With winter finally here—and many chilly months ahead of us—now's the better time to break out your favorite warm socks to keep those tootsies nice and toasty. As a person who usually prefers to putter around the house barefoot for most of the year, even I can admit that once the weather starts to chill, I turn to the best warm socks I have to keep my toes warm. Even my no-show socks get pushed to the back of my sock drawer in favor of thick knit socks that lock in the precious heat.
Best warm socks, at a glance:
- Best for outdoor activities: Icebreaker, Women's Merino Ski+ Light Over the Calf Alps 3D, $30
- Best for boots: Alvada, Merino Wool Hiking Socks (3-pack), $20
- Best wool: L.L.Bean, Merino Wool Ragg Socks, $40
- Best lightweight wool: Smartwool, Everyday Margarita Crew Sock, $21
- Best for everyday: Bombas, Merino Wool Sweater Quarter Sock, $24
- Best cozy socks: Barefoot Dreams, CozyChic Socks, $15
- Best grip socks: Ugg, Paityn Cozy Gripper Crew Socks, $20
- Best value: YSense Wear, Womens Wool Socks 5-Pack, $15
- Best thin warm socks: Uniqlo, Heattech Socks, $8
- Best for hiking: Bombas, Merino Wool Blend Hiking Calf Socks, $26
What type of socks keep feet warmest?
Even though socks all sort of look the same (bar patterns and colors), they're certainly not all created equal. Everything from the length to the material can determine whether you’d be better off wearing them on a cold morning hike or lounging in front of the fireplace. Here are a few key materials to look out for:
Wool, the queen of warmth
The best socks to keep feet warm and dry are made primarily of wool, and for good reason. For starters, wool is great at containing heat—anyone who has worn a wool sweater will tell you that. But wool also has antibacterial properties1 (goodbye stinky feet) and is also a good pick for those with skin sensitivities2, like eczema.
Polyester & polyester blends
While also known for retaining heat, polyester isn't always as soft as cotton or wool (research suggests3 this is because the material lacks moisture). Still, socks that contain a blend of materials can benefit from polyester. And, if your socks don't need to perform beyond providing warmth (read: wick sweat, fight odor) polyester is often a cozy soft option. To help save your feet from the frigid cold, I did my due diligence and tracked down the best warm socks that’ll keep your toes comfortable and toasty this winter.
Best for outdoor activities:
Whether you’re skiing the slopes or starting a snowball fight, donning the right pair of warm socks can keep you focused on the fun. These over-the-calf ski socks from Icebreaker are cozy, cute, and designed with unique structural features—including an anatomical toe box and instep support—to keep your feet comfortable during your favorite wintertime activities. Made of a flexible wool blend, they’re warm yet breathable, striking a perfect balance for chilly outdoor pursuits.
Sizes: S, M, L
- Breathable Merino wool blend
- Anatomical toe box
- Ankle and instep support
- Must be washed in cold water and hung to dry
Best for boots:
There’s something so annoying about having your socks slide down in your boots. Luckily, these merino wool socks from Alvada have a no slip cuff and a snug fit to keep them from slipping down. They’re a thicker sock, designed for maximum warmth, and feature a fuzzy brushed inner that feels nice and cozy on your toes.
Sizes: Men’s XS-L
- Thick and warm merino wool for the coldest days
- Reinforced tops prevent sliding
- Limited color variety
With countless 5-star ratings on their website, it’s clear that the L.L.Bean Merino Wool Ragg Socks have been a trusted, cold-weather favorite for years. Made to last using moisture-wicking merino wool—which keeps feet warm but never sweaty—along with nylon and elastic for added durability, the Ragg socks will be your go-to warm socks for many winters to come. The best part? Unlike other wool socks that can be finicky to maintain, the Ragg socks can be tossed in the washer and dryer for easy cleaning.
Sizes: Unisex S-XL (women’s 4 – men’s 15)
- Made of itch-free merino wool
- Premium price point
Best lightweight wool:
For a lightweight wool option, the Margarita Crew socks from Smartwool are a great pick. W+G contributing writer, Jamey Powell, is a big fan. She says, “I had these socks for 5 years and wore the life out of them. Recently I finally had to say goodbye because of holes, but they really were warm despite being so thin, and I loved the fun pop of color with the stripes.” Just note that they’re pretty cushion-less and, while definitely warm, not as thick as you may want for super cold days.
