Run Essentials

The Must-Haves



Those in the know are aware that must-have items for runners looking to be at their best include the greatest-fitting, super-functional, tech-savvy, socks and insoles. We’ve asked brands to share their top picks for 2023 and answer the question: What are some of the key traits runners are looking for in their socks and insoles right now? 

Feetures Elite Invisible


Product: Elite Invisible

MSRP: $18

Tech Details: Designers put a maximum amount of technology in a minimum amount of running sock with the Elite Invisible. Targeted compression provides support where you need it, technical mesh ventilation keeps feet cool and comfortable, a higher tab protects the ankle while staying hidden and Heel Hugger 2.0 silicone tape helps the sock stay up in the most strenuous of running conditions. Anatomical design provides a custom-like fit.

What Runners Want: “Launched in January, the Elite Invisible is a best-in-class, first-of-its-kind running sock. Sales took off almost immediately in warmer weather locations and we’re now seeing the product sell in regions across the country. Invisible socks have been popular among runners and active individuals, but there hasn’t been a high-performance option until now.” 

– Dan Gardner, VP, specialty sales, Feetures

Zensah Tech + Compression


Product: Tech + Compression

MSRP: $50

Tech Details: These popular, graduated compression socks are made for runners and athletes of all types, as well as for recovery. Tech + Compression features an innovative super soft knit, ultra-comfortable graduated compression fit; and are extra durable for elite performance, marathoners, and OCR (obstacle course racing), as well as ultrarunning. This knee-high compression version is ideal for assisting with swelling from activity, helping to enhance blood circulation and oxygen flow.

What Runners Want: “The merger of quality and technology is paramount for running socks. Runners are looking for a product that’s going to work as hard as they do and help them reach their goals.” 

- Sarah Humphries, director, Zensah

MudGear Gloom Runner


Product: Gloom Runner Reflective Crew Height 

MSRP: $25

Tech Details: If you are a lowlight enthusiast, the MudGear Gloom Runner is a comfortable solution for safer runs. Built with premium yarns designed to vent heat and wick moisture, Gloom Runner includes built-in reflective bands which bounce vehicle headlights as well as runners’ flashlights and headlamps. The result is a durable performance sock for day or night.  

What Runners Want: “MudGear continues to find new ways to help ‘Made Tougher’ athletes and outdoor enthusiasts go further and last longer. We advocate for every runner who feels chained to the treadmill when you’d rather be outside. At MudGear, we are committed to engineering the highest quality performance sportswear and gear, so that runners can focus on what matters most — conquering new trails and enjoying the outdoors.” 

- Marie Oblinsky Price, head of sales and strategic partnerships, MudGear

OS1st Nekkid Comfort


Product: Nekkid Comfort 

MSRP: $14.99

Tech Details: The Nekkid Comfort is an invisible sock that does not slip down into the shoe thanks to a silicone oval grip (the same used in OS1st compression products), a specially constructed heel and light compression around the arch. Fit this sock confidently with track spikes, low profile running shoes, and everyday wear. The intentional design protects from blisters, stink, rubbing and pulling.

What Runners Want: “As runners see shoes advance, they expect the same for the rest of their gear with socks as no exception. We know that runners are not just settling for moisture wicking and blister protection anymore, and instead look for something like our Socks with Purpose that use intentional design to address the unique challenges runners face with their feet. They are looking for the right sock height, compression, premium material, and advanced manufacturing methods to give a competitive edge.”
- Stephanie Lee, director of marketing, ING Source Source 

Wrightsock Racer


Product: Racer

MSRP: $15

Tech Details: This blister-resistant offering uses moisture-wicking Repreve recycled polyester and has a vented top for breathability. It is anatomically designed and lightly cushioned for comfort. 

What Runners Want: “Comfort and performance — the Racer meets both of those standards. With its soft feel, perfect fit and blister resistant design, we’re excited to see the Racer become the new runner’s favorite.” 

