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When it comes to buying socks for skiing, there’s plenty of choices out there — even more so in recent years, when technological advances in textile engineering and design have led to some pretty cool innovations (Grandma-knit wool socks aren’t your only option anymore). Top-of-the-line results don’t just keep you warm, but help your performance by wicking away moisture and adding extra cushioning where you need it most. Good ski socks also have a defined heel and toe so they don’t slip down in hard-to-unlatch ski boots — and very, very good ones put padding where it counts, like on your shins to protect them from bruising in the boot. Plus, there are a ton of fibers to choose from nowadays, whether you’re after double-spun merino wool, synthetic blends or more alternative fibers like bamboo.
We at TripSavvy have looked far and wide across the Internet to find the best pairs of ski socks out there for men, women and kids — so you’re guaranteed to make the best choice when it comes to time to buying.
Best Overall: SmartWool PhD Ski Medium
When it comes to top-of-the-line ski socks, you genuinely can’t beat these SmartWool PhDs. Made from a blend of 62 percent merino, 36 percent nylon and two percent elastane — and a healthy heaping of “indestructawool” technology — these made-in-the-USA socks let you do run after run in comfort, and they’ll hold up for seasons to come. The high percentage of merino wool keeps moisture from building up, so sweat wicks away without issue. “Virtually” seamless toes (their words, not ours) prevent uncomfortable rubbing in ski boots, while the over-the-calf height (about three-quarters of the way to the knee) and extra padding keeps shins protected from rubbing against the boots’ interior. They’re comfortable, too, with cushioning at your foot’s pressure points that holds up on the slopes (it’s especially good in the forefoot area). We love that these are dense without being too thick, thanks to 200-needle construction. At the end of the day (or vacation), you can throw these in the washer and dryer. One tip: If you’re between sizes, go up one since they do tend to shrink a bit.
Also available for women.
Best Budget: Wigwam Snow Sirocco Knee-High Ski Sock
Wigwams, which have been on the market for more than 110 years now, have a great reputation among those who enjoy cold-weather recreation for being both warm and slightly more fashionable than your average pair of winter socks, and this ski-specific pair — for sale since the ‘80s — is both functional and stylish. The knee-high height and full cushioning, plus reinforced shin, protects calves from tightly-bound ski boots, while the stay-put knee, heel, toe and shin (basically each part of the sock) keeps them from sliding down or bunching up in the boot. The price is easily stomachable and the range of colors is truly endless, from an all-purpose black to a bright pink that adds a jaunty dash of color to your standard dark skiwear. The only downside is that they don’t wick away moisture quite as well as more expensive pairs — but with ski socks, you tend to get what you pay for. Made from a blend of wool, stretch nylon, polypropylene, stretch polyester and spandex, these socks are machine washable. These socks come with a lifetime guarantee, too, so buy with confidence.
Also available for women.
Best for Women: Pure Compression Midweight Camo Snowboard Socks
Admittedly, these socks aren’t cheap, but these ski and snowboarding socks are well-loved for their cushioning and warmth on the slopes. They’re made out of premium merino wool, which helps keeps moisture away from feet, no matter how many runs you go on, and the merino also brings antimicrobial properties to the knit (read: Your feet won’t smell when you take these off). Plus, it keeps feet warm and ventilated without them getting too hot. The shin padding on these is great, too — the cushioning keeps lower legs from pressing up against ski boots, thanks to the special hexagonal design incorporated into the sock’s knit. Skiers and snowboarders also love the compression fit, which they say helps improve circulation. WIth a no-slip cuff on the top of the cuff, these socks won’t bunch down in the boot, either, even on wider calves. Plus, the socks come with a full satisfaction guarantee: If you don’t love them, you can send them back — no questions asked.
