Best Compression Socks for Travel, Training, and More
Best Compression Socks for Travel, Training, and More

Have you ever felt like your legs were so heavy you couldn't take another step? Compression socks may provide some relief, whether you have underlying health issues or just get achy legs after a marathon day of travel. By gently squeezing your leg, they promote circulation and reduce the chance of leg swelling, pain, and even blood clots that can occur when you sit too long without moving, like on a long-haul flight.

There are a few different types of compression socks to consider before flying around the world, though. Graduated compression socks place more pressure near the ankle, easing up as the sock moves higher on your leg to encourage blood to flow upward instead of pooling around your feet and ankles. Medically-prescribed compression socks typically fall into this category,1 for those with varicose veins, are pregnant, or have diabetes, and usually require a prescription and a professional fitting. None of the socks on this list meet medical standards, although many claim to have graduated compression. Other compression socks have uniform pressure from the toe to your knee and are typically used to relieve tired, achy legs by runners and other athletes, though they also ease the pain for people who stand all day at work, like nurses and retailers.

Not all socks are created equal, though, and there are different compression levels for different reasons. They use the same measurement as blood pressure, millimeters of mercury (mmHg), with numbers running from low to high, depending on how tightly they squeeze. Less than 20 mmHg is best for those who want the extra support but have no specific medical concerns; 20-30 mmHg is the level usually prescribed to relieve varicose veins; and 30 mmHg or higher can help those with frequent leg pain and swelling. The best compression socks should have a firm fit without being too tight or hurting and should be replaced after about six months if you wear them regularly, as they lose elasticity over time.2

Why You Should Trust Us

Long-haul travel is more of a marathon than a sprint, so we’re lucky to have testers with experience at both who have used compression socks for years to ease aching, tired legs and ensure quick recovery. With hours spent on research and testing, we narrowed this list to feature selections you’ll find comfortable wearing over a 13-hour flight or when recovering from a 10K hike. Some didn’t make the cut, and we didn’t meet the right criteria for others since our testers aren’t pregnant and don’t have varicose veins. If that describes you, we encourage you to check with your doctor for the best option. However, anyone planning to travel, train, or stand on their feet for 12 hours a day will find at least some relief from all the socks we recommend.

How We Tested It

Test 1: We put each pair through a general comfort test to see if they were so tight that they cut off circulation, squeezed our toes, had seams that rubbed uncomfortably, or had any other issue that would disqualify them from this list. Our primary tester has 13.5-inch (34.3 cm) calves and wears a U.S. women’s size 9.5 shoe, and she wore each pair for an hour while seated to simulate a plane ride.

We’ve rolled our sleeves and unrolled these socks for testing.
We’ve rolled our sleeves and unrolled these socks for testing.

Test 2: A second tester, with 15.5-inch (39.3 cm) calves and a U.S. women’s size 8 foot, also put on each pair. She checked to see if they pinched or were more uncomfortable on wider calves. While some brands offer wide-calf options, many don’t. Everyone should take note of their measurements when ordering to get the right size because any benefit you get from wearing compression socks for long-haul trips will be negated if you’re wearing the wrong size. Even worse, something that’s too small can lead to chafing and bruising, cut-off circulation, itching, and redness2, so measure twice and order once.

1. SockWell In Flight Moderate Graduated Compression Socks
SockWell Men's In Flight | Moderate Graduated Compression Socks Review

It’s fun to look the part when you’re jetting away to a new place, and SockWell's In Flight Moderate Graduated Compression Socks have a fun design that gets us in the mood to take off, potentially making them the best compression socks for flying. The 15-20 mmHg feels tighter than some other models we’ve tried, but it’s not uncomfortable once you get used to it. The combination of Merino wool, rayon, nylon, and spandex is smooth but may irritate some users’ skin. One of our testers is especially prone to wool irritation and found that things got itchy immediately. On the other hand, if you don’t have sensitive skin, Merino wool is great for travel. It regulates temperature, promotes breathability, and reduces odor, which will come in clutch on a long-haul flight.

They fit true to size, though they have a bit of a larger toe seam and are pretty long. Shorter users may find that they extend over the knees. Our tester with wider calves pointed out that the cute design gets a bit stretched out over wider legs. They still found them comfortable, but they were tight to pull on and peel off.

