Looking for the best wool cycling socks? I was too. I checked my sock drawer recently and realized that I might have gotten a little bit obsessed during my search for the best wool socks. I bought every single pair of these at retail, over a period of a couple of years.
I figured that I would share what I had learned so that everyone else won’t have to spend as much money on socks as I did.
If you don’t care to read about every different pair of socks and just want to know which ones are good, then I will give you the best first.
It’s really almost a four way tie, because there are four pair that I totally love. In fact, I’m happy with all of these socks listed and wear them all regularly, except for the Smartwool socks, which have not held up well in the wash compared to all the others.
If I had to pick just one pair as the best, I’d choose the Swiftwick Pursuit 4 merino wool socks. First of all, they have an outstanding fit that’s really snug. Swiftwick describes them as compression socks, to give you an idea. The wool is not itchy. The breakdown is 60% merino wool, 30% nylon, and 10% lycra. You’ll get just the right amount of padding for your foot, and a sock that holds up extremely well in the wash.
One of my other top four wool cycling socks isn’t a cycling specific sock at all. It’s the Darn Tough Vermont Merino Micro Crew. These socks all work great as a standard pair of dark socks, so you get dual use out of them. The Darn Tough brand is made in the USA, in Vermont. 67% Merino Wool, 29% Nylon, 4% Lycra / Spandex. They have outstanding build quality, good padding, and they hold up great in the wash. If you want a wool sock that you can wear when you’re on and off the bike, these socks are the way to go.
My Sockguy Wooligan cycling socks are in my “top four pretty much tied for first” list of favorite wool socks. I also bought a thinner standard wool cycling Sockguy pair of socks that are similarly well made and comfortable. Good pricing, outstanding quality, terrific fit, and holds up well in the wash. Sockguy calls his type of wool Turbowool. “Made with 75% TURBOwool, a superior blend of 50% polypropylene and 50% Merino wool, which provides five times the strength and durability of Merino wool alone.” So what that really means is that the “75 percent Turbowool” really means around 37 percent wool content of the entire sock. Still, these socks are great.
Also in my “four way tie for first place” is this pair of Pearlizumi Elite Thermal Wool Cycling Socks. I haven’t had these socks for a long time, but they are holding up very well in the wash so far. The high nylon content tells me that they should be pretty durable. They are just the right thickness for winter, but should also do well as the weather starts to warm up. Wool really does work well in hot and cold. These socks come up pretty high, and are also suitable as a dress sock or casual sock if you get a plain pair like I have. 49% nylon, 48% Merino Wool, 3% spandex.
My Blaze wool socks by Defeet have the thickest padding of all my socks except maybe for my REI midweight wool hiking socks. I’m not sure if they are calling these the Woolie Boolie now, or if that is a different sock. 63% Wool 27% Nylon 10% Lycra Spandex. The wool in these socks doesn’t say Merino, so I’m not sure if it is. They are a little bit more course than my other wool cycling socks, but I would not describe them as itchy. Even with the high percentage of wool, these have really held up well in the wash.
My REI wool socks are actually hiking socks, and not cycling socks at all. They are thicker than my other cycling socks, so I often wear them when the temperature is colder. If you have very snug cycling shoes, these might be a little bit too thick. They have a very high wool content, which makes them warm. But I also wear them in warm weather off the bike, and they don’t get too hot. REI only puts their name on quality stuff, in my experience, and these socks are great. I also wear them hunting and hiking. They are cheap too, at around $13. 78% wool/20% nylon/2% Lycra spandex.
I picked up my Gizmo Wooly-G cycling socks at Richardson Bike Mart. They have held up well in the wash and are adequate socks, but one of my least favorite pair. They are thinner than most of my other wool cycling socks, so they are great summer wool socks and okay winter socks. I like a little bit more padding in the sole than these socks provide. If you like thin and durable though, you can’t go wrong with these. I think it’s the high percentage of nylon that makes them hold up so well. 55% Merino Wool 40% Nylon 5% Lycra.
My worst pair of wool cycling socks is my Smartwool socks. I don’t know why these have become so baggy and frayed over time, while all my other wool socks have held up. Perhaps it is the low percentage of elastic material in these socks. I’m a fan of Smartwool in general. I wear my Smartwool hoodie all the time, and my Smartwool midweight base layer is one of my favorite winter base layers for cycling or any other outdoor activity. 74% merino wool, 25% nylon, 1% elastic. I do not recommend these.
What’s your favorite pair of wool cycling socks? Have you tried any of these? Leave a comment and share your experience to help everyone else shopping for socks.