Best cycling socks 2023 - Colourful, comfortable and cleverly constructed socks for cycling

Astana Pro Team's Alexey Lutsenko is sporting team sponsor Northwave's Extreme Pro shoes
(Image credit: Josh Croxton)

The best cycling socks aren't just a fashion statement - they're an essential part of the cyclist's armoury. The best winter cycling socks are the last barrier between your toes and frostbite when paired with the best cycling overshoes or the best winter cycling shoes.

Come the summer your socks might give you that final performance edge to beat your best, either an aero boost from aero socks, or a mental boost from just looking fly as heck!

The ribbing on the best cycling socks for racing is designed to make them more aero and wind tunnel tests have shown that your socks can be more aerodynamic than your legs. DeFeet claims that its Evo Disruptor socks (as worn by the Lotto-Soudal pro team) can save you 8 watts compared to your shaved legs.

Indeed, so concerned is the UCI at the risk of teams gaining an unfair advantage from their socks that there's a specific regulation governing sock height in UCI-accredited competition.

Paired with the best cycling shoes, the best cycling socks will up your cycling game and make sure that your feet stay comfortable, cool (or warm, depending on the season).

Read on for our list of the best cycling socks for all seasons, or jump to the bottom if you want buying advice or need convincing about the other benefits of the best cycling socks.

Our pick of the best cycling socks

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Swiftwick Aspire Seven

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Swiftwick Aspire Seven

The most comfortable socks on the market

Specifications

Cuff height: 7in

Reasons to buy

+
Other cuff heights available too
+
Renowned quality and design
+
An enormous range of colours

Reasons to avoid

-
High price compared to other similar options

When we first read the technical claims that Swiftwick makes about its fibres and knitting process, we thought it was typical over-hyped marketing. They are just socks, after all. Then we tried them.

The Aspire socks are available in a number of cuff lengths and have a thin profile with minimal cushioning, seamless construction, and the Olefin fibre is lightweight, highly breathable, and quick-drying. Over the years the Brentwood, Tennessee-based outfit has cultivated a fervent following, so much so that one of our former colleagues even travelled to the US so that he could replenish his supply before they were available in the UK.

Defeet Aireator Socks

(Image credit: Defeet)

DeFeet Aireator

Benchmark performance with countless styles

Specifications

Cuff height: 3in / 6in

Reasons to buy

+
Almost unlimited style options
+
Good breathability

Reasons to avoid

-
Almost too much choice

Used as a base model for other brands, the Aireator is the original DeFeet sock. It really is the gold standard. 

Besides performance and comfort benefits, which we'll get to in a moment, the Aireator socks are manufactured in North Carolina, USA, from recycled water bottles.

Comfort is unparalleled, and the Aireator mesh that adorns the forefoot increases breathability to prevent overheating. You can get Aireator socks in a range of styles, from classy white with a simple Defeet logo, or more extravagant designs including one called Moon Doggo, which is literally a dog on the moon. 

Castelli Fast Feet

(Image credit: Castelli)

Castelli Fast Feet

Best for time triallists

Specifications

Cuff height: ~7in

Reasons to buy

+
Can genuinely make you faster
+
They stay up, unlike some aero socks

Reasons to avoid

-
High price compared to standard socks

Castelli's Fast Feet socks are designed with aerodynamic efficiency in mind. Made using 83% nylon and 17% elastane, the Castelli Fast Feet socks were developed with input from Team Sky (now Ineos Grenadiers). 

The sock is split into two halves. The foot portion is made for comfort, based around the brand's Rosso Corsa race socks, the upper portion uses Lycra with engineered grooves which decrease drag. 

Three colours are available, including black, white or a garish monochrome-spiral, and despite Castelli's stock image above making them look like wannabe football socks, they're actually around seven inches tall, so don't make you look like you're about to compete in an Ironman whenever you wear them - and are UCI legal.

They're also rather expensive for socks, but with the promise of extra speed, there will always be an argument in favour of spending the extra. In fact, in terms of watts gained per pound or dollar they're one of the most cost effective upgrades you can make according to our aero gains list.

Assos Mille GT Socks

(Image credit: Assos)

Assos Mille GT Socks

Durable socks with classy aesthetic and a superb fit

Specifications

Cuff height: ~6in

Reasons to buy

+
Durable construction
+
Compressive, comfortable fit
+
Odour-reducing tech

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly short cuff by modern standards

The Mille GT socks are designed primarily for warmer weather. They use a combination of polyamide, polypropylene and elastane for the construction, which basically means it offers a breathable material that is stretchy enough to remain super comfortable, but compressive enough to stay put over many hours of riding and months of use. 

Assos' clever innovation here is the introduction of silver microparticles, which according to the brand, are designed to reduce odours. We're not scientists, but we can attest to the pong-free performance.

With a selection of six colours to choose from, all of Assos' Mille GT socks manage to provide a classy aesthetic, thanks to the minimalist design and rear-facing Assos logo. The subtle options of black, white and navy are available, but if you're fashion- or safety-focussed, there's also a host of options that turn the saturation up to 11. 

