Best cycling socks 2024: Funky and functional top performers

From high-performance lightweight socks to three-season winter warmers, here are our favorite models - rated and reviewed

Image shows socks of the cycling socks grouptest
socks of the cycling socks grouptest
(Image credit: Future)

For sure, cycling socks are an excellent way to add a bit more personality to your riding gear. Although things have moved on quite a way from the times when your only choices were either bright fluro or black, there still tends to be a smaller pool of colorways when it comes to jackets and shorts compared with socks. 

Anna wearing Pearl Izumi’s Expedition Pro Shoe while riding the Trans Cambrian Way

Pearl Izumi socks

(Image credit: Future)

But just as with bar tape, buffs and casquettes, although you can make your choice based on the relative funkiness of their designs, there is actually quite a bit of tech going on behind the scenes. Not all cycling socks are created equal - and there are some which do really stand out amongst the rest.

Style is, of course, still a consideration. But when form is supported by a bedrock of function, that is when you’ve landed upon a very special sort of sock indeed. Qualities such as breathability, moisture wicking, durability, warmth, odor control, and fit don’t just happen by accident. You can make do with socks that are less than perfect - but why would you choose to?

We’ve tested a wide range of socks of varying styles and purposes, from three-season warmers to the lightest, thinnest and coolest options for beating the heat - outdoors and in. The brands represented include - but are not limited to - Assos, Rapha, Velocio, Castelli and dhb, with our favorite models picked out below...

Best summer cycling socks


Stefan wearing Pearl Izumi’s Expedition Pro Shoe while riding the Trans Cambrian Way

(Image credit: Future)

What are cycling socks ?

Cycling specific socks are largely defined by the fit and the fabric. Given that cycling shoes are designed to be close fitting, cycling socks tend to be thin so as not to make the shoes uncomfortable. Equally, thicker socks are more prone to rub. Even winter cycling socks are pretty thin and rely on low-bulk warmth from materials such as merino wool.

While the aforementioned merino wool is a popular choice given it's breathability and odor resistance, most cycling socks use synthetic fabrics to deliver the desired combination of ventilation with sweat wicking  properties.  

The final piece of the puzzle is good elasticity alongside a solid gripper - the last thing any cyclist wants is a pair of socks that won't stay up.

Do I need cycling socks?

Cycling-specific socks will improve your comfort on the bike for several reasons. The materials used are designed to keep your feet as cool as possible by wicking away sweat, drying rapidly and providing extra protection around the heel and toe areas. Winter socks will also wick away moisture but will insulate your feet against the cold rather than cooling them down.

Cycling socks should also provide arch support to prevent fatigue and soreness on long rides and will be constructed to remain in place around the foot and calf without slipping down or moving around which could cause irritation or hotspots.

Should cycling socks be thin or thick?

Socks for cycling should be the right thickness for the type of riding you do, the temperatures you ride in and the fit of your shoes. 

Thin socks will be cooler, work better with slim-fitting cycling shoes and provide a more direct connection to the pedals and bike with less chance of the foot moving around within the shoes.

Thick socks will be warmer but must be worn with shoes that have enough space in them to accommodate the socks. Cramming warm socks into close-fitting shoes will cause a lot of discomfort and probably make your feet colder by restricting blood vessels.

How high should cycling socks be?

Unless you're looking for cycling socks that promise some aerodynamic advantage, the answer is any height - presuming you're not entering a UCI race. If you are you'll need to adhere to its rule that states:

'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.'

Outside of competition anything goes with sock height largely governed by taste and fashion. Aero socks tend to be tall, as do many 'pro' socks, which have grown in height over the years. Likewise some winter socks are designed to cover the entire lower leg, adding another layer of insulation under your bib tights. Regular cycling socks typically feature a cuff that is between 3" and 7".

How do I choose the right socks for me?

As with most items of clothing, first and foremost it is comfort that is the most important consideration. Cycling socks might be worn for many hours (or even days!) of arduous exercise, so you don't want to give them a second thought once you start riding. This means that not only do they need to fit your foot, but they also need to work with your chosen shoes - a bulky sock might make your shoes too tight in a certain place, or a very thin sock might not offer enough volume around the heel for the shoe to fit securely.

The second consideration is the temperature you are likely to be using them. The best cycling sock in the world isn't going to work for you if it is designed to work in different conditions to those in which you are cycling. For cold weather, warmth and insulation are paramount whereas in summer temperatures the breathability and quick-wicking of a much lighter sock will be appreciated.

Do I need winter cycling socks?

If you ride in cold temperatures, then winter-weight socks should definitely form part of your cycling wardrobe, but they are not the only way to protect your feet. Overshoes and winter cycling shoes can also be used to insulate against the cold, and in fact, simply ramming a pair of thick socks into your normal cycling shoes may well make your feet colder rather than warmer as the increased pressure will reduce warming blood flow.

How we test

These socks were ridden in a range of temperatures and with a few different pairs of cycling shoes. Whilst comfort is subjective, our experienced testers have used and abused a lot of socks over the years, so have a great idea what will work well and in what conditions.

Stefan Abram
Tech features editor

After winning the 2019 National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Biking Championships and claiming the plushie unicorn (true story), Stefan swapped the flat-bars for drop-bars and has never looked back. 

Since then, he’s earnt his 2ⁿᵈ cat racing licence in his first season racing as a third, completed the South Downs Double in under 20 hours and Everested in under 12.

But his favourite rides are multiday bikepacking trips, with all the huge amount of cycling tech and long days spent exploring new roads and trails - as well as histories and cultures. Most recently, he’s spent two weeks riding from Budapest into the mountains of Slovakia

Height: 177cm

Weight: 67–69kg