From careless motorists to pro-level doping, there are plenty of topics guaranteed to get any red-blooded cyclist riled up. But if you really want to spark a debate, just mention socks. No, really.
Socks have long been the subject of heated discussion in the cycling world, mostly because nobody can agree on what length they should be.
These seemingly innocuous garments have caused countless arguments and have even been strung up in front of the UCI (the governing body of international pro cycling), which made certain socks “illegal” in 2019.
Thankfully, most of us don’t have to worry too much about adhering to the regulations, but having a good selection of cycling socks can help you to stay cool in the summer, warm in the winter and remain comfortable during longer stints in the saddle.
With that in mind, we went in search of the best cycling socks on the market and put them to the test.
Each pair had to be comfortable, look good and perform well in varied conditions. These are the best we found.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Rapha merino socks
Rapha calls these socks “the finest cycling-specific socks in the world”. Full disclosure: we haven’t tried every single cycling sock on the face of the planet, but in terms of the ones we have, we’d be inclined to agree with them.
Available in a muted colour palette with a subtle stripe detail, these socks offer a degree of versatility not commonly found in cycling-specific garments. The merino fibres keep your feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter, plus it’s naturally antibacterial, which is always a bonus in warmer weather. As with all Rapha gear, they look great too, whether you’re cranking out big watts on a race day or just rolling to the shops in your casual clobber.
Buy now £15.00, Rapha
Pas Normal Studios logo socks
Known for fusing a fashion-forward, minimalist aesthetic with premium quality and high performance, Denmark’s Pas Normal Studios has become the go-to label for clued-up, style-savvy cyclists around the globe. These socks are a prime example of what the brand is all about – their simple styling belies an abundance of technical details.
What you can’t see from the picture is the silver microparticles that halt the growth of bacteria and keep everything clean and fresh. Not to mention the clever compressive construction that holds the foot secure. For something that looks so simple, a lot is going on under the bonnet, which is exactly why we liked them so much. Plus, if you stock up on two or more pairs you can get a 20 per cent discount. Nice.
Buy now £15.00, Pas Normal Studios
Albion cycling socks
We’ve got a soft spot for homegrown brands – particularly those that put minimising their impact on the planet at the top of the agenda. Albion is one such label, and as an added bonus for British cyclists, all of its kit is designed with the unpredictable UK weather in mind.
These socks are a great choice for the warmer months. They have a mesh upper for enhanced breathability, a technical nylon yarn that wicks moisture away from the skin and, to top it all off, they’re made in Italy, as all top-tier cycling clobber tends to be.
Buy now £15.00, Albion
Dhb aeron winter-weight merino socks
Frozen toes are one of the main reasons many cyclists decide to throw in the towel during the winter months. But as they say, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes. These winterproof merino socks from Wiggle’s in-house brand Dhb illustrate that point perfectly.
With a padded footbed, lengthy cuff and reinforced heel and toe, they’re great for sealing out the worst of the weather. They’re merino too, which means they’re capable of retaining heat even when wet and, paired with a good winter cycling shoe, they’ll ensure you never have to cut a winter ride short again.
Buy now £15.00, Wiggle
Sealskinz waterproof cold-weather socks
We know what you’re thinking: £42?! For a pair of socks?! Yes, but these aren’t just any old socks. These are your ticket to warm, dry feet on winter rides, and it’s hard to put a price on that.
Unlike your run-of-the-mill cycling socks, these are 100 per cent waterproof. They use a pioneering hydrophilic membrane that blocks water from coming in, but also allows moisture to escape, resulting in dry feet even in the wettest of conditions. We did notice some minor rubbing on longer rides, but for anything under 80 miles we can’t fault them.
Buy now £42.50, Sealskinz
Castelli rosso corsa 9 socks
These lightweight summer socks, from one of the biggest names in cycling kit, feature a classic 9cm cuff, which will keep the sock-length traditionalists happy. They use a mesh construction around the foot, which, along with a mid-foot support strap, provides a snug fit and all-day comfort. Above all else, they’re the sort of socks you’ll forget you have on. Plus, if you act fast you can get them for a bargain price.
Buy now £12.75, Wiggle
Pongo tempo summer cycling socks
As a cyclist, your socks are one of the simplest and most affordable ways to show a bit of personality. That’s why we like Pongo’s offering so much. There are all sorts of wild patterns and colours to choose from, and these contrasting stripes were our favourite.
It’s not all about the looks though – plenty is going on tech-wise. The mesh panelling and mid-foot support strap provide superior comfort, while the yarn is anti-twist to stop the socks creeping around your leg during a ride. And again, they’re made in Italy, which always inspires confidence where cycling apparel is concerned.
Buy now £17.00, Pongo
Attaquer skull-logo cycling socks
These high-performance cycling socks from Attaquer offer everything you’d expect from a premium cycling pair. They’re contoured to the shape of the foot, super breathable, and even have silver yarn woven into the footbed to eliminate bacteria and stop odour in its tracks. But let’s face it, the real reason they’re here is that there’s a skull on the back to let everyone know that, despite the skimpy lycra shorts and a funny little hat, you are, in fact, a badass.
Buy now £18.95, Attaquer
The verdict: Cycling socks
Rapha’s merino cycling socks are great all-rounders. They’ll keep you comfortable on your rides all year round and they’re versatile enough to use off the bike if you feel like it.
For something more robust, we’d recommend Sealskinz for total bad-weather protection.
If you’re looking for a new cycle, read our review of the best folding bikes