Castelli Superleggera T18

(Image credit: Castelli)

Castelli Superleggera T 18

Warm-weather comfort

Specifications

Cuff height: 7in

Reasons to buy

+
Durable construction
+
Modern 18cm cuff height
+
Odour-reducing tech

Reasons to avoid

-
White sock wearers look away now

With the same odour-reducing silver technology as Assos' Mille GT socks also featured in this guide, Castelli's Superleggera T 18 also features what it calls a 200-needle construction for extra stretch. We can confirm the stretch is ample, making them easy to get on and, more importantly, off again after cold, wet rides. 

They feature lightweight mesh on the ankle and the top of the foot, which is great for warm-weather riding, and a midfoot support band means they're supportive and they stay put, even after months of use. 

The 18cm / 7in cuff makes them ideal for the fashion conscious who like the modern tall-sock trend, however, those who like the bright-white sock style will want to look elsewhere, as Castelli's 'white' socks look like they've been washed in a mixed load one too many times. 

Giro Comp Racer High Rise

(Image credit: Giro )

Giro Comp Racer High Rise

Performance meets style

Specifications

Cuff height: 6in

Reasons to buy

+
High-stretch without bagginess
+
Various styles on offer

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as high-rise as the name suggests

Thanks to a combination of polypropylene, polyamide, elastane and lycra, the Giro Comp Racer socks offer a light compression with high stretch. This means they're really easy to get on and off again, but they don't fall down halfway through your ride. 

They feature a cuff height of six inches, which despite the name, isn't as high rise as others here such as Castelli's 7-inch Superleggera and Rapha's 8-inch Pro Team Tall socks. 

Nonetheless, they do well to remain comfortable over long distances and despite wearing them in all conditions and washing them at all manner of temperatures, they're holding up - both literally and figuratively - perfectly well. 

Rapha Pro Team socks

(Image credit: Rapha)

Rapha Pro Team Socks

Still going strong after 9 months of use

Specifications

Cuff height: 4 / 6 / 8in

Reasons to buy

+
Durable and hardwearing
+
Range of heights to choose from
+
Countless colour choices

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly over-compressive

Available in three different cuff heights, the Rapha Pro Team socks are likely to have a variant to suit all style preferences. Design remains along the subtle lines rather than in-your-face, with a single colour complemented by the trademark Rapha stripes. Colours are largely from the same school of thought, however, those who want to add a bit of hue to their ride are catered for with bright orange or yellow options. 

Having received a few of Rapha's different socks around 18 months ago, the Pro Team performed best in the longevity test and are still holding strong without a single hole, loose thread, or construction problem to speak of.

Made from 50% Meryl Skinlife, 25% nylon and 25% elastane, they are quite compressive in their nature, which is certainly noticeable after long days in the saddle, but it's not to the level that they're tough to get on and off. 

SaKO7 socks

(Image credit: Courtesy)

SaKO7 socks

The socks maketh the kit

Specifications

Cuff height: 7in

Reasons to buy

+
Modern cuff height
+
More colours than Joseph's technicolour dreamcoat
+
Affordable price

Reasons to avoid

-
Ours didn't last beyond a year

Sean 'Sako' Sakinofsky's overarching theory of cycling clothing is centred around the phrase, "The socks maketh the kit." According to the brand, socks should have a "leg and welt height of no less than 4in", so all of SaKO7's socks are closer to the modern trend of around seven inches in length.

As for design, you can well and truly have your cake and eat it, as Sako7 offers more design options than most. Initial compression and fit were fantastic, however, they did loosen a little after around 12 months. That said, at almost half the price of some of the bigger names, we'd still happily recommend them. 

Le Col cycling socks

(Image credit: Le Col)

Le Col 'Cycling Socks'

Simple, solid, stylish

Specifications

Cuff height: 7in

Reasons to buy

+
Range of colours to choose from
+
Compressive fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Plain designs only

Le Col's founder, Yanto Barker, knows a thing or two about what makes clothing ready for the rigours of professional riding, thanks to a long career racing on the British circuit. The brand's simply-named 'Cycling Socks' are the basics in the range, but that doesn't mean you should overlook them. 

Designed for everyday riding, racing, and training, they are made from 100% Polyamide with a honeycomb construction. This makes them breathable, compressive, yet stretchy enough that it doesn't take an hour to get them on and off. 

They feature an approximately seven-inch cuff, which is bang on trend if fashion is important to you, but more prominently, they feature comfort-enhancing padding on the heel and underfoot, as well as reinforcement on heel and toe seams. 

HUUB Aero socks

(Image credit: HUUB)

HUUB Aero socks

Best for those looking for aero gains

Specifications

Cuff height: ~6in

Reasons to buy

+
Can genuinely make you faster
+
Designed by aerodynamicists at the cutting edge of performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Available in any colour you want, as long as it's black
-
Expensive

The HUUB Aero Cycling Socks are designed and enhanced by Dan Bigham, and tested by the record-breaking HUUB Wattbike track team. The socks claim to save between five and 10 watts by virtue of improved aerodynamics. 

They're not for the fashionistas out there, as only one colour - black - is available, but black's faster anyway, right? The best bit is they're UCI legal. 

