A quality ski sock gets the basics right: a close but not restricting fit, soft-touch materials that don’t itch, and enough cushioning to keep you on the slopes all day. Every sock that made our “best of” list for 2019-2020 accomplishes this and more. The current top dog in sock construction is merino wool. It’s not scratchy like wool socks of old—in fact it’s quite soft and comfortable—and repels odor extremely well. Modern ski socks also are thinner than in the past—boot liners have improved so that you no longer need an ultra-thick sock to be comfortable. You can expect to spend around $25 for merino down to $11 for a basic wool/stretch nylon blend. Below are our favorites for the ski season. For more background, see our ski sock comparison table and buying advice below the picks.
 

Best Overall Ski Sock

1. Darn Tough Over-The-Calf Padded Light ($25)

Darn Tough Padded Over-The-Calf Ultra-Light ski socksMaterials: 60% merino wool, 36% nylon, 4% lycra
Thickness: Light
What we like: The whole package: comfort, fit, and durability.
What we don’t: Not the softest on the market, but it’s not far off.

For us, in the sock world there is Darn Tough and everyone else. We made the switch a number of years ago and haven’t found anything that can match the quality or durability. Darn Tough socks are constructed mostly of merino wool, made in Vermont, and come with a lifetime warranty to back it up. Our top overall ski sock for the 2019-2020 season is the Darn Tough Over-The-Calf Padded Light, which is just about perfect for skiers of all ability levels and styles.

The merino/nylon combination of the Over-The-Calf Padded Light is reasonably soft to the touch yet tough, and the seamless design helps to avoid irritation against your foot from a long day on the mountain. More, the sock has padding in the most critical area, the shin, for added protection. In terms of warmth, the Over-the-Calf Padded Light insulates well enough for most conditions and slips easily into your boots, but those who want more warmth, padding, or volume should try Darn Tough's Over-the-Calf Padded Cushion or their high-end Function 5 Over-the-Calf Padded Cushion.
See the Darn Tough OTC Padded Light

 

A Close Second

2. Smartwool PhD Ski Light Elite ($26)

Smartwool PhD Ski Light Elite ski socksMaterials: 59% merino wool, 38% nylon, 3% elastane
Thickness: Light
What we like: Great fit and performance.
What we don’t: Can’t match Darn Tough’s warranty.

It wouldn’t be a proper sock test without Smartwool, and our favorite model for skiing is the PhD Ski Light Elite. Like many Smartwool products, this sock is comfortable, fits and performs extremely well, and looks good to boot. Within the PhD line, the snug fit over the top of your foot and under the instep and arch is unparalleled in support—even better than the Darn Tough above. And that intentional shape keeps the sock in place for anything from bombing laps downhill to ski touring.

Our biggest knock against Smartwool is durability: from our experience, they simply don’t hold up as well as Darn Tough. It’s worth noting that their Indestructawool technology—a dense wool blend added to high-wear areas like under the heel and toes—has given them a nice boost in longevity. But they still can’t match the lifetime guarantee of Darn Tough (Smartwool’s guarantee is two years). Priced nearly the same as the Padded Light above, that’s enough to drop the Smartwool Ski Light Elite to second on our list.
See the Men's Smartwool PhD Ski Light Elite  See the Women's PhD Ski Light Elite

 

Best Budget Ski Sock

3. Wigwam Snow Sirocco (from $11)

Wigwam Snow Sirocco ski socksMaterials: 42% wool, 24% stretch nylon, 21% polypropelene, 7% stretch polyester 5% olefin, 1% spandex
Thickness: Medium
What we like: Great cushioning and price.
What we don’t: Bulky and loses its shape over time.

If you’re struggling with the idea of spending $20 or more on a pair of ski socks, the good news is that there are deals out there to be had. Our favorite value option is the Wigwam Snow Sirocco, which is about half the price of the Darn Tough and Smartwool options above, yet still offers plenty of warmth and comfort for a typical day on the slopes. Keep in mind that the Sirocco is prone to losing its shape over time, but the mix of wool and nylon is cozy and soft, and the medium thickness cushioning can help fill out a pair of loose-fitting rental boots.

