A Vegan’s Guide To Cruelty-Free Socks

Whether you’re a sports enthusiast, a hiker, or a city gal, you need a well-fitting, comfy and non-smelly pair of socks that can withstand the rigors of daily use.

As someone following an plant-based lifestyle, you m​ight currently be struggling to find socks with animal-friendly materials.

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Shopping as a vegan can sometimes be a frustrating process, particularly when you’re reading the material list carefully to rule out all animal products.

Buying vegan socks, however, can be a straightforward process, unlike footwear shopping, when you know what to look for and what to avoid.

This guide provides an overview of things to consider while choosing animal-friendly socks and the best options for specific needs.

Socks remain one of the most understated accessories in your wardrobe. Tucked away out of sight from most part, its style usually plays second fiddle to function.

Whether you’re a sports enthusiast, a hiker, or a city gal, you need a well-fitting, comfy and non-smelly pair of socks that can withstand the rigors of daily use. As someone following an animal-friendly lifestyle, you may also want it to conform to vegan standards.  

Shopping as a vegan can be a frustrating process, particularly when you’re reading the material list carefully to rule out all animal products. Buying vegan socks, however, is a straightforward process, unlike footwear shopping, when you know what to look for and what to avoid.

This guide provides an overview of things to consider while choosing animal-friendly socks and the best options for specific needs.

Wool ​Alternatives​

​Socks are often made with wool, especially merino wool, as it both keeps your feet warm in cold weather and wicks away moisture in wet or humid conditions. 

While shearing doesn’t kill the sheep, it can cause considerable physical damage and pain as chunks of skin gets removed in this process. Sheep are often farmed in inhuman conditions where they are subject to castration and tail docking.

With many vegan alternatives available now, you don’t have to endorse products created through this cruel process. 

Read more about wool in our vegan clothing guide.

How to Buy Vegan-Friendly Socks

​How do you determine that those comfy socks you’ve been eyeing are indeed ‘vegan’? 

It gets a bit trickier to identify cruelty-free socks when the label only mentions blended or moisture wicking fiber. Bookmark this ingredient list for your next sock shopping trip.

​Natural or bio fiber

If your socks are made of plant fibers like cotton, rest assured: it’s vegan. Cotton has great moisture absorbing ability -- cool fabric for humid and hot weather.

Sadly, this means sweaty feet will smell worse in 100% cotton socks. The fiber is less durable and quickly loses its shape -- not a good choice for anyone buying running or specialty socks.

​Synthetic or man-made fibers

While artificial fibers and sensitive skin don’t gel well, man-made fibers match merino wool’s moisture wicking prowess. Your feet remain dry and stink less. 

You’ll find two types of synthetic socks.

  • ​Socks entirely made with an artificial fiber like Thor.Wick (acrylic or synthetic wool), Drymax (Olefin), CoolMax (polyester blend), Drystat (silver ions with polymer) or Chenille (acrylic, rayon and olefin blend).
  • ​Blended socks with material like acrylic, Sherpa (thick polyester/faux fur), nylon, polyester, lycra (spandex or elastane), nylon, Olefin, lurex, and even cotton, in different proportions.

Tip: Avoid socks made with X20 Acrylic as this synthetic fiber contains chitosan (derived from prawn and crab shells).

​Purchasing Considerations

  • Comfort:​ Is your synthetic sock as comfortable as the knitted one you wore earlier? Make sure your movement doesn’t feel constricted while wearing knee length socks.
    Is your synthetic sock as comfortable as the knitted one you wore earlier? Make sure your movement doesn’t feel constricted while wearing knee length socks.

  • Cushioning/Thickness: ​Are your socks super thin or plush? Unless you’re buying winter or heating socks, you want socks that can be worn with any shoe. Choose a product with medium layering that fits comfortably in your shoes. 
  • Fit: ​The sock should have uniform construction from toe to heel, with enough cushioning and support for rigorous or intense activities. This keeps your socks supple and prevents premature wear-and-tear.
  • Durability: ​Wear them for a few months to see if it holds up to your lifestyle, not to mention the aftereffects of washing. Check reviews online before you buy a new pair.
    Wear them for a few months to see if it holds up to your lifestyle, not to mention the aftereffects of washing. Check reviews online before you buy a new pair.

