Sockwell Compression Socks Review 2020
Sockwell is a web company that makes socks for people of all different ages, levels of health, and lifestyles. The company began in 2011, as a spinoff of an older company called Goodhew.
The socks are made of merino wool, a fabric known for being lightweight and breathable with the ability to regulate body temperature. Merino wool has a low carbon footprint and is ecologically friendly. Sockwell socks come in a variety of colors and patterns. There are separate product lines for men and women.
On the Sockwell site, you can also search by activity. These include socks for athletes and working people who spend most of their days on their feet. Sockwell has socks for light compression, athletic compression, plantar fasciitis treatment, and bunion treatment. Sockwell also offers socks that are suitable for diabetes maintenance. In this article, we help you navigate the Sockwell product line.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 20 hours of research
Suitable for everyday wear
Provides moderate compression
Crew sock that doesn't come up to the knee
Alpaca and Merino wool blend
Best 10 Sockwell Compression Socks
1. Women's Ascend II
Suitable for everyday wear
Provides moderate compression
Crew sock that doesn't come up to the knee
Alpaca and Merino wool blend
Does not provide targeted bunion, diabetes, or plantar fasciitis relief
This is a moderate compression sock offering 15-20mmHg pressure for all day comfort and ankle soreness prevention.Read more
This means the Ascend is not appropriate for diabetes or edema pain. The Ascend is for fitness buffs to wear during indoor or outdoor workouts, and for soreness relief on recovery days. Flying, sitting, and standing all day are also good applications for the Ascend.
The Ascend is made of 41% Merino wool, the standard material for most Sockwell products. It also includes nylon, spandex, and alpaca. We have talked about spandex and nylon before. Nylon shows up in lots of different fitness gear, because it is flexible without losing shape, and is ultra-durable. Spandex is famous for its ability to stretch, compress, and retain shape over the life of the garment.
Alpacas are a mammal native to South America. They look like miniaturized llamas and are related to the camel. Alpaca wool is prized for its hollow interior, which makes it warmer than most other wools. The result is a sock that perfectly balances between heat retention and air circulation.
2. Men's Countryman I
Choice of fabrics
Breather panel construction
Light compression, suitable for daily work socks
Not much application during physical activity-closer to a dress sock
The Countryman is a light compression sock that is part of Sockwell's Essential Comfort line. It is light-duty enough to wear every day and even suitable for sleeping.Read more
This does not mean the Countryman gives no compression. This is a sock you can wear to the office, at a desk job, and you will look professional while fighting off many of the painful conditions that come with a sitting job. We reviewed the crew sock, but the Countryman and other Essential Comfort products also come as no show socks, crew socks, and quarter socks.
We are especially excited about the Sockwell no shows, as it can be hard to find them in larger sizes. Many of those we do find will simply slide down larger feet and get eaten by the shoe. You can depend on this, and Sockwell's other products, to stay in place all day even if you have to move around a lot.
In addition to the Merino wool base, you have the option of purchasing Countrymen with either alpaca or bamboo as the composite. We'll talk more about bamboo fabric in our FAQ section, but our research shows it is great for added comfort, bacteria-fighting, and air circulation so your feet never get stinky.
3. Women's New Leaf
Seamless toe for toughness and comfort
Can be machine or hand washed/dried
Merino wool, bamboo rayon, and stretch nylon provide comfort
Firm compression not always necessary, may cause discomfort
This compression warrior is heavy on the Spandex, with extra arch support in case you have flat feet.Read more
The Spandex and knitting pattern both contribute to graduated compression. This means that the compression is tightest in common problem areas, like the ankles. The New Leaf is an over the calf sock, with materials that won't make you sweat or feel constricted. Pair them with a plain black knee skirt, and you've got a functional sporty look that will last all day.
Besides Spandex, the New Leaf features Merino wool, bamboo rayon, and stretchy nylon. The Spandex is less than ten percent of the composition; as much as we love Spandex, a little goes a long way and too much of it means the garment will lose shape faster. New Leaf socks are built for the long haul and will not tear or rip easily under normal wear conditions.