It’s important to note that the Wigwam Snow Sirocco is not ideal for performance-oriented skiers as the sock is a little thick and doesn’t hug your foot as well as the pricier models above. On the plus side, it offers similar levels of warmth and we’ve found it as cheap as $11 even in the heart of the winter buying season. That’s a downright bargain for weekenders who want a reliable pair of ski socks on a budget.
See the Wigwam Snow Sirocco

 

Best Compression Ski Sock

4. Dissent Ski GFX Compression Hybrid Protect ($55)

Dissent Ski GFX Compression Hybrid Protect SockMaterials: Synthetic blend
Thickness: Light
What we like: Excellent compression design for ski touring.
What we don’t: Very expensive.

Dissent Labs lacks the cachet of a Smartwool or Darn Tough, but they’ve developed a loyal following among the ski touring crowd. What stands out with their GFX Compression Hybrid Protect model is its complete feature set: you get compression for a snug, reliable fit, padding in strategic areas for comfort on the up and downhill, and a synthetic build that breathes well and dries quickly. All told, it’s a great option for discerning backcountry skiers that have had a tough time finding a well-fitting sock.

The biggest impediment by far with the GFX Compression Hybrid is price. At $55, it’s tied with the CEP Ski Ultralight below (also a compression sock) as the most expensive, non-heated option on our list by a good margin. And most resort and backcountry skiers will be just fine with a sock like the Darn Tough above that comes in at less than half the Dissent Lab’s price. The sheer expense is what hurts it in our rankings, but you can’t fault the GFX’s quality and performance.
See the Dissent Ski GFX Compression Hybrid

 

Best of the Rest

5. Icebreaker Ski+ Light OTC ($28)

Icebreaker Ski%2B Light OTC ski socksMaterials: 55% merino, 42% nylon, 3% lycra
Thickness: Light
What we like: Warm and comfortable.
What we don’t: Pills up over time.

New Zealand-based Icebreaker is one of the top manufacturers of merino wool outdoor apparel, and we particularly like their Ski+ Light. Combining a healthy dose of wool with the company’s deft ability to make merino feel silky smooth, and you have perhaps the comfiest ski sock available. The fit also is excellent and Icebreaker is the only one here that makes socks specifically for your left and right foot (although in our experience, the Smartwool above fits just as well). It’s worth noting that Icebreaker recently changed the recipe by reducing the amount of merino (from 70 to 55 percent) and upping the nylon in the Ski+ Light, which helps with durability and shape retention.

With light padding to protect the bottom of your foot and leg, these socks are warm and wick moisture extremely well. One downside is that they’re prone to pilling up after a few runs through the washer (try and avoid drying them if you can), although the recent boost in nylon should help. Given the similarity in price between these socks and the Darn Tough and Smartwool socks above, it’s a very close call and you can’t go wrong with any of these brands.
See the Men's Icebreaker Ski+ Light  See the Women's Icebreaker Ski+ Light

 

6. Fox River Arapahoe Lightweight OTC ($16)

Fox River Arapahoe Lightweight OTC ski socksMaterials: 46% nylon, 25% merino wool, 25% acrylic, 2% polyester, 2% spandex
Thickness: Light
What we like: Great price for merino wool.
What we don’t: Less merino means less warmth and comfort than our top picks.

Merino wool socks don’t come cheap, so it’s notable that the Fox River Arapahoe Lightweight OTC comes in at only $16. And while the Arapahoe uses a much smaller percentage of the high-end material (25 percent), you still get many of the good properties: superior comfort, temperature regulation, and less of a tendency to smell bad. The Arapahoe is Fox River’s lightweight model and hits a nice balance of cushioning and warmth (Fox River also makes an ultralight version for $15 per pair).

In saving the roughly $10 from our top picks, the Arapahoe Lightweight OTC does compromise in a few areas. Most importantly is fit: the cheaper construction won’t retain its shape as well over time, and the fit around the forefoot is prone to getting loose. Further, the lower concentration of merino does make the Arapahoe a little less warm and plush than what you get from the Darn Tough, Smartwool, or Icebreaker. But $10 is nothing to scoff at and the Arapahoe is our top budget merino pick.
See the Fox River Arapahoe Lightweight OTC

 

7. Eurosock Silver Ski Supreme OTC ($25)

Eurosocks Silver Supreme OTC Ski SocksMaterials: 70% Silver Drystat, 15% Microsupreme, 10% nylon, 5% lycra
Thickness: Light
What we like: The best synthetic sock available.
What we don’t: Slightly less comfy and smellier than a merino option.

