Cushioned Socks Are Key for Happy Feet During High-Impact Activities Like Running and Hiking—Here Are the Best Ones

Socks are often an afterthought when getting ready for the day but, for those who experience pain or pressure on the soles, they can really make or break a look. Especially during high-impact activities like running and hiking, the areas of your feet that make the most impact with the ground—primarily the heel and the ball of your foot—can get sore and fatigued over time. Tl;Dr—your feet need a little TLC for high-impact activities, and cushioned socks have got you covered.

Whether or not you don’t already experience discomfort on-the-move, a cushioned sock can help absorb some of the shock during all sorts of activities, be it running a marathon or padding around the house. These socks—which typically feature reinforced padding in the entire or select areas of the sole—give your fragile footsies a softer landing with every step. Even when they’re laced up in sneakers which, depending on the model you’re wearing, might be designed for maximum shock-absorption, just a smidge of added support in these areas can make all the difference. If you happen to get your feet in one with a padded arch or cushioned heel tabs and ankle elastics for protection against blisters, well, that’s even better.

Don’t be fooled—the types of socks you wear are key for happy feet, especially during high-impact activities. With hiking and outdoor-running season around the corner, here are the best cushioned socks to get your feet into ASAP.

The best cushioned socks, at a glance:

The 13 best cushioned socks for added comfort

Best overall

Smartwool, Walk Light Cushion Ankle Sock — $17.00

Sizes available: S-XL

If you’re shopping for the best-cushioned socks overall, we swear by the Smartwool Walk Light Cushion Ankle Socks. These socks are our favorite because they are the perfect pair for everyday wear, providing a light cushion for maximum comfort on the entire bottom of your foot, not just heels and toes. If you do want to run or hike in them, they can do that, too, as they’re not too thick to be uncomfortable in running sneakers or hiking boots. In addition to the cushion, the socks are designed with merino wool, which is ultra-breathable and naturally sweat-wicking to keep soles dry, whether you wear them to work out, commute, or lounge in.

Colors: 2

Best for running

Gonii Cushioned Ankle Socks (Pack of 5) — $19.00

Sizes available: 6-12

Having a cushioned sock on the soles can provide an extra layer of comfort while running, be it on pavement, a treadmill, or on the trails. Our top pick for this category are the Gonii Ankle Socks from Amazon, which come in a 5-pack and are designed from a cotton, polyester, and spandex blend that is breathable and fits the foot comfortably. We love these because, in addition to their breathable material, the socks are cushioned in areas that that hit the ground the hardest (aka, the ball of the foot and the heel), and include a plush heel tab to prevent scratches and blisters. These socks also boast excellent value, as you can get five of them for less than $20.

Colors: 5

Best for yoga

Hylaea, Grip Socks (Pack of 3) — $18.00

Sizes available: S-M, L-XL

Is yoga a high impact activity? No, but that doesn’t always mean your feet feel great against a mat. If you’re looking for extra comfort and grip while in long-standing poses, these socks provide both, thanks to the cushioned bottoms and rubber treads. Additionally, they’re constructed from stretchy cotton that is breathable to keep soles dry and comfortable during your vinyasa flow. Plus, they come in a little pouch perfect for stashing in your gym or yoga bag.

Colors: 10

Best for hiking

Darn Tough, Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Sock — $25.00

Sizes available: S-L

Comfort goes a long way when hiking, and we swear by these Darn Tough for getting us up the mountain with a little extra cushion. They’re  designed to fit with hiking boots or sneakers—whatever your preference is—and is constructed from a durable merino wool that wicks away sweat and maximizes airflow while you roam. The socks are also cushioned on the toes and heels to help with high impact, reduce friction, and prevent blisters, while the reinforced arch provides extra support.

Colors: 6

Best for walking

Bombas, Performance Cushioned No-Show Socks — $17.00

Sizes available: S-L

Walking is a notoriously low-impact activity on joints, but it’s still stressful on your fragile feet, especially in areas like the heel and ball of your boot. Next time you embark on your daily “hot girl walk”, do it in these socks from Bombas. Unlike the brand’s other no-show socks, these sport a performance material that wicks sweat away from your feet, keeping them cool and collected, mile after mile. There’s plush reinforcement in the toe and heel, plus a seamless toe-box to avoid bunching in your sneaks. We promise, your walks just got way better.

