CAMPING & HIKING

The Best Compression Socks: No More Swollen Feet and Pain After Running or Skiing

Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

Don’t you just hate it when after your jogging, or other physical activities, your feet swell up? Would you like to somehow improve the blood flow in your feet, but not sure how? A pair of the best compression socks the market offers will solve these problems.

Compression socks are worn on your legs to apply pressure, which helps increase blood vessel circulation, maintaining blood flow and reducing swelling and discomfort. However, there are different features in compression socks that you may not know about, and if you’ve barely heard of them, it is hard to know what exactly to buy. The question then is, what to choose? That is why we came up with this article, to help you.

First, we will go over the main features to consider on compression socks so that you know what to keep an eye on. Then, we will give you a list of the best models on the market to choose from. 

Product NameWeight Best UseSpecific Features Price
Zensah Tech+ 4 ozAthletes and outdoor enthusiastsMade of 82% Polyamide, 18% Elastane, offer superior comfort, made in ItalyCheck price on Amazon
Smartwool PhD 5.3 ozAthletes and outdoor enthusiastsMade in the USA, 13 inches overall height, high knot density while maintaining ultra light weightCheck price on Amazon
Icebreaker Ski Plus 13.6 ozSkiing and for winter use
Odor resistant, great breathability, Achilles instep supportCheck price on Amazon
Injinji 2.08.6 ozRunningMinimizes muscle soreness, enhances circulation, proper toe alignmentCheck price on Amazon
PRO Compression Marathon3 ozAthletes and outdoor enthusiastsMade of 98% Nylon and 2% Lycra, made in the USA, moisture control properties to keep you dryCheck price on Amazon
CEP Progressive+ 4 ozRunnersMade in Germany, a special band right on the top, that goes below the knees and avoids the socks from going out of place.Check price on Amazon
2XU Performance9.6 ozAthletes and outdoor enthusiastsHigh filament yarns for dryness - wicks moisture from the skin to the fabric exterior.Check price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying 

Compression socks are essentially stockings that are worn to squeeze your legs. You have two types of compression socks: graduated compression socks or compression sleeves. However, besides those two types, there are many other features to consider before buying, so we will take a look at them. 

Type

As we just mentioned, compression socks come in two types, graduated socks or compression sleeves. Graduated compression socks are tighter around your ankles and loosen as they go up your legs. Whilst compression sleeves are essentially the same as the graduated compression socks but are only for the upper part of your leg.

Compression socks and sleeves act in the same manner, but one has foot compression (graduated compression socks) while the other does not (compression sleeve). It will depend on you exactly what you need if either controlling the swelling in the upper leg or the lower leg. You can also buy both and use them at the same time.

Temperature Control

Compression socks are used to increase blood flow, send oxygen faster into the muscles and prevent any tissue damage. In addition, compression socks can provide extra warmth during colder training days and help control sweat. So not only are they improving the blood circulation, but keeping you warm.

compression socks

This means that depending on where and when you plan to use them, you might want to consider the thickness. Some of the compression socks are thicker or warmer than others, making them more suitable for winter. If you plan to use them during summer, ones that are too thick might not be the best choice.

Material

Very much to do with the temperature control, the material is also a key feature. It depends on what the socks are made. Some are made of wool, others elastin, and others from mixtures of fabrics. Some are thicker, or more elastic, or can even protect you from the UV rays.

It is up to you to want what you think you need. However, keep in mind that the material is very important for protection and to prevent swelling. A good compression sock will have enough elasticity as to compress your legs and avoid the swelling. 

Compression Level 

Compression socks are not a one-size-fits-all concept. In fact, they come in various compression levels that range from low to high support. 10 – 15 mmHg Light Support is relatively light support and is ideal for improving circulation, preventing in minor swelling and giving you some extra energy in your legs and feet.

girl running with compression socks

Then, you can also choose 15 – 20 mmHg Mild Support. Mild support provides you improved circulation, reduces mild swelling during pregnancy, mild ankle and leg swelling and prevents tired and aching legs. It also prevents DVT. The next level is 20 – 30 mmHg Moderate Support. Moderate support will help reduce mild to moderate ankle and leg swelling, mild to moderate swelling during pregnancy, improve circulation and prevent tired and aching legs. Also, relieves superficial thrombophlebitis and Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS).

