Whether you’re a casual cyclist, mud-loving mountain biker or road cyclist, equipping yourself with winter riding gear is essential. The cold weather brings about a unique set of challenges for all cyclists and keeping warm is a top priority.
As we all probably know, the extremities are particularly vulnerable to the cold. For cyclists, they also happen to be heavily exposed to the elements, whether it’s the wind, rain, or even snow.
Winter socks are and are a must-have for any cyclist’s winter wardrobe.
Proper winter cycling socks can keep your feet warm and dry, reducing numbness and loss of sensation. This is not only important from a comfort perspective but from a health and performance perspective too.
The comfort brought about by a good pair of winter riding socks is hard to match for such a simple addition to your cycling kit. Winter cycling socks are purpose-built for the job and won’t only provide superior comfort, but will also boost your cycling performance by encouraging blood flow to the extremities.
Merino Wool Vs Synthetic Materials
There are two main types of material when it comes to cycling socks.
- Merino wool is one of the world’s best insulation fabrics and is used in all manner of outdoors clothing and equipment. Merino wool is lightweight, anti-bacterial and moisture-wicking, with a soft and comfortable texture. Merino wool is also hypoallergenic and doesn’t cause itching like normal wool. It can form a fine weave that protects against wind and rain.
- Synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester are also frequently used for cycling socks. These materials still possess many of the same qualities as merino wool but are often cheaper than genuine merino wool alternatives and can be more flexible to multiple uses.
Many cycling socks use a blend of both merino wool and synthetic materials, and some even have inner and outer layers of both synthetic materials and wool.
The Best Winter Cycling Socks Available Right Now
When the going is tough, these high-tech mid-length cycling socks are the ultimate choice. They are perhaps the most comprehensive cold-weather cycling socks on the market and whilst their price reflects this, they’re worth every penny.
SealSkinz rate these at 4 out of 5 on their ‘Climate Guide’, meaning they’re suitable for extreme cold weather including below-freezing temperatures. They feature a two-layer design, with an advanced waterproof breathable outer and a merino wool inner. As a mid-length sock, they should come most of the way up the shin towards the knee.
These socks are not only super-warm but are also designed to reduce or eliminate the chance of blisters and come with additional ankle and heel support. With SealSkinz’ rigorous attention to detail and sophisticated materials used throughout, these are an excellent choice for deep winter riding in all weathers.
- All-weather waterproof two-layer design
- Moisture-wicking breathable fabric
- Mid-length for added coverage
- Variety of colours available
A lighter-weight alternative, these best selling winter cycling socks have a very high content of merino wool at 65%. As Dhb’s thickest socks, they’re optimised for winter riding. They also come with added features for cyclists such as reinforced insulation across the heel and toes.
For merino wool socks, these are remarkably good value and whilst they’re warm, they’re not too thick which means they should slip right into your normal riding shoes without any issue.
These aren’t waterproof, and whilst they may lack the teeth of other extreme weather socks, the Dhb Aeron series are great winter all-rounders.
- 65% merino wool and 35% synthetic blend
- 18cm height for ankle coverage
- Ankle and heel support
- Extra insulation across the heel and toes
Van Riesel partnered with top cycling pros when designing their cycling socks including the 500 series. These are an inexpensive mid-weight winter cycling sock that utilises a merino wool and thermolite fabric blend to trap warmth whilst retaining breathability.
These socks are well-engineered for cycling and include heel and mid-ankle support. They’re a lighter alternative to other winter cycling socks which may be an advantage when cycling in winter sunshine or on milder days.
- 26% merino wool and 27% thermolite
- 19cm height for ankle coverage
- Heel, arch and ankle support
- Variety of bright colours available
Well-known brand Gore has opted for an all-synthetic construction for their bestselling winter cycling socks. Despite the lack of merino wool, users report these socks to be very effective in cold weather extending below zero degrees.
These socks are very well-engineered for ankle and heel support and are designed to not slip down the ankle, even during intense exercise. Highly breathable and well-shaped for comfort when wearing tight-fitting shoes, these are excellent heavy-weight cold-weather cycling socks.
- High-tech synthetic construction
- Engineered for intense exercise
- 16cm height for ankle coverage
- Toe and ankle support
As the name suggests, these heavy-weight socks are built for cold weather and rugged environments. With not 1, or 2, but 3 layers, these socks combine waterproof nylon with insulative polyester layers for high-performance in very low temperatures.
Their stretchy outer membrane provides an excellent fit for close-fitting cycling shoes. They also feature stretch arch support, perfect for cycling. As a waterproof sock, these are suitable for wet weather winter riding or even snow. They’re not cheap, but they’re as tough as they come!
- 3-layer waterproof construction
- High-length for ankle and shin coverage
- Stretch arch support
- Suitable for extreme cold weather and snow
Why Buy Cycling Socks?
By simply layering up normal socks, you’ll likely restrict blood flow to your feet, which means they’ll just get cold and numb anyway. If your feet then get wet whilst you’re wearing normal socks, the fabric will likely retain the moisture. This makes it extremely hard to get your feet dry and warm again whilst you’re wearing the same socks.
This can become very uncomfortable or even dangerous in freezing temperatures.
Winter cycling socks, on the other hand, use tech fabrics and other highly insulative materials to maximise heat retention whilst wicking moisture away from the skin. They’re also snugly shaped to the typical posture of a cyclist’s foot, often providing ankle and heel support.
The Benefits of Winter Cycling Socks
First and foremost, keeping warm means staying comfortable. Whether you love or hate winter riding, the importance of staying warm is always the same. No one likes cold feet and toes and proper socks act as your first line of defence against the elements. Warm socks can increase your comfort levels whilst boosting your morale when riding in the cold.
Once you get your hands on some proper winter cycling socks, you’ll probably wish you’d bought them sooner. Remaining warm and comfortable during cold weather cycles is not just important for comfort, but also for health and even your morale. Whilst high-performance waterproof socks may not seem cheap, they are very durable and you’ll likely get tons of use out of them.
Pushing through the winter months is easier when you’ve got the right kit and socks are crucially important alongside gloves and other cold-weather riding gear.
At the end of the day, no one likes having cold feet and toes and with your feet properly wrapped up, you’re one step ahead in your battle against the elements!