The warmer weather is coming, and what better way to freshen up your cycling wardrobe and keep your feet cool than some new socks.
You can wear any socks you want for cycling, but cycling-specific summer socks are made from lightweight and breathable fabrics that keep your feet cool and dry in hot weather, and will be far more comfortable than regular sports socks.
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 socks should be no higher than 5in, 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 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.
To that end, here are 14 pairs that should do just that.
Of course, we simply must include the coolest socks of them all, our very own road.cc socks. You can buy them, in white or classic black, in the shop here.
Teko's Adrenalin socks are soft and comfortable technical socks for cycling in warm weather. Teko actually calls these running socks, but they're perfectly suited to cycling and, well, most other situations involving exercise too. At their core is a technical 'Evapor8' yarn that's breathable and very soft against the skin, with what Teko calls an 'Arch Wrap' system that provides support around the circumference of your foot arch. The heels and toes also benefit from additional padding, while the underside is cushioned too.
Kalf's Tall 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.
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.
If your feet run cold (sorry), DeFeet's wool blend Wooleators are great year-round socks that don't overheat even in warm weather.
There's little to fault with the Altura Dry Elite Socks, other than their £10.99 RRP. You can find them cheaper, though, and they're very comfortable. The fit is excellent with the contrasting heel and sections sitting exactly where I'd want them. The same can be said for the cut around the calf; the medium-weight fabric has plenty of elasticity and there's no specific place in which it's focused, meaning that they grip across a large area rather than being held up by one ring of elastic sewn into the hem, so almost no pinching of your calf muscles.
These Assos équipeSock_evo7s are made from a fabric that is thin and very breathable and manages sweat really well, resulting in cooler and drier feet compared with wearing standard cotton socks. Put simply, they're more comfortable than plain old socks.
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.
London’s Condor produce these Race socks, made from a soft micro-fibre yarn with a light mesh upper section to avoid overheating. The cuff is double thickness and they’re 7cm tall, and they’re neatly finished with a red stripe and Condor logo on the back.
A good choice for socks are these from Castelli, which are available in a choice of lengths to suit leg length and tastes. These are made from Superlight Meryl Skinlife fabric so they're very thin and very breathable, making them ideal for hot summer days.
Rapha's Pro Team socks are good for performance minded cyclists who want lightweight socks that are highly breathable. They’re made with a more durable material in the heel and toe, so they don’t wear out too easily, and the cuff is also made from more hard-wearing material. They’re available in two lengths, and you can choose from a wide range of colurs and patterns.
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.
Rapha's Souplesse socks have a sleek and nicely-contoured fit with no bunching up or intrusive seams. The fabric wicks moisture away quickly, and the smoothness of the fabric means nothing interferes with how well your shoes fit.
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David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.