Best Coolmax Socks Reviewed & Compared
Coolmax is a name you may see often when it comes to activewear, but most people don’t know what it is or what makes it special. Much like Nike’s Dri-Fit fabric, Coolmax is a proprietary blend of fibers designed to wick moisture away from the skin. It was created by the company Dupont Fabric, now known as Invista, in 1986. The trademarked name can be spotted in a wide variety of well-known activewear and outdoor brands such as Buff, New Balance or Fox River.
Unlike most fibers, these synthetic polyester fibers are slightly oblong rather than round. Small ridges that run along the side of each fiber form channels when the fibers are placed side by side. These channels allow moisture to be drawn away from the skin through capillary action. Once it reaches the surface of the fabric it can more easily evaporate, keeping you cool and dry through your workout.
Below we’ve included the criteria we used to make our list, so you can get a look at what we think are the most important benefits for runners to get out of a pair of Coolmax socks.
- Darn Tough Vermont Crew
- Durable Design
- Injinji Run 2.0 Lightweight No Show
- Reduces Toe Blisters
- New Balance Technical Elite Quarter
- Comfortable Cushioning
Best Coolmax Socks
1. Darn Tough Vermont Crew
Fine gauge knitting of 37% Nylon, 34% Coolmax Polyester, 26% Acrylic, 2% Lycra Spandex and 1% Other fiber gives these socks a soft, “barely-there” feel.” Seamless design provides a smooth surface for the whole foot and does not create any hot spots for blisters. Some cushioning through the footbed adds comfort making these suitable for standalone hiking socks.
These lightweight socks are ideal for hot-weather hiking as they do not add much warmth to your feet.
The streamlined design stays snug to the feet with no excess fabric to cause bunching during a hike. Users report great moisture-wicking performance and no blisters after miles of hiking. A few users do choose to wear liners under these socks but most find that the moisture wicking properties are sufficient to avoid necessitating liners.
These classic-looking hiking socks are available in gray and olive colors that will hide dirt and stains from the trail nicely. A small red or orange mountain decal on the ankle will stand out over hiking boots.
At around 20 dollars a pair, these socks are certainly not cheap. However, Darn Tough’s durable fabrication and that these socks do not require liners may make the price more justifiable in the long run.
Standalone hiking socks
No liners required
Smooth and seamless
No bunching or blisters
Effectively wicks moisture
Ideal for hot-weather hiking
Not very warm
2. Injinji Run 2.0 Lightweight No Show
55% of the fabric blend is Coolmax polyester with an additional 40% nylon and 5% lycra. The 5% lycra provides an added stretch and compressive support through the arch. The no show design with the ankle tab fits into most running shoes perfectly and stays in place during your run.
These ultra thin socks add very little warmth with ventilated upper panels to enhance breathability. With over half of their composition being Coolmax, they wick moisture away very effectively to keep feet cool and dry.
These socks deliver on all their promises. Users find they wick moisture very effectively and the thin fabric and mesh panels make for a very breathable design. Runners who are new to the toe sock design seem to be instantly converted and stock up on multiple pairs to reduce blisters.
The toe sock design is certainly unconventional. Injijinji offers options in bold colors or soft neutrals to more or less attention to the odd-looking separated toe design.
These socks typically range between 10 and 15 dollars per pair. This price range is pretty standard for good running socks and many people choose to invest in a value pack.
Toe sock design reduces toe blisters
Thin, breathable material
55% Coolmax wicks moisture
No underfoot cushioning
Too thin for some
3. New Balance Technical Elite Quarter
With 70% Coolmax Polyester, 17% Polyester, 11% Nylon and 2% Lycra Spandex these socks do their job in wicking moisture away from skin. A deep Y seam in the heel cradles the foot while the anatomical right-left design and arch support provides contoured comfort. The quarter cut rises well above the ankle and is visible in most running shoes.
These socks do wick moisture very well but some users do find the material a bit too thick and warm for feet prone to overheating.
These socks offer immediate comfort, ample padding and effective moisture wicking for most users. The anatomical design and deep heel pocket makes the foot feel secure and supported without sacrificing anything in flexibility.
Understated white and gray options do not draw much attention to your feet. The quarter ankle cut is visible over most gym shoes and features a light New Balance logo.
These socks vary in price but can typically be found for around 15 dollars. Users find they hold up surprisingly well to frequent machine washing and the reinforced toe and heel enhances their durability.
