|Most of my running socks|
When I first started running, I bought a pack of Saucony socks from TJ Maxx. I figured since Saucony made running shoes (which are now my fave), they must be okay. While I didn't have any real issues with these socks, they did shrink a bit and I was getting blisters. Then I found out that you're not supposed to run in cotton socks. Who knew? I actually didn't know if these socks were cotton or not and had already thrown away the packaging. Since I had to do everything by the book, I was on a search for real running socks after learning the no cotton rule (turns out they were these, no cotton, but rubber?! weird).
|I don't know what model my first Balegas are but I still wear them and they have held up really well!|
That was just the beginning, I was now on a quest to find my perfect running sock. I thought a pair of Nike Elite socks were it for a while, but then they became itchy. I tried Asics Kayano, which are okay and actually a great choice if you're looking for a medium thickness running sock. I even tried those double layer anti-blister socks, which I hated cause I could feel the layers move when I ran in them. When I wore my Saucony Viratas a lot, I liked a thick sock like the Balega Hidden Comfort, now I only wear those around the house. I really liked Smartwool Lights for a while, then switched to their UltraLight. Yep, a thinner sock.
|Current fave: Balega Hidden Dry, though I wish they lasted longer|
All that to say it just went in a circle. I'm back to thin socks now, super thin like that first pair of Balegas. My current favorite sock is the Balega Hidden Dry (I don't think you can find a thinner sock) and has been for over a year now. Last year, I only had one pair of them and got a hole in them right before my first half-marathon. Of course when I went to buy a new pair at my LRS, they were out! So I bought a pair of Balega Ultra Lights instead, which the sales guy told me was the next step up (in thickness?) from the Hidden Dry. The Ultra Lights feel good and last longer but I got a nasty blister under the middle of the ball of my foot during my half-marathon and I can't help but blame the socks. I have worn them plenty of times since with no issues though so maybe it was a fluke.
So, my favorite running socks, in order:
Balega Hidden Dry - Super thin, keep my feet dry and comfy but get holes fairly quickly. The top of the big toe is the first place to go, so you get still get a lot of use out of them after that.
Balega Ultra Light - A little thicker and last longer than the Hidden Dry but with the trade off of not being as dry, though still very comfortable.
Smartwool UltraLight - Comparable in thickness to the Balega Ultra Light, maybe a touch thinner on top. Fabric isn't as smooth since it's wool. They do stay dry but they tend to shrink. I've started sizing up in these.
My current perspective on having real running socks? Try it! If you're having issues with blisters, foot sweat, or sock comfort, give real, non-cotton running socks a try. If you have no issues with your current sock choices, I don't really see a point in it, it's not like they're going to make you faster.
Now someone convince me why I need real cycling socks instead of just wearing my running socks (usually Smartwool Light) when I ride.