Socks can be a good gift—if you get the right pair.
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Socks are a lot like Brussels sprouts. Both are sensible, fiber dense, and generally good to have in large quantities. But when compared to some other options? They’re not all that exciting.
But socks and Brussels sprouts share another characteristic: Done right, they’re delightful. With the right packaging—which could be a honey dijon sauce, or it could be a trendily-dyed wool-spandex blend—it’s not hard to find someone who secretly (or not-so-secretly) wants them.
So, if you’re stumped on a gift to give someone in your life, go with socks. Chances are, you know someone who has recently lost one half of a pair to the Great Unknown (AKA the dryer) and needs to replenish their sock drawer. Make sure they do it the right way with the only socks we think are worth giving this year.
Shark Tank-born sock brand Bombas (say that five times fast) is one of those brands that is so omnipresent that it’s hard to believe that they’re as good as they claim. But rest assured: They really, really are. Our reviewer says they kept her feet warm without making them sweaty, are made of a soft, springy fabric that makes them unlike other pairs, and, as a whole, are the “best socks” she has ever worn.
Whether you get the classic ankle socks or a colorblock calf-length pair, Bombas are sure to be appreciated—and worn often—by anyone who receives them.
Not everyone is wise to the healing powers of compression socks. But they are beloved by a wide number of people, whether they are runners, frequent travelers, pregnant, or have to stand on their feet for work. A friend of mine, who happens to be a nurse practitioner—and thus more or less constantly on her feet during her 12-hour shifts—says Sockwells are the “only kind” of compression socks she ever buys. They reach up over the calves, applying gentle pressure to help minimize swelling and feelings of muscle fatigue and ensure blood flows the right way.
Other reviewers feel the same way.
“As a physician who has worn and recommended compression socks for many years, I needed to find compression hose that I could wear for protracted periods of time and socks that I could recommend to my patients,” writes a reviewer. “I now have many pairs of these socks and they make a huge difference. The swelling in my legs is markedly decreased. My patients who have bought these are very happy with them.”
Happy Socks, as their name implies, are socks emblazoned with fun, funky colors and patterns like polka dots, fried eggs, and a limited-edition Beatles-inspired collection. They’re also really great socks—they’re high-quality, durable, and have a breathable cotton weave that prevents feet from getting moist throughout the day. Just one pair makes for a great standalone gift, but you can also go for an easy-to-wrap multipack. No matter what, it’s sure to make the recipient smile.
“Fit wonderfully, don't have to pull them up constantly,” writes a reviewer. “They allow my toes to move, and they don't get too hot. Love the print. Makes me look cooler than I actually am.”
If you know a hiker, spelunker, rock climber, or all-around outdoorsy person, chances are good that they are already familiar with Darn Tough socks. If not, they’ll still be happy to get them. The Vermont-made hiking socks have an ardent fanbase, who love their close-knit merino wool construction and banded arch support for ensuring comfort (AKA preventing blisters) during outdoor activities. Darn Tough also has a lifetime warranty, so you—or your giftee—will get endless years of enjoyment out of the socks.
“I have a drawer, almost full, of Darn Tough socks and I love them,” writes a reviewer. “Comfortable and hard-wearing, they hike with me, making me look good on the trail.”
Anyone who spends most of their winter strapped into a snowboard or pair of skis likely already has a pair of Smartwool socks on their wishlist. The classic wool sock brand makes a wide range of colorful, comfy socks that provide cushioning, support, and warmth in a pair of boots without feeling bulky.
Best of all? Even if someone hasn’t said they want Smartwool socks—or, for that matter, goes skiing during the winter—they still make a great gift.
“These were an unsolicited Christmas gift for my husband,” writes a reviewer of the brand’s PhD socks. “It could have been a bust, or it could have been awesome. It was awesome. He wears them for shoveling and roof-raking and says the padding and the warmth are excellent, and he likes the way they look. He even asked for a second pair.”
Whether your giftee is a triathlete, casual jogger, or somewhere in between, they probably already know that finding a good, non-boring pair of running socks can be tough. This is where a pair of Zensah socks comes in to save the day.
Reviewed’s social media manager—and many-time marathon runner—Kate McCarthy is “obsessed” with the socks, which, in addition to being lightweight and “pretty much blister proof” she says have helped her get through tough long distance runs.
“They're moisture wicking so your feet don't feel like they've been sitting in a gross wet sock for hours after a long run,” she says. “Also, the majority of their patterns are fun so it makes them more fun to wear.”
In theory, low-rise socks are great. In practice, they’re almost always aggravating to deal with, either peeking up out of a low-rise shoe or bunching up around the toe and slipping down the back of the ankle, fulfilling their purpose of not peeking out over the shoe’s upper, sure, but at what cost?
This is true of every pair of low-rise socks I have ever worn, anyway—except this Zella pair. They fit snug against the top of the toes and just above the soles of the feet and have a sturdy elastic band that ensures they won’t slide down my heels, even if I’m wearing tight, low-rise sneakers.
Reviewers agree with me. “There is no slipping, bunching, or anything that might get in the way of your shoe fitting comfortably,” writes a Nordstrom reviewer. “They hit in the correct spot for most shoes to be a true no show sock.”
Stance, like many brands on this list, makes high-quality socks. But Stance’s socks have a bit more of an edge than some others, thanks to their best-selling pairs emblazoned with cobras, Wu-Tang Clan imagery, and horror movie icons. (The brand also has solid socks, and socks with more normal patterns, like stripes.)
“As always, Stance delivered another super comfortable sock with an excellent design,” writes a reviewer. “With these socks there's no striking hard, very soft and they never slide down my legs. I wear them while running or at the gym and never have a problem. I only wish I was a pro-athlete so I could get a Stance endorsement.”
MrMiSocki caters to the highly specific—yet likely larger than one might suspect—group of people who don’t like wearing matching socks and love comic books.
Each MrMiSocki package comes with two intentionally mismatched (but well coordinated) socks and a small comic book. The comic follows the brand’s mascot, Socki, who has lost his sock-mate and must and the sock-people he meets on his journey. In addition to providing scores of whimsical fun, reviewers say the socks are comfortable and long-lasting.
“These socks are made of the comfiest material and wears so well over time,” writes a reviewer. “We can’t get enough...even my dog quietly steals them to cuddle.”
Socks that are are comfy enough to wear on a hike, yet fashionable enough to wear on a casual winter day? It is possible—if you wear (or gift) socks from Sheboygan, Wisconsin-based Wigwam. Each pair offers up rustic, non-fussy comfort and style, but the brand’s best selling Pikes Peak pair offers an ideal combination of features. With a subtle colorblock style available in a few different shades and an arch-supporting, moisture-wicking, lightweight fabric, they’re great for walking several miles or wearing solely to poke over the top of a pair of boots or sneakers.
“These socks go great with boots, are American-made, and are surprisingly cozy,” says Megan McCarthy, Reviewed’s executive editor of growth. “Plus they come with a lifetime guarantee, which makes me feel pretty confident about their quality.”
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
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