Cycling socks are fundamentally different to your everyday office socks. These sports socks are designed to improve your riding comfort – whatever the weather conditions you ride in. Despite this, socks are often an afterthought for many cyclists; but those in the know will be sure to choose a pair that enhances their ride experience (and style) out on the road or trails.
In the winter, cycling socks are often hidden under leg warmers and shoe covers, but out of sight does not mean 'out of mind' – they play a crucial role in offering winter insulation, protection from the elements and comfort on those long winter bike rides.
In this buying guide, we discuss all you need to know about winter cycling socks. We look at the GripGrab range and offer suggestions on products for different conditions and scenarios – to keep you cycling in comfort this winter.
What makes a great winter cycling sock?
Finding the best pair of cycling socks to suit you will partly come down to personal preference; but there are some key factors that apply to riders…
- Insulation: when cycling in winter, keeping your toes warm is essential. Winter cycling socks are a thermal layer between your skin and the elements; to keep your toes comfortable and allow you to keep riding this winter.
- Padded sole: some socks, such as the GripGrab Merino Winter Socks, come with a padded sole to further assist your comfort when worn in your cycling shoes. The padded sole helps to reduce fatigue and improve insulation; it also makes these the perfect winter hiking socks.
- Waterproof protection: many of us will rely on overshoes such as the GripGrab Flandrien shoe covers to shield our feet from road spray in the winter months. But with that product being specific to road cycling, off-road riders could be looking to get that level of waterproofness directly from their socks. Choices like the GripGrab Waterproof Merino Thermal Socks are a direct-next-to-skin barrier against the elements, overcoming the need to use shoe covers.
- Windproof protection: moisture is not the only way toes get cold on winter bike rides; the vents on your cycling shoes can let in unwelcome cold air causing windchill. A good pair of windproof socks, such as the GripGrab Windproof Socks, will keep the cold air out and allow your feet to retain warmth.
When would you wear a windproof sock?
Keeping the wind off your toes can be the difference between calling off a ride early or reaching your distance target. To do this, many riders will opt for a something like the GripGrab Windproof Toe Covers in spring and autumn; but others may want a less bulky and more discrete option – that is where a pair of windproof socks comes in.
On cooler days, like in the spring and autumn, windproof socks will stop the chilling air that gets into your shoes from reaching your feet. This protection from windchill, coupled with the insulating inner fleece fabric, offers enhanced comfort for your transition season rides.
What are the advantages of merino socks?
Merino wool is a natural wonder-fabric. It is super soft, insulating and even naturally odour-resistant, making it the perfect choice for winter cycling socks.
Merino wool is naturally soft thanks to the exceptionally fine fibres that compose the fabric. This means that unlike traditional wool it has none of that irritating itch.
Merino wool is also naturally anti-microbial – it has properties that prevent the growth of odour-causing bacteria. This increases the number of times your merino cycling socks can be worn before they need to be washed and reduces the chance of you returning from your long winter ride with stinky feet.
Unlike cotton, merino wool can keep you warm even when it is wet, whether the moisture is from sweat or rain. This is thanks to the wool taking a lot longer to feel wet – as it can absorb significantly more moisture, so it takes longer for it to start feeling cool. Tiny air pockets in the wool are warmed by body heat and retain warmth even as the fibres around them take on moisture.
Why would you wear waterproof socks?
Waterproof socks – like the GripGrab Lightweight Waterproof Socks – allow you to leave your waterproof shoe covers at home on shorter rides. They are especially useful for short, sharp gravel or mountain bike rides, when you want to ride without the bulk and layering of shoe covers, but you know you won’t be out long enough to need the added thermal insulation offered by winter shoe covers.
However, you can also use waterproof cycling socks to adopt a belt-and-braces approach to winter feet protection; by wearing both a pair of waterproof socks and a pair of waterproof shoe covers, such as the GripGrab RaceThermo X Waterproof Winter MTB/CX Shoe Covers. This double waterproof protection should really ensure your feet stay dry and warm all the way back to your front door.