One of the only synthetic models on our list, the Eurosock Silver Ski Supreme OTC offers a performance fit and good value. Made up primarily of Silver Drystat, these socks are designed to combat the biggest complaint of synthetic socks: stink retention. While a merino wool sock usually can last a couple days before needing a wash, most synthetics smell rather ripe by lunch. The Eurosocks do an admirable job in this department, falling just a little short of merino.

Although the Silver Supreme is listed at $25, we often see them online for less, so they undercut the competition in price while still delivering fit and performance that compares rather well to the options above. Editor's note: the supreme moniker here aligns with competitor’s lightweight options. If you require less cushioning and shin padding, we recommend the Eurosock Silver Ski Light.
See the Eurosock Silver Ski Supreme OTC

 

8. Farm to Feet Jackson ($20)

Farm to Feet Jackson ski socksMaterials: 47% PTFE-coated nylon, 45% nylon, 8% lycra
Thickness: Ultralight
What we like: Durable and a great fit.
What we don’t: Too thin for most skiers.

North Carolina-based Farm to Feet have quickly made a name for themselves with their 100% U.S.-sourced and manufactured socks. From their growing lineup, the Jackson is a standout with its ultralight but durable nylon construction and super snug fit. Further differentiating the design, nearly half of the sock has a PTFE coating—similar to what’s applied to non-stick pots and pans—which reduces friction and improves comfort. For uses like backcountry touring or downhill racing, the Jackson is a great choice.

Stacked up against the lightweight models at the top of our list, the ultralight Farm to Feet Jackson offers less protection and comfort for the majority of skiers. The lack of merino wool and thin construction also means it’s not a great option for frigid days on the slopes. But with a great fit and impressive durability—along with Farm to Feet’s excellent warranty—the Jackson sock earns a spot on our list. For a warmer and more cushioned sock from Farm to Feet, check out their Waitsfield model.
See the Farm to Feet Jackson

 

9. CEP Ski Ultralight ($55)

CEP Ski Ultralight ski sockMaterials: 87% nylon, 13% elastane
Thickness: Ultralight
What we like: A high-performance option from a company built around compression.
What we don’t: Only for those with finicky cold feet.

CEP is a compression-focused company that makes socks for activities like running, hiking, cycling, and more. From their ski lineup, we think the Ski Ultralight is a winner. Made exclusively with nylon and elastane for a very tight fit, these socks are for those that suffer from cold feet or want to get a leg up on muscle recovery. The high price tag is due to the graduated compression technology that gently squeezes muscles in the lower leg to promote blood flow for warmth and recovery. While not everyone will like the snugness, it nevertheless adds a boost in support for those who need it.
 
With no merino in the build, the CEP Ski Ultralight isn’t as soft as the wool-intensive builds above, plus you don’t get any of the odor-fighting abilities. And as is the case with most compression models, the CEP is around double the cost of our top picks. In the end, here’s our take: if you’re struggling with cold feet or just really prefer the secure fit, the CEP Ski Ultralight is a nice option and one of the most performance-focused picks on our list. Otherwise, we think it’s worth saving with one of the merino socks above.
See the Men's CEP Ski Ultralight  See the Women's CEP Ski Ultralight

 

10. Darn Tough Thermolite RFL Over-the-Calf Ultra-Light ($23)

Darn Tough Thermolite RFL Over the Calf ski sockMaterials: 55% nylon, 42% Thermolite polyester, 3% spandex
Thickness: Ultralight
What we like: More durable than merino.
What we don’t: Still nearly as expensive.

Many of the socks on the list are made with merino wool, and most of the time it’s the main actor. In this case, however, the Darn Tough Thermolite RFL is made with nylon and polyester for a low-profile, breathable, and lightweight ski sock. If your boots run small (we’re thinking of you, ski racers) or you just want minimal loft in your socks for high-output activities like sidecountry hikes or touring, the Thermolite RFL offers Darn Tough quality in an all-synthetic package.

