Did you ever consider that socks are a crucial part of packing to go away for a trip?

After all, you want to make sure you took appropriate socks for the weather on your vacation. And, you’ll need your socks to match up with the activities you’ll be doing (hiking vs. walking, skiing vs. lounging around).

I always used to travel with the same old black ankle socks. They were cheap, they added no value, and because they were bad quality, they’d sprout holes. It’s true that having good travel socks can give you one fewer thing to worry about when you’re so far from home!

In this list, check out the best travel socks we’ve found, from some of the best travel apparel brands and the most trusted outfitters. I hope you find your next great pair of travel socks that’ll come with you on all your adventures!

Quick Top Picks: Men’s

Quick Top Picks: Women’s

Unisex

Best heavy and mid-weight merino wool socks for travel

The more you look into travel socks, the more you’ll find that merino wool is the real winner for great sock material. Below, I list some trustworthy brands, like Darn Tough and Bombas, as well as some newcomers like Western Rise and Icebreaker.

My friend Daniela of JD Travel Couple says that her Darn Tough merino socks have lasted four years and counting, and are still going strong, if that says anything about the type of quality we’re digging into here!

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Darn Tough Men's Hiker Micro Crew Midweight Hiking Sock

This bestseller is the ultimate rugged hiking sock that’s optimal for performance, minimizing the risk for blisters, thermoregulating heat and cushioned with a reinforced footbed.

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Darn Tough Women's Hiker Micro Crew Midweight Hiking Sock

The women’s hiking sock from Darn Tough is optimized for performance, with an all-season weight, incredible comfort, impressive durability and targeted protection at the ankle.

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Smartwool Women’s Mountaineer Classic Edition Maximum Cushion Crew Socks

As the thickest offering from Smartwool, these super-cushioned socks for backpackers have elasticized arch braces and feel like walking on clouds. We are both obsessed with them.

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Icebreaker Men's Merino Hike Liner Crew Socks

These merino wool socks are quick-drying and breathable, made with a “breathe zone” for ventilation and a reinforced heel.

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Bombas Men's Full-Cushion Merino Wool Blend Ski & Snowboard Socks

This particular sock is the most heavy-duty one from trusted brand Bombas, and with honeycomb arch support, strategic zone cushioning and a Y-stitched heel, they’re a favorite for winter sports travelers.

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Ibex Unisex Rambler Merino Wool Crew Sock

Swearing that “merino is the best thing for your feet,” Ibex combines a “3D knitting structure” with anatomically-specific left and right socks for a breathable cushioned sock.

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Western Rise StrongCore Merino Crew Socks

Western Rise’s merino crew socks focus on odor-resistant properties and are designed to last through lots of adventures with their temperature-regulating properties.

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Best lightweight and ultra-lightweight merino wool travel socks

Lighter weight merino wool blend socks are designed for being versatile, folding up smaller in your pack and eliminating the bulk of heavier merino wool socks. See which picks of ours are right for your trip.

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Quince Merino Ankle Socks (12-Pack)

We both got the Quince Merino Ankle Socks (they’re unisex!) and give them 5 stars. They are ridiculously comfortable for everyday walks and travel days, with the arch support that hugs our feet, a mesh top panel and cushioned heel tabs.

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Ibex Unisex Light Cushion Performance 1/4 Socks

I like Ibex products, and these lightweight all-season socks have arch support mesh, venting knit and a reinforced heel.

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Icebreaker Women's Merino Multi-Sport Light Mini Socks

The women’s light mini socks from Icebreaker combine versatile properties of durability, odor-resistance and stability support for a premium fit.

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Women's Run Zero Cushion Ankle Socks (Merino wool)

I appreciate the soft comfort and Indestructawool™ technology of these zero-cushion merino socks that also come in Men’s. They have Smartwool’s “Shred Shield™ technology” that reduces wear from the toes, and I can feel the durability!

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KUHL Unisex Ultralight Quarter Sock

With sizing geared toward both men and women, these ultra-soft and breathable socks have a no-slip fit and are best for warm weather travel.

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Athletic travel socks

Athletic travel socks are for when you plan to be doing something like running or going to the hotel gym, really any of the ways to work out when you travel. These socks have different properties from hiking or trekking socks, yet they also might not be the ones you’d wear out to dinner. Let’s see how they size up.

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Swiftwick Aspire Seven Classic Crew Socks

My top running socks are actually cycling socks from Swiftwick. They’re breathable with firm support, and with their thin profile, they fold up very small in my luggage.

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lululemon Women's MacroPillow Tab Running Medium Cushioning Socks

lululemon is one of our favorite brands, and these running socks have a breathable mesh construction with a shaping fit.

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Quince Performance Running Quarter Socks (4-Pack, Unisex)

When I put these socks on, I said, “OMG, the cushion!” The performance footbed in these athletic socks has springwave arch support and really feels like all-day comfort for traveling.

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Athleta Women’s Performance Crew Sock

Athleta’s performance socks for women are a cotton-nylon-spandex blend that have supportive compression at the arch.

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Nike Men’s Everyday Cushioned Training No-Show Socks

These easy-to-wear men’s socks from Nike are ideal for some gym time while on a trip. Their features include a supportive arch band and breathability.

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Best travel compression socks

We’ve found one clear winner in the compression sock stack-up: Comrad is a brand that specializes in compression socks and is well-known for engineering them.

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Comrad Knee-High Compression Socks

These tall compression socks increase circulation, improve comfort for feet and legs, reduce swelling and also prevent fatigue. They come in quite a few colors, as well as “Wide” sizing.