This is a 20-30mmHg compression device, , rated as firm, so tightness, heat retention, and blood flow encouragement are at higher levels than in a sock-like the Ascend. There is no cushioning, but you do get a supported arch. Sockwell, always a leader in giving you options, says you can machine wash/dry or air dry with no damage to the sock either way.
4. Men's Summit Crew
Machine or hand wash
Quarter, ankle, and calf options
Comes in several options
Professional enough for most offices
Combined alpaca/merino wool makes the sock extra delicate, though still durable
This firm compression sock has a low Spandex content running throughout the sock for all-day pain relief.Read more
The sole offers medium cushioning, the first of our reviews to offer any extras in the sole. These can be worn under just about any shoe, though you'll want to go with at least a crew length if you are wearing work boots. Even those boots, for outdoor work, won't prevent you from getting circulating air with the Summit.
There are no extra options for fabric or composition like you see with some other Sockwell offerings. Instead, this one is heavy on the Merino wool, with a bit of alpaca for even more comfort. While it looks and acts like a dress sock, you can also feel confident running, hiking, walking and even cycling in this sock. The composition and lightweight will give some protection against mild cold weather, especially if you go with the over the calf model.
One thing we should point out--you can machine wash pretty much all Sockwell socks, but never use bleach or a washing agent containing bleach. The corrosive bleach will break down fibers and reduce the effectiveness of the sock, even shortening its lifespan. Sockwell makes durable socks, but they do need more care than your average crew sock.
5. Women's Alpine
Designed for colder weather
Good for long hikes, walks, runs because of reinforcements
Mad of mostly alpaca wool, which helps reduce sweating
Firm compression guards against common shin, foot, and ankle conditions
May get hot in warmer weather
The name indicates this is a ski sock. It will keep your feet and legs warm, and it also provides firm compression in all kinds of weather and under indoor or outdoor conditions.Read more
The sock comes in five different colors and features a cute abstract pattern running the length of the sock. The firm compression, 20-30mmHg, means you can wear the sock in high altitudes for mountain hikes or trail riding. While the sock doesn't claim to relieve plantar fasciitis--there are other socks just for that--the Alpine will definitely guard against the friction that can cause plantar fasciitis and bunions.
The sole is not cushioned, but the shin is. This makes for an improved fit. Also, since shin splints plague serious runners, the cushioning will both alleviate and help prevent pain. The sock does only come in calf-length, so you may want a quarter or no show sock for your fast-paced training runs.
The fabric is an alpaca blend. The heel and toe are reinforced for added comfort. Graduated compression offers four zones, so you get superior gentle tightness and just the right amount of heat retention.
6. Men's Lift
Invisible toe seams for comfort, durability
Extra arch, toebox support
Cushioning in the sole
Sole is quite light, reducing leg fatigue
Meant for firm compression, pain relief-not the best all around socks
This is another Spandex enhanced firm compression sock, that comes in plain-looking patterns to help them blend in with workplace clothing.Read more
The Lift offers graduated compression. The top has Sockwell's characteristic turn welt top to keep it from sliding down your ankle. Sockwell added arch support and the toe closure with invisible seams, making the toes uber strong. Unlike some other socks, the Lift will not let your toenails poke through and create holes in the fabric.
The cushioned sole is very light. You could pair these with minimalist running shoes, to replicate a barefoot run experience while being protected from rocks and uneven terrain. If you do stumble or step off a curb too hard, the firm compression gives you a measure of ankle roll protection.
Merino, bamboo, nylon and a bit of Spandex make the Lift a tight, stretchy sock that will support you throughout the day and aid in soreness relief the day after a long run or extended airline flight.