There are a few downsides to bypassing merino. Synthetics build up stink more quickly, so you’ll want to wash these socks after every day on the slopes. Second, they don’t offer quite the same next-to-skin softness as merino, although Thermolite still is reasonably comfortable. Finally, you don’t get much in the way of cost savings here. With baselayers, for example, going with a synthetic can save you as much as 50 percent over merino, which makes them very attractive. Here, you’re only saving a couple bucks, but synthetics do tend to last much longer, which adds value in the long run. All in all, we like the Thermolite RFL and it also comes in a cushioned version, but we still give the nod to merino, and especially at a similar price point.
See the Men's Darn Tough Thermolite RFL  See the Women's Darn Tough Thermolite RFL

 

11. Stance Ski Merino Wool Socks ($28)

Stance Ski Merino Wool ski sockMaterials: 48% wool, 48% nylon, 4% elastane
Thickness: Light/medium
What we like: A well-made sock from one of our favorite underdogs. 
What we don’t: It’s hard to stand out in such a competitive field.

Stance might not have the name recognition of brands like Darn Tough or Smartwool, but their socks have been quick to win us over. After trying a pair for running, we came away very impressed by the fit and build quality and started incorporating more into our hiking repertoire. For winter, the Ski Merino Wool is yet another well-made sock: it’s available in fun patterns and designs, and strategically placed cushioning underfoot helps boost protection, durability, and comfort for long days on the slopes.

However, competing against the likes of Darn Tough and Smartwool, it’s simply hard to stand out. The Stance Ski Merino Wool contains a similar recipe including merino and nylon, although the additional $2-3 per pair is hard to justify given you’re getting less wool (the $25 Darn Tough OTC Padded Light, for example, contains 60 percent merino). But Stance is doing a good job at making a name for themselves, and we’ll continue putting their socks to the test in the meantime. For backcountry skiers or those who simply prefer less padding underfoot, Stance also makes the Ski Ultralight Merino Wool Socks ($26 per pair).
See the Men's Stance Ski Merino Wool  See the Women's Stance Ski Merino Wool

 

12. Burton Weekend Socks ($30 for 2-Pack)

Burton Weekend ski socksMaterials: 80% acrylic, 18% nylon, 2% spandex
Thickness: Medium
What we like: Excellent value and very warm.
What we don’t: Prone to bunching.

Originally intended for snowboarding, the Burton Weekend is a great crossover option for downhill skiing. To start, it’s a fantastic value—Burton typically sells these in a 2-pack, which means you can get all the socks you’ll need for the season for about $30 (or, only $7 more than one pair of the Darn Tough Thermolite above). More, these over-the-calf synthetic socks are the warmest to make our list with a midweight thickness throughout.

What you give up in using a thicker snowboard sock in a ski boot is a foot-hugging fit. The cushioning on the Weekend is great for comfort in a more accommodating snowboard boot, but is prone to bunching in the toes and heel of a snug ski boot. And if you have a performance-oriented, low-volume design, the sock can be restrictive, uncomfortable, and actually less warm than a thin sock that fits better. As the price would suggest, the Weekend’s are best for beginner skiers that may be wearing a roomier boot and will value the extra padding and warmth. Anyone above intermediate level should stick to the downhill-specific designs above.
See the Men's Burton Weekend Socks  See the Women's Burton Weekend

 

13. Darn Tough Lars Nordic Boot Light ($23)

Darn Tough Lars Nordic Boot Light ski socksMaterials: 53% merino wool, 43% nylon, 4% lycra
Thickness: Light
What we like: Purpose-built for cross-country skiing.
What we don’t: Too low for downhill.

Every other sock on the list is geared toward downhill or backcountry skiing, so we wanted to include at least one option for cross-country and snowshoeing. What differentiates the Lars Nordic Boot Light from the pack? With this sock you get a lower cut (Nordic boots end much lower on the leg than downhill boots), more cushioning around the foot due to the constant motion, and no padding in the shin because it’s not necessary. We’ve used regular ski socks and even hiking socks for cross-country skiing in the past, but the Lars Nordic is a really nice purpose-built option that will help maximize your performance.

With this sock you also get the same upsides as our #1 overall pick (also Darn Tough): a nice blend of comfort and durability, good moisture and stink management, and a made-in-the-U.S.A. build that comes backed by a lifetime warranty. Another possibility in this category is the Smartwool PhD Nordic, but we prefer the toughness and build quality of Darn Tough. Outside of cross-country skiing, both are viable options for winter activities like snowshoeing, ice skating, and everyday wear under winter boots.
See the Darn Tough Lars Nordic Boot Light

 

14. Hotronic XLP One + PFI 50 ($279)

Hotronic XLP One heated ski socksMaterials: 74% nylon, 20% elastane, 6% merino wool
Thickness: Lightweight
What we like: Heated sock design that isn’t too obtrusive.
What we don’t: Incredibly expensive, and only for those that truly need it.