Why We Like It
  • Breathable materials keep you comfortable on a long flight
  • There are several fun designs to choose from
What You Should Know
  • The airplanes design gets stretched out around your legs
  • Merino wool may irritate sensitive skin
See Details & Buying Options
2. Physix Gear Compression Socks
Physix Gear Compression Socks Review

It takes a little effort to wriggle into the Physix Gear Compression Socks, but it does for most compression socks. The heel hits the right spot on our tester’s foot, and the toe seam isn’t uncomfortable, yet the sock is pretty long. It reached above the knee of our 5-foot 5-inch (1.65 m) tester, with the top of the sock bunching slightly behind the bend, so keep that in mind if you're sensitive to things like that. One sock was slightly longer than the other, as well, and we found the shorter one began to slip slightly over the knee while the other stayed in place better.

The nylon and spandex material is pretty soft, and no matter if you have narrow or wide calves, it feels like the compression sock gives your foot and leg a hug without constriction. Our tester found that sitting for an hour while wearing them doesn’t cause any tingling or cut off circulation, which is good for something you’ll be wearing for hours on the plane, and neither team member had any issue pulling them on, although taller users will probably appreciate the length more than we did.

Why We Like It
  • These socks are designed to alleviate foot pain from poor circulation in users with diabetes
  • They have 20-30 mmHg of compression
What You Should Know
  • They are really long, especially for shorter users
  • You can’t get them in many colors, just black, white, and nude
See Details & Buying Options
3. Copper Fit Energy Compression Socks
Copper Fit Energy Compression Socks Review

If you’re unfamiliar with compression socks, you may not know how to get them on. Luckily, Copper Fit can help with that! Included with the Energy Compression Socks is a helpful guide to putting them on that helps newbies struggle less than they might otherwise. While they’re snug to pull up, they feel very comfortable to wear, and we wouldn’t mind keeping them on through a long-haul flight because they fit our tester nearly perfectly. The toe and heels hit exactly where they ought to, and the seam at the toe line is minimal for less rubbing against the side of your shoe, although the toe box is a little snug. The top band also hits right below the knee, so nothing is digging in uncomfortably, although your mileage will vary if your lower leg is longer than 15 inches (38 cm).

We’re unsure where the copper infusion comes in since our white sample lacks copper-colored lines running through the socks, and the list of materials doesn't include metal, but the socks seem very breathable. We had no issue with them cutting off the circulation on our tester’s legs throughout the testing period, nor with them slipping down, and our wider-calf tester felt the same, reporting that it almost felt like they were not even wearing socks.

Why We Like It
  • They're the best compression socks to help control swelling through travel or after surgery
  • The socks are made with nylon, spandex, and polyester
What You Should Know
  • Even after months of use, it’s hard to tell if the copper really affects odor
  • There isn't a huge range of sizes
See Details & Buying Options
4. Bombas Targeted Compression Performance Calf Socks
Bombas Targeted Compression Performance Calf Socks Review

You may not need compression all the way up your legs to get the support you need. Bomba’s Targeted Compression Performance Calf Socks target the ankle for extra support but feel like a typical pair of sports socks. They’re super soft and more cushioned through the toe than some other options, and they’re much easier to put on in the morning, too! Our tester found that these fit true to size, and you don’t feel the compression much on these socks, although they might not give you the same circulation benefits you’d get with a more supportive pair. However, they're the best compression socks if you’re on your feet all day and don't want to feel like you’re wearing the same hose as your diabetic grandpa.

We also like that they look like a typical pair of crew socks. Plus, Bombas donates a pair to a shelter for each pair purchased, so we feel just as good about buying another pair as our feet do when wearing them! We’re not surprised that they passed our one-hour test with flying colors, with no tingling or anything digging into our tester’s calf muscles, though they stayed put without slipping, too. However, our tester with wider calves ended up scrunching them down because they cut off her leg at an odd spot, and it dimpled due to the tightness of the sock, so you may want to look for wide calf options instead

Why We Like It
  • They keep our feet from hurting, even after standing for a long time
  • The blend of polyester, Merino wool, nylon, elastane, and cotton is super soft
What You Should Know
  • There are no wide-calf options
  • The material has different patterns and textures around the toe, ankle, and calf
See Details & Buying Options
5. Apolla Infinite Mid-Calf Recovery Socks
APOLLA The Infinite Mid-Calf Recovery Socks Review

You may not want compression socks that go to your knees if you mainly need ankle support. That’s where The Infinite Mid-Calf Recovery Socks from APOLLA come into play. They’re as tight-fitting as the other travel compression socks on this list, but they stop just 8 inches (20.3 cm) above your ankle. Our tester reports that you can definitely feel the 20-30 mmHg compression in the arches of your feet and around your ankles, but the band also cuts a bit into your calf muscles. You start to feel it after about 20 minutes of use, so it should be something you take into consideration, especially if you have wider calves, although one of our testers got used to it pretty quickly and reported no tingling or other negative sensations from wearing the socks for an hour.

