There are many people who believe that a sock is just a “foot tube.” The only difference is that they are made of different materials or are of different lengths. However, there’s so much more to mountain bike socks.
Choosing the right socks will make a significant difference in your cycling adventures.
Knee-high socks are great because they offer protection and keep dirt and debris out, but they can also be uncomfortable in a warm climate because they cause your feet and legs to get hot.
While knee-high socks are a great option, the ideal length for cycling socks is mid-calf.
It is just long enough to protect your leg and keep debris out and short enough so that it doesn’t get in the way of your knee pads and keeps your legs cool and comfortable.
Below, we’re going to take a look at some ways to choose the best mountain biking socks for the job.
What Materials are Used for Cycling Socks?
When it comes to cycling socks, there are several different materials that are used. Below, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common materials.
This is the most common material for bike socks for a good reason! Nylon wicks away moisture and dries quickly. Additionally, it is soft, lightweight, and warm.
This is another popular material for bike socks, as it wicks away moisture just like nylon/polyamide. However, it’s much cheaper to make, UV resistant, and recyclable. It is usually used with nylon.
When it comes to bike socks, most cyclists believe that merino wool is the gold standard because it’s thinner and softer than regular wool. In fact, it’s so comfortable that it feels like a second skin when you put it on.
Merino wool has a few advantages, such as:
- Maintains body temperature
- Wicks away sweat/moisture
- Odor resistant
However, it’s impossible to find bike socks made from 100% merino wool. Typically, it’s used with other materials, such as nylon, polyester, spandex, and more.
Nearly every pair of bike socks you find will have some spandex/lycra in them. Typically, it’s between 1 and 10 percent. This is what keeps your socks stretchy and prevents them from falling down.
Acrylic is a versatile, synthetic material that is a lot like wool and can imitate the softness of cotton. The only disadvantage is that it’s known to pill easily.
You’re not likely to find bike socks made from cotton because, while it’s very soft, it’s also extremely moisture-absorbent.
The last thing you want is to have wet feet from sweating or being rained on. Additionally, over time, it will lose its thermal insulation, shape, and softness.
This is a synthetic material that is known for being durable and stain-resistant. It’s made from oil production and prevents mold and mildew growth.
You won’t find bike socks that are 100% silk, but it’s often woven in with other materials to keep you cool and feel good against your skin. It’s a material made from silkworms.
Typically, the mesh is made from a combination of polyester and nylon, woven together in a crisscross pattern, providing improved airflow.
How are Bike Socks Made?
Bike socks should not have a seam at the heel or the toe. Since those are the areas that take the most abuse while you ride, these areas should be reinforced.
Some socks have padding in these areas to improve comfort because, if not well-protected, they can be sources of pain.
What to look for in Bike Socks?
So, socks are not as simple as they look. Check out below for a few things to consider before making a purchase.
Consider Compression Socks
Most mountain bikers prefer compression socks to improve their performance. There are varying levels of compression when it comes to bike socks. Choose those that have compression at the midfoot and across the calf.
Choose the Appropriate Size
Some bike socks are labeled as “one size fits all” or “one size fits most.” It’s best if you can avoid these. The best bike sock brands offer multiple sizes because the “one size” ones could end up causing blisters.
Is Cuff Height Important?
This topic is debatable and depends entirely on your own purpose for riding and how you prefer for your socks to fit. If you are regularly riding mountain trails, you may want to consider a taller cuff to protect your legs.
If it’s cooler weather, tall socks may be a better option.
However, if it’s warm weather, you might prefer socks that are shorter. If performance is important to you, then taller socks are your best option because of the warmth and protection they provide.
Think About How They Look
This is definitely something that is a more personal decision. Ideally, mountain bikers should choose darker socks so that the dirt/mud doesn’t show up as much. Most cyclists will wear white in the spring/summer and black in the fall/winter.
Of course, you don’t have to do this. You can wear what you like.
Keep in mind that gender is irrelevant when it comes to bike socks. Performance should always be the first thing you consider.
Biking socks are fairly inexpensive, so go ahead and grab a few pairs so you have options.
Budget Still Matters
You have, no doubt, heard the saying that you get what you pay for. This stands true for bike apparel as well. Typically, standard bike socks cost between $10 and $30 per pair.
Professional bike socks are going to cost a bit more. When you shop for bike socks, try to find a happy medium between what you can afford and decent quality. This will help you avoid regret.
Do You Really Need Bike Socks?
Bike socks are a piece of apparel that’s easy to overlook. However, if you want to improve your performance, you need to be comfortable. Bike socks play a critical role in this.
The best ones keep your feet at the ideal temperature for comfort. Also, your pressure points do not get chafed. Keep in mind that your feet are what transfers the power from your legs to the bike, which means you need to take care of them.
Knee-high socks are great to have for riding along mountain trails. However, they’re not required. If you feel you would be more comfortable in a shorter sock, that is your decision.
Check out our picks for the best summer and winter MTB socks.