Hotronic is best known for their heated ski boot insoles, and they’ve applied that expertise to ski socks in the XLP One. Powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, a heating element along the exterior of the sock provides direct warmth to the heel, toes, and ball of the feet. The entire design is fairly unobtrusive as Hotronic kept cords to a minimum, and the low-profile battery pack attaches to the cuff of the sock. With 4 levels of heat to choose from, the XLP is a great way for those with chronically cold feet to enjoy a day on the hill.

Clearly, the Hotronic XLP One has limited appeal for everyday skiers. Improvements in synthetic insulation have made modern ski boots surprising warm, and many issues with cold feet can be resolved with a visit to an experienced boot fitter. If, however, you’ve exhausted all other options or need the boost in heat for comfort or medical reasons, the Hotronic XLP One may be worth the investment.
See the Hotronic XLP One + PFI 50 Heated Socks

 

Ski Sock Comparison Table

Sock Price Materials Thickness Padding
Darn Tough OTC Padded Light $25 60% merino wool, 36% nylon, 4% lycra Light Yes
Smartwool PhD Ski Light Elite  $26 59% merino wool, 38% nylon, 3% elastane Light Yes
Wigwam Snow Sirocco $11 42% wool, 24% nylon, 21% polypropylene, 7% polyester, 5% olefin, 1% spandex Medium Yes
Dissent Ski GFX Compression $55 Synthetic blend Light Yes
Icebreaker Ski+ Light OTC $28 55% merino, 42% nylon, 3% lycra Light Yes
Fox River Arapahoe Lightweight OTC $16 46% nylon, 25% merino wool, 25% acrylic, 2% polyester, 2% spandex Light Yes
Eurosock Silver Ski Supreme $25 70% Silver Drystat, 15% Microsupreme, 10% nylon, 5% lycra Light Yes
Farm to Feet Jackson $20 47% PTFE nylon, 45% nylon, 8% lycra Ultralight No
CEP Ski Ultralight $55 87% nylon, 13% elastane Ultralight Yes
Darn Tough Thermolite RFL UL $23 55% nylon, 42% Thermolite polyester, 3% spandex Ultralight No
Stance Ski Merino Wool Socks $28 48% merino wool, 48% nylon, 4% elastane Light/medium Yes
Burton Weekend Socks $15 80% acrylic, 18% nylon, 2% spandex Medium Yes
Darn Tough Lars Nordic Boot Light $24 53% merino wool, 43% nylon, 4% lycra Light No
Hotronic XLP One Heated Socks $279 74% nylon, 20% elastane, 6% merino wool Light No

 

Ski Sock Buying Advice

Sock Materials

Merino Wool
Despite a higher cost, merino remains the most popular and our most recommended ski sock material for a number of reasons: excellent fabric feel that’s soft and comfortable, odor resistance, and superior temperature regulation. In other words, merino socks are able to keep your feet warm when the mercury drops, but you should also remain cool when spring rolls around. All told, it’s the full meal deal for your sock needs (we cover this information in greater detail in our article: Merino Wool: Is It Worth It?).

Granted, merino wool socks are rarely pure merino. A blend of fabrics, usually including some nylon for toughness and elastane or spandex for stretch, is required to provide a supportive fit that stays in place. Additionally, the fabric weave and construction is an important consideration, because some brands like Darn Tough prioritize long-term durability over supreme softness with a dense weave, while others like Icebreaker sacrifice a little on lifespan for coziness.

Synthetic
Most of our top picks are made with merino. However, not everyone is totally smitten with the higher costs. For a more cost effective alternative, you can turn to a synthetic option. The designs will vary depending on brand, but some common features in synthetic socks are a performance fit and superior moisture wicking properties. Keep in mind, you’re not going to experience amazing breathability inside a ski boot—the hard shell of the boot prevents that—but these synthetic socks do manage to pull sweat away from your feet as efficiently as possible. The downside is stink prevention, however, some brands have worked very hard to combat this. Silver Drystat in the Eurosock Supreme is an example of a synthetic that does a decent job at keeping the smells to a minimum.