However, our tester with 15.5-inch (39.3 cm) calves reported that it cut into their legs. That’s because instead of hitting where your leg is getting narrower near your knee, this hits at about the widest part of your lower leg. On the other hand, they appreciated the extra padding and arch support. So, if the height doesn’t bother you and you want something more breathable, you may appreciate something shorter. These socks have more of a crew-sock vibe, so you won’t feel as out of place wearing them while relaxing around the Airbnb as you may with taller compression socks.

Why We Like It
  • They were designed for dancers, so if the compression socks can help their hard-working feet, they will help yours
  • There are a wide range of sizes, from extra small to extra large wide, to help you find the right fit
What You Should Know
  • The top of the sock can dig into your calves
  • You can get them with traction on the soles if you plan to walk around the house without shoes on
See Details & Buying Options
6. PRO Compression Marathon Socks
Pro Compression Marathon Review

During marathon training, your legs take a lot of abuse, so whether you want extra support while running or for recovery afterward, compression socks are handy. The Pro Compression Marathon socks are very popular with runners, and we can see why. While they’re tight to get onto your feet, they’re very comfortable once you do. They’re thinner yet tighter than more cushioned pairs of running socks, so take them along the next time you buy shoes to ensure they’ll fit correctly without crunching your toes during a long run. However, we had none of those issues and think Pro Compression is a good choice if you're looking for the best compression socks for runners, especially if you're looking for a way to reduce calf soreness and shin splints. And hey, if you can make it through a marathon training session, they work well for travel days to and from your race vacation, as well.

Our tester found that the socks fit her feet well and extended to her knees, resting behind them without digging in. However, there’s a bit of a larger seam on each side of the toes, so try them on a shorter run first if you’re prone to blisters. Of course, if you need a wider toe box (and don’t we all after mile 10?) this feature may turn into a pro instead of a con. We had no issue with tingling or cutting off circulation when wearing the Pro Compression socks during our test and kind of forgot they were even on! Testers with wider calves had no problems, either, and say that, while they don’t feel as tight as some compression socks, they still got the job done.

Why We Like It
  • They minimize shin splints and other aches and pains from running while you’re running
  • You can get them in tons of fun colors and patterns, along with matching arm sleeves, for a coordinated race kit
What You Should Know
  • They have 20-30 mmHg of compression, so they’re pretty tight
  • Getting them off requires just as much effort as putting them on
See Details & Buying Options
7. Wellow Onyx Twist
Wellow Onyx Twist Review

Not every pair of compression socks works for everybody, so we were happy to see Wellow offer compression socks for users with wide calf muscles. The wide calf socks have a more flexible band at the top to make them easier to put on, and our tester with wider legs said they feel more cozy than a regular compression sock but without any pinching or squeeze from the 18-25 mmHg compression. Along with coziness does come a bit of warmth; these are more like thick hiking socks than thin dress socks, but there are no seams at the toes to rub inside your shoes as you walk through the airport. Luckily, the combination of bamboo, polyester, elastane, and nylon is super soft to the touch, and we had no issue with these socks staying up on the legs of either of our testers. While they are long, they don’t dig in behind your knees. We also dig the fun colorways, although Wellow doesn’t offer as many options for wide-calf socks as the traditional models.

Why We Like It
  • These are specifically designed for users with wider calves
  • Wellow offers free exchanges and returns so you can find the right fit on your leg
What You Should Know
  • These are thicker socks, so they won’t fit in every shoe
  • You may get a little warm while wearing them
See Details & Buying Options
8. JOBST Relief Stockings
JOBST Relief Compression Stockings Knee High Review

Maybe you spent a lot of money on a great pedicure before heading out on a long-haul flight, and you just can’t bear the thought of covering it up. Luckily, we found the best compression socks for women who want open-toe stockings to pair with sandals. It's an option to help you look and feel your best at once. Don’t get us wrong—it’s still pretty obvious that you’re wearing socks, even with the beige colorway, but you can let your toes peep out while you fly around the world without your legs getting restless or aching by the end.

