10 Best Moisture Wicking Socks Rated for Performance
Quality moisture-wicking socks will keep your feet dry while active. They keep sweat off the foot, soaking it up and transferring outward, away from the skin. This will also ensure fast drying. They are especially useful in extremely cold climates like the snow and ice, as wet clothing will freeze faster causing frostbite. Socks, as described, are desirable for adventures in the cold, and their usefulness extends to the heat of the summer, and all types of athletic sports. They also assist in eliminating the production conditions like athletes foot or toe fungus.
The materials most often used to create moisture wicking socks are nylon, spandex, and polyester. These products are usually combined with added chemicals or copper fibers, crucial in assisting with the science behind transferring sweat away from the foot’s skin to the outside of the sock.
Depending on which brand you end up purchasing from, they will have materials and chemicals, resulting in different washing instructions that will keep them around. Some are unable to go in the dryer, while others can at low heat. Below is a list of the top moisture wicking socks and their qualities.
10 Best Moisture Wicking Socks
1. PowerSox CoolMax Crew
Arch brace for added support can be a feature for many athletes, the action of running or performing highly physical sports can be tough of the arch overtime causing breakdown, this little bit of added arch support can go a very long way if you are needing the extra lift.
A specially engineered cooling fabric made with polyester fibers, designed in 1986 by DuPont as one of the first moisture wicking fabrics. It improves breathability in comfort.
Cost and Value
On the market for a low price these socks are well worth it in value. They are durable, and well developed. Added arch brace support will keep your physical form in alignment.
2. Dickies Dri-Tech Comfort Quarter
Easy to manage and keep clean. Durable and long lasting these socks are machine washable making it easy to throw them in the wash after each physical activity.
Made up with 72% cotton these socks are already made from one of the top ventilated clothing fabrics. Cotton is fast drying, and does not tend to hold foul smells, or undesired stains.
Cost and Value
Being sold in a package of 6, this purchase will be affordable and a smart buy. The durability, and good quality will be well worth the average price.
- They stay soft after many washes
- Machine washable
- Great work sock, especially if you work with water or in work boots
- Affordable cost
- Perfect length of upper ankle for summer or winter months
- If walking long distances they can cause blisters.
3. Darn Tough Vermont Wool Ultralight
PowerSox created a perfect cold weather high performance pair of socks. Keeping your feet extra warm with Merino wool, Spandex, and polyester blend. They offer ultimate reliability at wicking away undesired sweat.
An unconditional lifetime warranty is just an added perk for a tough and durable choice like these. The confidence that stands behind a lifetime of wear and tear is one of the many things that makes this a great choice.
Cost and Value
The cost is understandably high for the highly valued durability guaranteed. They are likely to become a favorite go-to sock for a number of outdoor experiences.
- Unconditional lifetime guarantee
- Made with a more natural fabric
- Easy to put on and take off
- Snug fit to foot aiding in the moisture wicking process
- Available in rich coloring
- The fit may feel too snug for a person with average to wide feet
- Wool is not on the toe box causing extra sweating from the material used in place
4. Dickies All Season Marled Moisture Control
One thing you cannot help but notice when you wear a pair of dickies all season socks is the comfort, unbeatable comfort. They are not too thick for work boots, and not too thin for the dress shoes.
Easy management and care, throw in the wash and dry. Made up largely of polyester these socks have a quick drying time after each wash.
Cost and Value
On the average to high end for price, the quality of these socks make up for the money invested. Made from good quality materials, extra comfortable softness these socks are a good buy.
- The top of the socks are very comfortable around the calves
- Comfortable and sturdy
- Great socks for boots
- The thickness and comfort is perfect for everyday use
- Available in great colors
- May wear rapidly in the heel and toe region
5. DryMax Cold Weather
Great running attire is able to withstand the constant friction and countless miles an avid runner generates. Able to withstand their fit, form, and comfort after heavy runs.
These socks are able to withstand extremely cold climates, many runners have had great results in temps as low as 14 degrees with zero degree wind chill.
Cost and Value
The cost for these durable winter socks is high. That being said its value is well worth the price, long lasting durability, unbeatable insulation for the cold winter months, and a snug fit that doesn't break down.
- They hold up very low in extreme cold temperatures
- Very durable material
- Snug fit to foot
- DryMax layering for extra warmth and a more efficient transfer of moisture
- Very comfortable in boots
- sized one to two sizes smaller
6. Thorlo Thick Padded Roll Top
Designed with an extra padded roll top that sits on the back of ankle, that way issues like blisters, and sliding socks are reduced.
