The Running Socks That Keep Your Feet Blister-Free
How many pairs of running socks have you tried and tested so far?
You might be lucky to have found the perfect pair already. For most ultrarunners, having to deal with blisters on a regular basis is very common.
Some people naturally have dry skin and are less prone to blisters (I can call myself lucky!) while others suffer even on short runs developing friction burns.
This reminds me of the war stories that some runners could tell about their feet in the desert. Some runners' feet swelled up to the size of a small ball and blisters covered the whole foot. In those cases there isn't a lot you can do when heat and sand come into play. Maybe the best socks could have eased some of the discomforts.
Yet, I believe everyone prepared the best they could in order to minimise the risks of suffering from blistery feet.
But does the perfect and best pair of running socks exist?
Let's go into some details about blistering first before we discover the ultimate pairs that have proven to withstand running ultra distances and maintaining healthy feet.
- are caused by friction from clothing and shoes
- these rub on the skin causing friction burns
- the outer layer of the skin separates while lymph fluids fill the gap between the inner and outer layer of the skin
- are also caused by socks that don't fit right, become wet and have irritating seams
So, socks can definetely help to reduce and even prevent blistering. The days where runners wear the classic white ones are - hopefully - long gone.
Finding a combination of taping the feet where most susceptible to blisters and wearing your ideal pair of socks is what keeps your feet in a good state in the long-term.
During my preparation for my first multi-day ultra marathon I tested a variety of socks. I'd say the ones presented below will make your ultrarunning life a little easier if you're still looking for an 'ideal' pair or are thinking about new ones.
Keep in mind, though, that no sock manufacturer can claim and guarantee to keep the feet 100% free from blisters.
Most brands advertise special features such as double and dual layers. The socks are made up of different materials offering your feet to breathe. Just like a running shoe, some socks have stabilising and cushioning functions and even arch supports.
Take a look at my favorites now and get inspired:
FALKE Herren Running-Socke RU 4 Short are great in warm to hot temperatures and during running in winter. Their snug fit suits slender feet.
I do most of my long runs in Falke socks. Recommendable for running in sand and on undulating courses.
Comprised of nearly 25% cotton these easily survive a spin in the washing machine at 40°C.
1000 Mile New Ultimate Tactel Socken - Mittle socks are double-layered which means that moisture is transported to the outer layer. This keeps the feet dry. The arch is specially shaped to give extra support.
Also, with a high percentage of cotton - 75% - the sock might stiffen when exposed in dry and very hot climates. During multi-stage races this can cause discomfort unless you bring some extra pairs.
I wear these socks on shorter runs because the feet tend to 'burn' a little bit after about two hours.
Next, Injinji - Yoga Toesocks - Zehensocken - Schwarz (L(43-45.5)) socks are worth a try. The theory is that the seamless construction helps to avoid blistering by having individual 'toes' that fit like sleeves.
These socks have a double layer to support long performance and are made of mainly polyester and nylon.
In practice, I do wear Injinji socks occasionally on runs up to about two hours. They proof well in wet conditions, too.
WRIGHTSOCK Running - doppel-lagig - mittel - schwarz, Größe: L are my latest discovery and definitely the best socks I have ever worn in the last fifteen years. A must-have and all-weather sock that is totally reliable!
Again, they're double-layered and fairly heavy in comparison. Comprised of mainly polyester, nylon and small percentages of lycra these socks keep the feet absolutely blister-free.
Recommendable in warmer conditions as well as during (long) runs in heavy rain. Even when worn on hilly courses and uneven terrains the rubbing just doesn't cause any friction burns.
And finally, I need to mention one more pair of great socks that seems to rule the ultrarunning scene in America. I have not found them here yet...but let's take a look at
Drymax Trail socks.
The difference to the other double-layered ones is that Drymax promotes a dual layer structure. The fabrics are
knit together and the Y-shaped heel provides extra support and excellent fit. Also, a special arch band holds the sock in place which prevents blistering, of course.
The bottom line is that the best running socks only exist in our minds and not in reality.
When it comes to choosing a pair of running socks, always try them on first and decide upon your initial feeling when you slip into your running shoes. A good sock should work for your feet in any condition.
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