Effective moisture wicking
Thicker material may be a bit warm
4. Wigwam Liner
These liners are made of a blend of 60% Coolmax® polyester, 35% stretch nylon, and 5% spandex. The design is simplistic with no added cushioning or compression. The smooth construction fits seamlessly under other hiking socks to keep feet dry and blister-free.
These sock liners are a bit thinner than your standard athletic socks. They do not retain much heat and they wick moisture away effectively.
These solid liners perform reliably under hiking socks. They wick sweat away from feet without adding any bulk to your footwear. Users find they do get less blisters when using these liners. They are slightly thicker than your standard liner and can be worn comfortably on their own for casual wear. The higher percentage of spandex in these socks help them retain their shape so they can be worn multiple times on one backpacking trip.
These hiking liners are intended to be worn under other socks and have no design elements of their own. The plain white sock is classic but may pick up stains from dirt and sweat.
These socks may range in price but are typically around 10 dollars. They are very durable and users find they resist tears and hold their shape for years. Unfortunately, Wigwam recommends air drying these socks which is not ideal for some.
Retain shape well for multiple wears
Cannot be machine dried
5. Injinji Run Lightweight No Show Xtra
With a fabric blend consisting of 63% Nylon, 32% Coolmax, and 5% Lycra these socks wick moisture well and have a nice stretch. Injinji designed these socks with a two-way stretch that is designed to conform comfortably to a woman’s foot. The narrower silhouette and two-way stretch provides some compression and support around the arch to allow for natural movement. The 5-toe design also keeps toes from rubbing, eliminating hot spots.
These lightweight socks do not add warmth to your running shoe. The combination of nylon and Coolmax fibers keeps feet dry and cool.
These toe socks seem to be the perfect solution for runners who are plagued by blisters between their toes. The moisture-wicking properties and toe separation keeps feet dry and reduces friction and hotspots. Some women do find the narrow design to be a bit too constricting and prefer the fit of the men’s design.
These unique looking toe socks from Injinjii are designed with fun and vibrant colors and patterns to celebrate the weird style.
These socks range widely in price based on style. Beginning at around 12 dollars a pair, they are not cheap but the unique toe sock design and fun patterns may make these your favorite socks.
Toe sock design reduces toe blisters
Available in fun patterns
Fit is not for everyone
6. Darn Tough Vertex No Show Tab
These socks are fabricated from 42% Coolmax® Polyester, 52% Nylon, and 6% Lycra® Spandex. Darn tough uses True Seamless technology to fuse seams so they are undetectable and feel smooth throughout. The performance fit stretches over the foot leaving no excess fabric for slipping or bunching. The no-show silhouette and ankle tab keep socks in place in any running shoe.
These ultra-lightweight socks weigh in at just 13 grams and are designed for warm weather running. The moisture-wicking technology and mesh paneling keep feet cool when the temperature is high.
Runners and hikers love these socks and find they are comfortable and wick away moisture effectively. Diverging from the typical one-size-fits-all design these socks are available in a few different sizes allowing for a more streamlined and customized fit.
These no show running socks are available in white or 3 bold colors.
Every runner knows that having a good-fitting pair of moisture-wicking socks is essential for long runs. At just over 15 dollars a sock, these lightweight, high-performance socks could be just that. Despite the ultra lightweight, these socks are highly durable and will resist holes and tears.
Effective moisture wicking
No bunching or blisters
No show design
Ankle tab keeps socks in place
7. Fox River Liner
With 93% CoolMax® polyester and just 6% nylon and 1% spandex, these socks from Fox River have the most CoolMax content by far. They rise to the mid calf and have a comfort ribbed cuff to keep them in place under your hiking socks.
These ultra thin liners are very breathable and do not add much warmth or weight to your feet.
These liners perform really well on backpacking trips. Users report taking one pair for a few day trip and find they dry quickly and prevent blisters effectively. They are easy to pull on and are tight enough to stay in place without being too constrictive.
These plain white liners do not have much style to them as they are intended to be worn under other hiking socks.
These liners run just under 10 dollars. They are a good value for a reliable hiking liner to help you prevent blisters and keep feet dry on strenuous hikes.
Great hiking liners
Thin, breathable material
Cannot be worn on their own
Don’t have much shape of their own
8. Thirty-48 Running
These socks are constructed with a blend of 33% Coolmax, 27% Cotton, 30% Nylon, 8% Polyester and 2% Lycra. They have a low cut with a cushioned cuff with a heel tab for a comfortable fit that will not slip off with any running shoe. Added padding on friction-prone areas such as the metatarsal, achilles and heel provide added blister protection, durability and comfort.
