There are many different ways to enjoy skiing. For some, the joy comes from the endless pursuit of fresh snow. Others love the solitude of a crisp winter morning and a unique connection with the natural world, while some live for speed, freedom, and fun. Regardless of why you love the sport, there is no doubt that good equipment makes it much more fun.
Comfort is a big part of skiing. You need to be comfortable on the mountain and the gear you use goes a long way in that regard. Without high-quality gear, even a great day full of fresh tracks in deep powder can turn into a headache. Cold hands or skis that just aren’t cut out for the conditions are surefire ways to limit your potential on the mountain.
Socks are an extremely important piece of skiing equipment. You need to stay warm out on the mountain, and if your feet get cold your body will not be able to warm up. There are plenty of good options when it comes to ski socks, and with a little insight into style, design, and quality, you can get a solid pair. Here is a look at some of the best options on the market.
- Quick Summary
- Who Should Get This
- Best Ski Socks: What to Consider in 2020
- Best Ski Socks: Our Picks for 2020
- 1. Best Overall Ski Socks – Smartwool PhD Ski Sock
- 2. Le Bent Le Sock Ski Light
- 3. Best Budget Ski Socks – Unigear Ski Socks
- 4. Wigwam Snow Sirocco
- 5. Best Heated Ski Socks – Lenz Heated Sock 5.0
- 6. Snow Deer Heated Socks
- 7. Best Compression Ski Socks – Pure Compression Ski Socks
- 8. CEP Thermal Compression Ski Socks
- 9. Best Lightweight Ski Sock – FITS Ultra Light Ski Sock
- 10. CEP Ultralight Ski Sock
- Useful Tips & Resources
- Final Thoughts
- The Smartwool PhD Ski Sock is great for any skier. These warm and comfortable options have everything you could want out of a ski sock. Another great choice at the top of the list is the Le Bent Le Sock Snow Light.
- If you’re looking for an affordable solid ski sock that will keep your feet warm and comfortable all day long, take a look at the Unigear Ski Socks. Their affordable price makes them a good choice for those who want to stock up. Another good budget option is the Wigwam Snow Sirocco.
- Cold feet can ruin an otherwise great ski day. If you’re prone to cold feet, you might want to consider heated ski socks because they will keep you warm and cozy. A few solid options are the Lenz Heated Sock 5.0 and the Snow Deer Heated Socks.
- Compression socks help with skiing by keeping your feet warm so you can ski to the best of your abilities at all times. Two great options are the Pure Compression Ski Socks and the CEP Thermal Compression Ski Socks.
- Backcountry skiers are always looking for gear that both sheds weight and keeps them warm. Both the FITS Ultra Light Ski Sock and the CEP Ultralight Ski Sock hit that mark, keeping you warm in any backcountry condition.
Who Should Get This
If you’re a skier, you need to get a good pair of socks. While I have seen friends ski without ski socks, that experience did not end well. In a pinch, you could certainly get away with not wearing socks, but in almost all situations they are crucial.
Ski socks are lightweight, durable, comfortable, and warm. They are specifically built for the demands created by the winter sport we all love. Regular cotton or other socks should not be used for skiing because they can bunch up and will not keep your feet as warm if they get wet. A specialized ski sock is essential for any serious skier and should be used anytime you are out in the snow.
Best Ski Socks: What to Consider in 2020
When choosing a ski sock, pay attention to the material. A sock’s warmth and comfort come from high-quality fabrics. Just never use cotton. While it’s great in normal everyday wear, it has poor insulation and gets wet quite easily. Not an ideal choice for the slopes.
Wool is a far better choice of material that has been utilized for a long time. When it comes to ski socks, merino wool is going to be your best bet. The high-quality material is soft, comfortable, and offers excellent insulation. Merino wool socks can also be quite thin.
As great as merino wool is, it can be quite expensive. Many brands get around that by offering blends of merino wool and other materials. A synthetic/merino wool blend is very common in ski socks because it is light, comfortable, tough, but still affordable.
