11 Best Compression Socks for All Activities and Budgets

11 Best Compression Socks for All Activities and Budgets

Best Tested Compression Socks

Bombas Performance Compression Socks

Performance Compression Socks

Best Tested Compression Socks

Bombas Performance Compression Socks

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Available in multiple mmHg levels
  • Unique colors and patterns
  • Signature Honeycomb arch support
Cons
  • At more than $35/pair, they’re pricey

From the same brand that we deemed had the “Best Ankle Socks,” Bombas’ also makes a compression sock that we consider our all-time favorite. The model featured here offers 20-30 mmHg of compression, but also comes in a more moderate 15-20 mmHg version. The elastic stays in tip-top shape and the sock conforms tightly to your foot through dozens of washes.

The pair also features the brand’s signature Honeycomb arch support, which we feel is especially effective for performance purposes. In these socks, you’ll feel lifted and supported underfoot with that *just right* level of compression through the ankle and lower leg. Not to mention they crush it on style, available in all types of unique colors and patterns.

Read more: Best Socks

Compression level Strong
Cut Knee-high
Material 73% Polyester 12% nylon 9% elastane 6% cotton
Fits shoe sizes 6 – 16

Best Compression Ankle Socks

Silver Antimicrobial No-Show Compression-Fit Running Socks

Silver Antimicrobial No-Show Compression-Fit Running Socks

Best Compression Ankle Socks

Silver Antimicrobial No-Show Compression-Fit Running Socks

Now 10% Off

Pros
  • Incredibly affordable
  • Several colors and patterns available
  • Over 8,000 five-star Amazon reviews
Cons
  • Doesn’t provide enough compression for some

Compression socks aren’t just meant to be pulled over your calves—there are no-show socks with compression, too. The silhouette intentionally mimics the shape of a running shoe, with compressive support through the arch and a snug fit.

Unlike some ankle socks that can constantly roll down at the heel as you run, these stay right where you want them. With slightly tighter compression at the ankle, a heel tab that makes them easy to pull-on, and bacteria-fighting silver woven into the fabric, they’re just as comfortable as they are functional.

Read more: Best Socks on Amazon

Compression level Light
Cut Ankle
Material 75% Drynamix® 23% nylon 2% elastane
Fits shoe sizes 4.5 – 14

Best Compression Socks for Running

lululemon MicroPillow Compression Knee-High Socks

MicroPillow Compression Knee-High Socks

Best Compression Socks for Running

lululemon MicroPillow Compression Knee-High Socks

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Incredibly breathable
  • Light compression best suited for running
  • Comfortable fit

These knee-high socks have a low grade compression level that’s made for long distance running. They aren’t the most snug fitting compression socks you’ll find on this list, but they do provide the ideal amount squeeze to your feet and calves to ensure proper blood flow during your running sessions.

They’ve got the true essence of Lululemon, too; The material feels luxe, ultra comfortable, incredibly breathable, and lightweight. Plus, we just really think we look cool running in these puppies.

Compression level Medium
Cut Knee-high
Material Not listed
Fits shoe sizes 6 -14

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Best-Looking Compression Socks

Comrad Socks Recovery Knee High Compression Socks

Recovery Knee High Compression Socks

Best-Looking Compression Socks

Comrad Socks Recovery Knee High Compression Socks

Pros
  • Good-looking
  • Ideal mid-range level of compression
  • Soft yet durable fabric
  • Available in wide sizes

If you aren’t familiar with Comrad Socks already, that’s ok. Introducing our editors’ most celebrated sock from the brand: the Recovery Knee High Compression Socks. The material looks and feels like a nice dress sock you’d sport to the office with nice slacks or a suit, and the compression sort of sneaks in under the radar (AKA without that stereotypical orthopedic compression sock look).

The compression isn’t anything to underestimate, either. We found these to provide a really comfortable yet effective mid-range squeeze which is less tight than the Bombas Performance Compression Socks, but tighter than the Lululemon model listed above.

Compression level Medium
Cut Knee-high
Material 36% Emana infrared nylon, nylon 56%, 8% elastane
Fits shoe sizes 6 – 13 (including wide)

Best Wool Compression Socks

Smartwool Hunt Classic Edition Over the Calf Socks

Hunt Classic Edition Over the Calf Socks

Best Wool Compression Socks

Smartwool Hunt Classic Edition Over the Calf Socks

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Super soft
  • Temperature-regulating
  • Cushioned comfort through the arch and heel
  • Graduated compression
Cons
  • May feel too tight through the ankle for some

These are the socks cold weather sport fanatics should all know and love. They pack some cushion underfoot that feels equally supportive and cloud-like, but the best part? They’re made from merino wool, a natural material with temperature regulating properties.

Ok, maybe we lied. The best part might actually be the 20-30 mmHg thoughtfully graduated compression, which adds comfort and better encourages blood flow back to the heart. We were also won over by the incredible softness.

