If you're in any/many OCR facebook groups, you'll have seen people ask about what brand of socks are best for OCR. While I personally don't think that there is any one brand that so drastically supersedes all others that it's a "must-have", I do think there are reliable brands that are smart choices.
With all of that in mind, we polled 50 random OCR athletes to ask them which socks they choose for OCR. All of the data was directly provided by our polled athletes.
Be sure to check out the SUMMARY section at the bottom for the full conclusion.
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*Important Note* We apparently underestimated just how many brands people were using on a regular basis. Thankfully, people wrote in other brands in some of the questions. So just know that one of our Top 3 choices may not be one of the survey options. P.S. Ignore any graph typos ;).
1: What brand of socks do you CURRENTLY use for training and Obstacle Course Racing?
The most important thing to note from these results is actually the relationship to the very next question and graph. You'll find that the socks that are CURRENTLY being worn are a significant deviation from what has been used.
2: Which brands have you worn in the past? (Select all that you've worn for OCR training and racing)
Here you go. Where there were only three real results in that previous question that were CURRENTLY being used, this graph shows what people have used in the past. It can be relatively safely assumed that athletes really went searching for, and potentially found, the best sock for them. Based on the data, it looks like Nike, Reebok, and Under Armour all take a steep dive and aren't generally regarded as great OCR socks.
3: How did you first learn about the brand you currently use for racing and training?
I can't remember the last time I saw a TV Ad specifically for socks, so I think that portion of the graph makes sense. Internet ads, in comparison to other methods, and based on the 50 people polled, did pretty poorly. We've found it often to be the case, based on our other survey-results articles, that people buy things that friends recommend, or that they see someone they respect using.
4: What do you like MOST about the brand you currently race and train in? Makes sure you include the brand name when commenting.
*Reviews were chosen for multiple brands. Brands that received more reviews have more reviews posted below. Many reviews were left out because they did not include what brand they were talking about; which the question specifically asked*
"Hoplite knee high compression socks keep my shins protected and are actually very comfortable!"
"Darn Tough - I love the comfort and durability of the sock. It's much nicer to wear and run in than any other sock I've owned."
"Smartwool socks keep my feet warm in the cold, cool in the heat, and keep them dry, most times I cant even tell that my feet are soaked."
"Mudgear has strong support and protection on rope climbs and Tyrolean Traverse."
"Darn Tough, thin, tough, lifetime warranty, comfortable. Ran 32 mile Killington Ultra in these, no blisters, hot spots or any other issues."
"Gococco socks from Sweden, long compression socks and that they dry very quickly."
"I like Mudgear's compression; their customer service is also good. When I ripped a sock on an obstacle during my first race in a fresh pair, they sent me a replacement pair at no charge."
"I wear Injinji. I alternate wearing them with 5 finger and regular minimalist trail shoes. Having my toes separated by the sock toes seems to help with blister prevention."
"SmartWool, comfort, light, dry quick, and last. They have varying thicknesses to choice from. I have run 3 WTMs in them, with zero foot issues."
"Inov-8 Merino wool. Not too warm or cold. They drain fine and does a pretty good job."
5: If I offered you 3 free pairs of socks from a competing brand, or 1 free pair of your favorite socks, which would you take?
It looks as though we have some "brand loyalty" here. Personally, and this is just me, I'd take the 3 pairs of free socks because...well...growing up I didn't get new socks very often, and putting on a brand new pair of socks just feels amazing. I do appreciate that a good number of people have found a sock brand that they really like and want to stick with it. It's important in racing and training to have gear you are confident in and enjoy.
6: If someone asked you why they should get a pair of your favorite socks over a pair from a competitor, what would you tell them? Please include the name of your favorite brand when commenting.
*We're sharing reviews on every brand that was listed. They are listed in the order that surveyed athletes completed them in. Many reviews were left out because they did not include what brand they were talking about; which the question specifically asked*
"Mudgear are the most comfortable and durable."
"Darn Tough - I'd tell them that Darn Tough is very tough, durable, and comfortable, so it's worth it in my book."
"Saucony seem to be for your average athlete, not just for runners. I use them every day, exercising, running, OCRs, and just around the house. Very comfy."
"Hoplite is the highest quality. Their website explains how much detail was put into making the finest performance compression gear. I've had mine for 2 years and done many races with them and they are still just as snug and beneficial."
"SB Sox is highly rated on amazon and I’ve used the personally."
"Familiar with Under Armor and know they hold up during the rigors of an OCR."
"Injinji look weird, but function better in every way for me. I can't go back to something that isn't toe socks."
"Smart Wool - No blisters no holes no issues."
"I would buy the Stance performance line because it's hands down been the most durable race sock I've owned. I have several backup pairs that I haven't even touched yet because my initial pair hasn't stretched out or worn any holes in 3 years. There's just enough cushion to be comfortable without feeling bulky or tight inside my shoes and the height is perfect - they never slide down into my shoe."
"Compression from Gococo socks are very good and they dry quickly. As a bonus you can find them in many funny colors."
"The ASICS socks I've been using seem to really last despite the miles and mud I've put them through."
While our initial survey covered many brands, there were a lot of write-ins! Based on all of the data, the 3 top brands (as listed by the 50 random OCR athletes surveyed) were:
1: Mud Gear
2: Darn Tough
3: Smart Wool
The top 3 reasons why athletes choose a brand (based on the 50 athletes surveyed) is because:
1: They saw it while shopping
2: A friend told them about it
3: They saw it pop up somewhere on social media
The top 3 reasons why athletes like the brands that they've chosen (based on their written answers - which were not all provided as not every athlete listed the brand along with their review) are:
3: Dry quickly/don't hold water
We hope all of this information helps you decide on a really good sock for your racing and training! There may not be a right answer overall, but you'll probably find the right answer for YOU now that you know what other people prefer and why.
Trio Fitness OCR is an online OCR training company. Owners and brothers Luke & Joel Hayes apply their knowledge as competitive OCR athletes, CPT's with 13 years of combined experience, and a wealth of knowledge obtained through 18 certifications and specialties, to help you improve as an OCR athlete. Whether new to OCR, or a seasoned athlete looking to take on your next big challenge, Trio Fitness OCR will gear a Training Program to your current abilities and help you reach your future goals.
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Joel Hayes (Coach & Article Author)
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