Nylon
Merino and synthetic are the two most common materials used in sock construction, while nylon is a secondary fabric that boosts durability and gives the socks a consistent shape. Ski socks are designed to fit snugly and not bunch up or slide around (we cover this more in the “fit” section below), and this is where nylon and spandex come into place. The elastane or spandex lets the fabric flex, while nylon gives the sock a structure that retains its shape even after being stretched, and supports your foot, ankle and lower leg. We list the fabric construction for each product on this list and you’ll notice a theme: 15-40% nylon. More nylon is usually associated with a performance fit that should retain its shape and avoid sagging over time.


Sock Thickness, Cushioning, and Warmth

Ultralight
Amazingly, a super-thin ultralight sock can be a suitable option even in cold conditions—as long as you’ve spent big bucks on a nice pair of modern ski boots. Boot liners insulated with products like microfiber Thinsulate are able to trap hot air against your feet far better than ever before. As long as your liner fits you well and you don’t go out in positively frigid conditions, an ultralight sock is perfectly suitable. The closer, streamlined fit also improves contact with the boots for improved performance.

Regarding durability, ultralight socks fall short of the other options simply by the thickness of their design. We wouldn’t suggest wearing them too much out of the boots. These ultralight options are most popular with those that work hard—hiking or ski touring. Those that require a little extra cushioning or warmth may want to look at the more all-around friendly lightweight category below.

Lightweight
For standard downhill skiers, the lightweight category is a great place to be—with enough cushioning around and under your foot to be comfortable but not so thick and bulky that it feels awkward inside your boot. Those that like to run an ultralight sock for average conditions or for ski touring may want to have a slightly thicker, lightweight option for those chilly days. Some of our favorite options include the Darn Tough OTC Padded Light and Smartwool PhD Ski Light Elite.

Midweight
Ski socks of old used to fall into this category, but the changes in ski boot technology have made a thicker sock far less important. The benefit of a midweight sock is added cushioning inside a boot, and for those that run cold no matter what, it may be worth having a midweight option. But keep in mind, boot liners are meant to fit snug, so a sock that is too thick can actually restrict blood flow and make your feet even colder. Be sure to dial in your fit just right if you plan to run a thicker, midweight sock. If your boots are too big or you’ve packed out your liners, it could be a viable option.
 

Shin Padding

We usually recommend choosing a ski sock with some degree of padding along the shin for all-day comfort and to take the sting out of shin-bang (or when landing a jump). It’s something that is enjoyed by casual and performance skiers in both the resort and backcountry, and is especially helpful for skiing on hardpack when your stance is more forward (as opposed to powder, when you’re more upright). Most often, ski-specific socks with more cushioning underfoot also include a healthy amount of shin protection. There are, however, a few ultralight padded options out there that combine a non-cushioned design with some shin protection (including Darn Tough’s Padded Light). And a final point here: one notable downside of choosing a crossover ski and snowboarding sock like the Burton Weekend is the loss of targeted cushioning around the shin.
 

Moisture-Wicking Properties

Ski socks have a few simple tasks: keep you warm, fit well and stay in place, and wick moisture. A sock’s wicking ability is particularly important for backcountry skiers or those prone to working up a sweat. If the sock gets wet and stays wet, your feet can become cold pretty quickly. This is where merino wool shines—not only does it wick moisture well, but it continues to insulate even when wet (unlike cotton). And while synthetic materials dry quickly, they can’t retain as much of the moisture as merino and working up a sweat will make them smell bad. The thickness of the material also plays a role, and thinner merino wool socks, like the Darn Tough Over-the-Calf Ultra-Light and Icebreaker Ski+ Light are both standouts in this category.
 

Compression Socks

Following trends in running and performance gear, ski socks brands have been offering up more and more compression options. The goal of a compression sock is improved blood flow. In a ski sock application, the goal is to leverage this improved blood flow to boost warmth as well as possibly reducing muscle fatigue. While it’s a difficult thing to prove, in our experiences with compression socks, we’ve found them to have a very close fit that just may offer a slight increase in warmth. What we can say definitively is compression socks do offer a very supportive fit that performance skiers should enjoy.

A compression sock fits exactly as you’d expect: very tightly. Enough so that it can require a bit of strategy to slide them on the first time. The downside of a design like the CEP Ski Ultralight is a substantial bump in price, which can be nearly double the cost of a comparable standard ski sock. The average skier absolutely does not need a compression sock, and only those that are looking for a very tight and secure fit, and perhaps a slight improvement in recovery time and warmth, should consider spending the $30 to $60 for a pair of socks.
 

