10 Best Coolmax Socks Reviewed & Compared

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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 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.

Moisture is the number one cause of blisters when it comes to hiking and running as it increases friction as your feet move around in your shoe. Moisture-wicking fibers such as Coolmax help to combat this issue and keep feet dry and blister-free. Coolmax is also lightweight, highly durable and feels soft on skin making it an ideal component for hiking and running socks. Coolmax fibers are featured in a range of socks from hiking liners to standalone running socks. We put together the following list of the top ten most effective and comfortable options for both hiking and running.

Darn Tough Vermont Crew
  • Darn Tough Vermont Crew
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Durable Design
  • Price: See Here
Injinji Run 2.0 Lightweight No Show
  • Injinji Run 2.0 Lightweight No Show
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Reduces Toe Blisters
  • Price: See Here
New Balance Technical Elite Quarter
  • New Balance Technical Elite Quarter
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Comfortable Cushioning
  • Price: See Here

 

10 Best Coolmax Socks

 

1. Darn Tough Vermont Crew

These cushioned crew socks are ideal for hiking or trail running. The combination of a padded footbed and moisture-wicking coolmax fabric means they can be comfortable on their own and do not require an additional liner. The fitted, seamless design provides maximum comfort that will not bunch or cause blisters. These socks are lightweight and ideal for hot weather hiking. They do not add much warmth for winter sports.
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Construction:
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.

Warmth:
These lightweight socks are ideal for hot-weather hiking as they do not add much warmth to your feet.

Performance:
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.

Style:
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.

Value:
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.
Pros

Standalone hiking socks

No liners required

Durable design

Cushioned footbed

Smooth and seamless

No bunching or blisters

Effectively wicks moisture

Ideal for hot-weather hiking

Cons

Pricey

Not very warm

2. Injinji Run 2.0 Lightweight No Show

The Injiniji 2.0 toe socks offer lightweight, moisture wicking comfort for runners. The unique design helps to reduce friction and prevent blisters from developing between toes. Anatomical right-left design and compressive fit provides comfortable support and good flexibility during your run. Some runners do find these a bit too thin and feel they lack cushioning in the footbed.
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Construction:
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.

Warmth:
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.

Performance:
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.

Style:
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.

Value:
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.
Pros

Toe sock design reduces toe blisters

Thin, breathable material

55% Coolmax wicks moisture

Arch compression

Anatomical fit

Cons

No underfoot cushioning

Too thin for some

3. New Balance Technical Elite Quarter

The Technical Elite Quarter sock from New Balance has 70% Coolmax fibers to effectively wick moisture while maintaining a plush and well-cushioned comfort. The anatomical right-left design and deep heel pocket cradles the foot and provides secure support. These socks are more comfortable than the ultra thin liners but may also be a little warmer on feet that are prone to overheating.
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Construction:
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.

Warmth:
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.

Performance:
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.

Style:
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.

Value:
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.
Pros

Comfortable cushioning

70% Coolmax

Effective moisture wicking

Anatomical design

Arch support

Durable

Cons

Thicker material may be a bit warm

4. Wigwam Liner

These Coolmax liners from Wigwam are an easy addition to any hiking sock. They are lightweight and add little bulk but effectively wick moisture away from feet to avoid blisters. These socks dry quickly and retain their shape well so they are the perfect companion for a multi-day backpacking trip.
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Construction:
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.

Warmth:
These sock liners are a bit thinner than your standard athletic socks. They do not retain much heat and they wick moisture away effectively.

Performance:
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.

Style:
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.

Value:
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.
Pros

Durable

Retain shape well for multiple wears

Wick moisture

Reduce blisters

Smooth design

Cons

Cannot be machine dried

5. Injinji Run Lightweight No Show Xtra

The toe sock design may look a bit odd but the toe separation and moisture wicking properties drastically reduce friction and hot spots between the toes. Many runners swear by these fun-looking socks for long runs. The female-specific fit provides nice arch compression for most but some women find it a bit too narrow and constricting.
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Construction:
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.

Warmth:
These lightweight socks do not add warmth to your running shoe. The combination of nylon and Coolmax fibers keeps feet dry and cool.

Performance:
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.

Style:
These unique looking toe socks from Injinjii are designed with fun and vibrant colors and patterns to celebrate the weird style.

Value:
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.
Pros

Toe sock design reduces toe blisters

Good stretch

Arch compression

Lightweight

Available in fun patterns

Moisture-wicking

Cons

Fit is not for everyone

6. Darn Tough Vertex No Show Tab

These ultralight running socks from Darn Tough offer effective moisture wicking properties and a comfortable, streamlined fit. The Vertex No Show keeps feet cool and dry while hiking or running and the ankle tab prevents socks from slipping. On the downside, these socks are a bit pricey and do not offer much in the way of cushioning.
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Construction:
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.

