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The Best Socks for Toasty Toes and Why You'll Love Them

Good socks are worth the price, can last for years and will put a spring in your step.

A bunch of socks
Good socks are worth the price.
Smartwool

This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

For my teenage rebellion, instead of joining a rock band or smoking, I wore striped socks.

My dad was color blind, and one of the ways he compensated and ensured his socks always matched was to stock his sock drawer with only black or brown socks. No greens or reds or oranges. Definitely no stripes or patterns. 

I was well into my teens when I finally realized socks came in other colors besides black and brown and shades of dark. That awareness led to small teenage mutinies, wearing bright or striped or patterned -- even mismatched -- socks that only I knew about, concealed beneath pants and inside shoes. 

I've carried my quiet sock rebellion into adulthood and have a drawer bursting with multicolored socks in stripes, checks and polka dots. And while I'm in no way a stocking expert, I believe socks are covered by the rule that you don't scrimp on products that come between you and the ground. (That list includes mattresses and tires.)

With that in mind, here are socks that my sock-wearing colleagues and I love because they look great, fit comfortably and quietly signal who we are. For more, here are 11 kitchen items we're obsessed with.

Darn Tough

At first, to be honest, I was a bit put off by the name, expecting these wool socks to be flinty and unwearable. But, nope, they are comfortable, cozy and durable, with a fun, traditional look incorporating understated colors and designs. 

I have Darn Tough socks in my drawer that I've worn for nearly six years -- on hikes, at the gym, to work, around the house -- and they still look and feel great. My colleague Andrew Lanxon agreed, saying, "Everything I've had from Darn Tough so far has been superb. Comfy everyday active socks and really great thicker ones for tougher hiking." And they come with a lifetime guarantee, which I've never even come close to using

Smartwool

Another entry in the "Wool: The Wonder Fabric" category, Smartwool socks are a little more stylish and bright than Darn Tough socks (you can find an orange stripy pair!) but they're just as comfortable and durable. "I used to spend money on nice things like perfume and artwork," my CNET colleague Claire Reilly said. "Now I just splurge on socks," pointing to her favorite Smartwool hiking socks. "These are gooood."

Wigwam

One more winning choice for wool socks, Wigwam makes classic-looking stockings for running, hiking and other fitness activities -- or for just staying warm in the winter. "I have a pair of Wigwam wool socks that I was given a few years ago that are my absolute favorites for Oregon winters," said Pacific Northwest resident and CNET editor Jim Hoffman. "Well padded, they wick moisture exceptionally well and keep my feet toasty warm."

Stance

If you worry wool stockings may be too sedate for you, look to Stance. These vibrant and colorful socks run from no-show and crew to over-the-calf styles. And don't be fooled by their cheerfulness: These hard-working socks are designed for comfort and activity and are the choice of a family member/long-distance runner who logs nearly 3,000 miles a year. They're also the choice for CNET's Oscar Gonzalez, who said, "Stance no-show socks are a favorite of mine now."

Feetures

Another serious runner swears by Feetures and says they are the favorite socks of her running club. According to long-distance runner and CNET cybersecurity and digital privacy writer Bree Fowler, "They're cushy, don't ride down and don't give us blisters. Great for simple 5K races or marathons." And they aren't just for running. "I also bought some of their dress/casual socks for Black Friday and those have been great, too," Bree said.

Looking for more running socks? Here's another recommendation: "The Swiftwick Aspire is one of my favorite running socks," said CNET fitness and nutrition reporter Giselle Castro-Sloboda. "Lightweight, breathable, a barely there feel and it has compression."