Athleisure Wear

‘I’m a Vascular Doctor, and These Are the 10 Best Compression Socks for Travel’

Photo: Getty Images/ Plume Creative
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It's officially one of the busiest times of year to travel. Not only are we looking at long flights and road trips—but also long wait times and layovers, too. Basically, if you plan on traveling soon, be prepared to sit. A lot. If you're just settling back into a life on the road (or in the air), we highly recommend you gear yourself with flight essentials to make life more comfortable, like your neck pillow, a book, and comfortable shoes. But perhaps the most important (yet forgotten) travel must-have of all: compression socks.

The best compression socks, at a glance:

The importance of compression socks for travel

Compression socks are a must-have during flights—even if your journey is only a couple hours long. They can help avoid foot and ankle inflammation, as well as more severe blood clots that can occur during the long periods of time you can't be very mobile.

According to Eileen Catherine de Grandis, MD, vascular surgeon and medical director of the Vein Clinic at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, part of Baptist Health, compression socks work by squeezing your veins to prevent blood from pooling in the legs and feet and having them on hand "helps prevent the development of dangerous blood clots and leg swelling during long car trips and flights."

Who should wear compression socks while traveling?

Basically, compression socks are great for everyone to wear while on the road (or in the air). All travelers—with the exception of patients with severe peripheral arterial disease—would benefit from wearing compression socks, especially those with a family or personal history of deep vein thrombosis or varicose veins, says Michael Ombrellino, MD, FACS, a board-certified doctor in vascular surgery at the Cardiovascular Care Group.

What to look for in compression socks for traveling

There is a myriad of good compressive socks on the market, but Dr. de Grandis and Dr. Ombrellino recommend looking for ones with fitted grade compression like 15-20 mmHg or 20-30 mmHg (this level of compression may require a prescription or chat with a health-care provider).

Whether you're hitting the road to embark on scenic hikes or are taking a long flight abroad, pack these vascular doctor-approved compression socks on your next trip.

The best compressions socks for travel

Best Overall

best compression socks for travel
Comrad, Knee-High Compression Socks — $28.00

Sizes available: S-L, in wide widths

Crafted with 15-20 mmHg compressive nylon and spandex blend, Comrad’s knee-high compression socks increase circulation, reduce swelling, and offer relief for long days on your feet, making them the best overall choice and this pair has you covered on your next long flight or car ride.

Colors: 3

Material: nylon and spandex

Pros

  • 15-20 mmHg compression
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Offered in a variety of sizes

Cons

  • Pricey

Best Budget

best compression socks for travel
Charmking, Copper Compression Socks (Pack of 3) — $14.00

Sizes available: S-XL

For just $14, you can score three pairs of Charmking’s compressive socks. Made of 15-20 mmHg grade compression, these socks advance blood circulation and flow, no matter the distance. Plus, they come in 33 fun colors and patterns, from a cute fox print to polka dots.

Colors: 33

Material: nylon and spandex

Pros

  • Affordable
  • 15-20 mmHg compression
  • Comes in a variety of colors

Cons

  • Toe area may be too loose for some

Best Style

best compression socks for travel
Bombas, Performance Compression Socks — $36.00

Sizes available: S-L

For people who need a little more compression, Bombas performance compression socks are like a hug for your feet. They’re constructed out of a 20-30 mmHg polyester, nylon, spandex, and cotton blend to give you a tighter squeeze, and have arch support thanks to the honeycomb system (a special Bombas design that hugs arches). Bonus: They come in multi-colored fabrics: pink and purple, grey and purple, and yellow and grey.

Colors: 3

Material: nylon, spandex, polyester, cotton

Pros

  • 20-30 mmHg compression
  • Arch support
  • Durable

Cons

  • Pricey

Best Medical

best compression socks for travel
Jobst, Relief Knee High 20-30 mmHg Compression Socks — $36.00

Sizes available: S-L

Recommended by Dr. Ombrellino, Jobst socks were manufactured to meet strict medical criteria, and this pair offers 20-30 mmHg grade compression. This pair is “recommended for those patients who have significant medical edema, lymphedema, or have a higher risk for developing a deep vein thrombosis because of previous medical predisposition and are taking a long flight or car trip,” he says. Socks are not a one-size-fits-all, so it’s recommended to chat with a doctor.

