Socks are a crucial 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. Socks don’t often get as much attention, but you need a top-quality option to ski effectively.
I’ve been skiing for nearly as long as I’ve been able to walk. I’ve used dozens, maybe even hundreds, different pairs of ski socks over the years. This has helped me figure out how to find the best options that will keep you warm without being too bulky.
The Smartwool PhD Medium is my pick for the best ski socks of the season. These are a warm and comfortable option that will provide you with a nice fit in your ski boots. They are also made of one of my favorite materials – Merino wool.
There are plenty of ski socks to choose from, but not all of them are created equally. In this post, I’ll provide you with all the best options to keep your feet warm all day long. That will help you take advantage of every minute you have on the mountain.
Let’s bundle up and get after it.
- Who Should Get This
- Top Picks of Best Ski Socks: Reviews
- How to Choose Ski Socks: Buying Guide
- Useful Tips & Resources
- Final Verdict
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.
Do ski socks really make a difference?
They sure do. Ski socks are built to be both warm and thin, and that makes them ideal for wearing with your ski boots. If you go with regular athletic socks, you’ll get cold. And if you choose to wear thick socks, your performance will suffer.
Should ski socks be thin or thick?
You always want your ski socks to be thin. This ensures that you get a good fit within your ski boots. If your socks are too thick, they can bunch up, which will cause a bunch of issues with comfort and performance as you ski.
Why are thin ski socks better?
Thin ski socks are better for two main reasons – comfort and performance. Ski boots are supposed to fit tightly for the best power transfer, and thick socks reduce how much performance you get with this in mind. Thinner is better.
How many pairs of socks should I wear skiing?
Only wear one pair of socks when you are skiing. If you wear multiple pairs at the same time, you are going to have issues with comfort and performance. If you get a good pair of ski socks, you won’t need to wear multiple pairs.
What are compression ski socks?
Compression ski socks have a tighter fit than regular socks. This is intended to help promote blood flow, which can keep your feet warmer and your muscles in good shape. I don’t use compression socks, but I know other skiers who love them.
Are Smartwool Ski socks worth it?
I think Smartwool ski socks are some of the best ski socks you can use. The Smartwool PhD is my pick for the best ski socks of the year. The brand makes very warm, durable, and comfortable ski socks.
Are merino wool socks good for skiing?
Merino wool socks are some of the best ski socks you can use. It’s very warm and comfortable and has natural anti-microbial properties. The top socks you can find use at least some merino wool in their construction.
Top Picks of Best Ski Socks: Reviews
Here are all of my top picks for the best ski socks of the season. I’ll review every option to give you a good idea of which best meets your needs this winter.
1. Smartwool PhD Medium
- Best for: Overall
- Key features: Great fit, comfortable, lightweight, warm, Merino wool construction, durable
- Materials: Merino wool, nylon, elastane
- Thickness: Medium
- Cost: $$
For an excellent all-around ski sock, check out the Smartwool PhD Ski Sock. Smartwool is a great brand that makes quality wool-based outdoor products, and their ski socks have been my personal favorite for years.
These socks are thin and lightweight, allowing them to fit inside a ski boot perfectly, but they also offer great warmth. They are a great blend of comfort and functionality.
The PhD ski socks feature a virtually seamless toe design that makes for a very comfortable fit, while a 4-degree fit system makes the ankle feel nice and flexible.
They are easy to wash and will last for several seasons thanks to Indestructawool technology built into the design.
These don’t have much of a downside to mention, and I recommend them to any skier.
2. Le Bent Le Sock Ultralight
- Best for: Fit
- Key features: Secure fit, comfortable, anti-microbial, moisture-wicking, affordable
- Materials: Rayon, nylon, Merino wool, elastane
- Thickness: Thin
- Cost: $$
The Le Bent Le Sock Ski Ultralight is another great all-around option, and it has one of the best fits you’ll find.
The socks are incredibly durable and built to withstand the rigors of skiing anywhere in the world. They are antimicrobial and moisture-wicking as well.
A special blend of rayon, nylon, and wool gives you a secure fit that won’t ride down and bunch up while you ski.
This isn’t the warmest sock around, but if you want that perfect fit, it’s the way to go.
3. Unigear Ski Socks
- Best for: Moisture Wicking
- Key features: Excellent moisture-wicking, warm, affordable, comfortable
- Materials: Acrylic, wool, polyester, nylon, elastane
- Thickness: Medium
- Cost: $
If you have sweaty feet or just want to make sure that your feet stay dry from the inside out, check out the Unigear Ski Socks. These are the best when it comes to moisture-wicking performance.
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 due to their 3-mesh ventilation that allows extra heat to escape your feet when you work up a sweat on warmer days.
And I like the added material in the shin, heel, and toe for extra comfort and cushion.
These aren’t the most durable option out there, but I still think they will hold up well under regular use.
4. Wigwam Snow Sirocco
- Best for: Budget Option
- Key features: Affordable, quality construction, comfortable, flexible, lifetime warranty
- Materials: Wool, stretch nylon, polyester, spandex
- Thickness: Medium
- Cost: $
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 at a low price 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.
