Running socks aren’t just an accessory to be overlooked as long as you’re wearing the right shoes. Poor socks will flood your feet in sweat, which will cause bad odor, blisters, and just a bad time.
Some athletes like using wool running socks—they’re soft, they pick up moisture, and they’re warms in the winter. But if you’re vegan like me, that’s a no go! I don’t want any sheep to be kept in inhumane farm conditions for the sake of my socks.
Luckily, there are many great vegan running socks that don’t have wool. In this article, we’ll look at 7 of the best vegan running socks out there.
At the end, I’ll also include a buying guide, explaining which materials and features to consider to help yourself decide!
Best Overall: Balega Hidden Comfort Cushioned Running Socks
Balega’s Hidden Comfort socks offer exactly what their name suggests. They’re designed with no-show height to completely hide under your shoes. See all the colors and price on Amazon.
Balega made this sock using its patented fabric called “Drynamix.” It has good moisture-wicking—it’s like polyester but softer.
I actually have several pairs of Balega socks, not only for running. I think they make some of the highest quality socks. They just feel like, fitted to my feet and really comfortable.
Over the sole, these socks are padded with 200 needle-count plush to absorb some of your running forces. But over the top, it has an open mesh to improve breathability.
- Really nice fit and comfort
- Made from moisture-wicking polyester
- Hidden below your shoe
- Padded toward the sole
- Equipped with an open mesh for breathability
- Expensive compared with other socks
Runner-Up: Gmark Bamboo Fiber Socks
Bamboo is among the best alternatives to wool. It absorbs moisture to keep your feet comfortable at all times. And these socks are made from 40% bamboo fibers. See the other colors and price on Amazon.
Added to the bamboo is Gmark’s patented polyester called “Coolmax.” After the bamboo absorbs the moisture, the polyester helps dry any remainder quickly. So you don’t have sweat flooding your shoes!
This pair is also padded at the toes and heel to protect your feet and knees from excessive force.
- They contain bamboo and Coolmax fibers.
- Padded over the heel and toes
- High-quality sewing
- A bit expensive
Best for Women: Literra Women’s Low Cut Athletic Socks
Running stops being awesome when your socks start slipping down inside your shoes, right? Then your shoes start to scratch at your heels. If this sounds familiar, you need these socks from Literra (Amazon link).
They equipped them with a thick, elastic heel tab that won’t slip through your shoes. The thickness also protects your Achilles tendon from possible injuries.
For extra protection, Literra added an extra layer over the sole to act as a cushion. The added thickness also helps with moisture-wicking, reducing sweat and bad foot odor.
- Extra padding toward the heel
- Additional fabric layer over the sole
- They’re a little tight
Best Quarter-Crew Socks: Innotree Women’s Cushioned Running Socks
If you like how quarter-crew socks grip over your ankle, you’ll love these ones. The best thing about them is the material balance. They’re 50% cotton for softness, 45% nylon for wicking moisture, and 5% lycra for tightness. Check the price on Amazon here.
Note that these are women’s socks. They also reinforced the heel and toe with extra-thick fabric to reduce potential for blisters. This is great for those with extra sensitive skin.
Also, an interesting benefit: When you turn these socks inside out, you won’t see annoying messy threads typically seen in other socks. This is thanks to their fine-gauge knitting.
I wish Innotree had used more durable materials, though. Sometimes they start tearing just after a few uses.
- A perfect balance between softness and moisture-wicking
- Awesome vibrant color combos
- Extra padding over the heel and toes
- No messy threads on the inside
- Not durable enough
- They’re not unisex (a downside for men!)
Best Crew Socks: Mirmaru Men’s Trail Running Socks
As socks cover more of your legs, they press on your muscles to improve circularity and enhance support. A great taller sock to get this effect is Mirmaru’s socks. See the price and other color option on Amazon.
Since they’re mainly intended for trail running, these socks are equipped with padded cushions over the shins. I can definitely think of some trail runs where that would have come in handy for me.
These socks have a thick mix between cotton, “Coolmax” (mentioned above), and polyurethane. It’s nice for a trail running sock.
While your feet will appreciate the extra thickness during winter, it probably won’t be as comfortable during the summer!
- Thick cotton, Coolmax, and polyurethane fabric
- Padded over the shins
- Highly durable
- Might feel too warm in summer
- Slightly expensive
Best Knee-High Socks: MudGear Unisex Compression Socks
Especially if you live up north, you may want knee-high socks in the winter. Otherwise, your circulation can be impaired by the low temperatures. If you’re going knee-high, these socks by MudGear are my recommendation. See the other colors and price on Amazon.