Read more: Best Moisture-wicking Socks

Compression level Heavy
Cut Mid-calf
Material 73% Merino Wool 9% Nylon 17% Recycled Nylon 1% Elastane
Fits shoe sizes 6 – 14.5

Most Comfortable Compression Socks

Tracksmith Speed Crew Sock

Speed Crew Sock

Most Comfortable Compression Socks

Tracksmith Speed Crew Sock

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Light compression best suited for running
  • Timeless style
  • High breathability
Cons
  • Not suitable for significant lower leg compression
  • Limited larger sizes available

Similar to Lululemon’s compression sock, the Speed Crew is made from a light compression blend that’s feels just perfect for running. The pair features reinforced micro cushioning in the heel and achilles which we noticed helps prevent chaffing and added compression through the arch which offers a little extra lift.

In terms of style, we love the timeless, low-profile design and that you’d never know they’re compression socks just by looking at them. They come in a few eye-catching color, but we think this rich blueish green looks coolest in person.

Compression level Light
Cut Crew
Material 95% Polyamide, 5% elastane
Fits shoe sizes 4 – 12

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Best Compression Socks for Skiing

Darn Tough Edge OTC Midweight Sock + Cushion + Padded Shin

Edge OTC Midweight Sock + Cushion + Padded Shin

Best Compression Socks for Skiing

Darn Tough Edge OTC Midweight Sock + Cushion + Padded Shin

Pros
  • Odor-resistant
  • Ideal padded design for skiing
  • Drys quickly
  • Temperature-regulating
Cons
  • Not ideal in warmer climates

Whenever we hit the slopes, we make sure these Darn Tough socks are in tow. They’re padded and snug in all the right places, with strategic protection along the shin and compression through the midfoot, ankle, and up into the calf muscle. The padded areas, along with the rest of the sock, really are darn tough—we’ve washed and worn a single pair dozens of times and they’re still kickin’.

For getting active in cooler weather, you really just can’t beat Merino wool, either. These aren’t too thick, wick away moisture well, and are naturally temperature-regulating and odor-resistant.

Compression level Medium
Cut Knee-high
Material 54% Merino wool, 43% nylon, 3% Lycra spandex
Fits shoe sizes 8 – 14.5

Best Splurge Compression Calf Guards

2XU Non-Stirrup Compression Calf Guard

Non-Stirrup Compression Calf Guard

Best Splurge Compression Calf Guards

2XU Non-Stirrup Compression Calf Guard

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Won’t slip
  • Quick-drying
Cons
  • Must be worn with a separate pair of socks
  • Expensive

When it comes to style, we think calf guards rank among the most badass running gear. These sleek, lightweight nylon-Lycra fabric guards have sports reflective graphics, which add to that cool factor, and make them a functional safety choice for running after dark.

They’re breathable enough to wear even in the hottest weather, and won’t slip even on your sweatiest runs. The 360 knit construction delivers pressure all around, and while we rank its compression right in the middle of the range, they’re pretty tight at first. Expect a few wears to break these in, and you might even want to size up if you aren’t used to compression gear.

Compression level Medium
Cut Calf
Material 72% Nylon, 28% lycra
Fits calf sizes 14.5 – 17.75 inches (circumference)

Best Compression Socks for Recovery

Shock Doctor Elite SVR Recovery Compression Socks

Elite SVR Recovery Compression Socks

Best Compression Socks for Recovery

Shock Doctor Elite SVR Recovery Compression Socks

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Added footbed traction
  • Offers targeted compression
  • Antimicrobial
Cons
  • Will run you a solid $50

Take a closer look at these Shock Doctor socks and you’ll see the contoured knit texture. It’s not just for show—that contour allows to target compression in the areas that need more pressure like the ankles and calves. We also noticed that the compression is graduated, meaning the top of the sock won’t dig into your skin. Compression socks (especially those intended for recovery) should promote blood flow, not constrict it.

We also love that the footbed has a special design for added traction, so you can wear these around the house shoe-free after a run or workout without slipping and sliding.

Compression level Medium
Cut Knee-high
Material 46% tactel, 26% polyamide, 19% Timbrelle, 9% elastane
Fits shoe sizes 5 – 11+

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Best Compression Crew Socks

Swiftwick Aspire 4

Aspire 4

Best Compression Crew Socks

Swiftwick Aspire 4

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Reasonably priced
  • Versatile crew cut
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Targeted compression through the foot
Cons
  • On the thinner side (a pro, for some)

Some cyclists and trail runners need a little extra compression throughout the foot or just don’t want a sock that comes all the way up to the knee. With firm compression in every contour of the foot and a classic crew cut, these are the socks for them.

The material is thin and breathable, with sweat-wicking qualities and a V-shaped heel to avoid bunching in your shoes. Plus, they come in at under $20.

Compression level Heavy
Cut Crew
Material 67% Nylon, 28% olefin, 5% spandex
Fits shoe sizes 3-15

Most Affordable Compression Calf Guards

Rymora Calf Compression Sleeve

On Sale

Calf Compression Sleeve

Most Affordable Compression Calf Guards

Rymora Calf Compression Sleeve

Now 42% Off

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Great price (and often on sale)
  • Breathable
  • Stays in place
Cons
  • Must be worn with a separate pair of socks

These lower leg compression sleeves are made from a combination of nylon, polyester, and elastane that feels breathable, stretchy, and comfortable against the skin. At less than half the price of the 2XU calf guards, it’s impressive that we’ve also never struggled with these slipping during a run or workout.