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Lifestyle and walking socks for travel

Walking socks are the type of socks that Becca mostly travels with. She’ll pack 3-5 pairs, all that are no-show ankle socks with arch compression. Everyone’s got their favorites! What’s yours?

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Nike Women’s Everyday Plus Cushioned Footie Socks

These no-show footie socks for everyday wear are perfect under my daytime sneakers for sightseeing in cities around the world!

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Vessi Mid Crew Socks

Coming from our favorite waterproof shoe brand, Vessi’s latest socks for travel are made of breathable cotton and engineered for simple comfort. They run true to size.

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REI Co-op COOLMAX EcoMade Lightweight Flash Quarter Socks

Wicking away moisture with a sustainable material blend, REI’s COOLMAX socks have seamless toe construction, targeted cushion and blister prevention.

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Tentree Sport Hemp Ankle Socks (2-Pack)

Tentree makes these planet-friendly hemp-blended socks and the company plants ten trees for every pair sold. The sizing runs unisex for all travelers.

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How did we pick these best travel socks?

A few factors went into choosing this varied list of the best socks for travelers this year.

Sock material

We picked quite a few socks made of merino wool, because it’s a forgiving and stretchy material that is durable. You’ll see lots of merino wool products in our lists of the best travel shirts for women, our merino wool Aviator travel sweatshirts, apparel in our travel gift guide and the best travel pants for women.

Sock qualities

We chose socks that are quick-drying because you may want to wash them while you travel. And, if you don’t have access to a dryer, you don’t want to be without dry socks. If your socks get wet in the rain, you’d want them to dry quickly while you’re on vacation.

Some socks have compression, which helps blood flow and decreases swelling. We include them as one of the best accessories for long flights. For fitness, they can keep your legs feeling fresh during exercise, with support for muscles and joints, as well as the improved blood flow ability.

A few socks in this list have cushion, which can aid in avoiding blisters. This is helpful if your shoes for your trip are a bit newer and haven’t gotten much action yet. Cushioning can help you prevent runner’s toe, or even walking blisters, and can help keep your feet comfortable in stiff shoes, too.

Activity type

Travel socks can be for any of the following activities that you may do while you’re on a trip: hiking, running, walking (durable for both hiking and walking), flying or for multiple purposes, to hit a combination of a few categories.

Walking and running

Most of my cheap socks at home (the kind where it’s $10 for 6 pairs at any big box store) have started forming holes from all of the walking and running that I do. These socks are typically not great quality, and won’t last for years at all. The pair of high-quality running socks that I use have held up really well and I haven’t needed to replace them in more than six years.

Hiking

For hiking, socks tend to be good at wicking moisture and keeping your feet dry when they are in hiking boots for a long period of time. Hiking socks may be thicker, for cold weather hikes, but beware: make sure you don’t buy heavyweight hiking socks for hot summer trekking!

Weather

For packing socks, it’s important to know about the climate that you’re traveling in. For warm weather, think thin and breathable socks that won’t overheat your feet. For cold climates, you want to keep your feet warm, so think thicker wool socks that are optimized for warmth can do the trick.

For wet climates, you will want to balance warmth with quick-drying abilities. This is so you don’t have to wear wet socks the next day. Some thick socks might take forever to dry, but will keep you feet warm. You may want to consider waterproof shoes (check out our Vessi waterproof shoe review) to help keep your socks dry.

Type of travel

One-bag travel

For minimalist travel, or carry-on-only travel (like we did with Remote Year), you likely only want a few pairs of socks, to help save space. Wear your most versatile pair, and pack the rest. We’ve sometimes taken only three pairs of socks for a week-long or two-week trip.

Having one type of sock for each type of activity makes sense. For me, I only pack one pair of hiking socks and another pair of a general high-quality durable sock for a trip where there’s regular walking and hiking involved.

With one-bag capsule travel, you probably don’t want to pack more than three pairs of socks, because the space matters! You want to nit-pick everything that goes into your travel bag and packing cube. Here are some tips for minimalist packing.

Backpacker travel

When backpacking, you may be without a washing machine for a few weeks if you’re trekking or staying in hostels! So, expect some sink washing. You’ll want your socks to be quick-drying so that you don’t need to carry around wet socks in your pack of other backpacker accessories.

You may only want a handful of pairs of socks, because anything over six pairs starts to eat away space from other things you want to pack, like a travel pillow or yoga mat.

“Checked bag” travel

As we have gotten older, we’ll consider checking luggage when we fly. When packing a suitcase and having more space, you can bring any pair of high-quality socks that optimize comfort. You’ll have the space to space and added weight of a pair for each day, or every other day. If you’re traveling for 10 days, you can pack 8-10 pairs, ranging from dress socks to basic lifestyle socks.

About this list of the best travel socks

The socks in this list have a few brilliant properties for travel: quick-drying, high quality, durability and warmth (for cold weather socks).

Every trip is different. I’ve taken trips that have weather from tropical to near-freezing, and trips that had lots of physical activities to barely any. My typical travel includes walking in cities, hiking in nature and some nights of going to restaurants or events (like traveling across the country for a wedding). There’s no one-size-fits-all travel sock (although some get close).

In this list, I’ll be discussing what the travel socks are made of (fabric composition), intended weather type for wearing them, socks that save space when you’re packing and socks that can be worn multiple times.

On the flip side, there are also going to be socks that don’t save space at all, which are OK if you’re checking a bag for your flight. Read on to see all the things to learn about great travel socks.

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