Why? They’re made with 9% spandex, which actually puts them in the compression and running socks categories at the same time.
Wearing this tight fabric on your calves can improve vascularity, postpone fatigue, and help support your muscles. And to create a similar feel in the feet, these socks have thick padding over the toes.
A lot of knee-high socks get wet during intense runs, but not these ones. They have excellent moisture-wicking thanks to the high nylon and polyester content.
- Equipped with compression fibers
- Decrease pain and fatigue
- Excellent moisture-wicking
Best Cotton: Amaz-Play Men’s Ankle Socks
Cotton socks aren’t for everyone—they’re not be the best for moisture-wicking. But their unmatched softness makes them the favorite of many athletes. If that’s what you like, try these 88% cotton socks from Amaz-Play. Check the price on Amazon here.
I like how they used 9% polyester and 2% nylon in the fabric. These materials dry out a lot quicker than cotton. So you get some moisture-wicking even in a mainly cotton sock.
Amaz-Play has also added a thick band of elastic spandex over the feet arches. In addition to improving the overall fit, this keeps your plantar fascia in place, reducing pain and fatigue.
- Very soft from the 88% cotton
- Some moisture-wicking from the polyester,and nylon
- Has elastic arch support
- Padded over the sole to absorb running impact
- They didn’t come with any label actually specifying the cotton percentage
What to Consider When Buying Vegan Running Socks
Opting for vegan running socks is one important step: Don’t buy wool. But you’ll have to consider additional factors if you want to be happy with your purchase.
Here are a few of the things I recommend looking at before clicking “buy.”
Choose the Right Material for You
When choosing vegan socks, the most important material to exclude is wool. It’s true that shearing doesn’t necessarily hurt sheep, but they’re often kept on farms with inhumane conditions.
So, you’re left with 2 main options: natural and synthetic materials. Here are some to know about:
Cotton: Classic and Soft
Cotton is appreciated for being soft. But people are often deterred from 100%-cotton socks because of their poor moisture-wicking.
Don’t get me wrong. Cotton absorbs moisture well. But it doesn’t dry that fast. Your feet will probably stay swimming in sweat even after your workout is finished.
Bamboo: Probably the Best
If you haven’t used bamboo-based socks before, you’ve missed out on a lot! Bamboo feels even softer than cotton—even like high-quality silk or cashmere.
Bamboo has similar moisture absorption of cotton, but it dries up much faster. This makes it a great option for warm days when you’re going to sweat.
Bamboo fibers also have a built-in antimicrobial agent called “Bamboo Kun.” So you can forget about bacteria, fungi, and their awful, stinking smell.
All these factors make bamboo socks top of the line for the vegan runner. Definitely something to look into.
Again, one of bamboo recommendations I made above was this pair by Gmark (Amazon link). Just go read the reviews and see how bananas people are about the bamboo. It’s a joy.
Polyester and Nylon: Great Moisture Fighters
Polyester and nylon are essential components in almost all socks. They don’t absorb moisture, but they carry it outside your shoes through their fine weave pattern.
On the downside, they don’t have a great feel—especially compared to natural materials like cotton or bamboo. That’s why their percentage is often kept below 40%.
Polyester and nylon are also the least environmentally sustainable materials. It takes 20 to 200 years for polyester to completely decompose in nature! They can be recycled, but only a few times (and who actually recycles socks?).
Choose Your Preferred Height of Sock
Running socks come in knee-high, crew, quarter-crew, no-show, and other in-between heights. There’s no right or wrong here. It’s your personal preference.
No-show socks provide a sense of freedom. They can be cooling for your ankles on warm, sunny days. However, it can be annoying if they start slipping further down in your shoes.
As you add more height to the socks, you’ll benefit from their compression, improving circulation and postponing fatigue. Knee-high socks are great for rocky trail running. They protect your shins against falls and scratches.
Brands have been competing in adding more features to improve their running socks.
Some models have extra fabric under the toes, heel, or even the whole sole. This helps relieve some of the running impact.
Other brands use a higher percentage of elastic materials like spandex. This improves the compressibility and tightness, especially in already-small socks like the no-show ones.
My Honest Opinion
In my opinion, the best vegan running socks are the Balega Hidden Comfort (Amazon link). The moisture resistance is just top notch, and Balega socks are comfy, too.
My second choice are the Gmark Bamboo Socks (Amazon). Like I said, bamboo is really next-level stuff. If you haven’t gotten any bamboo socks yet, you deserve to get to try a pair. Your feet deserve it!
Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey
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2. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in my 14 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).