- Joey Wrightenberry, president, Wrightsock

FALKE RU4 Endurance Reflect


Product: RU4 Endurance Reflect

MSRP: $28.95 ($25.95 for the short version)

Tech Details: These all-rounders provide balanced protection with medium cushioning and great shoe contact. The padding offers protection against blisters by reducing pressure points. A strip of reflective yarn increases visibility in low light conditions. Optimal fit is adapted to the requirements of the respective foot (the left and right sock are each knitted differently, so that the larger toes have more space than the small toe).
What Runners Want: “The Ergonomic Sport System socks are optimally adapted to the anatomical requirements of the respective foot. The right and left toe and different fits for men and women ensure a wrinkle-free fit. The anatomically shaped pads give optimum protection and maintain shoe contact. ” 

- Michael Meier, product manager, FALKE 

Balega Hidden Dry


Product: Hidden Dry

MSRP: $16

Tech Details: For runners desiring a minimal-sockless feel, the Balega Hidden Dry is it. The sock is engineered with ventilation panels and Drynamix moisture management yarns to keep feet cool and dry, protecting from blistering and abrasion. This year’s version has additional ventilation zones to make it Balega’s coolest version ever.

What Runners Want: “We believe runners want to focus on their run and not their gear. The new Hidden Dry, which makes its debut in Spring ’23, is our most ventilated version yet of this go-to sock for the runner seeking a minimalist design.” 

- Ryan Green, SVP, Balega

Swiftwick Aspire 0 Tab


Product: Aspire 0 Tab

MSRP: $16.99

Tech Details: Aspire has recently been redesigned with a heel tab to prevent slipping and blisters. The sock’s thin profile easily wicks moisture away to keep feet dry and blister-free, while high-compression supports feet. A seamless toe box eliminates rubbing and a channeled upper offers breathability.

What Runners Want: “Socks that comfortably protect and support their feet. Socks that are so comfortable that they won’t even notice they are wearing them! They want to have socks that fit perfectly and do not budge during runs. Plus, it’s critical to control moisture in order to prevent blisters, abrasions, and hot spots.” 

- Joanna Mariani, CMO, Swiftwick

CEP Training No-Show


Product: Training No-Show Sock

MSRP: $15.95

Tech Details: This 93% polyamide, 7% spandex sock is slip-free thanks to the anatomical design and skin-tight fit. The compression and blend of materials ensure superior heat and moisture management, plus additional stabilization in the arch. Perfectly positioned anatomical padded zones in the foot make for ideal cushioning. 

Darn Tough Grit Micro Crew  Ultra Lightweight


Product: Men’s Grit Micro Crew Ultra-Lightweight Running

MSRP: $20

Tech Details: Running goes retro with the Men’s Grit offering a throwback design with natural fibers (Merino wool) that dry quickly and move excess heat. The sock has targeted flex zones and a non-slip fit. Made in Vermont from ultra-lightweight yarns for zero bulk, zero itch and a low profile, second skin effect. 

What Runners Want: “To get the best out of your run, you have to make a system with your shoe and your sock. Our research and development teams have spent years identifying runners’ needs to ensure their system is seamless. By offering targeted breathable mesh, true seamless toe design, different weights and cushion structure all topped off with the magic that is Merino wool — runners put on our socks and forget they’re on.” 

- Jake Largess, Category Manager, Darn Tough Vermont




Product: HIKEPRO

MSRP: $59.95

Tech Details: HIKEPRO offers increased stability fit for everyday walks, short hikes and all-day outings — or even weight training. Triple layers offer optimum moisture wicking with a special mid-layer for fewer blisters. Medium rebound PORON cushion in front aids in push-off performance. Semi-dynamic arch technology provides superior support for less fatigue.

What Runners Want: “Currex offers the most customized, over the counter insoles scientifically engineered for specific sports. Currex HIKEPRO Insole helps customers who spend a lot of time outdoors, enjoy nature without the distraction of foot pain or discomfort. In addition to being the only OTC insole measured to reduce plantar pressure in the shoe while adding increased comfort over the stock boot liner, the product and packaging uses recycled materials to accommodate the need for sustainability, which consumers increasingly value.” 