The only downside from where we stand is that these run on the shorter side, meaning they won’t cover as much lower leg surface area as some knee-high options. Still, they’re a warm weather-friendly solution to calf compression.

Compression level Heavy
Cut Calf
Material 54% Nylon, 39% polyester and 7% elastane
Fits calf sizes 10.5 – 21 inches (circumference)

How To Choose the Right Compression Socks

best compression socks

Courtesy of retailer

The two most common compression sock measurements are 20-30mmHg and 15-20mmHg. The lower number at the front of each mmHg reading typically indicates the pressure on the top of the sock, while the higher number indicates the pressure on the foot of the sock. And in terms of overall mmHg ratings, the higher the number the stronger the compression.

Read more: Best Running Socks

For a 20-30mmHg compression sock, you can expect moderate to strong compression. This compression level is good for various sports and activities. There are compression socks higher than 20-30mmHg, but once you go past this level you’re getting into socks that are prescribed by doctors and for medical purposes.

A 15-20mmHg compression sock is better for everyday wear and for travel. You’re still going to get strong compression but it’s going to be nowhere near a 20-30mmHg fit. If you’re just starting in buying compression socks, it’s probably best to check out a 15-20mmHg pair first and see if you like the fit.

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Can Compression Socks Really Improve Performance and Recovery?

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Although the jury is still out on whether compression garments can actually improve your workout or decrease risk of injury, some of them offer enough compression to keep your muscles supported and contained, thus possibly improving circulation by squeezing blood back toward the heart, according to Dr. Miranda-Comas. And, from the anecdotal experience of some of us here at Men’s Health, we’ll vouch for the fact that a solid pair of compression socks can help you feel your best for a long run, work day, or travel day.

The biggest potential benefit from compression socks is the fact that they can help you recover faster by promoting the flow of blood back to the heart. One 2021 study found that wearing compression socks proved beneficial for adults who typically engage in minimal exercise (less than 60 minutes per week). It aided them in adhering to exercise routines and experiencing reduced soreness during the recovery phase. Another study found that runners who wore compression garments may also benefit from improvements in endurance performance, as well as reduced muscle pain, damage, and inflammation.

How Often Can Compression Socks Be Worn?

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You can totally rock compression socks for hours on end, especially when you’re sitting down. It’s like a little leg-hug that helps with blood flow. They’re generally safe for most folks to wear every day, just make sure you get the right size to avoid discomfort.

But here’s the thing: take them off from time to time. AKA don’t snooze in them or wear them around the clock. Compression offers a ton of benefits, but can lose its value (and irritate your skin) when overdone.

Oh, and remember, compression socks aren’t immortal. After about three to six months of regular wear, those elastic fibers start to call it quits, and your socks won’t work their compression magic as well. If you’re ever unsure about how long or how often you should wear these leg-huggers, your best bet is to chat with a healthcare pro.

Why You Can Trust Us

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At Men’s Health, we take great pride in providing our readers with reliable and trustworthy product recommendations. We believe that our readers deserve the best, which is why we always make sure to conduct thorough research and testing before making any recommendations. For this story, we spent hours researching the top-rated compression socks on the market. Over the course of the past year, MH editors and experts tested and evaluated a total of 21 pairs of the best compression socks. We also interviewed experts including Dr. Gerardo Miranda-Comas, a sports medicine physician and assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine.

Our writers and editors are also experts in their own right, using their informed opinions to select products and ensuring that our content is of the highest quality. Our product recommendations are purely editorial, and while we may receive free products to test and review, we only recommend the products we are most impressed by. We never let retailers or public relations contacts dictate our content or product coverage, which is why you can trust us to provide you with reliable and unbiased product recommendations.

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How We Selected the Best Compression Socks

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To accurately test the top-rated compression shorts on the market, our team of fitness and health editors took many of these out for a spin for long days standing, short and long distance runs, cycling, and travel days. We paid close attention to evaluate their compression level, comfort, breathability, and price point. We also considered top-reviewed compression socks that were recommended by trusted fitness trainers and experts we consulted for this story.

Read More About the Best Compression Garments to Buy Now

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Headshot of John Thompson

John Thompson

Gear and Commerce Editor

John Thompson is the Gear and Commerce Editor at Men’s Health, where he covers fashion, grooming, gear, and technology. He was previously the Style & Gear Editor at BroBible.com, and a commerce writer for TheManual.com. His interests include attending concerts, spending time outside, and following his favorite baseball team, the Kansas City Royals. 

Headshot of Talene Appleton, NASM-CPT

Fitness and Commerce Editor

Talene Appleton is a fitness and food writer and editor, certified personal trainer (NASM-CPT), and former professional dancer based in New York City. Passionate about both exercise and cuisine, she merges her fitness, nutrition and culinary expertise with the goal of motivating others to embrace balanced healthy living. Her work has appeared in Men’s Health, General Surgery News, The Food Institute, The Nessie, and more.

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