Sealskinz All-Weather mid-length sock

(Image credit: Sealskinz)

Sealskinz All-Weather mid-length sock

The best waterproof socks for when it's raining cats and dogs

Specifications

Cuff height: ~7in

Reasons to buy

+
Hydrostop waterproofing
+
Merino wool

Reasons to avoid

-
Prolonged wear or poor fit can cause skin irritation 
-
Expensive

There's nothing worse than being caught out in the rain with soggy feet. Thankfully the good folks at SealSkinz have mastered the art of waterproof socks specifically for cycling. These all-weather mid-length socks are created with Hydrostop technology, which creates a barrier between your skin and the sock cuff, effectively sealing it shut and not allowing any water to run down the leg and into the sock.

The three-layer construction is designed to provide thermal insulation, waterproofing, and durability. Even with heavy use, these socks will last a long time. Merino wool also features to deliver comfort, as well as superior moisture control. It's naturally antibacterial as well, so that helps to stop the build-up of nasty odours.

Endura Baabaa merino stripe cycling socks

(Image credit: Endura)

Endura Baabaa Merino Stripe II

Itch-free woolly socks for year-round warmth

Specifications

Cuff height: ~6in

Reasons to buy

+
Easy care
+
High warmth-to-weight ratio

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited colour options

Treat your feet to some woolly warmth, minus the unpleasant itch. Scottish outfit Endura’s Baabaa Merino socks are silky smooth to the touch, thanks to the rich merino weave. Merino not only resists odours to stay fresh for longer, it also has a high warmth-to-weight ratio, so you don’t need to strap thick layers to your feet to keep your toes toasty. 

These socks fit like any other, while keeping your feet from freezing, so they’ll fit under any cycling shoes without creating hotspots, or bunching uncomfortably.

They're available in three colours - forest green, black, and red - all with stripes that wrap around the calf. 

Velocio Winter Wool Socks

(Image credit: Velocio)

Velocio Winter Wool Socks

Incredible performance and warmth-to-weight ratio

Specifications

Cuff height: 8in

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible warmth and comfort
+
Ultralight and fine knit

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey

Velocio’s Winter Wool Socks are specially designed to take on hard efforts in the colder and darker months of the year, while also remaining ultralight and thin enough to wear comfortably beneath your favourite pair of cycling shoes. 

Constructed from a blend of ultrafine merino wool, nylon and elastane, they provide all the warmth without the heft. Alongside the beloved properties of merino: moisture management, odour-resistance and thermoregulation, the nylon adds longevity and durability, particularly in areas prone to wear and tear, while the elastane gives it a comfortable stretch.

Velocio’s winter socks also deliver strategic padding in the footbed and toe for extra warmth and support, while the cuff and instep are constructed from a flat knit to reduce bulk and offer a comfortable fit. They're more expensive than some of those listed here, granted, but they’re a great investment for any serious winter cyclist.

How to choose the best cycling socks for you

Are synthetic or natural fibres better?

Most socks will use a mix of different materials in their weave, with lycra being an obvious addition to most socks to help them to stay up.

In the summer, a sock with more synthetic content is likely to be more comfortable, as it will be lighter and wick sweat away better. If you do get caught in a shower it will dry quicker than natural materials too.

In contrast, in cold weather merino wool is an excellent insulator and has the benefit that it will stay warm even if your feet are drenched - which they often are. Merino socks will retain the damp though, so you may get home with drenched feet and, on longer rides, may end up with trench foot.

How should I wash my socks?

The quick answer is "follow the maker's instructions". But like other cycling kit, cycling socks are technical garments. Treat them with respect and they'll last longer and perform better. 

That means no harsh detergents - use a sports kit wash, even if it means that your white socks aren't as white as they were after a year or so of use. And wash at a low temperature - usually 30C - to retain the fabric's properties.

What does the UCI say about socks?

Quite a lot, actually. Rule 1.3.033 (opens in new tab) 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. And it checks at races for compliance.

Can my socks keep me safe?

While the fashionistas among us have long accented kits with tall bright socks, they're improving their visibility on the road whether they know it or not.

A 2013 study conducted by the University of Queensland found the best place for reflective detailing to help drivers identify riders in low light situations more quickly is moving parts like the knees and ankles.

Studies conducted by Clemson University and Trek Bikes into visible perception found through a phenomenon called sensitivity bio-motion (humans are really good at seeing other humans) that we are especially good at picking out human movement against cluttered backgrounds. The studies concluded with this acuity for human motion, drawing attention to major movable joints with reflective accents or bright and contrasting colours (during the day) helps drivers to see us.

So by slipping into a colourful pair of socks, you're also increasing your visibility on the road.

Based on the Gold Coast of Australia, Colin has written tech content for cycling publication for a decade. With hundreds of buyer's guides, reviews and how-tos published in Bike Radar, Cyclingnews, Bike Perfect and Cycling Weekly, as well as in numerous publications dedicated to his other passion, skiing. 


Colin was a key contributor to Cyclingnews between 2019 and 2021, during which time he helped build the site's tech coverage from the ground up. Nowadays he works full-time as the news and content editor of Flow MTB magazine.