The best summer cycling socks are made from lightweight, breathable fabrics that keep your feet cool and dry in hot weather, and will be far more comfortable than regular sports socks. Here are our picks for the best socks you can buy to ride bike.
Usually made from synthetics such as polyester or nylon, cycling socks help wick sweat away from your feet when the weather is warm.
A few summer cycling socks are made from light, thin Merino wool, which you might find more comfortable and less whiffy, and which have the advantage that they'll provide a bit of warmth on those inevitable chilly summer days.
With a vast range of colours and patterns available, cycling socks are a good place to brighten up your outfit.
All keen road cyclists would agree that the success of a pair of socks lies in two fundamental aspects: colour and length. The Attaquer Vertical Logo socks have a great length that seems to be the trending at the moment: enough to see the calf, but keeping the ankle to one's imagination. Normally, colour for me is simple: white in summer, black in winter. However, to my surprise, the navy looked great – though accompanying navy bib shorts are probably a must, too. The white lettering stands out and adds a bit of interest.
Fit-wise, I had nothing to complain about. They never fell down or felt too tight, delivering just the right level of support.
The Ardennes Socks from Galibier are super soft and cosy. Tester Stu writes: “The Ardennes are some of the most comfortable socks I have every worn. The material is really soft, and they just feel lovely when you pull them on.
“I've done some long rides in them too – including 4-5 hour gravel rides with the odd bit of walking thrown in for good measure. The lack of irritating seams means that comfort is always high, and you basically don't even notice you're wearing them.
“The upper section is more like a summer sock with a light knit and mesh panels for ventilation. They can be a little chilly for full-on winter use if you aren't using overshoes, but for the rest of the year – especially spring and autumn – they're great for regulating temperature.”
If your feet run cold (sorry), DeFeet's wool blend Wooleators are great year-round socks that don't overheat even in warm weather.
Of course, we simply must start with the coolest cycling socks of them all, our very own road.cc socks. You can buy them, in white or classic black, in the shop here.
The Sox Scribble Premium Print Socks keep your feet cool and very comfortable no matter how long you wear them. They're well made, very resistant to smells and – if you ask me – look great.
Tester Steve writes: “The Scribble socks are made from what Sox says is a medium-weight PolyLon36 fabric, about which I can tell you two things. One, it's a great thickness for mild to warm days and very breathable, partly thanks to mesh panels on the top. And two, PolyLon36 appears to be exclusive to Sox and is, presumably, some kind of polyester. The seamless build is extremely comfortable and the fabric's easy stretch means they absolutely stay put, plus at 36g there's not much to pull them down anyway.
“At £11.99 the price is decent – the vast majority of socks we test cost more. The Sox Scribble Premium Print Socks are very comfortable, pleasingly breathable things to ride with on mild or warm days, and look brilliant.”
If you like your socks stylish but subtle, La Passione's Duo socks are some of the best we've ever seen, and not only do they have the performance and quality to match their looks, they are reasonably priced too.
I'm not a big fan of garish, logo-loco socks. If anything, I like my socks to look like they could be worn off the bike at the office or at a posh bar. So, La Passione has really nailed it, for me, with the style of its Duo line of socks (and that goes for the rest of the range too – there are loads of different styles and colours to choose from).
The Santini Mille High Profile Socks are good quality, comfortable, Italian-made socks designed to complement Santini's own jerseys. But don't overlook them if you don't have a jersey – they're an excellent choice in their own right.
Santini has some bold colours in its range, and the Mille High Profile socks come in four schemes, each one to pair with a particular Karma Luce jersey. Our Teal sample looked incredibly smart with the corresponding jersey we reviewed at the same time.
Kalf's High Socks are going to get you noticed. Bright orange, with effective reflectors on the back, they are as eye-catching as they are comfortable. They are available in several other colours if bright orange isn't your thing. A cycling sock needs to cling to your foot so that it doesn't bunch up and rub while you pedal. The Kalf socks stay put while riding, but are stretchy enough that they slip off without resistance afterwards. A real pleasure.
DeFeet are well known for their high quality socks and a common choice with discerning cyclists who care about the socks they wear. They do a big old range these days with loads of colour options, even a hi-vis pair, or these, with Tour de France King of the Mountain polka dots.
California's SockGuy is one of the most well known cycling sock makers, with a vast range of patterns and styles. These Crash Test Dummy socks will surely make you stand out on the club run or in a sportive. They’re made from 75% acrylic, 15% nylon, and 10% Lycra.
The ashmei Classic Chequered Merino Socks offer loads of comfort and are very breathable when the temperatures start to soar. They are at the upper end in terms of price, but the quality and detailing justify it.
Merino is well known for being soft against the skin and these ashmei socks certainly follow that theme. They are very comfortable, and even on long, hot rides my feet still felt fresh and cool throughout.
The MAAP Division Socks are excellent for temperatures above 15 degrees. They're lightweight and breathable, the fit is great with a tall cuff, and they look brilliant no matter which colour you go for.
Tester Hollis writes: “They're very comfortable – not as tight-fitting as some, but with a decent amount of stretch – and sizing is bang on. I found the height spot on as well, though those with shorter legs might find them up a little too close to their calves.
“Overall the MAAP Division socks are great: comfortable, breathable, stylish and well made. For UK riders they prove usefully versatile, too.”