- Lutz Klein, vice president, Currex North America

Superfeet Run Cushion Medium Arch


Product: Run Cushion Medium Arch

MSRP: $49.99

Tech Details: Superfeet delivers flexible support that fights foot fatigue and minimizes stress and strain thanks to patented Adaptive Comfort Technology in this option. Medium arch flexible orthotic support cushions the foot while running; made to fit well in running shoes and athletic footwear, including zero-drop running shoes. An energizing heel cushion helps disperse impact with every heel strike, reducing excess vibration to fight fatigue and minimize stress and strain that can lead to conditions like plantar fasciitis and shin splints. 

What Runners Want: “Runners today recognize that utilizing an insole to help modify the loads the body experiences can help resolve existing injuries and help prevent new ones from cropping up. With such a wide variety of people lacing up their shoes and going for a run, insoles are uniquely able to bridge the gap between the needs of a Couch-to-5k runner, a runner training for their next 50k and everyone in between.”

 – Matt Gooch, VP of product and innovation, Superfeet

Sorbothane Ultra PLUS


Product: Ultra PLUS 

MSRP: $70.59

Tech Details: This advanced insole features a custom system supporting the arch and stabilizing the rear foot, plus, the comfort and impact protection of a Sorbothane heel pad and expanded Sorbothane forefoot strike protection insert. Ultra PLUS cushions and cradles the foot in comfort while helping to protect against impact-related pain. 

What Runners Want: “Ultra PLUS integrates a custom designed support and stability system with the exclusive impact protection and comfort of Sorbothane. We combined over 40 years of user input, proven design capabilities and our proprietary material to make a great insole. Runners have been asking us for a comfortable stability insole with impact protection...that’s the Ultra PLUS.” 

- David Church, president, Sorbothane, Inc.

FootBalance 100% Custom Insoles


Product: 100% Custom Insoles

MSRP: $80

Tech Details: MyFootBalance 3D Foot Scanning Service combines advanced 3D foot scanning technology with biomechanical foot analysis and product recommendation, including footwear, compression products and a range of custom insoles. FootBalance 100% custom insoles keep runners active and pain free. They are custom molded to the unique contours of your feet in-store. A patented Balance Plate technology provides dynamic arch support and increased shock absorption. 

What Runners Want: “Runners, and all consumers, are looking for improved health and wellbeing combined with injury prevention. The MyFootBalance System provides individual analysis and a custom insole solution in under 10 minutes. Knowing that everyone’s feet are unique, personalization and a personalized fit is continuing to play a bigger role in consumers´ lives.” 

– Andrew Richard, VP/GM for North America, FootBalance

Cadence Original Orange


Product: Original Orange

MSRP: $49.95

Tech Details: Original Orange offers contoured support with a cut-out in the heel of the support shell for notable relief and comfort under the heel, combined with a full length high-rebound shock absorbing polyurethane foam from heel to toe. This updated version features even a larger cut-out in the heel of the support shell for even more comfort and relief.

What Runners Want: “The insole connects the foot to the shoe and enhances the fit, feel, and comfort. Cadence are for those that want an insole that combines support with shock absorbing comfort and added relief under the heel; like a bucket seat for your feet. Plenty of options have fantastic midsoles, outsoles, uppers, and aesthetics; but not much going on with the insole. The ride (run) is a much more enjoyable experience with a contoured insole that offers support combined with shock absorbing comfort in all the right places.” 

- John Hinds, founder, Cadence

PowerStep Bridge


Product: Bridge

MSRP: $39.50

Tech Details: The Bridge is where support meets comfort. Loyal customers asked for a product that will provide the support that they have come to know from PowerStep, but with less rigidity in the arch. The adaptable arch support of Bridge flexes depending on the amount of pressure, making it ideal for any arch height. This is combined with energize foam which provides 55% energy return.

What Runners Want: “We are excited to introduce a product that has the PowerStep DNA, but also addresses a new customer base: one that is looking for support, yet is also accustomed to a pure comfort insole. PowerStep Bridge allows our independent retailers to open new and exciting ways to target a consumer that has historically purchased in mass retail, but with a far superior product.” 

- Jay Cain, director of marketing, Foundation Wellness