Nylon is another type of synthetic fabric that’s used in ski sock construction. The material is quite strong, which is why it provides excellent durability to your toe, heel, and shin. Spandex is also often used due to flexibility and stretch.
A ski sock’s height is also important because you always want yours to reach above your boot. All of the options listed in this guide are nearly knee-length, which is pretty standard in today’s skiing world. If you get a sock that’s shorter than the height of your boot, it can bunch up and be quite uncomfortable. A longer sock will also keep snow out of your foot if you end up knee-deep in powder.
Thickness is another important consideration. In most situations, a thicker sock translates into more insulation. However, sometimes thick socks can affect ski boot performance and limit how much you’re able to do on the slopes. Thinner socks are recommended for ski socks over thick winter-style socks.
Even though ski socks should always be more on the thinner side, there are still variations in thickness that might pertain to your style, preference, or comfort levels. Lightweight ski socks are the most common type out there. Most of the options listed below fall into the lightweight category, meaning they are thin in a way that still offers warmth and comfort.
If you are a backcountry skier or someone who cares about ski performance, check out ultralight ski sock options. Those have less material in the design. While that makes them a bit colder than more traditional options, it also saves you a few ounces and keeps you zipping around the backcountry at top speed.
Extremely thick socks, while warm, are quite rare. Some people still like their feel, but with modern advancements there is no reason to get something so bulky.
You also want reinforced material built into your sock’s design. A lot of socks have extra material in the shin, heel, and toe. That can go a long way towards durability, which is important for skiers who spend a lot of time riding around. Extra material can also provide additional padding to make your skiing time much more comfortable.
A little extra material built into the socks can also provide added warmth and a better fit within your ski boot. You don’t need socks that have reinforced areas to ski, but you might find that it helps.
Fit is another factor that affects comfort and performance. You want your sock to sit snugly on your foot. There should not be any areas of the sock that bunch up when you try to put your boot on. In addition, your sock should not shift at all while you move around.
Some people like tight-fitting ski socks, which is why compression style socks exist. The items are a bit tighter in a way that squeezes your feet and calves. That can increase blood flow which is said to have an impact on performance and warmth. I personally don’t notice a difference with compression socks, but some people really love them.
Best Ski Socks: Our Picks for 2020
1. Best Overall Ski Socks – Smartwool PhD Ski Sock
For a great all-around ski sock, check out the Smartwool PhD Ski Sock. Smartwool is a great brand that makes quality wool-based outdoor products, and their ski socks have been my personal favorite for years. These socks are thin and lightweight, allowing them to perfectly fit inside of a ski boot, but they also offer great warmth. They are a great blend of comfort and functionality.
The PhD ski socks feature a virtually seamless toe design that makes for a very comfortable fit, while a 4-degree fit system makes the ankle feel nice and flexible. The socks are made out of a 63 percent merino wool, 35 percent nylon, and 2 percent Elastane blend. That gives them plenty of warmth in addition to durability and flex. They are easy to wash and will last for several seasons thanks to Indestructawool technology built into the design.
- Great overall ski sock
- Merino wool blend
- Great fit
- Not many, this is a quality sock
- Merino socks are more expensive
The Le Bent Le Sock Ski Light is another great all-around option. Le Bent is a company started by two Australians who spent many years skiing in Austria and France before they decided to create a sock that could hold up to both skiing and travel. That led to the Le Sock, which is now one of the most popular designs on Earth.
These socks are made of a custom blend of 48 percent rayon from bamboo, 20 percent merino wool, 30 percent nylon, and 2 percent elastane. This makes for a comfortable sock that’s also affordable and warm. The socks are extremely durable and built to withstand the rigors of skiing anywhere in the world. They are antimicrobial and moisture-wicking as well.