Sizes: S, M, L
- Merino wool is thin and breathable but warm
- Designed to last
- Our staff pick
- Little cushion
Best for everyday:
Designed to feel like your favorite winter sweater, these Bombas socks offer supreme softness and cushioned comfort. The merino wool blend makes these warm socks a must for keeping your feet warm this winter—whether you’re on the go or just hanging out at home. What’s more, they have a seamless toe (no weird bump in your shoes). Best of all, Bombas donates a pair of socks to charity for every pair purchased.
Sizes: S, M, L
- Stretchy and moisture-wicking merino wool blend
- “Sure fit” cuff stays snug around your ankle without sliding down
- No solid color options
Best cozy socks:
Beloved for its signature CozyChic yarn that delivers unreal softness, Barefoot Dreams socks are a lounging essential. They’re warm and soft, and the fact that they keep their softness after repeat washes is an added bonus. Just note that they’re made from a polyester blend, so while they’re plenty warm for chilly days at home, they’re probably not the best for hiking in the snow.
Sizes: One Size (fits shoe sizes 5-9)
- Snuggly softness for lazy days at home
- Stretchy fit makes sizing easier
- May not be warm enough for outdoor wear
Best grip socks:
Sure, we all know Ugg for its iconic boots (and its insanely comfortable closed toe slippers!), but the brand’s socks are also a major hit. That includes their grip socks, which have sticky dots on the bottom to keep you grounded on hardwood floors. They’re made from a cozy warm polyester blend that will give your slipper socks a run for their money, and are ideal for watching TV or lounging—just make sure it’s indoors!
Sizes: One Size (fits Women’s 5-10)
- Grippers keep you from sliding around on slippery floors
- Stretchy material helps them fit to your feet
- Can only be worn indoors
With over 10,000 5-star ratings on Amazon, these are warm socks that you (and your wallet) will be psyched about. They’re made of a wool, polyester, and spandex blend for peak warmth and softness, and are super durable—making them a solid winter sock choice no matter the occasion.
Sizes: One Size (fits shoe size 5-9)
- Great value
- Breathable wool, spandex, polyester, and elastic blend
- Tons of color options
- Sizing can be limited
Best thin warm socks:
For warm socks that keep feet toasty without adding bulkiness, check out Uniqlo’s Heattech socks. The thin, lightweight design slips into any pair of shoes with ease, and thanks to Uniqlo’s signature Heattech magic, helps lock in heat during grueling, long winters. Factor in the minimalist look and snug, slip-free fit, and you’ve got a pair of warm socks you won’t want to leave home without this winter.
Sizes: One Size (fits a Women’s 7.5-10)
- Thin profile works with shoes but doesn’t compromise warmth
- Several neutral color options for everyday wear
- Limited size options
Best for hiking:
Another great supportive pick from Bombas, these soft, sweat-wicking merino wool hiking socks are ready to go the distance on your next long, chilly adventure. Their calf-height design makes them tall enough to work with any hiking boots, and the honeycomb arch support will help keep you feeling lifted on the trail. And, as with the ankle socks we highlighted above, these socks don’t have seams on the toe, so you won’t have to worry about rubbing in your boots.
Sizes: S, M, L
- Seamless toe and generous arch support
- High, calf-height design to work with all boots
- Only 3 color options
What to look for in the best warm socks
Know why you need warm socks
That might sound silly, but you'll want to prioritize materials that set you up for success for your chosen activity, be it lounging on the couch or hiking a snowy trail. For chill days at home polyester or poly blends will probably keep your toes toasty enough. For colder temps, though, you're better off with Merino wool or wool blends.
Consider the height you need to work with your footwear. If you're wanting warm socks to work with your hiking boots, you'll need to focus on calf-height styles. If your goal is everyday wear, you can choose from a wider variety of styles.
Sizing can be wonky with socks, especially if your foot is on the smaller or larger end of the spectrum. Remember that one-size-fits-all options are often stretchy, so they may still work for your unique foot. But brands like Bombas do a better job of offering more specific sizes, so you may want to look there first.
- Ivankovic, Tomislav et al. “Antibacterial Properties of Non-Modified Wool, Determined and Discussed in Relation to ISO 20645:2004 Standard.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 27,6 1876. 14 Mar. 2022, doi:10.3390/molecules27061876
- Doyle, Emma K et al. “The science behind the wool industry. The importance and value of wool production from sheep.” Animal frontiers : the review magazine of animal agriculture vol. 11,2 15-23. 17 May. 2021, doi:10.1093/af/vfab005
- Martí, Meritxell et al. “Increased Comfort of Polyester Fabrics.” Polymers vol. 13,17 3010. 6 Sep. 2021, doi:10.3390/polym13173010
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