Finally, you have 30 – 40 mmHg Firm Support. Firm support will improve circulation, prevent tired and aching legs, reduce moderate ankle and leg swelling as well as moderate swelling during pregnancy. Relieves PTS, Orthostatic Hypotension and DVT.

While choosing the right compression sock for you, simply look at your symptoms and the level of pain and swelling you’re experiencing. That way, you’ll choose a compression sock that suits your symptoms and needs.

Size

The last feature to consider is size. Compression socks are always going to be worn high, they need to cover most of your leg as to offer a good compression. However, that leads to people buying the wrong size.

runner with compression socks

Since they are so long, people think they are buying the right ones and instead they are either larger or smaller size. Make sure the sock fit well because the fitting is key to get the right compression. 

Best Products on Today’s Market 

Now that we have seen the most important features, it’s time to look at the best compression socks. The following models are all excellent, but different. Not all of them will suit you, depending on what you want. That’s why you need to read closely and after analyzing each model, decide which one is the best for you. 

Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks 

Price: $26 – $85

Weight: 4 oz

Specific features: Made of 82% Polyamide and 18% Elastane, offer superior comfort, made in Italy.

Best use: Athletes and outdoor enthusiasts

Description: The Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks help stabilize your muscles and provide extra support for your shins and calves. Made of 82% Polyamide and 18% Elastane, these compression socks are ideal to prevent injury and alleviate shin splints.

By improving the blood flow, your shin splints are relieved and calf camping reduced. It also compresses around the ankle for extra support. They’re basically a graduated compression, meaning that most of the compression is directed in the ankle and calf area.

They are also extremely comfortable and are designed with seamless toes, so you won’t have to worry about blistering and chafing. The anatomical design will give your left and right foot a perfect fit. The lightweight design and moisture proof material will prevent your legs and feet from sweating and creating discomfort, thus, allowing you to wear these socks for any length of time.

Furthermore, the Zensah Tech+ socks also add arch support with their ultra-zone ribbing. You can wear these socks while running or working out to help support your feet and legs while allowing you to push yourself athletically. These Italian made compression socks are ideal for runners, travelers, basketball players, and anyone who’s into fitness. 

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Offer protection also from splinters and blisters 

CONS:

  • Pricey 

Related: The Zensah Compression Knee Sleeve can be a good fit to these socks. Many people suffering from injuries in the legs and ankles, also suffer them in the knees and need both to perform properly.

Check the price on Amazon

Smartwool PhD Compression Socks Smartwool PhD Compression Socks

Price: $45 – $55

Weight: 5.3 oz

Specific features: Made in the USA, 13 inches overall height, 200 needle construction provides highest knit density while maintaining ultra light weight.

Best use: Athletes and outdoor enthusiasts

Description: The 50% Merino Wool, 41% Nylon, 9% Elastane, Smartwool PhD Compression Socks are USA made and designed with performance in mind, enhancing Merino blend with compression for optimal recovery. The graduated compression is made with ultra-light cushion provides the support without adding bulk which many compression socks do.

The mesh ventilation gives your legs and feet extra breathability while controlling moisture. The PhD Compression Socks use two elastics for greater stretch and assists in keeping the compression sock in place.

Merino Wool is also highly durable, which ensures that your socks will withstand the use. It’s 20 – 30 mmHg graduated compression, which provides mild to moderate support against swelling, fatigue and aches. The seamless toes also prevent chafing and blistering which is ideal if you’re running or playing intense sports.

The 200-needle construction also provides users with a high density, however, without adding bulk and weight. Overall, a solid compression sock is you’re looking for something durable and lightweight. 

PROS:

  • Very good compression
  • Good ventilation
  • Good cushioning
  • Good price 

CONS:

  • Might feel a bit too tight for some 

Related: The Smartwool Compression Calf Sleeve is a good match to go alongside the socks. It will add additional compression for even better support. 