Colors: 2

Material: nylon and spandex

Pros

  • 20-30 mmHg
  • For medical use
  • Comes in a variety of sizes

Cons

  • Pricey

Best Moisture-Wicking

best compression socks for travel
Sockwell, Moderate Graduated Compression Socks — $30.00

Sizes available: S-L

Soar to new heights with Sockwell’s Moderate Graduated compression socks. Made of merino wool and a blend of rayon, nylon, and spandex, this pair is stretchy and wicks away moisture to keep your feet dry and cool all day in the airport or plane.

Colors: 15

Material: nylon, spandex, merino wool, bamboo rayon

Pros

  • Moisture-wicking
  • 15-20 mmHg compression
  • Odor resistant

Cons

  • Pricey

Best Padded

best compression socks for travel
FitrelI, Compression Socks for Women and Men (Pack of 3) — $15.00

Sizes available: S-XL

For more cushion, Fitrell’s compression socks come padded, so you can get through airport security in comfort and ease. They’re made of 20-30 mmHg grade compressive fabrics (think: polyamide, polyester, and spandex) for those who need extra support.

Colors: 5

Material: polyamide, polyester, spandex

Pros

  • 20-30 mmHg compression
  • Breathable
  • Cushioned

Cons

  • May be too long for some

Best for Big Calves

jobst 15-20 mmhg stockings
Jobst, Relief Knee High 15-20 mmHg Compression Stockings — $31.00

Sizes available: S-XL

Jobst is the one-stop shop for all things medical-grade socks, and these stockings offer 15-20 mmHg compression, making it ideal for long plane or train rides. The come in a variety of sizes, ranging from small to extra large petite (ideal for folks with bigger calves).

Colors: 2

Material: spandex

Pros

  • 15-20 mmHg compression
  • Comes in a variety of sizes
  • Medical grade

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Limited colors

Best Unisex

physix compression socks
Physix Gear Sport, Compression Socks for Men & Women — $19.00

Sizes available: S-2XL

Featuring 20-30 mmHg medical-grade compression, Physix Gear Sport compression socks are ideal for everyone. They’re made of a nylon and spandex blend, rendering them stretchy, and they come in black with 13 heel colors.

Colors: 13

Material: nylon and spandex

Pros

  • 20-30 mmHg compression
  • Stretchy
  • Ideal for sports

Cons

  • Hand wash only

Best for Running

comrad athletic socks
Comrad, Athletic Knee-High Compression Sock — $40.00

Sizes available: S-XL

Comrad’s Athletic Knee-High Compression socks will take your game to the next level. Constructed out of a nylon, spandex, and cotton blend, these socks offer 20-30 mmHg compression, wick away moisture, and keep funky smells at bay, making them ideal for running or playing sports.

Colors: 2

Material: nylon, spandex, cotton, polyester

Pros

  • Odor resistant
  • Moisture-wicking
  • 20-30 mmHg compression

Cons

  • Expensive

Best Arch Support

thorlos socks
Thorlos, 12-Hour Shift Work Maximum Cushion (Pack of 3) — $25.00

Sizes available: M-XL

If you spend an exorbitant amount of time on your feet, look no further than Thorlos 12-Hour Shift cushioned socks. As the name implies, these socks are meant to protect your feet and heels thanks to the padding in the heel, forefoot, sidewalls, and toes. This minimizes friction and keeps your heels pain free (bye, blisters).

Colors: 3

Material: acrylic, nylon, elastic, polyester

Pros

  • Cushioned
  • Offers arch compression
  • Minimizes friction

Cons

  • No size variety

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