Are you pulling my leg? Cheap athletic socks that don’t feel awful?

When I was training for a three-day walking event to benefit a breast cancer charity about six years ago, I ditched a huge drawer full of cheap, white cotton socks and invested in several pairs of spendy, structured athletic socks. Before that, I hadn’t considered myself an athlete and I certainly wasn’t doing rigorous enough exercise to warrant buying $15 socks. But when I realized that part of the reason my feet were badly blistered, aching, and sweaty was the stretched-thin cotton I was covering them, I was convinced it was time to switch over.

After one ten-mile walk in the expensive athletic socks, I went home and made sure all of the cheapy socks were gone for good. The good kind have held up well all these years later, and I still love the feeling of the cushioned heel and ball of my foot, the reliable arch support, the wicking fabric and meshy top that keep my feet cool, and that they never slip down when I really get going.

I considered myself a convert, specifically to Thorlo socks. At $13-$15 a pair, this is a commitment I am willing to make for the well-being of my feet and my workouts.

Then the other day, I was cruising through Walgreen’s for some first aid supplies, when I noticed that they now carry athletic socks among the knee-high hosiery and corn pads. They were on sale, and I wondered if Walgreen’s was stocking cheaper socks that would actually work well for walking. In my curiosity, I bought some.

I chose the most expensive kind I found on the rack — Kushyfoot Athletics. I chose them because they have padded soles and arch support and are made of organic cotton. They promised to massage my feet with every step. The package contained one pair of white, low-cut socks — for $3.49!

I have to say, they are very comfortable. Even though they barely peek up above my running shoes, they did not slip or leave my heel rubbed raw. I can’t say that I felt like my feet were getting a rub-down during my workout, but they were surprisingly more cushy to the many pairs of cheapy cotton socks I once owned.

I will still stay true to my Thorlos. Kushyfoot athletic socks are just not as structured and wicking as they are. But I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a few more packages of Kushyfoots as runner-up walking socks. That way, if one gets eaten by the washing machine monster or I accidentally leave them at a hotel, I won’t be as devastated. If have some kind of workout emergency and have to run in to a Walgreen’s, CVS, Publix, or Kroger (just some of the grocery and drug stores where they are sold, according to their website), I will be able to find inexpensive socks I’ve already road-tested. The best part I won’t have to sacrifice wearing socks that feel good.

What kind of socks do you wear to work out in? Are you a sucker for the spendy athletic socks or do you stick with the cheap kind?