10 Best Socks for Spartan / Tough Mudder July 09 2020

Spartan and Tough Mudder are the most popular brands with the largest attended events within the sport of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR). Their races are fun but physically exhausting and, without the proper protection, can wreak havoc on your feet and legs. The 10 Best Socks for Spartan Race and Tough Mudder explains where and why MudGear ranks among the best in the industry.

CRITERIA: WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN OCR SOCK?  

While MudGear socks were the first to be made by and for obstacle course racers, a growing number of sock manufacturers are attempting to address the needs of this growing pastime. We’ve divided the field into two categories: compression socks and non-compression socks. Similar to our list of Best Socks For Trail Running, this comparison focuses on comfort, fit, design, durability and overall value. However, due to the hazardous nature of Spartan, Tough Mudder, and similar obstacle course racing events, we’ve recognized protection as an additional preference in the perfect OCR sock. 

Comfort - Socks never make you faster, but an uncomfortable sock can certainly slow you down and distract you from the obstacles on which you should be focused.  

Fit - Beyond feeling comfortable, it’s important that socks actually fit your feet in a way that promotes confidence and will not become a distraction later in your run.

Design - Functional design includes using the right material in the right places to cushion pressure points, maintain stability (no slip), promote ventilation, and wick away sweat and other unwanted moisture.  

Durability - Spartan and Tough Mudder races will test the durability of your socks like nothing else. Socks designed by and for obstacle course racers should last through multiple races and many muddy miles of training. 

Protection - OCR Socks (especially compression socks) can provide surface level protection to the legs against scrapes and scratches otherwise caused by natural and man-made obstacles.  

Value - They say, “You get what you pay for;” however, the best OCR socks confirm you got your money’s worth and more. 

TOP 5 LONG SOCKS (COMPRESSION) FOR SPARTAN AND TOUGH MUDDER

Not all longs socks are compression socks, but all long socks worn for obstacle racing should be. Otherwise you won’t get very far before they’re bunched up at your ankles. Along with providing a secure fit, compression socks serve more important purposes in that they help maintain blood flow and reduce discomfort, cramping, shin splints and swelling that may otherwise develop over long, strenuous miles. 

#1 MUDGEAR TALL COMPRESSION SOCKS

The first sock designed specifically for obstacle course racing, MudGear Tall Compression Socks are unapologetically over-engineered to conquer long trail runs and the most punishing OCR. The socks deliver 15-20 mmhg graduated compression to promote endurance while carefully placing drainage, ventilation, and added cushion for sustained comfort over endless miles. MudGear Tall Compression Socks provide a light but thorough layer of surface level protection against harsh vegetation and rigid obstacles. Finally, MudGear durability is backed by a no-hassle, lifetime replacement guarantee.  

 Pros
  • Superior moisture-wicking to keep feet dry
  • Most affordable compression on list
Cons

  

#2 CEP ATHLETIC COMPRESSION RUN SOCKS

CEP is the performance brand offshoot of Medi which has innovated medical compression socks in Germany for over 60 years. CEP Athletic Compression Run Socks combine decades of knowledge and expertise in sports and medicine. The end result is a lightweight sock that delivers heavy compression. Available in a variety of colors, the socks are anatomically designed featuring high-performance yarn to provide ankle and arch stabilization, moisture management, and an asymmetrical toe box. Overall, CEP Athletic Compression Run Socks are tight but comfortable and breathe especially well.

 Pros
  • Lightweight, breathable material
  • Available in variety of colors
    Cons
    • Among the most expensive compression socks
    • Questionable durability for price

      

    #3 2XU COMPRESSION PERFORMANCE RUN SOCK

    Similar to CEP in feel and price, 2XU Compression Performance Run Socks deliver even stronger (tighter) compression while maintaining a light feel. The sizing is a bit tricky in that they seem to run long. However, once you find the right size, the graduated compression allows a very precise and supportive fit. The elasticity of the top rim is especially tight and may take some getting used to. Still, the socks prove to be great for post-race recovery. The thinness of 2XU Compression Run Socks feels remarkably like a second skin. Unfortunately, they don't provide the same protection against surface-level scrapes and friction as others.
     Pros
    • Graduated compression for precision fit
    • Fairly durable for its thinness

    Cons
    • Inconsistent sizing - usually long
    • Too tight for many (especially at top rim)

      

    #4 SPARTAN / CRAFT COMPRESSION KNEE SOCK

    Socks are just one product line that has come out of Spartan’s partnership with Craft. The large Swedish company has specialized in all types of sports apparel (especially cycling) since the early '70s and have acquired an incredible team of designers. They certainly confirmed their talent with the introduction of Spartan / Craft Compression Knee Socks. While we’d like to see the socks more durable and with slightly stronger compression, the ergonomic left/right specific design and modern application of Spartan’s unmistakable branding earns major style points with any die-hard Spartan!