7. Women's Pacer
Quarter length won't slide into shoe or cause excess heat
Nylon, Merino wool, and bamboo Rayon, in equal measures, for comfort and sweatproofing
Extra tough heel pad, toebox, and sole help stabilize your tendons during runs
Extra panels to ventilate your feet and maintain airflow
Made mostly for runners, so not very versatile
More than others on our list, the Pacer is a runner's sock with extra firm support, breathable construction, and a built-in ankle brace.Read more
Nylon, bamboo Rayon, and Merino wool, in equal measures, make up most of the fabric. A decent Spandex content aids in both tightness and your ability to stretch the sock out when putting it on. The vertical striping pattern gives the sock a fun look, and it comes in five color choices.
The ankle brace is not a hard insert or stabilizing rod as you would see on an ankle brace. It is a reinforced, thicker fabric piece that will hold your plantar and Achilles tendons in place without immobilizing them. The brace is gentle but effective protection, working in tandem with the compression and heat retention that will snug your feet and encourage blood circulation.
Other features include an extended heel pad, a microfiber sole and toe area for blister abatement, and breather panels made of mesh to ventilate your feet during hard, sweaty runs. The sock will help your feet from getting too fatigued, so you can log your miles or push yourself to run a faster 5K or other outdoor race.
8. Men's Plantar Ease
Useful for a variety of applications
Targets plantar fasciitis pain
Helps relieve blisters while preventing new ones
Comes in quarter and crew sizes
No calf length or knee length option
There's nothing special about the merino, bamboo, nylon, and Spandex fabric of this sock, but it is the first on our list that hammers down on plantar fasciitis pain to keep you on your feet when the malady strikes you.Read more
The firm compression has its tightest zone in the bottom of the foot area, where plantar fasciitis likes to dig in and hang out. Rather than the welded top, this one has a non-binding cuff to keep you comfortable and relieve excess pressure. The toe box has what Sockwell calls Freedom Fit. As far as we can tell, this means the toe is seamless, tight, and protective against blisters. But the Spandex content lets you wiggle your toes and keep you from feeling stiff or restricted.
The Merino wool means your feet can breathe, with the added support and comfort of bamboo fibers. The sock both keeps the plantar fasciitis inflammation down and increases blood flow throughout your feet and ankles.
The total package of moisture reduction, enhanced blood flow, fatigue reduction, and heat management suit the Plantar Ease to a few different customer groups. Sockwell recommends it for distance runners as well as pregnant people, abnormally high or low arches, and working people who stand a lot, like nurses or waitstaff. Although these are men's socks, they come in a large enough size range for anyone to wear.
9. Women's Nouveau
Have the look of funky knee highs, not a medical device
Great for wearing to work every day
Reviewers praised the sock's durability-holds shape after years of washing and wearing
Won't cut in or bunch up at knee area
Some reviewers said size was off, so use sizing chart
This sock has an arty look to it, with interlaced multicolor straight and angled lines. Sockwell is both functional and fashion-forward, and the Nouveau comes in enough color choices to match with practically any fall wardrobe.Read more
The Nouveau provides moderate compression, so it isn't suited to treating plantar fasciitis or other conditions. They have a metatarsal pad, similar to a Dr. Scholl's or other orthopedic shoe inserts. The pad helps your toes return to a nice neutral position for balance and pain relief. Wearing less supportive shoes, like flats, heels, wedges, and some dress shoes will cause your toes to grip the shoe surface unnaturally in order to stay on the footbed. Doing this every day keeps your toes under stress and can cause leg fatigue.
Aside from the thin, unobtrusive pad, the Nouveau features Spandex fabric, graduated compression, the no-slip welt top, and extra support in the arch. The four compression zones begin at your ankle and get provide less squeezing as the socks move up to your calves.
These socks will increase your blood flow, relieve swelling, and prevent leg and body fatigue for those of us who are on our feet all day, as well as office workers who spend a lot of time sitting. The socks can actually increase your endurance for running, because of how they keep your ankles and calves from tiring quickly while also absorbing some of the shocks from foot impact on the ground.