- Merino wool blend
- On the thinner side
- Can be cold for people with sensitive feet
3. Best Budget Ski Socks – Unigear Ski Socks
If you want a cheaper ski sock that still holds up to the elements, take a look at the Unigear Ski Socks. These cheap items are perfect for skiers who like to buy multiple pairs. They also make great gifts thanks to their classic look and feel. While they are not the highest-performance option, they will hold up well for a season or two.
The socks are made with a merino wool and acrylic blend that will keep your toes and feet warm on the slopes. They are also very breathable as a result of their 3-mesh ventilation that allows extra heat to escape your feet when you work up a sweat on warmer days. They also feature added material in the shin, heel, and toe for extra comfort and cushion.
- Added material in the shin, toe, and heel
- Merino wool blend
- Not a high-performance option
- Can wear out in the heel
Another solid, affordable ski sock, the Wigwam Snow Sirocco comes from a company that’s spent the last 100 years creating quality products. These ski socks follow that path, but do so at a cheap price point that appeals to all skiers. The socks are comfortable and warm thanks to their blend of wool, stretch nylon, and other synthetic materials.
These are a classic midweight, knee-high ski sock that will work for just about any skier. They are a good option for beginners because they provide plenty of comfort and warmth. However, their midweight thickness makes them more catered towards new skiers as opposed to those seeking a high-performance option. The socks also have excellent moisture wicking properties and come with a lifetime warranty.
- Quality material blend
- Lifetime warranty
- Not a high-performance option
- Wool is not merino wool
5. Best Heated Ski Socks – Lenz Heated Sock 5.0
If you’re someone who constantly experiences cold feet, you might want to check out the Lenz Heated Sock 5.0. This is one of the best heated sock options around, making it easy to keep your toes nice and cozy. Heated socks may seem like a crazy idea to some skiers, but they go a long way if you want to be certain that your toes and feet remain warm on the mountain.
These heated socks are expensive, but they can be more than worth it. The Lenz Heated uses two rechargeable lithium batteries that send power through heating elements built directly into the sock. That will heat up your entire foot, with a special focus on the toe cap. They have 3 different heat settings that can be regulated by a smartphone.
- Rechargeable batteries
- Smartphone control
- You have to wear batteries on your legs during use
For another heated ski sock option that’s a bit more affordable, take a look at the Snow Deer Heated Socks. These socks are made with an 80 percent cotton, 12 percent polyester, and 8 percent elastane blend. I know I said earlier that you should never get ski socks made of cotton, but when they are heated, you can bend the rules. These knee-high socks have battery pockets that sit right above your ski boot.
Rechargeable lithium ion batteries are the source of the heat for these socks, but they are small, portable, and can sit out of the way. The battery pockets make it easy to secure the batteries while skiing. These socks also feature three different adjustable temperature settings so you can always tailor your outfit to the weather. They also come in several sizes and colors.
- Slim design
- Convenient battery pockets
- Rechargeable batteries
- Available in several sizes and colors
- Cheap for a heated sock, but still expensive
- 80 percent cotton
7. Best Compression Ski Socks – Pure Compression Ski Socks
Many skiers choose compression socks because they provide a unique fit and feel that can increase blood flow to keep your legs and feet warm. The Pure Compression Ski Socks are some of the best compression ski socks available. They are designed to increase circulation while providing all of the warmth and comfort you would expect from a quality sock.
These socks are constructed with a quality merino wool blend that gives them great warmth and insulation while also offering moisture-wicking and odor-reducing properties. These are a great option if you have sweaty feet. They also come standard with a lifetime guarantee, making them a solid option for skiers of all abilities and preferences.
- Quality compression ski sock
- Multiple colors available
- Merino wool blend
- Lifetime warranty
- Can be tight if you’re not used to compression socks
Another quality compression sock is the CEP Thermal Compression Ski Sock. This model keeps you warm without weighing you down. It also increases your circulation and comes with the unique feel that compression socks provide. These knee-length options are made of a 91 percent polyamide and 9 percent spandex construction, a mix that gives them plenty of warmth and comfort.
