Best cycling socks 2023: 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
(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. 

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

(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.

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".

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1