Thirty-48’s CatalystAF design enhances airflow within the fabric to make these socks feel more breathable. Coolmax fabric wicks moisture away to keep feet feeling cool and dry.
These socks are great when it comes to padding and breathability. They keep feet feeling fresh and provide additional protection for high-impact areas. There is some support from the elastic panels but some runners wish that the compression was a bit more significant.
These no-show running socks are availble in neutral gray and white with bright accent colors.
Price on these socks ranges but is around 15 dollars a pair. While this is pretty standard for specialized running socks, some runners do wish there was just a bit more support.
Available in multiple colors and value packs
Wicks away moisture
Ankle tab keeps socks in place
Some arch support
Avaialble in value packs
Could be more supportive
9. Darn Tough Full Cushion Boot
With 69% Coolmax® Polyester as well as 28% Nylon and 3% Lycra® Spandex, these socks offer superior moisture-wicking performance. The full cushioned design places high density cushioning throughout the entire sock for comfort throughout. This hiking sock hits at the mid calf and works well with most hiking boots.
The cushioning throughout provides solid warmth for these boot socks. They are not quite as warm as wool but the moisture-wicking properties of the Coolmax fibers keeps feet dry and comfortable.
These thick and durable socks are great for hiking and workwear. The Coolmax fibers negate the need for liners although some users still prefer to add that extra layer. Users report socks stay in place well during hikes and do not seem to slip, bunch or cause blisters.
These mid calf boot socks are available in a few brightly colored options that will peak out over the tops of boots.
These socks range in price but are typically between 18 and 24 dollars. The price is a bit steep for one pair of socks but users find they are highly durable and are reassured by the lifetime warranty provided by Darn Tough.
69% Coolmax fibers
No bunching or blisters
May be too warm for hot weather hiking
10. PEDS Anklet
These socks are made from a fabric blend of 37% Coolmax Polyester, 29% Polyester, 28% Cotton, 3% Nylon, and 3% Lycra Spandex. Panels of elastic fibers allow for a contoured fit and arch support.
The thin material of these socks is very breathable and the Coolmax fibers do their duty in removing moisture from the feet.
Users find these socks perform well as liners or minimalist running socks. They do not have much cushioning through the footbed but the elastic panels provide comfortable support for activity. They fit snugly and rise up just above the ankle to prevent slipping or bunching.
Available in value packs of neutral gray and white, these socks are good basics to fill your sock drawer.
These socks are available in value packs so you can stock up on 6 pairs for the same price of one higher end pair. They are not as highly specialized as some of the more expensive pairs but are a great affordable option if you need a few pairs.
Thin, breathable material
Available in value packs
No underfoot cushioning
Bridgedale Ultralight Coolmax Liner Socks
The Coolmax make-up of these liner socks sits at just a little over half with a touch of LYCRA at 57% and 4% respectively. Nylon makes up 20% of the construction, and Endurofil fills out the remaining 19%. The Endurofil is an impressive, high-quality thermal yarn combination of Morino wool and Enduro-wool which is ultra durable and will stand up to wear and tear as well as frequent washing.
By themselves, these socks wouldn’t provide much insulation. They are ultra-thin and breathable, however, which makes them ideal for wearing under a hiking sock or for wearing on their own in warmer weather. They are definitely a multi-use liner.
These sock liners will hold up when used as is with reinforced heels and toes and a soft, super light construction. Even in the wettest conditions, you can be sure that these will wick moisture and keep your feet from blistering.
The over the calf fit works for most boots and is comfortable without being bulky. The grey heathered color is accented well by black bridging on the ankles and across the toes, which is a little more exciting than solid black or white but simple enough for most occasions.
With so much versatility and a one-year guarantee, the price tag on these sock liners is totally justified. You’ll be getting plenty of great use out of these.
- One-year Guarantee
- Thin, lightweight and breathable
- Can be worn under other socks or by themselves
- Simple but attractive design
- High-quality and high-performance fabrics
- Great moisture wicking
- Over the calf fit may not be great for warmer weather
The Criteria We Used for the Best Coolmax Socks
To define the best Coolmax socks for our list we looked through thousands of verified customer reviews and studied each selection independently. Our criteria are based on the things we found most important from the perspective of runners and our individual impressions from our research. We like to share the information below to help you feel informed and confident about any buying decisions you make regarding Coolmax socks. We also hope that you’ll be able to use criteria like this to do your own research and make the best decision for you no matter what running gear you’re searching for.
