has tapped into the properties of the bean to create a coffee-infused recycled polyester blend that neutralizes odors and dries two times faster than cotton. Plus, its pressure-mapping provides an extra strong padding in the spots you need it most. While it’s far superior to my former night-market finds, these also happen to be made in Taiwan.

Injinji Everyday Lightweight Hidden Upcycled Cotton

Toe socks can take a beat to get used to, but as soon as you do, it’s hard to go back. The glove-like design hugs each of your toes, giving them individual attention. This no-show pair comes in plenty of shades, and stays in place with heel grips. Plus, the Everyday Lightweight pair is made out of post-consumer plastic bottles and upcycled cotton.

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