Best cycling socks of 2024: Breathable, fashionable, and well-made options for your feet

Best cycling socks
(Image credit: Will Jones)

Let's be honest, socks aren't really as important as some other cycling purchases, but buying the best cycling socks is like adding the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae; it's not quite the same without it. If it's winter then you're going to want to head to our guide to the best winter cycling socks, but if the mercury is rising then scroll down to find out which pairs are going to be best for you over summer.

The best cycling socks you can buy today

No, it's not as safety critical as buying one of the best road bike helmets, but getting the best cycling socks is something we cyclists love. They're probably not going to make you faster unless you pick one of the aero options, but they'll do wonders to make you feel better, and in turn, that absolutely makes you ride better; that's just science.

Sock height is a personal preference, but the average height has been rising over the years, barely quelled by the heavy hand of the UCI and its regulations. Below we've outlined our favourite cycling socks to pair with your best cycling shoes for general use, for gravel riding, for really hot weather, for aerodynamics, value, and some just cos they're darn good lookin'.

Remember, too, to ignore any rules and wear what makes you happy.

How to choose the best cycling socks for you

Socks aren't really safety-critical, and outside of aero options do little to improve or detract from performance. This, combined with a relatively low financial barrier to entry means you can try things out, or use them to add a pop of personality to your outfit. The options above are what I think represent the best of the bunch, but if they don't float your boat then there are many other options out there, so how do you know what to get?

What is special about cycling socks?

The best cycling socks have to be thin enough to fit into the best cycling shoes, which tend to be relatively close-fitting. They have to be breathable to deal with the heat generated by exercise even on the hottest days, and they have to not fall down. As such they tend to be made from synthetic fibres rather than cotton, as this better handles moisture, and incorporates some degree of mesh into the weave to allow improved breathability. A strong gripper at the top of the cuff is standard, that's why even on wet days you'll never see them fall down.

Should I wear black or white cycling socks?

There are some who'll tell you one way or the other is the 'proper' way to do things, but you should always wear what you're comfortable in; what makes you happy. Socks are an easy, relatively cheap place to make a style statement, so don't get hung up on antiquated rules. The only time you should be told what colour socks to wear is if you're paid to wear them. 

Should cycling socks be thin or thick?

Thin. As mentioned above this is because cycling shoes tend to be very close fitting. Even the best winter socks are still pretty thin, they just use more insulating materials like merino wool to add warmth without bulk. Bulky socks will compress your feet and risk blisters, or just be very sweaty. 

Why do pro cyclists wear such tall socks?

It's called fashion, honey; look it up! Joking aside, beyond aero socks that are as tall as is legal to maximise the aerodynamic benefit there's really no need for socks to be a specific height. It's just what is fashionable at the moment, though it has the added benefit for the pros at least of providing a slightly larger canvas on the lower of each leg for larger sponsor logos. If the thought of a 30cm high sock fills you with dread then you're still allowed to go for shorter options.

What is the UCI rule about sock height?

Quite a lot, actually. Rule 1.3.033 states that: 

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.

Further:

Modifications to the surface roughness of clothing are authorized but may only be the result of threading, weaving or assembling of the fabric. Surface roughness modifications shall be limited to a profile difference of 1mm at most.

So long socks with built-in aero features that aren't part of the weave are a no-no if the UCI is around.

Will Jones
Tech Writer

Will joined the Cyclingnews team as a reviews writer in 2022, having previously written for Cyclist, BikeRadar and Advntr. There are very few types of cycling he's not dabbled in, and he has a particular affection for older bikes and long lasting components. Road riding was his first love, before graduating to racing CX in Yorkshire. He's been touring on a vintage tandem all the way through to fixed gear gravel riding and MTB too. When he's not out riding one of his many bikes he can usually be found in the garage tinkering with another of them, or getting obsessive about tyres. Also, as he doesn't use Zwift, he's our go-to guy for bad weather testing... bless him.

Rides: Custom Zetland Audax, Bowman Palace:R, Peugeot Grand Tourisme Tandem, Falcon Explorer Tracklocross, Fairlight Secan & Strael