Colors: 2

Best for heel pain

Thorlo, 12-Hour Shift Maximum Cushion Ankle Work Socks — $17.00

Sizes available: M-XL

If you struggle with plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, or just prefer more cushion in the back of your foot, check out Thorlo’s 12-Hour Shift Ankle Socks. They’re specifically designed for people who stand for hours and can provide extra comfort to those in work shoes and work boots since the padded heel helps reduce blisters, pressure, and pain. In addition to cushioned support, the socks are also moisture-wicking and help keep soles dry while wearing.

Colors: 2

Best for bunions

OrthoFeet, Bunion Relief Padded Socks (Pack of 3) — $27.00

Sizes available: S-L

Bunions can be incredibly uncomfortable, especially when wearing certain shoes. If you’re looking for something that can provide a little more relief, a pair of cushioned socks designed specifically for bunions are a must. We love the OrthoFeet Bunion Relief Padded Low Cut Socks because they are designed to be worn with most shoe styles and feature a split-toe construction that keeps the big toe separate from other toes to help support natural alignment. The socks also promote circulation, and can even relieve pressure on the soles.

Colors: 2

Best moisture-wicking

Hylaea, Athletic Running Socks (Pack of 3) — $23.00

Sizes available: S-XL

There’s nothing worse than swampy feet, which is why the Hylaea Athletic Running Socks are our top pick for the best moisture-wicking cushioned socks. They’re constructed from high-quality and durable material that reduces fatigue, provides arch support, and cools the soles of feet so you’ll stay comfortable while you wear them. Thanks to the brand’s CoolMax technology, they pull moisture away from the body, too, ensuring your feet stay dry no matter how sweaty you get.  Plus, they come in a three pack which adds to the value.

Colors: 9

Best wool

Feetures, Merino 10 Max Cushion — $20.00

Sizes available: S-L

Wool is one of the best materials for socks because it’s naturally temperature-regulating and moisture-wicking. We adore the Feetures Merino 10 Max Cushion No Show socks because they are constructed from a high-quality merino wool blend that incorporates Tencel fibers, giving your feet unmatched softness with reinforcement in the toes and heels. They’re also compressive with reduced spandex throughout the body that creates a fit-like-a-glove feel underneath sneakers. Bonus points for the no-show height you can wear with various styles.

Colors: 7

Best no-show

Bombas, Cushioned No-Show Sock (Pack of 4) — $50.00

Sizes available: S-L

You can have your cushioned socks and make them no-show, too, thanks to the Bombas Cushioned No-Show Socks. These socks come in pack of four and are designed to look stealth behind your favorite shoes while still providing lots of cushion and comfort. They’re pretty technical, too, built with the brand’s contour construction that gives them their second-skin feel, plus a seamless toe so there’s no annoying bumps under shoes. Most importantly, they actually stay in place thanks to a grip in the heel, which is a major plus for no-show socks since so many of them tend to slip and slide around.

Colors: 6

Best knee-high

Wrangler, Angora

Sizes available: 6-9

Cushioned socks are extra comfy in boots, so if you’re shopping for the best pair of knee-high socks the Wrangler Angora Blend Cushioned Knee High Boot Socks are woth a try. These socks come in a two-pack and are constructed from ultra-soft Angora with an acrylic, nylon, and spandex blend, for warmth, stretch, and long-lasting comfort. The socks are also not only moisture-wicking but quick-drying, too.

Colors: 2

Most colorful

CWVLC, Unisex Cushioned Compression Athletic Ankle Socks (Pack of 3) — $18.00

Sizes available: S-XL

For the best-cushioned socks with even better color options, look no further than the CWVLC Cushioned Compression Athletic Ankle Socks. There’s a rainbow of colors to choose from, including single styles in black, white, purple, lime green, watermelon, and royal blue, as well as multi-packs of matching or mixed colors allowing you to add a lot of variety for excellent value. In addition to their colors, the socks are great for exercise as they are made from a moisture-wicking material with lots of good, form-fitting stretch for compression and, of course, cushion in the parts of the foot vulnerable to the most impact.

Colors: 17

Best for lounging

Skims, Plush Sock — $16.00

Sizes available: 6+, 8+

Nothing quite compares to the Skims Plush Socks for lounging. These socks are constructed with extra cushion for a cloud-like feel. The socks also boast a ton of style with a monochrome, texture-combining design that features smooth soles and fuzzy cuffs in black, brown, green, and white hues. The socks are also constructed from polyester so, while they are meant to keep you cozy while lounging at home, they are also breathable, which is a must in socks no matter how warm they are.

Colors: 4