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One of the things that confused me when I was first starting out was the thickness of the socks. I used to think that thick socks are of higher quality and I should just go for thick socks all the time, but I found out that it isn’t the case. Depending on the situation, one could actually be better than the other.
Thick socks are ideal for running in cold weather and increasing the snugness. They are also more cushioned and comfortable making them better for longer runs; Thin socks are ideal for running in hot weather and to free up space for your feet inside a tight shoe. They’re also more responsive making them the ideal socks for speed work.
Ahead, we will look into the advantages and disadvantages of the different thicknesses of running socks in more detail. I will also give you recommendations as to what are my favorite thick and thin running socks are, so you can skip the decision making process and just get what I’ve already tested. Let’s get started!
When To Use Thick Running Socks?
Thick socks are generally more comfortable underfoot when compared to their thinner counterpart making them the preferred option for long-distance runs. They are also better at preventing blisters by reducing the amount of friction when running.
However, wearing thick socks in a snug shoe could cause some problems. Ideally, you should wear thick socks when fitting a new running shoe if you’re ever gonna wear thick socks in them.
In general, thick socks are the ideal socks when running in cold weather. They provide better insulation against cold allowing you to run longer comfortably. Thick socks can also help create snugness in the shoe, making them ideal for those who have thin feet.
But don’t limit their use to cold weather and loose-fitting shoe. There are thick socks that remain breathable (but not as much as a thin and well ventilated socks) despite their thickness so you can still use thick socks on hot weather if you prefer them.
Just remember that thick socks are less breathable and responsive when compared to thin socks. So if you’re trying to sprint 400m or run your best 5k ever, using thinner socks might give you some advantage.
My Favorite Thick Socks
I have used plenty of thick socks. I’m a thick socks guy. I like how they feel and I like how they create snugness in my shoes.
My favorite thick socks for running in cold weather are SmartWool socks. They are made with more than 50% Merino wool which I feel is superior in insulation. They are also great at keeping your foot fresh and dry. Unlike cotton socks, they don’t absorb moisture which is a huge plus. They’re available on Amazon.
When it’s hot, I wear Balega UltraGlide No-Show socks. What I like about them is that they’re still cool and breathable despite being thicker than what I consider to be thin socks.
When To Use Thin Socks?
Thin socks are lighter, more breathable, and are more responsive than their thick counterparts. However, wearing thin socks may cause more friction increasing the risk for blisters during long runs.
In general, thin socks are ideal for running in hot weather. They provide better breathability allowing more ventilation to your feet. In addition, thin socks free up space inside the shoe making them ideal when you are wearing a tight-fitting shoe.
They are also great for tempo runs and speed work. They are generally more responsive because they have less cushion allowing quicker response in every stride (the same is true for shoes, less cushioning leads to more responsiveness). But don’t take this as a “hack to run faster”. Although they help, we’re talking about a tiny improvement in responsiveness and it may not even matter for those who are just starting out.
Consistency and proper training variation is still the key to run faster. By the way, if you’re interested in the different running variations you can do to improve your running, I made an ultimate guide to varying your runs in this article.
My Favorite Thin Socks
I’m not really into thin socks, most of my socks are thick mostly because of personal preference. However, I have used a pair of thin socks that I found to be really nice and comfortable—the Rockay Agile Ultralight Running Socks.
They’re my go-to socks for speed work and when running in very hot weather. They’re extremely breathable—and by that, I mean more breathable than any other socks I’ve worn— and they are very durable. In fact, their company is so confident about their product that they back it up with a lifetime guarantee (so far, I never needed to use that guarantee).
Another thing I love about it is that it’s made with 100% recycled materials, so in a way, I’m helping reduce waste by wearing them.
So far, I never had any issues with blisters even when I used them for long runs (thrice, as far as I could remember) and they are odor-free. You can buy them on Amazon.
Is It Better To Run In Thick Or Thin Socks?
As much as I want to tell you one is better than the other, I can’t. The answer really depends on your preference, the weather, and your situation.
As a general rule, thick socks are better for running in cold weather while thin socks are better for running in warm weather. But that could be affected by your personal preference. It is best to try multiple pairs of socks in different brands and thicknesses to find the ones you prefer.