10. Men's Easy Does It
Merino wool/blend fabric
Ribbed cuff doesn't bind or bunch
Relaxed fit is easy to put on and take off
Moisture wicking, odor control
Ultra light sole cushion
Does not feature compression
Our last pick is a relaxed sock in plain colors that provides some minimal compression. It is comfortable and durable enough to wear for both work and social time.Read more
The leg is ribbed, which adds to the relaxed but secure feel. The foot is fitted and snug, with stitching, made to keep from binding or closing in on your toes. The socks have a light cushion in the sole for added comfort and support.
The sock only comes in solid colors, with some primary color trim on the cuff, toe, and back heel. Although they don't provide therapeutic compression for chronic medical conditions, the socks are easy on those with sensitive foot skin. This is a problem people with diabetes often face. The Easy Does It is made for ease in putting on and taking off, with wear so comfortable you won't notice the sock is there.
The socks offer moisture-wicking, odor control, and light cushioning. The similarly designed Relaxed Big Easy is the only sock in the relaxed line that has an ultra-light sole cushion.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Not every Sockwell sock is good for the same things.
And that's okay because there are enough offerings for everyone to find what they need at a reasonable price. Sockwell does a great job of explaining their product features on their website. The application of a pair of socks will depend on the construction, compression level, and fabric components of the sock. If you have diabetic pain or severely swollen ankles, we want to make sure you get something with enough compression to make a difference. Sockwell offers a good blend of single application socks, like those for runners, as well as more general-purpose socks that anyone can wear.
Comfort is probably the biggest factor separating a successful compression sock from a cheap knockoff.
That's because, even if the compression is great, a poorly designed and uncomfortable sock will be discarded. Comfort includes how difficult it is to get the sock on and off. That may seem like a minor point, but we have all had socks and other garments that were so tight or poorly built that we had to stretch them out of shape just to get them on. Sockwell socks are all made to hold their shape, but even they can't stand up to being pulled and stretched beyond what they should be.
In addition to an easier wear, Sockwell socks often include foot pads, sole support, welt tops, seamless toes, metatarsal pads, and a number of other comfort add-ons. Though no Sockwell sock is uncomfortable, some are designed more for comfort than others.
We only included one non-compression sock in our buying guide.
That was the Easy Does It relaxed fit sock. We wanted to show how versatile a company Sockwell is. Even the Easy Does It will be snugger than a cheaper sock would. And the Easy Does It, as well as all the socks in the relaxed line, are great for people with sensitive skin or who have rashes in the foot and leg areas. So even though it won't relieve as much swelling or increase blood flow as much, the Easy Does It sock is still a great buy for people who will be on their feet a lot or who pursue an active lifestyle.
We also tried to explain the compression level of each sock, from the mild to moderate ones, to help you make a decision based on what level of compression will make you most comfortable and best meet your needs.
Sockwell uses enough materials that it can get confusing.
The company's mainstay is soft, breathable, flexible Merino wool. You may just be hearing about it now, but the Merino sheep has been around since about the 12th century. The breed originated in Spain. Most of today's Merino wool comes from New Zealand and Australia. The wool is the softest available and is very fine in its raw form. Many manufacturers, including Sockwell, will blend Merino wool with cashmere for the ultimate in comfort.
In addition to the Merino wool, Sockwell likes to use bamboo rayon, synthetic nylon, and Spandex. We found very few Sockwell socks that use cotton. Cotton is an ancient and durable material, but it lacks the breathable fiber that Sockwell places in all its products. You probably know this if you have ever worn a cotton top to a spin class or intense lifting session. Cotton can get so wet from sweat that it actually makes your body cold when you leave the gym, as the energy of your workout dissipates and your body cools down. With Sockwell socks, you will never get that feeling of needing to change into dry clothes immediately to warm up and feel clean again.
Not every compression sock needs to be super versatile.
In fact, a compression sock is only technically required to provide compression. If it does that well enough to make a noticeable difference, then you have a compression sock on your hands.