The high-tech compression fibers reduce fatigue and increase blood flow. That is great for skiers who like to go hard all day long, as well as for those who suffer from any sort of lower leg problem. The socks have an excellent fit and come with reinforced materials on the shin. They also fit into a ski boot and are fully machine washable.
- Solid compression sock
- Machine washable
- Reinforced shin
- Fully synthetic blend
9. Best Lightweight Ski Sock – FITS Ultra Light Ski Sock
Backcountry skiers are always looking for ways to shed a few ounces. The FITS Ultra Light Ski Sock is a great lightweight option that works well for any backcountry skier, as well as anyone who wants a thin-but-functional ski sock. This is a minimalist option that offers a lot of insulation from the elements. Despite its lightweight construction, it can still stand up to anything nature throws your way.
These socks are made of a superfine merino wool blend that is 49 percent merino wool, 37 percent nylon, 10 percent polyester, and 4 percent Lycra. That creates the comfortable fit and feel you would expect from merino wool construction. The socks feature a proper gradient compression throughout the length of the leg as well as a vented foot top. One of the best ultralight ski socks available and a perfect fit for the backcountry.
- Ultra light-weight
- Merino wool blend
- Proper gradient compression
- Lacks reinforced material
- Can get cold
The CEP Ultralight Ski Sock is another quality lightweight option for skiers who need durability out in the backcountry. This sock has a minimalist design that’s perfect for skiers who don’t need a lot of material between their foot and ski boot. These socks are almost 30 percent more narrow than the normal ski socks offered by CEP. They have an anatomical design that will fit easily over any foot.
These socks have padded cushioning in the shin and toe that doesn’t add much bulk to the overall design. They also have built-in compression fibers to increase circulation and blood flow. The socks are also moisture-wicking and breathable to keep your feet dry and comfortable under any condition.
- Ultra light-weight
- Padded shin and toe
- Compression fibers
- Fully synthetic construction
Useful Tips & Resources
It might seem counterintuitive to get thin ski socks, but while thicker material often translates to more warmth, they can also get in the way of your boots. Ski technology has come a long way, and thin no longer means cold. Most skiers will want lighter designs that allow them to breathe as they move around.
Modern ski boots and liners have gotten better over the years. That allows you to not need an extremely thick or warm sock. Your ski boot also acts as a line of defense against the snow and cold. Even though you certainly want a ski sock to be warm, it doesn’t need to be super thick. For high-performance considerations, you actually want your socks to be quite thin.
Other things to keep in mind when trying on and using ski socks are if they bunch up and how tightly they fit around your foot. These two considerations go hand-in-hand. If you have a loosely fitting ski sock, there’s a good chance that it will bunch up while you’re skiing. If you have ever dealt with this situation before, you know it’s uncomfortable and can easily complicate an otherwise great ski day. Choose socks that won’t slide.
You also never want to wear multiple pairs of socks while skiing. This was a common practice in years past, but moden ski boot design made it obsolete. Two socks can cause friction problems that then lead to blisters and general discomfort.
Quality materials and a comfortable fit are the basic elements of a great ski sock. If you’re looking for a high-performance option, remember that thinner is better. In addition, remember that merino wool is the best material you can ask for in a ski sock. Other materials can work, but that is by far the best option.
If you want to learn more about how your socks can affect the performance of your ski boots, check out this video.
If you want some more tips about how to choose the ski socks that are best for your needs and preferences, take a look at this informative article.
Regardless of your skiing experience or ability on the slopes, you need to have the proper equipment. Ski socks can sometimes be an afterthought for many skiers, but it pays off to get a quality pair you know will provide the warmth and comfort each and every year. All of the options listed here are great choices and will give you fantastic results no matter how you ski.
Do you have any favorite ski socks? Let us know in the comments below!