Best for Men: Pure Compression Ultimate Warmth Arctic Ski Socks
Although they might have a more old-school look to them, the Ultimate Warmth Arctic over-the-calf socks boast modern technology and design features that deliver when it comes to performance on the runs. As the name implies, these are super-warm, thanks to a blend of 60 percent acrylic knit, 26 percent wool, nine percent nylon and five percent spandex, though feet won’t get sweaty in these, thanks to the knitting techniques that allow for breathability. They’re also moisture-wicking, so feet won’t get clammy in ski and snowboarding boots. They’re a little thicker than most ski socks, but it essentially allows for all-over padding in tight ski boots (though some do prefer a thinner sock with performance padding only where it’s needed). Like all other Pure Compression socks, these have a 100-percent satisfaction guarantee — if you don’t love them, send ‘em back.
Best for Children: Bridgedale Merino Ski Socks
Happy kids stay happy when they’re warm and dry, even after hours of heading down the slopes. Critical to keeping them that way is a great pair of socks, and Bridgedale’s Merino Ski Socks deliver. With a choice of red-and-blue or purple-and-pink combinations, these socks are made of 40 percent merino wool, 40 percent acrylic, 10 percent nylon and 10 percent lycra rounded off by heavy-duty terry-loop knitting. The fit isn’t just a diminutive version of adult ski socks but designed especially for kids’ feet, with a lot of warmth backed in as well as a lot of cushioning (we especially love the pressure protection these deliver). They hit just below the knees, too, so little shins are totally protected from rubbing against the boot. Two come in a pack, so these will serve growing feet without guilt about replacing them when the time comes to trade up a size.
Best Heated Sock: Flambeau Men’s Heated Socks Kit
First things first: The Lenz heated sock is considered one of the best on the market, but a pair will run you $300—and frankly, there are better things to spend that kind of money on. The Flambeaus are a great entry point if you want to dig into the world of heated ski socks. They heat via a slim battery compartment that sits right below the calf, though it won’t ruin the fit of your boot. The battery doesn’t last too long — we suggest turning it off if you break for lunch or a chalet beer — but it will keep trucking for five to six hours on the low setting, which keeps feet comfortable without getting hot. Skiers with chronically cold feet from poor circulation love these and say it helps them stay on the slopes longer than they could without them — not only does the warmth help, but the compression fit of the sock keeps blood circulating. They have a pretty unisex fit, so women can slip these on, too.
Best Wool Sock: Icebreaker Merino Ski+ Light Over the Calf Socks
It’s rare to find a ski sock made from 100 percent wool anymore — advances in synthetic fibers have largely improved on the all-wool construction of decades past — but Icebreaker’s 70 percent merino wool sock is pretty much as close as you can get. And they deliver: The blend of silky wool, nylon (26 percent) and lycra elastane (four percent) keep feet warm in this sock after hours of skiing and snowboarding. Those who don’t love thick socks will like these: The New Zealand-made socks are thin but breathable and incredibly good at wicking. We also love that there are specific fits for the right and left foot, so you get cushioning and support exactly where it counts on either side. Despite their thinness, these socks also pack in padding where you need it on the bottom of the foot and on the leg. The only downside is that these do tend to pill up pretty badly, but if you’re not concerned about that, these are definite winners.
Best Alternative Fiber: Le Bent Definitive Ultra Light Bamboo and Merino Socks
These award-winning (yes, really) ski socks combine bamboo with more traditional merino, which makes for an incredibly silky soft finish (they’re very possibly the softest ones out there). A lot of people don’t love thick socks for the slopes, and these thin but incredibly durable socks keep feet warm without all the extra bulk in the ski boot. We love the padding at key pressure points, namely the shins and ankles, to help ward off bruising and chafing from ski boots. The cuff has great elastic so that these stay up without sliding down into your boot, no matter how many runs you go on, and the rest of the fit (delivered via a trademarked system) is equally wonderful. The dual fibers also provide all the benefits of merino — incredible moisture wicking, anti-odor properties — without the itch, so these socks are truly an all-around winner for a day of wintry fun.