Padding levels that are extra thick for maximum comfort during wear, this padding extends over the front toe box. Assisting in relief of sore feet whiling giving extra protection during lateral movement.
Cost and Value
The cost is average high, with good quality being kept in mind as an important aspect. Extra padding and extreme comfort make these socks very worth the price.
- Extra roll top padding on the ankle
- Able to withstand heavy weight
- Does not slip off the ankle
- Durable and very able to last years of usage
- Great breathability for hot climates
- Lacks support at the balls of feet
- Not very stretchy material
7. 2XU Compression Performance
Stitched with a Medical Circular 360 degree knit construction that continues applying powerful pressure, stimulating and circulating blood flow during recovery.
Lightweight Zoned Breathability Panel
This breathability panel allows for extra moisture management and increased airflow throughout wear.
Cost and Value
For a fairly high cost, they are a good quality pair of socks and very worth the price. Top recovery socks built with a uniquely powerful stimulating stitch.
- Very lightweight and powerful
- Constant pressure to stimulate circular response and a faster recovery
- Maximum breathability with built in panel
- Very comfortable for recovery of any type
- Can help to prevent varicose veins
- Top stitch at calf can tear easily, be sure to take care when pulling on or off.
- Sized large
8. Feetures High Performance Athletic
A pull on closure to assist you in a smooth pull on and pull off non-slip action. They will hug your feet in all of the right areas.
Fibers that are tough and durable and do a phenomenal job at keeping the feet cool and dry. Ideal for the summer months when perspiration is at it's peak.
Cost and Value
A low cost summer sock, whos quality tops the price fairly. They are available in a variety of bold and fun colors to keep you on your toes. Wicking Fivers to wick-away during the most intense training sessions.
- Very good socks for running
- Great price and well worth it in value
- The tab on back provides serious reduction of blisters and ankle rubbing
- Efficient moisture wicking abilities
- Available in several colors
- May feel a bit thick for runners who prefer ultra thin socks
- Depending on the color of socks you order, they may feel thinner or thicker, black being thickest
9. Kodal Copper Antibacterial Athletic
Fixed in this best sock are antibacterial copper nanoparticles that will kill any bacteria that cause foul smelling feet. Copper has been known for decades of its naturally occurring antibacterial properties.
Mesh ventilation system that keeps ultimate airflow while in use, alongside the powerful moisture wicking properties of cotton aids in keeping bacterial growth at a minimum.
Cost and Value
At an average price these more natural moisture wicking socks are high in value. They will last a long time, while you do not have to worry about as many chemical additives on your feet.
- A more natural form of moisture wicking socks
- Antibacterial copper induced sock
- They take away the bad smell of feet by killing unwanted bacteria
- Mostly made up of cotton
- Very breathable
- Poor construction of the socks resulting sometimes in frayed seems
- Holes can form quickly
10. New Balance Core Quarter
No matter the physical activity of choice, now you can sport all day in comfort, containing a cushioned foot bed for and Stability Fit built in for enhanced arch support.
Being made up mostly of cotton, you will find that these socks are naturally very breathable, keeping your feet dry and the air flow strong.
Cost and Value
Fairly high in price for these socks, but ensured to top that price with a good value. Investing will be a smart choice, they are long lasting and powerfully efficient at wicking away any sweat.
- Reinforced ring spun cotton for extra softness and durability
- Cushioned foot bed
- Hold up extremely well through many washes
- Lasting arch support
- Ultra lightweight
- Sized small
- Black lint material resides on feet when brand new
How to Choose the Best Moisture Wicking Socks
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Moisture Wicking Socks
Material Utilized/Effective Moisture Wicking
Originally, the first moisture wicking material was invented by DuPont (now called Invista) in 1986 named CoolMax Fabric. CoolMax is a specially engineered fabric that utilizes the formation of polyester fibres to maximize breathability. Although this is the first of the moisture wicking materials created by a company, it certainly is not the only one used today. Invista now has multiple types of moisture management fabric in the market including; ThermaStat, Tactel Aquator, Thermolite Base, and, Thermax.
Invista has by passed and dominated the moisture management market, yet, over the previous 17 years many other companies have opted to compete and begin making their own name brand fabrics that get the job done. These companies as a unit have brought many types of fabrics used in athletic clothing and socks that prove to be effective in keeping consumers dry while on the go, whether at work, or in a training session.