  • Warmth/moisture wicking: ​You want socks that keep your feet dry and warm in wet or cold conditions. Both lightweight and cushioned socks with moisture wicking materials work well.
  • Value: ​Your budget determines the pair of socks you’ll eventually purchase. Even if you’re pinching pennies, ensure your running or compression sock is made with durable materials.

Our Favorite Socks By Category

Compression Socks

​Compression socks are a boon for people whose jobs require long hours of standing. If you’re into high-intensity exercise or sports, choose socks that support leg muscles during the activity and aid in faster recovery post training. 


SB SOX Compression Socks

These vegan compression socks are made of synthetic blends (80% nylon and 20% lycra/spandex).

They provide good compression from toe to calf and come with adequate padding.  

Wear these unisex socks for any sporting activity ranging from a 20-mile walkathon to football and tennis.

Where product scores

​Reviewers mainly speak about leg comfort and support. These knee-length socks can be worn all day without discomfort.

Where it falters

​These are thinner socks, making them better suited to warm weather. Add some insoles to get around the problem. The sock can feel tight if you have a thick calf.

Unisex Compression Socks by A-Swift 

Wearing the same pair of neutral colored socks can get boring after a while; if you’re looking for practical yet stylish compression socks, you’ll love this vegan alternative. The silver yarn socks fall below the knee for someone of average height.

Grab some eyeballs at work with these stylish socks that come in 26 colors and attractive designs.

Where product scores

​The use of silver yarn ensures dry and odor-free feet.  Reviewers rave about overall comfort and the evenly distributed compression. Many found it useful for non-sporting activities, including long distance travel and 12-hour shifts at work.

Where it falters

​Some reviewers feel the socks were a bit loose near the toe. These socks may not suit those with small feet or chubby legs.

Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks for Men & Women

These black and beige socks come with a hint of color at the heel and toe. A blended variety (made of lycra and nylon), these long socks don’t pinch or fall.

Wear them during workouts and training to prevent injuries. Use them to avoid swollen feet during pregnancy, or simply wear them to work for the comfort factor.

Where product scores

​The sock is wider at the top and tapers towards the ankle making it suitable for wider calves.  Over 5000 reviewers have given it a thumbs up for material quality, fitting, shock absorbing ability, and ankle support.

Where it falters

For some reviewers, it bunched around the knee or bulged out at the toes. These socks are slightly higher priced than others in the same category.

Athletic/Running Socks

​You want a running sock that fits wells, and reduces foot injuries or blisters. This also means you need a pair that lasts longer, while keeping your feet dry, cool and odor-free.  Here are three options that tick all the boxes.


Low cut running socks by Thirty48

These socks score both on style and comfort, and can be worn with any type of sports shoe.  Made of CoolMax fiber, these socks have extra padding to protect your feet from abrasions and bruises.

Choose one of the seven dual-shaded socks, or mix it up with a ed mixed color pack of three or six pairs.

Where product scores

​You can wear them with night splints and compression sleeves. The heel tab is a valuable addition to a product which is already plush and super comfortable. Many reviewers loved the fact that it stayed in place while they were out running or jogging.

Where it falters

​This may not work for someone who prefers thinner socks. Your feet may get warmer than expected on hot days.

This may not work for someone who prefers thinner socks. Your feet may get warmer than expected on hot days.

Balega hidden comfort running socks

If you’re looking for some high-performance socks with uniform fit, seamless toe, thicker fabric, and adequate padding; these are the ones for you. These animal-friendly running socks are a blend of nylon, elastane and Dynamix polyester.

You get all the cushioning you need from the undersole padding. With a dozen color options available, pick the pair that fits you.

Where product scores

​These socks feel smooth and comfortable, even after prolonged use. Many reviewers preferred wearing these Hidden Comfort socks for their winter run.

Where it falters

​This works better as cool weather running socks because of the thick fabric. Some reviewers found it tight around the toes.

Thorlo thin padded running socks

​If you’ve been missing your Smartwool running socks after turning vegan, Thorlo has something that should cheer you up.

A blend of THORWICK COOL polyester, nylon, elastic and other polyester, these socks provide compression around the arches and enough padding at the heel and forefoot.