Despite looking like fairly innocuous white socks, these DeFeet Evo Mont Ventoux 6in have some hidden tech and provide suitably competent performance. They're not cheap, but as dedicated three-season cycling socks, they're quite impressive.
Perhaps most fascinating feature is the fabric, which seems softly bumpy initially, but look closer and you'll see it's a series of little woven diamonds. DeFeet calls this its 'Mont Ventoux' grid pattern and it is used 'to create thinner windows that allow sweat vapour to exit more quickly'.
In practice, it definitely works. While other parts of my anatomy have been growing decidedly moist on recent rides – I apologise for the mental image – the old plates have been kept wonderfully dry and free from heat build-up.
The Chapeau Tall Sock is a simple and stylish addition to the discerning cyclist's sock stockpile. The Coolmax fibres do an impressive job of wicking sweat away, leaving feet fresh and airy.
The socks are made of a 'soft touch' polyamide, featuring Coolmax technology. The fast-wicking Coolmax fibres woven into the sock draw perspiration away from the skin, while a mesh upper allows air to flow through, keeping your feet cool and comfortable.
This construction really works and does a good job stopping sweat from building up. I did several long rides in 25 degree heat in May and the cooling was effective, giving a nice fresh feeling at all times. Even after a good 50 miles on the bike, I would still feel able to wear them around the house afterwards, as they didn't feel sweaty at all.
Café du Cycliste has created a very lightweight and soft pair of socks with their Block Colour Cycling Socks. Despite being so comfortable, they also prove hardwearing, which goes some way to offsetting the high price.
A sock is a pretty lightweight item of clothing full stop, but these Block Colour Cycling Socks feel extremely light when you pick them up, and stay that way once on your feet.
They use a chunkier knit between the ankle and cuff than elsewhere, and I thought this would make them quite warm in the recent high (for the UK) temperatures of 26°C and above.
In fact, the opposite is true. The ribbed design feels like it works as a set of cooling fins; when riding along there's a noticeable breeze flowing over your lower legs.
Giro's HRC+ Merino Wool Socks will keep your feet very comfy indeed. The seven-inch cuff and 70 per cent Merino combine with a gently compressive fit for a sock that's warm and protective, yet never hot or sweaty. Breathable, well shaped and nicely detailed, the HRC+ does everything you want in a sock.
The HRC+s have become my go-to riding socks. They're tight enough to stay exactly where you put them, yet never uncomfortable – the stretch from the non-Merino bits (15 per cent polyester, 10 per cent Lycra, 5 per cent elastic) is very well judged. The cuff height is similarly well judged, and fits with all lengths of short without looking odd.
The fabric used for the Le Col Cycling Socks is very soft and has excellent wicking properties. These feel great against the skin, mile after mile.
Le Col uses a nylon yarn for the socks and when you put them on they feel absolutely lovely. The fabric is soft but because of the knit weave they're also quite supportive – not in a compressive way, just secure. The sock moves with your foot rather than allowing your foot to move around within it.
These Pongo Summer socks are comfy and suit warm weather rides. The length is great and the styling means they're not just for the bike. They're pricey though.
Pongo does its Summer socks in a vast range of colours (we make it 197!), so if you like the design but the neon pink and yellow isn't for you, there are a few more subtle options.
Defeet has often been at the top of the sock game and these Cyclismo Tabs confirm that things are still good. Great fabrics, excellent construction and so comfortable.
Made from 66% nylon, 31% recycled polyester and 3% Lycra, the Cyclismos have a very soft feel to the parts of the foot that are inside the shoe and a more robust, compressive setup for the cuff to keep everything in place.
The Madison Roadrace Premios are a very good pair of socks: they're really well made, with a compressive foot-hugging fit and a hard-wearing weave.
Q36.5 Plus You Socks are supposed to be luxury winter shoe-liners, but they're very comfortable in warm weather too and if you need to wear the same socks for several days at a time, they resist getting whiffy.
The Q36.5 Plus You Socks are described as an 'avant-garde winter sock constructed with superior natural thermic merino wool and silk threads'. Apparently, these materials also ensure weight is kept to an absolute minimum.
Most summer cycling socks are made from polyester because it’s breathable, can be woven into thin fabrics and wicks sweat away from the skin. Polyester fabrics also dry quickly, which helps stop your feet getting sweaty.
Socks are also made from Merino wool, which has the advantage of not holding odours like man-made fabrics.
Many cycling socks will have mesh panels strategically placed to further help keep your feet cool. For durability, some will have a harder-wearing material in the sole, heel and toe area.
Cycling socks will also have a cuff which prevents them from sliding down your ankle. The height of that cuff is a subject of great debate among style-conscious riders and that debate is in turn a source of mystification among the rest of us.
Some say cycling socks should be no higher than five inches, but there has been a trend in recent years for much higher socks. As far as we're concerned, you can wear whatever you like, but there’s even a UCI rule about sock length. We kid you not. Some might say if you’re worried about sock length you should spend more time riding your bike.
Lastly, there is colour. For traditionalists it’s white cycling socks all the way, but there are many more colourful options and designs available if you want to make a statement. And for all the Wiggo fans there are black socks. Some say white socks for racing, black socks for training. Wear whatever makes you happy.
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John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.