- American Fibers and Yarn Company: Innova
- Hind: Drylete
- Milliken: Dryline
- Honeywell: Hydrofil
- Intera: Intera
- Intex: Xhale
- Invista: CoolMax
- Comfort Technologies: Akwatek and Akwadyne
- Lenzing: Tencel
- Marmot: Driclime
- Mitsui & Co: Pertex
- Nano-Tex: NANODry
- Invista: thermolite
- Nike: Dri-FIT
- Pearl Izumi: Ultrasensor
- Pearl Izumi: Microsensor
- Polartec: Polartec
- Rhovyl: Rhovyl
- Wellman: Sensura
- Reebok: Hydromove
- Schoeller: 3XDRY
- Schoeller: c_change
- Tomen Corporation: Technofine
- Schoeller: Dryskin and Dryskin Extreme
- USA-Pro: MMT Contour
- Wellman: Comfortrel
- Wellman: EcoSpun
- Wellman: Fortrel MicroSpun
- Wellman: Comfortrel
- Patagonia: Capilene
Moisture Management Science/How it Works
The usage of nano-fibers for outdoor activity apparel was first reported in 2014, this was a huge advance in the moisture wicking market, it allows far more effective capillary action within the fibers used. Some of the very best moisture wicking fabric is polyester based, due to polyesters light weight alongside its quick drying abilities polyester offers a highly efficient drying time and wick away process to occur. Capillary or (push-pull) action is what draws the moisture off of the body and onto the outer shell of clothing, allowing the moisture to then evaporate into the air keeping you dry. In less efficient materials, the moisture may become stored in the outer layer for a longer time period, rather than being evaporated quickly, although most all of the outer fabric is built to store moisture to a small degree it shouldn’t take long to dry.
The goal is to keep any moisture off the body and induce drying away from the clothing as quickly as possible, repeatedly. This process is what determines a highly efficient construction of materials, as opposed to a poorer set up of layering and material choice. Pore size of the fabric has a massive impact on how quickly the material wicks away moisture, smaller pore size being the greatest and larger pores being not so effective. Materials used can include wool, polyester, cotton, and other nanofibers such as, hydrophilic polyacrylonitrile (PAN) nanofibers, PS nanofibers. After these fibers have been specially engineered in either a hexagonal, or cross layering of threads, an additional layering of polydopamine is sometimes applied to further the wetting abilities of the inner layers.
Transport Behaviors/Fabric Layout
As mentioned above the types of fabrics used in a wick-away sock can vary, through good intention the setup of how the fibers are threaded and weaved will also vary quite a bit from fabric type to fabric type.
There are multiple companies that use different styles and methods to achieve top performance.
CoolMax fabric is a notable moisture managing fabric relied upon in high performance sports clothing. The fibers are set up in either a tetra channel or hexa channel style, the channels are not round, yet slightly oblong containing grooving in the cross section’ that run lengthwise along the threads. These closely related series of channels, create the capillary action needed to be one of the most authentic moisture wicking fabrics on the market today. Engineered by invista in 1986, it has dominated in quality for years. In addition, CoolMax is intended to be used for wearers that engage in high performance activities, and has many useful properties like anti-shrink, resistance to fading plus wrinkling. Upon initial creating polyester was the fiber used to engineer performance gear, today it is woven into tencel, cotton, wool, and spandex. Expanding usage into bedding for mattresses and fire resistant clothing.
Thermolite is another great example of a high-performance moisture wicking fabric invention. In total there are five different types of thermolite fabric, being;
- Thermolite Active
- Thermolite Extra
- Thermolite Micro
- Thermolite Plus
- Thermolite Extreme
Each type has a specific purpose, built for a specific type of environment and moisture level, working best to keep one dry in the proper environment. Invented by Invista, this fabric is widely used in high performance sportswear. Insulated and meant to keep you warm while wicking away moisture, it has a fast drying time and is very good at wicking away moisture while keeping the body cool.
Sock Design/Purpose of Construction
Upon determining the best moisture wicking sock, one must consider that there are many different styles that are built for a variety of different purposes. Companies are creating a variety of moisture wicking clothing for work to casual wear, dress clothing, and high-performance activities.
For instance, if you are looking for a work sock you will want to choose dickies crew socks, they are great for high endurance jobs like working at a mill, or in a kitchen as a cook. While on the other hand if you need a dress sock but have excess sweat in naturally, you will want to purchase a sock along the lines of the Dickies All Season Marleds. The comfort levels of the sock is also an important determining feature when choosing the best socks, some are designed with added padding in different places such as the heel and toe box, or just under the footbed to provide comfort for long hours of standing. Certain socks even contain high compression around the calves for blood flow stimulation, these types of socks can be great for a person healing from surgery and during post workout recovery. The length of a sock can also vary, from no show socks, quarter length socks, and knee high socks reaching all the way above or below knee line. Regardless of the length or style a good quality sock will hold together and endure daily use.
