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How To Buy Socks

There is no other part of the anatomy so crucial to athletic performance than the human foot. As the base of our structural support system and home to thousands of nerve endings and sweat glands, our feet play an important role in our body's biomechanical efficiency and thermal regulation. It is estimated that 3-out-of-4 Americans experience chronic foot pain. Even more experience discomfort from blisters or cold feet.

If you've had consistent problems or other discomforts in your feet, you'll need to answer a few questions before you buy your next pair of socks.

  • Do you need socks that will help you avoid blisters?
  • Will you use them in normal weather conditions?
  • Do you prefer a higher or lower cut sock?
  • Is durability or cushioning a factor?

Fibers

Today many manufacturers use special moisture-wicking fibers as well as unique construction techniques and patented anatomical designs to create technical performance socks based on sports-specific use. Before you shop, it pays to have an overview of the different materials:

Cotton Blends

  • A cotton blend sock (60% or less cotton content) offers the soft, comfortable feel of cotton with athletic performance.
  • These sock are usually blended with nylon, acrylic or rayon. These supplemental materials enhance wickability, maintain loft, and/or reduce friction

CoolMax®

  • This lightweight moisture transport material uses a four-channel fiber engineered to move moisture and speed evaporation of perpiration.
  • CoolMax® is lightweight, quick drying and it offers great "wicking" action, making it the perfect material for racing and warm weather running.

Lycra® Spandex

  • Spandex helps a fabric stretch more to accomodate the different shapes of different wearers.
  • It not only provides enhanced stretching capability, but provides comfort as well.

Acrylic

  • A man made synthetic fiber, acrylic combines softness with lightweight, quick-drying properties.
  • Durable and versatile, acrylic is the main fiber used many of the most popular sock brands.

Wool

  • The original natural fiber, wool offers great wicking action while retaining its cushioning properties.
  • Aside from managing moisture and insulating the foot, wool also holds its shape better than other materials.
  • Today, many manufacturers use merino wool, a fine grade wool that offers a softer, non-itchy feel against the skin.

Padded

  • As we get older the fatty pads on the bottom of our feet deteriorate resulting in a reduction in overall cushioning.
  • A dense weave sock will offer better cushioning to compensate for physical deficiencies.
  • High-quality padded socks offer high-density weaves in certain areas for an anatomical fit and better cushioning.

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Sizing and Fit

  • The arch, toe area and heel should fit close to the skin but not so snugly that they stretch, and not so loosely that they hang over any part of the foot.
  • Some people swear by double-layer socks; some say they have an awkward fit. As a general rule, double layer socks will help prevent blistering by reducing the amount of friction underfoot, but only if they fit comfortably.
  • To find out which sock size is the right one for you, consult our sizing chart below.
Sock Sizing
Women's Shoe SizeMen's Shoe SizeYour Sock Size
4-6-S (7-9)
6.5-105-8.5M (8.5-11)
10.5-139-12.5L (10-13)
-13-16XL (13-15)

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