After a properly fitting pair of running shoes, the next most important item for runners is a good pair of running socks. Socks are often overlooked when it comes to assembling a running wardrobe or racing kit, but I promise you that a good pair of running socks can transform your running.
No more blisters, no more stinky feet, and no more soaked socks on rainy runs – if you choose the right type of sock. Today I have an exciting giveaway for you, but first I want to talk about what to look for in a running sock.
Just say no to cotton. Cotton is a wonderful fabric except when it comes to running gear, and your socks are no exception. Cotton absorbs and retains moisture, including sweat. When your skin gets wet, it becomes less durable and more elastic. The same thing happens to your socks; think about how fabric stretches and sags when it is soaked. The combination of wet skin and stretchy, wet fabric produces friction of one soft surface against another – and that’s how you get blisters on your feet.
Instead of cotton, opt for synthetics or (even better) merino wool. As someone who runs hundreds of miles a year in the rain, I always opt for merino wool because of how it protects the skin against blisters. How exactly does merino do that? Let’s move onto the next factor…
Fabric matters for running socks because you want breathability and wicking abilities. Your socks should wick sweat off of your feet. Socks that are not breathable will lead to sweaty feet and, as a result, stinky running shoes. You don’t want either of these.
Wicking and breathability vary from brand to brand and sock to sock, and ultimately it’s sort of an issue of trial and error of what you find the most breathable. I have thick socks that kept my feet dry through a 20 mile long run, and I have thin socks that soak after a mile in the rain.
You can find running socks ranging from paper thin to thick and warm. Beyond keeping your feet warm in winter and cool in summer, the thickness of a sock is a sign of how much cushioning that sock will provide. For a more cushioned feel, opt for thicker socks; for a minimal, barely-there sensation, choose a thin sock. You may find that you want a variety of socks in your wardrobe – thinner for speedwork, more cushioned for long runs, etc.
Just like wet fabric, loose fabric causes blisters and other irritations on your feet. You want your running socks to have a snug, glove-like fit around your feet – no extra fabric.
Feetures Elite Merino+ Review & Giveaway
Feetures! Running is a brand that offers socks specifically designed for runners. They sell socks in a variety of styles (high performance, graduated compression, therapeutic, elite, and elite merino+), heel heights (no show tab, quarter, mini crew, crew, and knee high), and cushioning (ultra light, light cushion, cushion, and max cushion).
I received a pair of Feetures! Elite Merino+ Cushion with No Show Tab socks to try and review. The Elite Merino+ socks are made with a blend of merino wool, bamboo rayon, nylon, and spandex. According to the website, these socks provide compression, an anatomical fit designed for comfort and blister protection, high density cushioning, moisture-wicking and odor protection from the merino, and insulating merino for cold, wet conditions.
Initially, I was very pleased with my Feetures Elite Merino+ Cushion socks. I wore then on a few easy runs (as you should do to test out any new gear) and they were comfortable, especially in the cooler fall weather. If I didn’t live in Seattle, where rainy season spans several months out of the year, these could have contended for my go-t0 socks for easy runs. The thick fabric provided extra cushion for my feet and felt comfortable on 5-7 mile runs.
Then, I opted to wear my Feetures socks on a long run in the rain, to see how they lived up to the promises of keeping my feet warm and blister-free in cold, wet conditions. For me, this is the true test of a good running sock – how it feels on a long run and how it endures in the rain. Within a couple miles, my socks were soaked through. I felt some discomfort on the bottom of my left big toe halfway through and wondered if it was a blister. When I completed my run and removed the soaking wet socks, my concerns were confirmed – I had a huge blister on the bottom of my left big toe (and it’s been a long time since I’ve had blisters on my feet).
The socks did live up to their promise of keeping my feet warm in cold, wet conditions, but not to their promise of eliminating blisters.
This run was an extreme one – there’s nothing routine about an 18 mile long run in the pouring rain (unless, you know, you train for marathons during fall and winter in the PNW). So while the Feetures socks will still be part of my rotation on easy days, I don’t plan on wearing them for rainy runs or long runs. Perhaps if I had tried a thinner (and possibly more breathable) sock, I would not have gotten the blister during my long run.
I support small businesses and appreciate how Feetures is a family owned brand that strives to inspire people to live a healthy lifestyle. I do believe these socks are great for runners in drier climates or who don’t often run in the rain.
I’m giving away two pairs of Feetures socks! Two readers will win a pair of socks of their choice from Feetures. Simply enter the giveaway below to qualify!
This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only. The giveaway lasts from today (October 27) through Thursday, November 3. One entry per person.
I received a pair of Feetures socks in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
What do you look for in a running sock?