As far as performance moisture management socks are generally purpose built to endure a specific environment. This means that some socks are created specifically for hiking, running, sprinting, walking, working, or cold and hot climates. This information can be very useful if you know which activities you will be performing most often.
Sweat causes a variety of things to happen while performing physically heightened activities like running and hiking. One thing that unfortunately occurs with moisture is slipping. Your foot can begin to slip as sweat gathers in the sock bed especially from regular socks that are meant to store the moisture in the material. This slipping can then lead to further issues such as blistering, inflamed skin, and rapid growth of microbes that lead to athlete’s foot, or fungal growth. An efficient moisture wicking sock is capable of expelling moisture rapidly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are moisture wicking socks?
A: When referring to a moisture wicking sock, one is referring to a sock that has the ability to draw perspiration away from the skin of the foot out to the surface of the sock, to then be evaporated. Moisture wicking fabrics have many pores in the strands and this is where the action happens, capillary action that is. Capillary action occurs as a result of pore size, and how the yarn is threaded. The outer surface of the sock then has the ability to quickly allow the moisture to escape. Compared to a regular sock that generally stores the moisture for long periods of times rather than choosing to disperse of it, these are effective in releasing any moisture drawn off the foot continuing through long hours of use.
Q.Does moisture wicking mean waterproof?
A: Moisture wicking does not mean waterproof. Wicking means to absorb, or draw off through capillary action, in other words a very porous fabric that creates a give-pull action with moisture, dispensing at the surface through evaporation. Most wicking fabrics are made with materials similar to plastic where the water moves around the threads by sliding along the weave eventually reaching the surface, where they will then evaporate naturally.
In turn, waterproof means that the material is able to completely repel water and will not store it to any degree, in other words sealed seamed fabric. In actuality the abilities of the previously mentioned are exact opposites, having an ultimate purpose to keep one dry and cool while sweating. You can find clothing items that obtain both of these properties simultaneously.
Q. Who invented moisture wicking socks?
A: DuPont which is now called Invista created moisture wicking fabric in 1986. The fabric utilizes specially engineered polyester fibres that improve breathability. These polyester fibres are compared to natural materials like cotton. Since then moisture wicking fabric has been utilized for sock and apparel making.
Q.Where to buy moisture wicking fabric?
A: Moisture wicking socks can be purchased at most stores online, as well as in person. You can find them in person at larger chain stores like JC Penny, Kohls, Fred Meyers, or even a Walgreens. Online a good place to find them is at a specific company website (REI, Walmart, Target) or Amazon is a great place to shop for them at a discounted price.
Q. Are all moisture wicking fabrics antimicrobial or antibacterial?
A: Not all moisture wicking socks are antimicrobial or antibacterial. In specific, copper infused threading is a natural version of this, while other types of ‘anti socks’ are soaked in a solution that contains agents that can kill microbes as they begin to produce while sweating. These solutions are patented formulas that work to kill microbes upon contact. There are many, many different formulas on the market.
Q. What are moisture wicking socks made of?
A: Frequently the materials used in moisture wicking socks, is a combination of a synthetic material that is specially engineered to wick away moisture, combined with a more natural fibre.
This synthetic fabric is most often combined with other fabrics such as;
Cotton – A natural fibrous plant substance that is gathered to be used as textile thread and with sewing thread.
Polyester – This is a resin that is synthetic, made up of polymer units linked by ester groups, primarily used to make synthetic textile fibers.
Acrylic – For a fiber to be called acrylic in the us it must contain at the very least 85% acrylonitrile monomer. Acrylic is strong and warm, first being produced in 1940.
Nylon – Through the research project on nylon done by DuPont (which started in 1930), the production of this peptide bonded fabric started in 1940. This material has been used in clothing, as well as shapes for car parts, and even used in parachutes. This durable material makes great socks surprisingly.
Spandex – with its alternative names being lycra or elastane it is stronger and more durable than natural rubber, it is a polyether-polyurea copolymer. Being invented by a chemist in 1958, this was also a DuPont founded fabric. It was created in DuPont’s Benger Laboratory that resides in Virginia.
Wool – This is an animal based textile fiber sheared from goats, muskoxen, and rabbits. It is used to provide warmth in socks, clothing, and scarves.