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Skating Socks - 3 Rules to Remember

Certain topics will almost always get a spirited conversation going if more than two skaters are in a room, and one of those topics is socks. Every skater has their own opinion about which socks are best for skating... including me!

I was interviewed recently by Prevention Magazine, and one of the questions they asked me was about socks. What kind of socks do I prefer for inline skating? I told them what I will tell you now: My opinion about athletic socks can be summed up with these 3 rules:

Rule #1 - No Cotton
Rule #2 - Double Socks
Rule #3 - Dupont CoolMax

Rule #1 - No Cotton

Why not? Isn't cotton supposed to be very absorbant? Here is why you should NOT select cotton for your skating socks:

  1. Cotton socks will turn your skates into a petri dish for fungus and bacteria. This is because cotton takes forever to dry. Yes, cotton is absorbant, but all the moisture sucked up by those absorbant socks will sit next to your skin for hours. This will keep your feet moist and cold (or moist and hot) for hours of clammy, uncomfortable skating.

  2. Cotton is not durable enough for hard workouts like skating and running. It deteriorates more quickly than most of the other fibers used for socks.

  3. Cotton socks tend to bunch up under your skates, causing uncomfortable wrinkles.

  4. Cotton shrinks and loses it's shape after washing.
Rule #2 - Double Socks

Wear double socks inside your skates to prevent blisters and "hot spots" caused by the socks rubbing against your feet. When you wear double socks, friction is absorbed between the two socks, instead of between the socks and your feet.

You can purchase ready-made socks with 2 layer construction, but I prefer to wear knee-high nylon stockings inside my regular socks to prevent chafing and blisters. Nylon stockings will always fit inside your skates along with your regular socks, even if you wear a tight custom speedskate.

Rule #3 - Dupont Coolmax

CoolMax is a fabric made Dupont, that is made from a four channel fiber with large spaces between the filaments. This special construction gives the fabric "breathability" and allows it to dry quickly. CoolMax fabric will also move moisture quickly away from the skin into the outer layer of the sock. This is another reason that clothing made of CoolMax will dry very quickly. CoolMax is also washable, dryable, nonchafing, and resistant to shrinkage, odors, and mildew.

Note that CoolMax is the brand name of a particular fabric made by Dupont. CoolMax socks are available from many different sock manufacturers.
More Tips for Buying Skating Socks
  • Never buy socks with bulky seams because the seams can be uncomfortable inside your skates. Try to find socks with no seams.

  • Avoid socks with elastic or rubber yarns because body oils will cause them to deteriorate quickly. Spandex is a more durable stretch fiber, and it is less binding than elastic, when used around the top of a sock.

  • Silk inner socks are comfortable next to the skin, but they are not durable enough for athletic wear. Select an inner sock made of Dupont CoolMax instead. If you have skates with a very tight fit (for example custom speedskates), wear knee-high nylon stockings inside, and a CoolMax inner sock outside.

  • Some people like socks with padding strategically placed for inline skates, such as the inline skating socks available from Thorlo. Other people find that the padding itself causes uncomfortable pressure inside their skates.

  • Socks must be washed and thoroughly dried after every use, to prevent growth of bacteria.

  • Skates should also be dried thoroughly after each wearing, because a dry sock in a damp boot will still allow bacteria to grow.
Breaking the Rules

Now that you know these 3 important rules for buying socks, let's talk about real life. Those rules are really guidelines for people who are buying skating socks for the first time and skaters who are not satisfied with the socks they are wearing now. The above rules are the best advice I can give you about which socks to buy for skating, but after trying many different socks, a few skaters discover that the 3 rules do not work for them.

For example, some people prefer cotton socks, because they say CoolMax socks allow their feet to slip around too much inside their skates. Those people are just not comfortable in a CoolMax sock, and they say the bulkiness of cotton socks prevents that slippage.

Another example: Some people just do not like the way double socks feel inside their skates. They say it causes their feet to slide around too much. Some people even believe that double socks increase the rate at which their feet perspire!

What I Wear

People are often surprised to learn that I only wear nylon stockings inside my speedskates, because this is the most comfortable "sock" I have tried. If I can find socks that are thin enough to fit comfortably inside my very tight Bont Black Widow skates I will start wearing them, but for now nylon stockings are the most comfortable thing I have tried.


Here is the way I would sum up the above advice: Try skating with a pair of knee-high nylon stockings next to your skin (to prevent blisters and chafing), and wear a pair of CoolMax socks over the stockings. This will not feel the same as skating in a typical cotton athletic sock, so give yourself enough time to get accustomed to the new feeling.

If you just cannot feel comfortable skating like that, experiment a little. Try eliminating the inner sock. Try commercially available socks that are manufactured with two layers. Try socks with different percentages of various fibers. Eventually you will discover what kind of skating socks are most comfortable for you.

Visit Our Forum and Tell Us What You Think
Do you agree or disagree with anything in this article? What kind of socks do you wear when you skate? Connect to our SKATING FORUM at AskAboutSkating.com and tell us what you think.

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