Check the price on Amazon

Icebreaker Ski Plus Compression Socks Icebreaker Ski Plus Compression Socks 

Price: $20 – $48

Weight: 13.6 oz

Specific features: Made of 48% Merino Wool, 44% Nylon, 8% Lycra, odor resistance, great breathability, Achilles instep support.

Best use: Skiing and winter use

Description: The Icebreaker Ski Plus Compression Socks provide muscle support, increased circulation, performance and assists in recovery. The socks are designed with an anatomically fitted toe box, unique for left and right feet.

The 48% Merino Wool, 44% Nylon, 8% Lycra compression sock is made in the USA is an over-the-calf sock which gives users the benefits of a compression sock without the weight. In addition, the Merino Wool is natural and allows the skin to breathe and regulate body temperature.

Furthermore, the reinforced heel and toe give extra durability and strength while the seamless toes prevent chafing, blisters and reduce bulk. They’re extremely comfortable compression socks and you’ll be able to wear them all day without any discomfort.

The price is also particularly good compared to other models. The quality is excellent. The only downside is that since they are made of almost 50% wool, they can be a bit too warm depending on the season. If it’s summer, they may not be the best choice. 

PROS:

  • Odor resistant and great breathability
  • Very good support to the Achilles instep
  • Good price

CONS:

  • May be too thick and warm for summer 

Related: Now that you’ve found great socks for skiing, it’s time to look for some high-quality skiing pants. The Spyder Men’s Troublemaker Pants are just that, extremely high-quality and meant for skiing, as well as for general winter, outdoor use.

Check the price on Amazon

Injinji 2.0 Compression Toe Socks Injinji 2.0 Compression Toe Socks

Price: $42-$55

Weight: 8.6 oz

Specific features: Made of 75% Polyester, 20% Nylon and 5% Lycra, minimizes muscle soreness, enhances circulation, proper toe alignment.

Best use: Running

Description: The Injinji 2.0 Compression Toe Socks are a part of Injinji’s 5 Toe Fit System which is designed with the graduated compression of the lower leg that assists in healing and increasing circulation while minimizing muscle aches and pains.

The heel is padded with terry, which provides better support for downhill runners and those who need extra assistance in recovery. It’s made of 75% Polyester, 20% Nylon and 5% Lycra with 18 – 30 mmHg graduated compression.

This compression sock is ideal for runners as it’s designed in preventing blistering in hotspots prone to runners. So, if you’re a runner that’s prone to blisters, muscle aches and pains, then these socks are ideal for you.

The fact that it has toes, makes it even better for running performance. It aligns the toes in the right position, not only avoiding the blisters just mentioned above but giving a better grip to the foot. The toes act individually and hence react much better to any movement. 

PROS:

  • Proper toe alignment
  • Good quality
  • Ideal for runners

CONS:

  • Toe socks can be uncomfortable for some
  • Not the best quality 

Related: The Injinji Boot Original Weight OTC is very similar in function and design to the Injinji 2.0, however, not designed with lightweight materials. So, they are a little heavier than the 2.0 compression, however, works just as well. 

Check the price on Amazon

PRO Compression Marathon Compression Socks PRO Compression Marathon Compression Socks 

Price: $40 – $50

Weight: 3 oz

Specific features: Made of 98% Nylon and 2% Lycra, made in the USA, moisture control properties to keep you dry.

Best use: Athletes and outdoor enthusiasts

Description: The PRO Compression Marathon Compression Socks are a full-length compression sock model that is made of the perfect blend of material providing both comfort and performance. The 92% Nylon and 8% Lycra Spandex compression sock is made of 20 – 30 mmHg graduated compression, providing mild to moderate relief.

The Marathon model is made with moisture controlling materials that’ll keep your legs and feet dry during your activities. The entire sock is made with a non-slip design, keeping your sock nice and high the entire time. The graduated compression will increase blood flow throughout your body, resulting in fewer aches and pains in your muscles.

These socks are ideal for runners, specifically marathon runners because they support muscles and tendons that are susceptible to inflammation and cramping. Compression socks are great for runners because they use stronger elastics, providing more pressure to your legs, ankles and feet.

These are traditional to graduated compression socks by providing maximum pressure to the ankle and relaxing up towards the knees. 

