When it comes to choosing socks to go cycling, some questions often arise: Are specific cycling socks necessary? Can I wear regular sports socks? Long or short? With this in mind, we prepared this article to answer these and other questions related to cycling socks.
What is special about cycling socks?
Cycling-specific clothing has evolved a lot in recent years and socks are an important part of cycling clothing. Today many brands opt for socks specifically designed for cycling, such as Endura, Velocio, Shimano, Castelli, Swiftwick, Rapha, or Specialized, to name a few international brands. You can ride good mountain bikes under 500. In addition, in each country, you can find local brands that offer cycling socks of the same quality or even better than those mentioned above.
Currently, we can find cycling socks made of different materials, from the typical and traditional cotton to those with carbon fiber, through merino wool.
There is nothing written about tastes, but it should be noted that cotton has been losing market in the cycling world. The main reason is that cotton retains moisture and does not regulate the temperature of the foot properly, which can cause chafing or blisters on the foot.
Most modern cycling socks are made from synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, among others, which do not absorb moisture. Cycling socks use these materials as they perspire and dry quickly.
Examples of synthetic materials used in cycling socks:
Coolmax – excellent ventilation and temperature control
Meryl Skinlife – polyamide fiber with antimicrobial properties, offering excellent odor control
PrimaLoft – retains heat, is especially used in winter socks
Olefin – excellent resistance and fast-drying, since it absorbs less than 0.01% of its weight in moisture
If you prefer natural fibers, merino wool can be a great alternative. In addition to regulating temperature, it does not absorb moisture and is especially good at eliminating odors.
Some brands are even betting on manufacturing cycling socks from recycled plastic bottles, thus achieving “eco-friendly” socks, such as the DeFeet Aireator.
It is not uncommon to find socks that incorporate different combinations of materials. So it is not enough to look at the colors and size of your next socks, but also, it is worth reading the label carefully.
The thickness of cycling socks
An important characteristic of cycling socks, in addition to the material, is chosen, is the thickness of the material. Cycling socks are usually thin and tight. The main reason is that cycling shoes are rigid and tight to take full advantage of the energy of the pedal stroke.
A sock that is too thick absorbs some of this energy. A loosely fitted sock can cause wrinkles at the base of the foot or the heel, causing discomfort and even chafing and blisters.
Some cycling socks even offer different thicknesses depending on the part of the foot. Some come with a reinforced arch or heel counter. In addition, there are socks with compression bands on the ankle, on the arch, or in other parts of the sock to achieve greater firmness when pedaling.
Types of socks
- Short cycling socks
- Long or short socks
And here comes one of the big questions… long or short socks? In recent years, we have seen in UCI races how the judges measure the height of the sock since, according to the regulations, they cannot exceed certain measurements. For amateur cyclists, the important thing is to value comfort since what can be noticed with an aerodynamic or very high sock is almost non-existent.
We could say that there are three measurements according to the height of the sock. The short socks, which are not visible or are just below the ankle, widely used for years in the world of triathlon. There are also the middle ones that cover the ankle. Finally, we have long or high socks, which already cover part of the shin.
At the end of the day, choosing the height of your socks is personal taste and comfort. Certainly, for high performance cyclists, a long sock can represent a few thousandths. But at the end of the day, it’s all about feeling comfortable and looking good.
Summer and winter socks
In summer and with high temperatures, a thin and low sock can be more comfortable. However, many are already cyclists who wear long socks in all seasons of the year. It is more a matter of choosing the most suitable material for each season of the year.
A sock with PrimaLoft or Merino wool would be a winter sock and a mesh knit sock for summer. In some regions, the temperatures do not drop that much and you can wear thin socks all year round. If you prefer thicker socks for winter, it may also be a good idea to have winter shoes that offer enough room to wear a thick sock while maintaining a good fit.
In many socks, you can find the word ultralight, lightweight, mid-weight, or heavyweight, which indicates whether it is more socks for hot times or more winter months.
Cycling socks for the rainy season
There are also socks for rain situations, such as the Sealskinz or Gore-tex brand. These are socks with waterproof materials, which help keep feet dry and warm when pedaling in wet conditions. Being waterproof, it should be noted that these socks do not perspire and can be a problem for those who sweat excessively.
How to choose cycling socks?
There is no magic formula. Everyone is different and some can use different types of socks. Some people do not mind pedaling in the middle of summer with merino wool socks since they prioritize the softness of the sock and the elimination of odors. Others will prioritize the release of the sock for aesthetic reasons. Cyclists who live in humid areas may need waterproof socks. And others will prioritize design and color.
In the end, the most important thing is to look for comfort and that it fits our budget since the price range can vary enormously, becoming even excessive to pay certain prices for a pair of socks. As always, it is a matter of priorities.