But Sockwell is an innovator that prides itself on giving you more value for your money. Many of the socks we reviewed are good for runners, hikers, office workers, pregnant people, and outdoor workers. Even socks made for people with diabetes will provide comfort and pain relief to people without the condition. Sockwell socks can treat plantar fasciitis, prevent blisters, give you better balance, and even increase your athletic performance because the materials and designs are so versatile.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
We put a question mark after the title of this tip because there is a lot of understandable confusion about the difference between bamboo and viscose. The two terms get used as if they were the same thing, especially in the bedding industry. But it has an application to many fitness products, too so it is relevant here.
Viscose is a chemical compound that is used to make rayon. Viscose is made by taking cellulose out of trees ad other plants and mixing it with chemicals in a lab. Cellulose is the material that makes up the cell walls of vegetative matter.
In its finished form, the treated viscose can be shaped into rayon fabric. So when you read about "bamboo rayon," that is rayon made from viscose, which is made from cellulose. In this case, the cellulose is harvested from bamboo plants.
Bamboo rayon combines the best qualities of both its raw material (bamboo) and the finished substance (rayon), Bamboo was used for years in making corsets, because of its pliability and strength. It was only recently that scientific advancements made it possible to use bamboo in sports garments, The bamboo fiber wicks moisture, is porous for air circulation, and will retain its shape while being flexible enough to let feet and toes move.
Rayon, similar to nylon, is durable, stretchable, moldable, porous, and easy to keep clean.
There are safety and environmental risks associated with rayon production. Some of the chemicals used in the process cause health problems for workers. Sockwell works with its supply chain to ensure the materials they use have the most minimal environmental impact possible. However, it pays to educate yourself and investigate companies that offer "bamboo rayon" products or anything made chemically from cellulose.
Could it be that every sock is a compression sock if you are resourceful enough?
Even packs of no-name tube socks can have a slight compression effect. If you get a chance to try socks on in the store, consider going a size down from your shoe size. Socks aren't rigid, and in fact, the left and right socks are no different. So slightly tight socks won't pinch or blister your feet like too small shoe will. Dress socks are made of thin material that is designed to stay in place. So, with enough creativity, you can keep the compression going even if you cannot afford a pair of Sockwell's (or a comparable product) for each day of the week. Women's stockings and hosiery, too, are almost always made of stretchy, form-fitting synthetic materials. They can act as gentle compression socks and may even provide relief from varicose veins.
We should note that DIY compression socks are not suitable to treat chronic medical conditions. Also, some heart conditions, like high blood pressure, will cause your feet to swell slightly. You can find ways to get compression on a budget, but be careful not to make any existing problems worse.
Finally, though it's a bit off-topic, we can't say enough good things about leggings. They are as comfortable as a second skin and provide all-day compression up to your trunk. Leggings are not just for women, and they are usually thin enough to wear under regular clothes.
Other Factors to Consider
Some Sockwell socks have support in the footbed or heel; others don't. We identified one with metatarsal support, to get your toes uncurled and tension free if you wear unsupportive shoes a lot. Support includes ankle, side, and even top of foot support, too. You can find a Sockwell product to support each area, sometimes several in one sock. And if support is not your thing, Sockwell has options for you, too.
You may have noticed that there aren't a lot of Sockwell products on TV. They are a small, almost family-owned company that spends their budget on making great products and providing excellent customer service. When we called Sockwell with a question about one of their products, we found it easy to reach the right person. Sockwell is kind of a no-frills company, one that has a very professional, welcoming presence and that focuses on quality more than hype. All these factors mean that Sockwell compression socks are some of the best you can own, at a price most anyone can afford.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What are the different sock lengths you keep talking about?
This is a great question! It does get confusing because different manufacturers and salespeople use different terms to mean the same thing.
Socks that disappear inside your shoe, as you might wear with flats, are usually called no-shows. You may also hear these called peds, footies, or even invisible socks. One step up from no-shows, you get micro crew socks. These are great for runners because they don't get in the way, but reduce friction from your foot rubbing the back part of your sneaker.
