Gear

Ask A Gear Guru: How Do I Find the Best Running Socks for Triathlon?

Painful blisters, cold toes, stinky feet? There's a sock for that.

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Triathlon is hard, and sweaty, and wet, and chafe-y. The last thing you want to do is compound those pre-existing conditions by using (very cheap) equipment that makes things worse. What are we talking about? Well, socks, of course. The worst pair of socks comes in a three pack for $5; the best pair of socks for triathletes costs anywhere between $6-20 per sock. But you know that great pair of socks will get ten times more use than your budget pack, and you know you’ll be dreading that long run on Sunday if you’ve used up all of your “golden socks” early in the week. (We’ve all been there.) Do yourself a favor, and get educated on what socks are the best socks for triathlon (first), then check out our expert problem/solution shopping guide for every conceivable tri-related foot issue below. Use our handy table of contents to skip down to the product that’ll save your sole (literally).

The best running socks for triathlon are ones that prevent blisters

This is the understatement of the century, but it’s also the root of so many problems—from typical skin discomfort to bigger issues like callouses and missing toenails to really big things like foot/lower leg injuries. Pretty much everyone agrees that your feet are the foundation for everything running related—hell, the military knows how important foot care is (remember Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump?). So the long and short of it is: If you can prevent blisters that could lead to other issues up the kinetic chain because you’re favoring the non-blister part, you’ve found the best pair of running socks for triathlon.

What to look for in blister-preventing socks

So now that we understand how important foot care is (Lt. Dan would be proud of you), how can we prevent those nasty, potentially season-ending foot issues? First, moisture control is paramount. Most (but not all) preventable foot issues can be headed off at the pass by keeping your feet dry. In some cases, this means socks that wick away moisture from external forces like rain—or internal forces like sweat. To prevent sweaty feet in the first place, be sure to find a sock that keeps you warm, but not too warm. If you’re running at a moderate pace in temperatures above 40 degrees F and you have normal circulation, you shouldn’t overdo it with super warm socks. Being slightly chilly for 10 minutes is better than having sweaty feet for an hour-and-a-half (and the blisters that could come with them).

The major way good running socks prevent blisters is by using as few irritants as possible. This can mean using a very soft, supple material like Merino wool (which also wicks well); this can also mean using few (or no) seams to construct the shape of the sock. Look for socks with few seams in the same way you’d want low-seam running shoes if you were looking to run sockless.

Now armed with some expert insight, read on below for the best running socks for triathlon!

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The best running sock for triathlon: Preventing toe blisters


Injinji Run Lightweight No-Show NuWool Socks

$16, rei.com

​To eliminate blisters, you’ve got to eliminate friction. These unique socks envelop each toe, eliminating skin-on-skin contact between the toes to prevent blisters. Though they may add time to some transitions, the added seconds may be worth it for those athletes who experience debilitating blisters on the run.

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The best running sock for triathlon: Stopping sweaty feet


Brooks Run-In Socks

$18 (3 pair pack), rei.com

“Moisture-wicking” may not be enough to prevent blisters caused by sweaty feet—after all, simply pulling the moisture away from skin means little if it has no way to evaporate inside the shoe. Search for a fabric that both wicks and contains sweat, making moisture management a cinch.

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The best running sock for triathlon: Keeping feet dry


Lorpen T3 Running Precision Fit

$13.99, Lorpennorthamerica.com

If rain is in the forecast (or you’re the type who likes to douse yourself with water and ice on a hot day), opt for a sock that manages moisture on two fronts: hydrophilic, which pulls moisture away from the foot, and hydrophobic, which repels water and keeps the foot from getting wet. Lorpen’s T-Series line utilizes three super-thin layers that work together to absorb sweat from the inner layer and block water from the outside.

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The best running sock for triathlon: Preventing stinky feet

Balega Silver No-Show Socks

$17, rei.com

Silver isn’t just for finisher-medal bling anymore. As it turns out, the element is a perfect addition to textiles, too. Chock-full of antimicrobial properties, silver yarns thwart the bacteria and fungi that make your sweaty feet smell…well, like sweaty feet.

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The best running sock for triathlon: Made to last the distance

Icebreaker Run+ Ultralight Microsock

$18, rei.com

If it feels like you’re constantly buying new socks to replace holey, stretched-out pairs, consider investing in a pair made to last. Super-durable fabric blends featuring merino wool, nylon, and lycra aid in durability and shape retention, no matter how hard you (or your washer/dryer) are on your socks.

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The best running sock for triathlon: No more slip-sliding in the toebox


Lululemon Women’s Run Fit Power Stride No-Show Socks With Active Grip

$38 (3 pair pack), lululemon.com

For those who want to feel super-secure in their footwear, opt for a sock with anti-friction yarns designed to grip the insole of the shoe. This allows for comfort in shoes with bigger toeboxes without the need for a super-tight lacing system, which can cause circulation issues or chafing on the arch or top of the foot.

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The best running sock for triathlon: Stopping heel slippage


Darn Tough Men’s Run Quarter Ultralightweight Cushion Socks

$17, Darntough.com

When no-show socks slip beneath the heel counter of a run shoe, it’s annoying at best and chafe-tastic at worst. Instead, opt for a quarter-length sock, which extends just above the shoe upper to stay in place. An ultra-light, breathable Coolmax fabric ensures the extra material feels supportive, not stifling.

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The best running sock for triathlon: Keeping feet warm


Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew Socks

$21.95, rei.com

These aren’t your grandma’s wool socks—today’s Merino wool blends offer all the warmth of thick wool socks in a lightweight, breathable package. Wool run socks can also pull double duty in your bike shoes when temperatures dip, keeping you warm without constricting toe movement.

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The best running sock for triathlon: Preventing foot pain


Thorlo Running Max Cushion Ankle Socks

$15, rei.com

A little padding can go a long way in keeping a runner pain-free, especially for those with low volume of natural fat pads in the ball and hell of the feet. In choosing a sock with added cushioning, high-quality moisture management fabrics become even more important, lest the soft place to land becomes a soggy, squishy mess.