Warmth:
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.

Performance:
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.

Style:
These no show running socks are available in white or 3 bold colors.

Value:
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.
Pros

Effective moisture wicking

Good fit

No bunching or blisters

No show design

Ankle tab keeps socks in place

Durable

Ultra lightweight

Cons

Expensive

No cushioning

7. Fox River Liner

Made mostly from CoolMax fibers, these hiking liners are very effective at moving moisture away from your feet. They are made of thin material that, when sized properly, are just tight enough to stay in place but never feel constricting.
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Construction:
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.

Warmth:
These ultra thin liners are very breathable and do not add much warmth or weight to your feet.

Performance:
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.

Style:
These plain white liners do not have much style to them as they are intended to be worn under other hiking socks.

Value:
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.
Pros

Great hiking liners

Moisture wicking

Thin, breathable material

Dry Quickly

Cons

Cannot be worn on their own

Don’t have much shape of their own

8. Thirty-48 Running

This is a great moisture-wicking running sock for those seeking a bit more cushioning and a bit less compression. Added padding around some high-friction areas helps reduce the chance of blisters. There is a slight hugging compression around the arch and heel but it does not provide a significant squeeze. Most runners find these to be a good comfortable option but they do not replace high-performance running socks.
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Construction:
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.

Warmth:
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.

Performance:
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.

Style:
These no-show running socks are availble in neutral gray and white with bright accent colors.

Value:
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.
Pros

Available in multiple colors and value packs

Good cushioning

Wicks away moisture

Ankle tab keeps socks in place

Comfortble fit

Some arch support

Avaialble in value packs

Cons

Expensive

Could be more supportive

9. Darn Tough Full Cushion Boot

These Darn Tough socks offer comfortable cushioning and durable design without sacrificing their moisture-wicking properties. These thick socks keep feet dry, warm and blister-free. Some users prefer to wear them with liners but most find that the high percentage of Coolmax fibers wicks moisture well enough to be worn on their own.
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Construction:
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.

Warmth:
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.

Performance:
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.

Style:
These mid calf boot socks are available in a few brightly colored options that will peak out over the tops of boots.

Value:
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.
Pros

69% Coolmax fibers

Highly Durable

Cushioning throughout

Moisture wicking

Comfortable fit

No bunching or blisters

Good warmth

Cons

Expensive

May be too warm for hot weather hiking

Heavier weight

10. PEDS Anklet

These PEDS Women’s socks are an affordable option that is easy to stock up on for running or hiking. The thin material and Coolmax fibers wick moisture away from feet to keep them cool and dry. Some contoured elastic panels provide support around the arch and throughout the foot to put these socks just above plaine liners. Some users wish they had more cushioning but for a basic anklet they are a great value.
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Construction:
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.

Warmth:
The thin material of these socks is very breathable and the Coolmax fibers do their duty in removing moisture from the feet.

Performance:
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.

Style:
Available in value packs of neutral gray and white, these socks are good basics to fill your sock drawer.

Value:
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.
Pros

Arch support

Moisture wicking

Thin, breathable material

Fewer blisters

Inexpensive

Available in value packs

Cons

No underfoot cushioning

 

Metrics

The addition of Coolmax fibers to any socks helps them effectively wick moisture. To definitively rank the best socks featuring Coolmax we broke it down in the following categories.

Construction

Coolmax socks can serve a variety of different functions and the construction should reflect that. Features such as smooth seams and 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 may enhance performance.

Fibers

Each sock features a varying percentage of Coolmax fibers as well as a few other key fibers. 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 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.

Warmth

The activity and weather you will be wearing your socks will dictate if you want socks that will add warmth to your feet or just let them breathe. We made sure to consider the warmth of each sock to make sure it is appropriate for the activity and to help you make a more informed decision.

Performance

All the design elements and high-tech fabric blends are worthless if they do not perform well in practice. User reviews were taken into account for each sock to ensure they were effectively achieving the goals set out by their design.

Style

Fashion is not the biggest factor when picking out moisture-wicking socks but it never hurts to have garments you love wearing.

Value

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

Footwear

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.

Activity

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.

FAQs

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. That being said, cotton as a component of the fabric can add softness without taking away from the moisture-wicking properties.

Sources

  1. Simpson, Rob, What is CoolMax?, Web Article, Jun 07, 2017
  2. REI, How to Choose Socks, Web Article,
  3. CoolMax, CoolMax Technologies, Web Page,
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