Coolmax socks can serve a variety of different functions and the construction should reflect that. Features like smooth seams and a snug fit are essential for hiking liners. Whereas, arch support and cushioned soles are more important for running socks. We considered the key elements of each sock and how they should enhance your performance, no matter what you’re doing.
Each sock features a varying percentage of Coolmax fibers as well as a few other key fibers. The most common are:
Nylon: Nylon is another synthetic fiber that is strong and versatile. It adds durability and softness to any fabric. When finely woven, it can be thin and soft, making it ideal for lightweight hiking liners. It can also take on some elastic and bulky properties that make it better suited for cold weather socks or boot socks.
Cotton: Cotton may seem counterintuitive in Coolmax socks due to its tendency to absorb moisture. However, this plant-based fabric can add softness to socks and can help fight odor better than many synthetic fabrics.
Polyester: Although Coolmax fibers are polyester, some companies add standard polyester fibers to their garments as well. Polyester has plastic-like properties that help repel moisture and keep feet dry.
Spandex/Lycra: Usually making up a very small percentage of the sock, this important component should not be discounted. A little bit of spandex offers elasticity to garments helping them retain their shape and provide some compression and support for the foot.
Depending on when and where you’re wearing your socks, warmth may or may not be a good thing. We considered the warmth the socks on our list may provide as well as how that might affect how breathable they are or whether they’ll be suited for certain weather or activities. You may want to think about what kind of conditions you’ll be wearing your socks in most frequently and whether or not you’d benefit from socks that will keep you toasty.
All the design elements and high-tech fabric blends are worthless if they do not perform well in practice. We looked at real customer reviews to ensure each pair of socks were fulfilling their purpose and to see what most users had to say about how the sock in action.
Fashion is not the biggest factor when picking out moisture-wicking socks but it never hurts to have garments you love wearing. Here we took into consideration the different designs, colors, and patterns each sock had available and how aesthetically pleasing they are.
High-performance socks do tend to run a bit more expensive than your ordinary cotton variety bought in bulk. For regular athletes and outdoorsmen investing in your footwear is highly recommended. A good pair of socks can make the difference between comfortable feet and a painful, blister-filled hike. Fortunately, with a higher price comes improved durability. Investing in a few pairs of high-quality socks that can last for years of activity may actually save you money in the long run.
Other Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Coolmax Socks
Moisture-wicking socks can do a lot to keep feet dry and reduce blisters. However, even the best socks in the world cannot prevent damage due to ill-fitting shoes. If you are experiencing persistent blisters, your shoes may be the culprit. REI experts recommend trying on hiking boots and running shoes at the end of the day when feet are most swollen to ensure an accurate and comfortable fit.
A good pair of socks can be functional in a variety of situations. However, ignoring the intended purpose of your socks can lead to sore feet. For example, wearing thin hiking liners rather than padded hiking socks may be a bit harder on the bottoms of your feet. On the other hand, wearing thick boot socks for hot weather hiking will lead to overheating feet. Consider the activities and weather that you typically need high-performance socks for before deciding which will be best suited for your needs.
Q: When do I need hiking liners for under my hiking socks?
A: Hiking liners are worth considering for long backpacking trips as they dry quickly and can prevent your bulkier hiking socks from becoming saturated. Liners can also be very helpful when you need a bit of extra bulk to fill out your hiking boots.
Q: Are cotton socks bad for exercise?
A: Typically, 100% cotton socks are not recommended for activewear. Cotton tends to absorb moisture and become saturated, creating the perfect environment for forming blisters and multiplying bacteria. That being said, cotton as a component of the fabric can add softness without taking away from the moisture-wicking properties. The best material for socks is usually a blend of materials.
Q: Do I need a pair of socks for every kind of activity?
A: Diversifying your sock collection is not an incredibly exciting sounding past-time, but it may help you feel more comfortable when you are out there making the most of your time hiking and setting record speeds. That being said, you don’t have to have a different pair of socks for every hobby or pair of shoes you have. There are plenty of sock styles designed for very specific activities and it’s up to you to weigh whether or not you’ll need them. You shouldn’t necessarily wear a Darn Tough hiking sock on race day, but you could probably wear the same Injinji original socks to the office and on your cross-country run.