Fit

More so than nearly any other application, having a proper fitting sock for skiing is essential. Make sure your socks feel tight around your toes, ankle and shin without being restrictive. Any excess material can spell trouble when pinched in between your foot or leg and boot liner. This can create hot spots or worse, blisters. You also shouldn’t have to peel the socks off (compression options are the exception). Look to the sock fit range for sizes, and if you’re right on the fence, we recommend sizing down.
 

Ski Sock Height

From the list above, you’ll notice that almost all of the socks (with the exception of the cross country-focused Darn Tough Lars Nordic Boot Light) fall just below the knee. This is to account for the height of ski boots, which typically rise to the mid or high shin. Any sock that falls below the top of your boot can create serious discomfort and rubbing against the skin, so it’s important to have a little wiggle room. The main takeaway: it’s best to choose a ski-specific model (as opposed to a hiking sock or other type of sock) to ensure you’re getting enough coverage.
 

Women’s, Men's, and Unisex Ski Socks

Many ski socks are sold as unisex, but some on our list offer women’s-specific versions. These models are often a bit shorter—for example, the Smartwool PhD Ski Light Elite men’s sock is 14 inches, while the women’s version is only 13. Why? Women’s legs, on average, are a bit shorter than men’s, and the difference is meant to provide a better, more tailored fit. All that said, we consider pretty much any sock gender-neutral—go with what feels best. 


Cross-Country Ski Socks

Thirteen out of 14 picks on our list above are downhill-oriented ski socks, but we also made a point of including one cross-country sock: the Darn Tough Lars Nordic Boot Light. Most cross-country designs have a similar construction with a lower cut that falls about mid-calf, added cushioning around the foot, and no padding in the shin due to differences in boot design and foot movement. We also find that these socks cross over nicely for other winter activities like snowshoeing and ice skating. While regular ski or hiking socks will work just fine, XC models are much more purpose-built and will help maximize comfort and performance.
 

Durability and Care

The advanced construction and materials used for ski socks do not lend themselves to being particularly durable. The nylon and merino wool blends are focused on a low profile fit that sits well in your boot, and are prone to developing holes over time. As such, we recommend taking good care of your expensive ski socks. And, if you’ll be skiing a lot, it may be worth investing in a more expensive pair that comes with a warranty. Darn Tough stands out here with their amazing lifetime guarantee, and Icebreaker also comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee (with no time restriction).

For sock care, it’s always best to follow the instructions given by the manufacturer. What we’ve found to be most successful is to turn them inside out and wash in cool or warm water—and use tech wash occasionally to help get out any lingering smells. To avoid pilling and premature wear, we always suggest avoiding the drier and line drying them instead.
Back to Our Top Ski Sock Picks  Back to Our Ski Sock Comparison Table

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If you're searching for that elusive one-ski quiver, this is the category to find it. The definition of “all-mountain” varies by manufacturer and retailer, but generally includes skis from 85mm to 105mm...

Resort Skiing Checklist for 2018-2019

Despite the crowds, there’s something truly satisfying about skiing inbounds. Maybe it’s the fact that you can accomplish thousands of feet in a day, or just the convenience of a warm lodge nearby to thaw cold...

Best Ski Jackets of 2019-2020

From cold to snow to wind to sweat, choosing a ski jacket is all about managing the conditions that you might encounter on the mountain. The right ski jacket for you depends on the specific kinds of skiing you enjoy most—skinning up a sunny ridgeline...

Best Midlayers of 2019

In the typical 3-layer ski clothing system, the midlayer is given the all-important insulating duties. As such, it is the one article of clothing you’re most likely to swap out depending on weather conditions. Is it bristling cold and dry...

Best Ski Pants of 2019

Ski pants are a critical barrier between you and the elements, and there’s a pair to fit every type of skier and budget. Resort goers typically opt for a classic hardshell design with some light insulation to stay warm on the lift rides up. Backcountry...

Best Ski Helmets of 2019

No matter your ability level, picking up a helmet for skiing or snowboarding is a no-brainer. If you’ve been putting off replacing a helmet that’s years old or are new to the sport, recent advancements have...