Best Compression Socks for Travel (Especially for all You Hikers)

Like with travel shoes, compression socks are not only comfortable they’re functional, especially for those who enjoy air travel orare active—maybe planning a trip to your favorite national park.

Originally known as air travel socks, they are made with elastic fiber or rubber-like material such as spandex that squeezes the feet and legs. If you wear compression socks, the increased pressure from the ‘athletic fit’ means an increase in blood flow and helps prevent swelling and the risk of blood clots and offer pain relief, which is important when sitting for a long time on longhaul flights or going for long walks. This makes compression socks ideal for travel. Whether you’ll be sitting on a plane for a while or taking a long hike (or both), you’ll be thrilled you invested in quality compression socks.

Why Are Compression Socks So Useful?

Compression socks offer a number of benefits. If you suffer from cramping or swelling in your lower legs, or you experience foot or leg pain, compression socks can help.

These socks are also great for those who are very active. Marathon runners and people who run longer distances tend to love the support compression socks provide.

They also help to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which occurs when there are problems with circulation. This can be a very painful and dangerous condition so anything you can do to avoid it is a good idea.

Basically, the use of compression socks comes down to two factors: health and athletic performance. In many cases, compression socks are recommended by doctors, especially for patients who are bedridden or who have to sit for long periods of time. This pertains to people on a regular basis, such as people who work at a desk job, or for those who are traveling and will be sitting on a plane or train for a long period of time.

Foot swelling is common when traveling, even for people who don’t usually experience any problems with swelling. Foot and leg restlessness and pain can also be a problem for long journeys. Investing in a pair of compression socks can help you prevent these problems.

Another reason people use compression socks is to improve athletic performance, including keeping them comfortable on long and/or strenuous hikes. Since the socks improve blood flow, they help you walk longer distances, often in a shorter period of time. There is also some evidence that compression socks improve muscle vibration and circulation which results in faster recovery. This can be especially important for long, multiple day hikes. Imagine hiking 10 or 20 miles in a day and wanting to do it again the next day—compression socks help you make sure you are ready for the next day’s journey.

Choosing Compression Socks

There are a number of different styles of compression socks. None is better than the other, but you might prefer one type over another or you might find that different types work better in different circumstances.

A few things you should consider when choosing compression socks include:

Style: compression socks come in all different styles, ranging from knee highs to thigh high and pantyhose. The most commonly used for hiking are the knee-high style.

Material: Compression socks can be made from a variety of different materials, including rubber, Lycra, or Spandex.

Level of compression: This is a personal preference and you might need to choose a few different levels before deciding which is best for you. There are both graduated and non-graduated style ranging in compression level from light to moderate to firm to extra firm. In most cases, the firm and extra firm styles are for those with health-related issues, where light to moderate compression are better for traveling and hiking.

Sockwell Women’s Circulator Socks

Sockwell offers compression socks in a range from 15–20mmHg to 20–30 mmHg. These socks are great for everyday use but are also ideal for travel and hiking. They also offer graduated compression. These socks are constructed from bamboo and wool, which is a blend that makes the thick and cushioning, but maintains that sock feel—as opposed to some Lycra or rubber socks.

Sockwell socks feature extra support and a cushioned sole with arch support. They are available in a variety of colors and feature a stylish, “hiking friendly” design, which means they aren’t extremely athletic looking.

Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves

Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves

These socks are more legwarmer than a sock, but we love how convenient they are to pull on before boarding a plane. They are ideal for workouts and hikes, but shouldn’t be worn on an everyday basis. These socks feature chevron ribbing in the front and ribbing along the back, which means the back and front of the leg are equally supported. They tend to be a great addition to hard work out and many wearers find they experience faster recovery.

These compression sleeve socks are made from fabric that features silver ions, which means they help regulate skin temperature. Despite being designed for athletes, these socks would also be great for travel. We love them because you can slip them on and off right before boarding a plane.

Zensah also makes traditional foot-in compression socks.

Vitalsox Graduated Performance

Vitalsox Graduated Performance

Vitalsox compression socks are a favorite among athletes. They offer graduated compression, which means you don’t need to worry about your foot feeling cramped or as if your socks are too tight—good news for those who are planning a hike.

These socks feature Dry Stat, which is a fabric blend that works to keep feet and legs as dry as possible, even when sweating. They come in a wide range of colors.

These socks are padded on both the heel and toe and look stylish. They feature a thin mesh stripe up the front and back which allows them to breathe better. Users claim wearing these socks help them recover faster from a workout, which is good news for people planning long, multi-day hikes. There are also those who claim to wear these socks cut down on shin splints and reduced their overall pain and tiredness felt after a long day of walking or hiking. This makes them the ideal sock for airline or train travel, as well as for hiking. We love them because you can pack a single pair of socks that will serve double duty!


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