PROS:

  • Great breathability and moisture control
  • Good price

CONS:

  • Creates too much compression under foot, meaning more friction and potential blisters 

Related: The PRO Compression Sleeve is great if you’re not looking for foot support. They’re full-length and come up to the calf, so you’ll have ankle and leg compression.

Check the price on Amazon

CEP Progressive+ Compression Socks CEP Progressive+ Compression Socks

Price: Approx. $40

Weight: 4 oz

Specific features: Made of 85% Polyamide and 15% spandex, made in Germany, has a special band right on the top, that goes below the knees and avoids the socks from going out of place.

Best use: Runners

Description: The CEP Progressive+ Compression Socks are 85% Polyamide and 15% spandex. They’re made in Germany and are specifically designed for runners, providing them maximum support and benefits.

CEP is a well-known brand for their progressive designs. These socks are designed to improve blood flow, reduce muscle aches and pains while assisting in a quick recovery time. What’s great about these socks is that you’ll be able to wear them during warm-up and recovery as it acts in both activating and healing your muscles.

The 2.0 socks are also built with metatarsal compression for outstanding support. You can be sure that these socks will control heat and moisture, making sure your feet stay dry, preventing chafing and blistering.

It also is designed to promote balance and stability, which reduces muscle vibrations and protects tendons and ligaments. The anatomically designed footbed is fitted with a 15 mmHg compression over the arch to help relieve Plantar Fasciitis. The Halo Top-Band is designed to prevent pinching at the top of the calf which many athletes experience when wearing compression socks.

In addition, these compression socks have been featured in a published medical study called, “Study of the Influence Compression sports socks have on athletic performance,” by Dr. Kemmler which illustrated that runners experience a 5% boost in energy and endurance. 

PROS:

  • Very good quality
  • Good compression
  • The elastic band on the top of the sock makes it stay in place 

CONS:

  • They can be a bit too tall for some
  • They can be a bit tight for some 

Related: If you’re a fan of the CEP’s compression socks, they also have a Women’s Progressive+ 2.0 Calf Sleeve which also provides ankle and calf support without foot compression. 

Check the price on Amazon

2XU Performance Compression Socks 2XU Performance Compression Socks

Price: $15 – $55

Weight: 9.6 oz

Specific features: Made with 100% other fibers, they have advanced technology, high filament yarns for dryness – wicks moisture from the skin to the fabric exterior.

Best use: Athletes and outdoor enthusiasts

Description: The 2XU Performance Compression Socks are one of the most technically advanced performance socks on the market. They are designed for maximum support and offers flexibility to protect the calf, hamstring, quad, glute and adductor muscles.

Furthermore, they are extremely comfortable and made with a waistband giving you a streamlined fit. The flatlock seams aim to reduce chafing and blistering so that users can focus on performance. The graduated compression increases blood circulation and focuses on aiding in recovery by reducing muscle stiffness and soreness.

The high filament threads allow for quick drying while absorbing the moisture from the skin into the exterior fabric. It’s made of Invista Lycra which provides an outstanding fit and support.

The socks are also antibacterial and come with UPF 50+ Sun protection, which many compression socks do not include. So, if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, your legs will be protected from the sun. Whatever your sport is, or if you suffer from DVT and/or other circulatory issues, you’ll be greatly supported with these compression socks.

PROS:

  • Sun UPF 50+ protection
  • Antibacterial
  • Good quality 

CONS:

  • A bit pricey
  • Can be a bit tight 

Related: The 2XU Compression Calf Guards are normally bought alongside these compression socks. This way you can wear both and be absolutely protected. 

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Wrap Up 

Now that you know what compression socks are, what they’re used for and who wears them, it’s about time you went out and got yourself a pair. We showed you the top seven compression socks available on the market, so, we recommend you try them on and see which one fits you the best.

runner with compression socks

Remember that besides just choosing a model, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind. For example, if you will be choosing a light support, a medium support or more. Features change from sock to sock and from one person’s needs to another.

Lastly, can you think of any models we might have missed? Or, do you have any questions or comments you want to share? Please write to us in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

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