- High-quality compression socks provide firm pressure from the ankle to the upper calf, giving your legs the support they need during exercise, travel, long workdays, and many other situations.
- Compression socks squeeze the walls of the veins and leg tissues to help improve circulation and include the flow of the lymph fluids that bathe your legs’ cells. These improvements lead to less leg fatigue, achiness, and swelling.
- The CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 provide firm pressure without sagging through the course of the day, making them comfortable and effective.
Though they are often worn upon a doctor’s advice, compression socks are available to anyone. Many people choose compression socks because they provide comfort during pregnancy, long days on your feet, a punishing workout, or travel. There is no downside to wearing them as long as you are comfortable.
Compression socks work by squeezing the walls of the veins and leg tissues to help blood work its way against gravity to the heart. In other words, they improve circulation. There are also gains in the flow of the lymph fluids that bathe your legs’ cells. These improvements lead to less leg fatigue, achiness, and swelling.
The compression in the stockings is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Specifically, the socks are rated based on blood pressure. The majority of compression socks either have a moderate pressure rating of 10 to 20 mm Hg or a firm rating of 20 to 30 mm Hg. None of the socks we reviewed are rated above 30 mm Hg, but there are specialty shops where you can find these if you need them. Graduated compression socks, the most common type, are tighter near the ankle than at the calf to avoid cutting off circulation.
Most compression socks are made from a blend of synthetic fabrics that provide a snug and stretchy fit. In the reviews that follow, we let you know what materials are used in the construction of the socks, but unless you have an issue with a specific material, you should let performance be your main guide in choosing the best compression socks.
There is a bit of a paradox associated with wearing compression socks. You may have purchased them to deal with leg swelling. Yet, this same swelling makes it hard for you to put them on. So, what can you do? There are countless resources on the web to help you out. Some tips we found helpful were to apply talcum powder or cornstarch to your feet before putting your socks on, wearing dishwashing gloves to get a better grip, and rolling the socks before you put them on so you can simply roll them up your legs.
While researching the best compression socks, we combed through hundreds of expert reviews and ratings of dozens of styles. Our guide features socks that provide great comfort, are relatively durable, and are attractive enough to wear in a variety of situations.
Here are the best compression socks you can buy:
- Best compression socks overall: CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0
- Best affordable compression socks: SB SOX Lite Compression Socks
- Best for circulation support: Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks
- Best for post-workout: Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks
- Best for standing all day: Sockwell Circulator Graduated Compression Socks
- Best patterned compression socks: Vim & Vigr Women’s Graduated Compression Socks
Updated on 12/04/2019 by Lisa Sabatini: Updated formatting, links, and prices.
The best compression socks overall
Whether you are a runner or just someone who wants to relieve lower leg ailments, the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 provide all-day comfort.
There are two main ways that the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 (available in men’s and women’s sizes) stand out from the other socks on our list. First, they offer unparalleled comfort. Secondly, they cost at least more than any other pair on our list.
Made of polyamide/nylon (60%), elastane (25%), and polypropylene (15%), the CEP socks offer precise 20-30mmHg graduated and consistent compression so they won’t poop out on you as the day goes on.
The Progressive+ 2.0 Socks feature a halo top band that lands right below the knee. This keeps your socks in place, and the front ribbing allows air to flow through to cool your skin’s surface. And per CEP’s website, the company offers a six-month guarantee that you can wear the socks up to 150 times before the compression lessens.
Most of the expert reviews of the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 come from running websites. Coach Levi looked at the socks from a runner’s perspective and found they did not significantly improve his performance and were less durable compared to non-compression socks. However, due to the comfort they afforded, he recommended them to people who suffer from shin splints, Achilles problems, or plantar fasciitis. The reviewer at Believe in the Run called them the most comfortable socks she’s ever run in. And OutdoorGearLab and The Trial of Miles also recommended this pair.
Pros: Incredibly comfortable, thinner, doesn’t sag over the course of the day
Cons: Expensive, sizing can be tricky so be sure to measure before ordering
The best affordable compression socks
- SB Sox
The SB SOX Lite Compression Socks are the least expensive pair in our guide, yet they stay up and provide comfort for many wears.
Though the SB SOX Lite Compression Socks are about a fifth of the price of our top pick, they rival it in performance. These socks have a graduated compression rating of 15-20mmHg, which is slightly less than the CEP socks but still supplies sufficient compression for blood circulation.
The socks are made of breathable and lightweight spandex and nylon, which helps to wick away sweat and moisture from your feet. SB Sox come in 11 different colors, including Black/Gray, Black/Blue, Black/Pink, and Gray/Black. And, there are two sizes: S/M and L/XL.
Wirecutter recommended the SB Sox Lite Compression Socks as a good budget pair. Though they were thinner and lighter than the top picks, the reviewer liked that the SB Sox socks held up well through numerous wears and washes. Plus, they felt snug. They lost points because there were limited size and color options, and they were a bit long.
Pros: Inexpensive, relatively durable, snug fit
Cons: Only comes in two sizes
The best for circulation support
If you experience circulation problems due to chronic health issues, the Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks may be your best bet for achieving leg comfort.
The Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks (available in men’s and women’s sizes) are made in the United States using bamboo rayon (31%), merino wool (31%), stretch nylon (30%), and spandex (8%). This combination helps with moisture management, thermoregulation, and odor control.