Ankle socks are also called mini-crews. They come up to barely above the bone in your ankle. They are also good for outdoor activities where you sweat a lot. Mini-crews are a great way to show off trendy sneakers, especially high tops, keeping your skin totally protected at the same time.
Crew socks are what most of us grew up with. They are your standard length of the sock, ending towards the top of your calf.
Trouser socks, often worn with skirts, are long socks that cover most of your calf. They come in a variety of colors and textures to help you find your individual style.
After trouser socks, you get into knee highs, over the knee socks, thigh highs, and tights. Tights are very much like leggings, except that they come in pairs, with each tight being a long sleeve. For any length of the sock, there is a compression product out there that will let you look and feel great while keeping your feet, ankles, calves, and thighs healthy.
q: My Sockwell socks haven't arrived yet! Can I go for a walk with no socks?
Of course, you can. You can also walk through a public park barefoot if you want, or wear Crocs to run a 5K. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
With no socks, you have no protection against friction. You can get away with this if you wear slippers, flip flops, or aqua shoes, but almost any other shoe will cause irritation even if it fits properly.
The other problem with extended barefoot time is damage to the actual shoe. Your sweat will pool up, with nothing to help remove it and absorb into the fabric lining of your shoe. This leads to discoloration, and distortion of the material over time, so that the shoes may not even fit right anymore. Also, sweat allows bacteria to grow. The more a shoe smells, the greater the danger of bacteria and nasty rashes. So while we won't try to tell you what to do, we strongly encourage you to put some kind of fabric between your feet and shoes, even if it isn't a Sockwell sock.
q: Isn't heat retention bad?
It can be, but when we talk about it, we mean the gentle heat generated by the squeezing action of compression. if it's cold outside, you may see people rubbing their hands together or cupping one hand in the other. They are using body heat to stay warm and prevent any pain from the cold air. Compression socks have a similar function. The heat keeps you comfortable and helps swelling go down. The best compression socks strike a balance between retaining your body's natural heat and preventing you from sweating too much and becoming uncomfortable.
q: Is there really a difference between mens and womens socks?
In terms of how they are made, no, there absolutely is not. Women can wear men's socks that are approximately two sizes smaller than their regular shoe size. Men can go up two sizes to wear women's socks. The rule applies to shoes, too, so in reality, every shoe out there is unisex.
The difference is in how the gendered socks look, and how they are marketed. Women's socks may come in funkier or brighter color patterns. Sometimes they have frilly attachments around the ankle. Men's socks tend to be more utilitarian, with the assumption that men don't need or want bright colors or decoration. The truth is, you can wear any sock if you make sure it fits first. As we said before, you may even get away with a sock that's a size too small, if the material is stretchy enough. We do caution against wearing micro or no-show socks in a smaller size, though. They don't cover your entire foot, so it is much easier for them to slide down off your feet, bunching up inside your shoe and causing discomfort.
q: What are turn welt tops?
"Welt," in the apparel industry, means a garment's border, where it ends and quits covering the body. The welt of a sock is on top unless it has an open toe. In that case, the toe area would be another welt.
Sockwell puts ribbing on their welts for reinforcement. They are wide enough that you can fold them down to give the sock, even more, grab on your leg. This will give you a slightly different look and also help the sock stay in place. Because of the strong welts, though, you get the staying power even if you don't fold the cuffs down.
q: What's the difference between rayon and nylon?
Rayon was originally invented, in 1855, as a low-cost substitute for natural silk. It made a lot of fine-looking garments available at a low cost. Nylon was first synthesized in the 1930s and was used to make toothbrushes. You probably have a toothbrush with nylon bristles in your medicine cabinet right now.
When synthesized with a different process, nylon becomes both stronger than and smoother than rayon. It resists tearing well. It is easy to clean and has stain-fighting properties. Rayon has a more posh feel to it than nylon, but rayon is also more delicate. It's easy to burn and warp rayon when ironing it because the fibers resemble thin plastic