The 15-20 mmHg lightweight compression level is perfect for relief from the stress of travel without digging in or leaving marks of seams on your legs when you take them off. While the JOBST says the knee-highs are medical grade, they’re available without a prescription and are not as tight as some other compression socks, so it’s easier to forget you have them on. Our tester did find that her sample included socks that seemed to be two different sizes, so be sure to check before heading out on your flight. Still, they’re comfortable to wear long-term once you get the right fit, and they work for travelers with wider calves, as well.

Why We Like It
  • The open toe makes it easier to show off your pedicure with sandals, yet you can still get support with these nude stockings
  • The nylon and spandex materials are very soft
What You Should Know
  • Even though your toes show, you’ll still look like you’re wearing hose with your sandals
  • They are very long and may extend over your knees
See Details & Buying Options
9. Travelsox Compression Socks
Travelsox Adult Compression Socks Review

The best compression socks for men look like traditional socks, and the Adult Compression Socks from Travelsox fit the bill. They’re soft and easy to put on yet have graduated compression to promote circulation while sitting for hours. Our tester can feel the squeeze on their calves, but it’s more like a weighted blanket than a toothpaste tube. We like the aesthetics of these socks because they look good under dress pants and jeans, so you won’t look out of place unless you’re rocking them with shorts and sandals. Plus, their soft touch is less likely to rub and cause irritation against men’s leg hair.

They fit true to size, with the heel and toe lining up where we’d expect based on our tester’s shoe size, and stay put without digging in behind the knee. They have a much smaller toe seam than some other socks, too, so we have no issue with them rubbing as we walk through the airport or for the miles from the airport to the hotel, which is great for something that should be supportive. Testers with wide calves report that they feel roomier than other options while still offering compression, another plus.

Why We Like It
  • Silver Drystat material is designed to wick away moisture
  • They were created for airline workers
What You Should Know
  • They run large for smaller users
  • You can get them in several muted colorways that go well with trousers for business travel
See Details & Buying Options
10. Comrad CozyGrip Compression Slipper Socks
COMRAD CozyGrip Compression Slipper Socks Review

If you don’t need medical-grade compression and just want to find relief after hiking the Smoky Mountains, you may want a pair of compression socks made for relaxing. The CozyGrip Compression Slipper Socks have a light amount of pressure, 10-15 mmHg, an extra-cushioned foot, and an anti-slip grip on the soles, so you can wear these around the Airbnb as you recover from an adventurous day. We like the super-squishy bottom on these slipper socks, which have a layered look that almost appears like you’re wearing a shorter pair of socks over leggings or a different pair. Of course, the tighter section moving up your leg is where the compression comes in, but both sections have a fleecy look that’s much cozier and less functional-looking than some other compression socks. The compression is so light that you may not even feel the squeeze, so if you’re looking for a lighter pair to wear around the house for relief after work or exploring a new destination, these could be the best compression socks for you and are certainly worth adding to your collection.

Why We Like It
  • Non-slip grip on the bottom makes them the best compression socks for travel, so you don’t slip on the wooden floors of your Airbnb
  • They can help with restless legs and are comfortable enough to wear to bed
What You Should Know
  • They provide lighter compression
  • It may take a bit of effort to get them on at the end of the day if your legs and feet have already swollen, though these are less constricting than most compression socks
See Details & Buying Options

Others We Considered

Swollen calves and ankles go hand in hand with pregnancy. Some women turn to compression socks to find relief. We like the cute colorways of the Motif Medical Maternity Compression Socks but found them so tight that pregnant women will likely need help getting them on. Also, even though we ordered the right size, the heel hit closer to midfoot, and they started cutting off the circulation in our tester’s feet before the hour was up.

We wanted to find the best compression socks with Merino wool. We love it for its antimicrobial, moisture-wicking, and breathable qualities and thought we found a match. The VIM&VIGR 15-20 mmHg Merino Wool compression socks have a blend of Merino, cotton, and nylon that didn’t irritate the skin of our sensitive tester. Unfortunately, their calves started tingling around the 40-minute mark, so we had to knock them off the list because it got uncomfortable fast. However, if you’re prioritizing natural fibers with your pressure hose, these might be a good choice—you just might want to try the wide calf option.

So, that’s a wrap on our sock collection. We hope we helped you find the best compression socks, whether you need to wear them daily or are planning a long-haul flight. Let us know at which ones you find the most helpful and comfortable. We’re always looking for more options to try!

1 Kathryn Watson, “Wearing Compression Socks While Flying: Benefits and Side Effects,”, May 22, 2020
2 Vanessa Caceres, “The Ultimate Guide to Compression Socks for Flying,”, Feb. 27, 2024

June 7, 2024

Pack Hacker