These are one of the firmer pairs from Sockwell offering compression of 20-30mmHg. There are four zones of graduated compression beginning at the ankles and moving up. Since the compression starts at the ankles, the toes remain comfortable. There are four colors for men to choose from and eight in the women’s style.
Wirecutter named the Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks as its top pick because they look nice, are lightweight but not too thin, and they bunched up less below the knee. However, she was turned off by the gender binary presented by having different designs for different genders. Also, the top of the socks started to warp after several washings and wears, but the tightness was not affected by this.
Another buyer tried a variety of different brands and found the Sockwell Elevation socks worked better than the cheaper alternatives because they provided the right amount of pressure in the right spots.
Pros: Lightweight, maintain their snugness all day long
Cons: Reports of the top of the socks warping over time, only comes in two sizes
The best for post-workout
After running countless miles, slipping on a pair of Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks can decrease soreness and help your muscles recover.
The Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks come in four sizes, which is helpful for ensuring you get the right fit. The appropriate sock size will give you the appropriate level of pressure. Constructed of 82% polyamide and 18% elastane, these socks feature ultra-zone ribbing which targets ankle and arch stabilization, which is ideal for runners with weaknesses in these areas.
The 200 needle count construction is designed to make the socks denser, durable, and reduce stretching over time. These socks come in 14 colors, including Black, Heather Grey, and Neon Pink.
The reviewer at Strength Running loved the Zensah Tech+ socks because of the just-right comfort cushioning on the bottom. He prefers to wear compression socks when recovering from a run rather than during the actual run. He found consistent tightness throughout the sock, though the reviewer would have preferred it if they were snugger.
OutdoorGearLab gave these socks 4 out of 5 stars and recommended them for those who are looking for comfortable compression socks for fitness, recovery, or standing for long periods. Testers found that these socks are sweat-wicking but do not dry quickly, so they are best worn in cooler weather.
Pros: Great for easing muscle soreness, cushioned bottom, durable, 4 sizes, 14 colors
Cons: May not be tight enough for your needs, long drying time
The best for standing all day
If you are a nurse, server, or work any other job that requires you to be on your feet for most of the day, give your lower legs a break with Sockwell Circulator Graduated Compression Socks.
The Sockwell Circulator Graduated Compression Socks have a lot of the same features as our budget pick, the Sockwell Elevation socks. They both have four zones of graduated compression from the ankle on up, which keeps the toes feeling comfortable. Both are made of a combination of spandex, bamboo rayon, stretch nylon, and merino wool. But the main differences are that the Circulator socks have moderate compression (15-20mmHg) and cost a bit less.
The Circulator socks only come in two sizes, and there are nine colors to choose from, including Black Stripe, Charcoal, Black Solid, and Port.
Compression Design recommends the Sockwell Circulator Socks for their performance and comfort. The reviewer also noted that the socks tended not to retain any odor or moisture. However, they mentioned that this pair of socks may be best for people with shorter builds since they are not very long. Several sites specifically recommended these compression socks for nurses, including Nurse Theory and Top Best Seller Product.
Pros: Good for reducing foot and ankle swelling, incredibly comfortable, inexpensive
Cons: Concerns about durability, socks may only come up to mid-calf in taller people
The best patterned compression socks
- Vim & Vigr
Vim & Vigr combines form and function with its fashion-forward compression socks that you’ll just love to be seen in.
Who says that compression socks can’t be fashion statements? Certainly not the team at Vim & Vigr, who has been hard at work producing quality, aesthetically pleasing socks for men and women alike. With unique patterns and eye-catching colors, Vim & Vigr offerings combine innovative technology with interesting designs for both men and women.
First and foremost, Vim & Vigr compression socks work. After all, no amount of aesthetic creativity would be able to make up for compression socks that don’t do much by way of compressing. Luckily, that’s not the case with these pairs.
I’m particularly fond of Vim & Vigr’s medical-grade compression level, which are designed with a Gradient Knitting Technology to help promote circulation in your calves. The socks feature a structured leg but a flexible toe and heel so that you’re supported where you need it, but still able to move. These socks offer moderate to firm compression, with somewhere between 20 and 30 mmHG depending upon which style you choose.
Regardless of your selection, however, you’ll find that Vim & Vigr helps to prevent swelling in your legs, and alleviates pain and achiness. I found that these socks were just as helpful during runs as they were during HIIT workouts – especially as the weather gets colder and circulation becomes increasingly important (but potentially hard to come by), Vim & Vigr helped to save my workout.
But really, what sets Vim & Vigr apart are its fun, unique designs. Not only are there a wide range of colors to choose from, but the brand also offers several interesting patterns that you’d be only too happy to strut around in. I’m a fan of the colorblock options, as well as Rugby Stripe pattern for men.
Vim & Vigr offers wide calf versions of all their socks for both men and women, so you don’t have to be uncomfortable even when donning a tight pair of socks. And if you don’t need medical-grade compression, you can always opt for the brand’s moisture-wicking nylon material, or the remarkably warm merino wool composition. You could also check out Vim & Vigr sleeves, which compress your calves without encasing your feet. – Lulu Chang
Pros: Stylish, comfortable, available for both men and women
Cons: Can get expensive