Where product scores

​For a sock that claims to be aerodynamic, Thorlo stands up to the scrutiny. These socks are thin, snug fit, breathable, and extremely comfortable to wear. Preferred by many reviewers for running or jogging.

Where it falters

​While these are excellent for warm days, you’ll need thicker ones for cool weather. These are not the best choice for someone who needs uniform padding.

Specialty Socks 

These socks are designed for comfort and performance. From cold weather socks to hiking socks, they serve a specific purpose.

Hiking Socks

Depending on the weather, choose thin, medium weight or thick hiking socks, but ensure there is extra padding in the right areas. This protects your feet as you walk on rocky or rough terrains. The synthetic ones are quick to wick. They your feet dry better than natural fibers like cotton.


Thorlo Light Hiking Socks

These are perfect for warm weather. With thin sides and padding at the heel area, they keep your feet blister-free and dry. These blended socks, made of stretch nylon, spandex and Thor.Wick, available in four classic shades.

Where product scores

Most reviewers found these socks very comfortable for long hikes. They wick moisture and allow your feet to breathe.

Where it falters

Some found it to be a bit large, but wearing the sock with well-fitting shoes should help.

​Thorlo Thick Padded Hiking Socks

​If you want socks that are a snug fit, keep moisture away from your feet, provide enough cushioning, and are thick enough for cold weather walks, check out this Thorlo offering. This, again, is a blend of Thor.Wick, nylon and spandex.

Where product scores

​Most people raved about the sock being soft, warm and comfortable. The high ankle design prevents chaffing, as the sock serves as a comfortable buffer between your skin and boot.

Where it falters

​Some found the elastic band on the ankles wearing out over time.

Slipper Socks

​Slipper socks keep your feet warm and come with a no-slip grip to prevent your falling. As these socks aren’t bulky, there are a great alternative for regular slippers in the winter.


Floso slipper socks for men

With a gripped texture along the bottom and high ankle design, these blended socks prevent you from falling on slippery surfaces while keeping your feet warm.

Although originally made for indoor use, this single-color sock can also be worn with work boots.

Where product scores

​Most people found it snug, warm, and not too bulky. These socks are a comfort fit -- neither tight nor loose fitting.

Where it falters

​This sock may not work for someone with really cold feet.

Luxury Diva slipper socks for women

Looking for fuzzy socks that keep your feet warm and brighten up the room a bit?

Check out the multi-pack including six beautiful fuchsia shades. These are plush socks that go three inches above the ankle.

Where product scores

​Reviewers loved them as a house slipper, as well as wearing them with shoes. 

Where it falters

​These socks are best suited for indoor use. Your feet may feel warm enough when the temperature drops low.

Heated Socks

​These socks are meant to keep your feet warm in extremely cold weather. If you work in a sub-zero work environment or want warm feet in winter, these heated socks are your new best friend.


Heat Holders Thermal Socks for men and women

​When it comes to keeping your feet toasty and dry in winter, these thermal socks are the best vegan alternative to merino wool socks. They are super warm and fit comfortably. 

Where product scores

​You can wear them for country skiing and snowboarding,pair them with liners for extra warmth.

Where it falters

​Some reviewers felt these socks were too thick for work shoes. The socks also shed a bit of lint when worn indoors.

Eco-friendly thermal socks from Soxnet

​These socks are comfortable, warm, breathable, waterproof and well-fitted.

Your feet are well protected in winter. If you work in a cold environment, these socks keep your feet from freezing.

Where product scores

​Reviewers were pleased with the padded comfort and warmth it provided, some even felt comfortable wearing the sock while working outdoors in sub zero temperatures.

Where it falters

​The elastic band on the top felt too tight for some reviewers.

Final Notes

You may have to try a few brands and put these socks through the grind, before you can settle on that perfect-for-you pair.

Show your love for wooly animals with these vegan alternatives. What are you waiting for?

Have a question or want to share a piece of advice with the Keep It Vegan community?

Feel free to leave a comment below.

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Last modified on May 8, 2018 at 23:16

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  1. I think it’s important to consider the impact of synthetic fibres on wildlife, especially given that the plastics they’re made from have now been found in every part of the ocean. Clothing has a huge impact, not just in the production, but in the waste lifecycle – which really needs to be considered too.

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