Compression socks help decrease muscle damage and inflammation as you age, agrees Dr. Mohammad Rimawi, an NYC-based podiatrist, but that’s not all they’re good for. Venous insufficiency and other related foot injuries can be the result of arduous hours on the road or intense, long-distance runs. (To say nothing of the havoc a half-day flight will wreak on your lower body.) So if you’re in the habit of clocking an ungodly amount of hours in economy class—or routinely shattering PRs on the track—the right pair of compression socks might help stave off the inevitable march of time when it matters most.
Just be sure to keep an eye out for the specific level of compression of each pair you’re clocking. Unless you’re dealing with significant swelling, both doctors generally recommend finding compression socks in the 15-20 mmHg range; too tight, and you run the risk of cutting off circulation entirely.
Now, the best compression socks for men so you can see what the hype is all about.
The Best Compression Socks, Overall: Jobst Activewear
Unless you’re dealing with significant swelling, both Jones and Rimawi generally recommend finding compression socks in the 15 to 20 mmHg range; too tight, and you run the risk of cutting off circulation entirely. Dr. Jones prefers ones from Jobst, whose sleek, mid-priced options hold up particularly well after consistent wear. They keep your feet dry and stay put throughout the day while being easy to take off to let your dogs breathe. Also, instead of having a one-size-fits-all situation, Jobst offers its socks in multiple sizes to help you get the perfect fit.
The Best Budget Compression Socks: Copper Fit
Jones also digs Copper Fit’s more affordable, knee-high versions, which utilize the brand’s infamous “copper technology” to help fight odor and wick away moisture. These socks also have added arch support, which the brand says helps to reduce foot and leg fatigue. As one Amazon reviewer writes: “The relief they offer for my leg pain and fatigue is truly remarkable, leaving me with legs that feel revitalized and energized.”
The Best Multi-Pack Compression Socks: SB Sox
Dr. Rimawi’s go-tos are from SB Sox, which he favors for their breathability and moisture-wicking properties, a crucial means of preventing excess sweat build-up, a common precursor to athlete’s foot. These come with a no-slip cuff for all-day, comfortable wear, and the socks even come in a variety of colors and patterns.
The Best Compression Socks for Serial Travelers: 2XU Vectr
If you spend most weeks shuttling between airport terminals, you’re going to need a pair of compression socks specifically designed for your high-flying lifestyle. Don’t believe us? Take it from Isaac Shapiro, a first officer pilot who met his wife—GQ‘s own Nicole Shapiro!—on…a plane. (Hallmark, feel free to reach out any time.) Shapiro wears compression socks three to four days a week and cycled through myriad less expensive options before, ahem, landing on 2XU’s $50 version. He promises you’ll feel the difference.
The Best Splurge Compression Socks for International Travelers: Sigvaris
While working as a private flight attendant, Carolyn Paddock, the founder of In-Flight Insider, always made sure to keep a grip of Sigvaris’ compression socks handy for clients and crew members, especially on longer trips. At around 40 bucks a pop they’re not cheap, but a quality cosign from the pros is tough to beat. Sigvaris also uses a very excellent blend of cotton for supreme comfort, perfect for those long-haul flights or brutally long road trips.
If you’re panic-shopping a week before takeoff and price is top of mind, there’s plenty of options too. David Adler, founder and CEO of The Travel Secret, favors three-packs you can score on the low from Amazon, which come in all sorts of zany patterns and promise to help keep your blood circulating when you’re stuck in a middle seat and opportunities to stretch your legs are few and far between.
The Best Compression Socks for Outdoorsmen: MudGear
Martin Soto—an intrepid blogger at the Travel Explorator—also shouts out a pricier option from MudGear. The aptly named brand specializes in compression socks designed to withstand the worst of the elements, all while keeping your feet dry—and perfectly pressurized—in high style. These socks are truly built for the outdoorsiest amongst us. According to the brand, these are the only compression socks that have padding on the lower leg and calf, which is meant to prevent from injury during a mud run (hence the brand name).