The Best Cycling Socks Are Far More Than Just Seen – Here’s What To Look For, And Our Favorite Collection
The best cycling socks aren’t just a fashion statement – they’re an essential part of a rider’s arsenal. When paired with the best cycling overshoes or the best winter cycling shoes, the best winter cycling socks are the last barrier between your toes and frostbite.
Come summer, your socks may provide you with the ultimate performance advantage to surpass your best, whether it’s the aero lift of aero socks, or the mental lift to look like a fly!
The ribbing on the best motorsport socks is designed to make them more aerodynamic, and wind tunnel testing has shown that your socks are more aerodynamic than your legs. DeFeet claims its Evo Disruptor socks (worn by the Lotto-Soudal pro team) save 8 watts compared to shaved legs.
In fact, the UCI is so concerned about the potential for teams to gain an unfair advantage from their socks that there is a specific rule governing sock heights in UCI-sanctioned games.
When we first read Swiftwick’s technical claims about its fibers and knitting process, we thought it was typical of overhyped marketing. After all, they are just socks. Then we tried them.
Available in a variety of cuff lengths, the Aspire socks feature a slim profile with minimal cushioning, a seamless construction, and olefin fibers that are lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying. The Brentwood, Tennessee-based company has cultivated a cult following over the years, so much so that a former colleague of ours even traveled to the US to replenish his supply before it was available in the UK.
A base model for other brands, the Aireator is the original DeFeet sock. This is truly the gold standard.
In addition to the performance and comfort benefits we’ll talk about later, Aireator socks are made in North Carolina, USA from recycled water bottles.
Comfort is unmatched, and the Aireator mesh that adorns the forefoot increases breathability and prevents overheating. You can buy Aireator socks in a variety of styles, from classic white with a simple Defeet logo, or more luxurious designs, including one called Moon Doggo, which is actually a dog on the moon.
Castelli’s Fast Feet socks are designed with aerodynamic efficiency in mind. Made from 83% nylon and 17% elastane, the Castelli Fast Feet socks were developed with input from Team Sky (now Ineos Grenadiers).
The sock is split in half. The foot is based on the brand’s Rosso Corsa race socks, designed for comfort, and the upper uses Lycra with engineered grooves to reduce drag.
Available in three colors, including black, white, or a fancy monochrome spiral, although the stock images of Castelli above make them look like football socks you want, they’re actually about 7 inches tall so don’t let you see It looks like every time you wear them, you’re going to an Ironman race – and are UCI legal.
They’re also pretty expensive for socks, but with the extra speed promised, there’s always someone in favor of spending the extra money. In fact, they are one of the most cost-effective upgrades you can make in terms of watts per pound or dollar gained, according to our list of aviation benefits.
How to choose the best cycling socks for you
Are synthetic or natural fibers better?
Most socks will have a mix of different materials in their weave, and lycra is an obvious addition to most socks to help them stay up late.
In the summer, socks with a higher synthetic content may be more comfortable because it will be lighter and absorb sweat better. It will also dry faster than natural materials if you do get stuck in the shower.
In contrast, merino wool is an excellent insulator in cold weather, with the benefit of keeping your feet warm even if you get soaked – which they often do. Merino socks stay wet though, so you could come home with soaked feet and on longer rides you could end up with trench feet.
How should I wash my socks?
The quick answer is “follow the manufacturer’s instructions”. But like other cycling gear, cycling socks are technical clothing. Respect them and they will last longer and perform better.
That means don’t use harsh cleaners – use a gym suit cleaner, even if it means your white socks aren’t as white as they are after a year or so of use. And laundered at low temperature – usually 30 degrees Celsius – to preserve the fabric’s properties.
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