In my opinion, the Snow Sirocco is a little on the thicker side. They might not be the best for high-performance boots.
5. Lens Heated Socks 5.0
- Best for: Heated Option
- Key features: Battery heated, warm, effective, smartphone control
- Materials: Polyester, nylon, polypropylene, Merino wool, spandex
- Thickness: Thin
- Cost: $$$$$
If you’re someone who constantly experiences cold feet, you might want to check out the Lenz Heated Sock 5.0. This is one of the best heated sock options around, making it easy to keep your toes nice and cozy.
The Lenz Heated uses two rechargeable lithium batteries that send power through heating elements built directly into the sock.
That will heat your entire foot, with a special focus on the toe cap. They have three different heat settings that can be regulated by a smartphone.
The downside for this added warmth is that these will cost you nearly as much as a new set of ski boots.
6. Snow Deer Heated
- Best for: Cold Toes
- Key features: Battery heated, slim design, rechargeable batteries, available in several sizes
- Materials: Polyester, Elasthen, Nylon
- Thickness: Thin
- Cost: $$$
For another heated ski sock option that’s a bit more affordable, take a look at the Snow Deer Heated Socks.
These knee-high socks have battery pockets that sit right above your ski boot, and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are the heat source for these.
The battery pockets make it easy to secure the batteries while skiing. These socks feature three different adjustable temperature settings, and they also come in several sizes and colors.
You’ll pay extra for this heated option, but it can really help you out in colder conditions.
7. Pure Compression Ski Socks
- Best for: Compression
- Key features: snug compression fit, Merino wool blend, comfortable, lifetime warranty
- Materials: Merino wool blend
- Thickness: Thin
- Cost: $$
The Pure Compression Ski Socks are some of the best compression ski socks available. They are designed to increase circulation while providing all the warmth and comfort you would expect from a quality sock.
These socks are constructed with a quality Merino wool blend that gives them great warmth and insulation while also offering moisture-wicking and odor-reducing properties.
These are a great option if you have sweaty feet. They also come standard with a lifetime guarantee, making them a solid choice for skiers of all abilities and preferences.
Some skiers don’t like the tight fit of compression socks, but I think they are pretty easy to get used to.
8. CEP Women’s Winter Compression
- Best for: Women’s
- Key features: Great women’s fit, comfortable, warm, padded cushioning, durable
- Materials: Polyamide, Merino wool, spandex
- Thickness: Thin
- Cost: $$$
The CEP Women’s Winter Compression ski socks are the best women’s specific option you can find.
These are a high-quality option that features a unique design that helps increase blood flow while also reducing muscle fatigue.
They also have special padded cushioning that gives lasting comfort, no matter how hard you like to ski.
It’s a pretty expensive option, but if you want a women’s design that comes with plenty of other stand-out features, these are hard to beat.
9. FITS Ultra Light
- Best for: Lightweight
- Key features: Ultra-lightweight, Merino wool blend, comfortable, moisture-wicking
- Materials: Merino wool, nylon, polyester, lycra
- Thickness: Extra thin
- Cost: $$
The FITS Ultra Light Ski Sock is a great lightweight option that works well for any backcountry skier, as well as anyone who wants a thin-but-functional ski sock.
This is a minimalist option that offers a lot of insulation from the elements. Despite its lightweight construction, it can still stand up to anything nature throws your way.
They also feature a proper gradient compression throughout the length of the leg and a vented foot top.
These can be a little less warm than regular lightweight options, especially if you tend to have cold feet.
10. CEP Lightweight Winter Compression
- Best for: Backcountry
- Key features: Lightweight, comfortable, padded shin and toe, compression fibers
- Materials: Polyamide, spandex
- Thickness: Think
- Cost: $$$
The CEP Lightweight Winter Compression 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 feet and ski boot.
They are almost 30 percent more narrow than the regular ski socks offered by CEP and have an anatomical design that will fit easily over any foot.
Padded cushioning in the shin and toe doesn’t add much bulk to the overall design, and they also have built-in compression fibers to increase circulation and blood flow.
These are another one of those pretty expensive options, but lightweight socks tend to come with an increased cost.
How to Choose Ski Socks: Buying Guide
In this section, I’ll give you some crucial tips to help you figure out which ski socks are the best for you to choose.
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 quickly – 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 really thin.
As great as Merino wool is, it can be 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 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 critical 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 pretty rare. Some people still like their feel, but there is no reason to get something so bulky with modern advancements.
You also want reinforced material built into your sock’s design. Many socks have extra fabric 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 with 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 impact performance and warmth.
I personally don’t notice a difference with compression socks, but some people love them.
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 not to 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 relatively thin.
When trying on and using ski socks, other things to keep in mind 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 excellent ski day. Choose socks that won’t slide.
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 choosing a good pair of ski socks, check out the video below.
The Smartwool PhD Medium is my pick for the best ski socks of the season. This is a great pair that will give you exceptional performance in cold weather and a great fit underneath your ski boots. They are also made of merino wool, which is the best.
All of the ski socks you see here are recommended. You should have at least several pairs of good socks so you can change them out when one gets wet. Nobody wants cold toes, so be sure to get yourself equipped with a top pick for ski socks.