The best cycling socks enable you to ride in hot or cold weather without getting excessively sweaty feet – and, if you’re that way inclined, give you the opportunity to make a fashion statement with a splash of colour.
Thanks to modern wicking fabrics, a good pair of socks will keep you comfortable for hours on the bike and, if you get caught in a shower, they’ll dry out quickly too.
Socks are also the perfect gift for the cyclist in your life because every rider needs them, and fresh pairs are always appreciated.
With that in mind, we’ve tested nine pairs of stylish socks that won’t break the bank.
Keep scrolling until the end to read our cycling sock buyer’s guide.
Best cycling socks in 2023
Assos GT Socks C2
Assos’ GT Socks C2 are designed for breathability in warmer weather and the latest version features new yarns for quicker drying and better ventilation. There’s also a slightly longer cuff for additional support.
On the road, these are faultless cycling socks. They’re so comfortable that our tester quickly forgot he was wearing them.
The material doesn’t seem thin enough to raise any questions of durability, nor does the sock affect shoe sizing. Breathability is excellent and we’d have no hesitation in using these socks for big, warm days in the saddle.
Rapha Brevet Reflective
Designed for long endurance rides and multi-day tours, these medium-weight socks made from a blend of wool and PrimaLoft have great breathability. They’re comfortable, said to have anti-smell properties and are quick-drying (although they seemed equally quick to get wet through in rain).
There’s also a reflective stripe on the cuff for added visibility. These socks are among the most comfortable and represent an excellent choice for longer rides and trips away, though they are an investment.
DeFeet Evo Mont Ventoux 6” socks
Designed to help you cope with hot weather, these socks have a ‘continuous 360-degree vent grid’ from the upper cuff to the toe box, according to DeFeet. We can certainly vouch that these socks perform admirably in warmer conditions.
They are amongst the most compressive in fit and are very thin, including a ‘no-feel toe seam’ that, while comfortable, raises questions about their durability. However, if you suffer from hot feet, these are definitely worth a try.
MAAP Alt_Road Merino socks
MAAP’s Merino socks are targeted at all-day comfort and are anti-odour due to their natural fibres. The socks certainly deliver on both of those fronts.
However, the sizing is a little confusing. Our tester opted for the L/XL, meant for shoe sizes 9-11. The socks were disproportionately long in the foot, which meant having to compromise on the fit to allow the ankle of the sock to sit in its correct position.
Luckily, this sizing quirk doesn’t translate to real-world conditions. At £25, these lightweight socks aren’t cheap, but they are 80 per cent merino.
Giro Comp Racer High Rise socks
These 6in socks are a modern take on a classic design, with Coolmax fabric helping to keep your feet dry and comfortable while wicking away moisture. Strategically placed perforations aid ventilation too. The fit is spot-on and they remained fresh after a day’s use.
So why not full marks? The sock material isn’t as luxuriously comfortable as some other cycling socks. They’re a solid choice for the price, though, especially for use on those long and hot summer days.
M20 Merino Crew Compression Socks
M20’s left- and right-specific socks are about the most high-tech cycling socks we’ve tested, complete with an ‘ergonomic compression system’, an ‘anti-inflammatory band’ for your Achilles and a ‘scientifically designed foot bed’.
Their wool-mix construction makes them the thickest here, which won’t be to everyone’s liking, but Merino helps them stay fresh.
SockGuy SGX Socks
You can unleash your inner Lion of Flanders with SockGuy’s SGX compression cycling socks, one of dozens of SGX designs.
The polypropylene, nylon and spandex material is virtually free of seams and the compression qualities of the socks are claimed to ‘increase blood flow’. There’s also ‘performance ribbing’, and these are quality warm-weather socks.
DeFeet Aireator 6″ socks
The ‘Barnstormer’ is just one of the Aireator’s numerous colourful designs, and these cycling socks also have a ‘green’ element to them because they’re made from nylon and 39 per cent Coolmax ‘EcoMade’ materials – or recycled plastic bottles.
Toughened toes and heels should ensure DeFeet’s usual durability, while the 6-inch ‘Stay-Fast’ cuffs live up to their name.
Endura Pro SL II Socks
Endura says this sock is crafted from super-fine, wicking Meryl fabric, designed to be comfortable and breathable, yet resistant to wind and rain.
We liked the compressive fit and medium length but, although the Meryl fabric is reasonably comfortable, it’s overshadowed by other cycling socks.
Out on the road, the socks aren’t particularly breathable, feeling toasty at a moderate 17°C. The socks do keep water at bay when it gets drizzly, though, so are perhaps best used in cool, wet conditions.
Buyer’s guide to cycling socks
Cycling socks are an easy item to overlook but they’re an important element of your cycling clothing.
Get your sock choice right and you won’t notice them when riding but get it wrong and it’ll make for an uncomfortable ride and at worst, your feet might hurt.
How to choose cycling socks
Cycling socks are typically made from synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, elastane or polypropylene and are designed to wick away sweat.
Generally, cycling socks should fit tightly but smoothly without being loose, and there shouldn’t be any material bunching up.
Brands offer cycling socks in an overwhelming array of colours and styles, and they’re a good means of expressing your cycling personality.
Ultimately, comfort should be the top priority when selecting cycling socks and a well-fitting pair will help you tick off the miles with ease.
Summer vs winter cycling socks
Summer socks are designed to keep your feet comfortable and stop them from overheating when cycling in hot weather. Some are made from Merino wool, which repel odour while still being breathable.
Winter socks, on the other hand, should keep your feet insulated and dry. Some brands offer waterproof cycling socks if you’re riding in particularly mucky conditions.
We’d recommend you avoid opting for overly thick winter cycling socks because it’ll likely negatively affect the fit of your cycling shoes. You should instead go for a pair of overshoes or a specific winter-cycling shoe.
Should cycling socks be short or long?
One important consideration is cuff length and many cyclists have an opinion on optimal sock length.
While there aren’t any sock length rules for us amateurs, most brands tend to offer socks with lengths between 6 and 13cm.
In the winter, it’s a good idea for there to be an overlap with your bib tights to stop the cold from getting in.
However, sock length is an important consideration at the pro level, with the UCI stipulating “socks and overshoes used in competition may not rise above the height defined by half the distance between the middle of the lateral malleolus and the middle of the fibula head”.
The UCI has introduced this rule because some socks have been tested as being more aerodynamic than bare skin.
Do aero socks make a difference?
Yes, aero socks have been proven to save watts, sometimes as many as 8 to 12 watts at 50kph.
While designs differ, they are typically made from elastane from the ankle upwards for a second-skin fit and feature openings or patterns to reduce drag.
Can I wear any socks for cycling?
Yes, you can wear any sock for cycling provided it has the correct properties to keep your feet ventilated and comfortable in the respective seasons. You’ll also want to make sure they fit optimally and come up higher than the shoe.