     Pros
    • Very stylish/attractive
    • Non-slip fit

    Cons
    • Less durable than expected
    • No replacement guarantee

     

    #5 REHBAND RX COMPRESSION SOCKS

    Rehband is among the most trusted brands of those specializing in athletic physical support. Though Rehband RX Compression Socks lack certain protective elements found in socks designed specifically for OCR, their availability in most sporting goods stores make them a convenient go-to for experimental obstacle course racers along with a myriad of other sports. Rehband’s graduated compression provides adequate ankle and foot arch support while the overall socks are quite comfortable for short races.
     Pros
    • Comfortable compression level
    • Available everywhere 
    Cons
    • Carries more moisture than desired
    • Less durable than “trail/OCR socks”

    Best Tall Compression Socks for OCR | Comparison Chart

    TOP 5 SHORT SOCKS (NON-COMPRESSION) FOR SPARTAN AND TOUGH MUDDER

     

    As much as we love them, we realize tall compression socks aren't for everybody. There's an added sense of freedom that comes with shorter trail socks. However, you still want all of the key design elements in regards to ventilation and comfort padding in key pressure points. You'll also want socks tall enough to keep mud and debris out and tight enough to stay up even through mud and water obstacles.

    #1 MUDGEAR 1/4 CREW TRAIL SOCKS

    Wet and muddy obstacle course races were the exact inspiration for MudGear ¼ Crew Trail Socks. Nobody does better at draining sweat and quick drying after submerged in water obstacles. MudGear’s simple but effective poly-spandex blend strategically cushions the footbed and top of the foot between the upper arch and ankle. The smooth toe seam is located above the bend of the toes rather than their point to eliminate irritation. Finally, the Y-Heel design along with alternating ribbing around the ankle and 3x1 ribbing with strong spandex at the rim secures the sock to your foot like no other.

     Pros
    • Soft, never-slip comfort
    • Extremely durable against all conditions 
    Cons
    • Limited color options 
    • Priced as a premium sock (rightfully so)

    #2 BALEGA ENDURO V-TECH QUARTER SOCKS

    Balega makes nice socks. Period. Balega Enduro V-tech Quarter Socks are no exception. The non-constricting compression bands, sensitive rib top, and extra deep heel pocket are welcomed considerations for anyone logging frequent miles. While the design is stylish and better than most in wicking away moisture, a common complaint is the socks’ thickness and underwhelming ventilation resulting in hot feet getting hotter. Overall durability is impressive considering the price, but best for shorter, cool weather runs.
     Pros
    • Stylish, performance-based design
    • Impressive moisture control
    Cons
    • Thicker than expected
    • Poor ventilation leading to hot feet

     

    #3 DARN TOUGH ULTRA LIGHT 1/4 SOCKS

    Though they’re best known for their ski and camping socks, the durability of Darn Tough Socks isn’t lost on obstacle course races. Darn Tough Ultra Light 1/4 Socks are composed from a unique blend of Merino wool, nylon, and lycra spandex, delivering the toughness you’d expect from the Vermont-based sock company. The only questionable part of the name is the “ultra light” as the socks are thicker than suggested; thus holding more sweat and exterior water than racers typically want. Still, DT’s build will almost definitely hold firm without slipping and without blisters. Like MudGear, Darn Tough will honor a lifetime guarantee to replace worn socks as needed.
    Pros
    • Comfort of Merino wool
    • Lifetime guarantee
    Cons
    • Fairly thick for “ultra lite”  
    • Holds moisture

    #4 INJINJI TRAIL MIDWEIGHT CREW XTRALIFE SOCKS

    There are certain qualities shared among all of the contenders on this list. However, Injinji Trail Midweight Crew Xtralife Socks carry a certain distinction that some racers will find intriguing while others consider a distraction. Injinji’s five-toes patented design is like a glove for your feet carefully securing each toe. It’s different, but it’s surprisingly comfortable. Injinji’s thin, Coolmax material prevents your feet from becoming too hot, and the socks manage water considerably well. The one concern is the wear and tear that tends to develop at the end of the toes after many miles.
    Pros
    • Unique, but comfortable fit
    • Thin for cooling effect
    Cons
    • Fitted toes are an acquired taste
    • Tends to wear away at toe-tips

    #5 DRYMAX MAXIMUM PROTECTION TRAIL RUN 1/4 CREW SOCKS

    Drymax has been popular among trail and marathon runners for years. We’re now finding them to be a viable option in the obstacle course racing world. Using their trademark Drymax Technology, Drymax Maximum Protection Trail Run 1/4 Crew Socks sport a sturdy build and anatomical fit. Interestingly, testers found Drymax to be course to the touch, surprisingly thick and holding more moisture than the name would suggest. Nevertheless, Drymax’s “anti-blister system” is on point, and dense padding protects the foot from ground-pounding as well as friction within the shoe. Oh, and you can fold the cuff down for a cool, secondary look.
     Pros
    • Sturdy build; anatomical fit
    • Well padded
    Cons
    • Not as soft as most
    • Thick; holds moisture

      Best Short Socks for OCR | Comparison Chart

      MudGear Strategic DesignCommon Thread 

      The very best trail running and obstacle course racing socks designate strategic patterns and material in specific locations to improve ventilation, prevent slippage, and add support to cushion runners' most vulnerable areas. While commodity cotton socks focus simply on covering your foot, professional trail running socks are designed for performance. Review the image, and note MudGear's strategic design for maximum performance.

       

      FINISH LINE

      When it comes to comfort, durability, and functional design, MudGear consistently beats out the competition. However, let's be real. No matter how hard we try to eliminate bias and influence, these kinds of tests are never perfect. Every "Best of" list out there is an opinion that you shouldn't trust 100% until you try it out for yourself. So, are you read to try your next favorite trail sock?

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