What Are Sock Liners - Best Guide for 2021

Sock Liners: The Rundown 

You’re not the first person to search the internet for this type of sock. Sock liners function under the radar and not everyone wears them. What is a sock liner in a shoe supposed to do? What are liner socks used for? We’ll clear things up for you: sock liners go under the sock to prevent moisture overload and to stop friction, which can cause discomfort, blisters, and cuts.    

Sock liners are typically used for physical activities, when mild abrasions and overheating of your feet are an issue. Typically, but not always. You can also find sock liners for high heels and other formal footwear, and thicker liners that add extra warmth to regular socks. Liner socks come in five types:

  • Compression sock liners
  • Mid calf sock liners
  • Low cut sock liners
  • Toeless sock liners
  • Ankle sock liners

We’ll get into how to choose the right sock liners depending on shoe type and activity so you can make the perfect pairing for any occasion. 

Sock Liners for Hiking 

You could be an avid hiker or just enjoy a scenic adventure from time to time, but you’ve probably struggled with sore or sweaty feet at some point. The idea of wearing socks underneath our socks may sound like a bit much. But imagine being stuck on a mountainside with the mother of all blisters on your foot, having to trek all the way back and feeling it with each painful step. Having your feet feel comfortable and protected is a must for hiking, and regular socks can’t always do the job

Liners can be paired with all socks, but you want to make sure you choose the right sock type for your journey. Athletic crew socks are recommended for hiking due to their breathability and moisture-wicking properties. Crew socks rise to the middle of your calf, making them a suitable length for hiking boots. If you plan on hiking in the dead of winter, socks and thicker sock liners made of wool will keep your feet warm while also wicking away sweat. The sock and liner combination really makes a differenceyour hiking partner will wonder why you’re always two steps ahead of them, not even realizing you have an extra pair on underneath.    

Sock Liners for High Heels

High heels will never be your most comfortable pairs, but you can make them feel better on your feet. Sock liners can be used under socks with heeled boots, and no-show sock liners can be worn for heels that reveal more of your foot. Sock liners are designed to be invisible under your shoe. The next time you’re dancing at a wedding or out on the town in heels, you’ll be grateful for sock liners protecting you against blisters and smelly feet, when regular socks just aren’t enough. 

Nothing is worse than getting to the point where you’re forced to take off your heels because they’re so painful. Any kind of sock liner will give you extra protection and padding in your heels, where regular socks may not cut it. Tight compression sock liners are great to prevent injury while wearing heels or to provide comfort from plantar fasciitis. We’ll take a closer look at compression sock liners later on in this guide. 

The next time you’re shopping for sock liners, keep these sock and liner pairings in mind: 


Type of Heel

Suggested Sock Liner 


Wedged boots, loafer heel, ankle boots

Ankle, toe sock, thick, mid calf


Pumps, peep-toe stiletto

Low cut, thin 


Stilettos, peep-toe wedge

sheer, toeless, thin


High heel boots, pumps

Toe sock, ankle, thick, mid-calf

Sock Liners for Exercise

Even if you’ve been an athlete all your life or you live in the gym, sock liners may have never come up for you. Athletic shoes are not the only contributor to performance when it comes to your feet. The socks you choose also affect your workout abilities. Our feet absorb a lot of impact while exercising, and socks alleviate some of this pressure. Your feet have to be ready for pretty much anything, so that you can continue to maintain your exercise routine. 

What are sock liners used for with exercise, specifically? These are the top benefits of wearing sock liners with your athletic socks:

  • Absorbs foot sweat, so moisture doesn’t build up inside your shoe and potentially cause athlete's foot 
  • Prevents foot odor 
  • Stops hotspots, which lead to blisters from friction
  • Extra comfort to ensure peace of mind when working out
  • Support and cushioning for potential or recurring injuries

Some people have excessively sweaty feet when they exercise, and even the best athletic socks can’t absorb all the sweat. Wearing two pairs of socks isn’t the answer, since this will just cause your feet to overheat. That’s where sock liners come in. If this is a common problem for you, sock liners and ankle socks are an excellent pair, since the lack of fabric keeps things airy in the legs and feet. This combination is basically a foot double team that will make you function better as an athlete.

Sock Liners for Cold Weather

What is a sock liner used for in the winter, anyway? If you live in a seasonal climate, you’re familiar with the process of your feet starting to ache from the cold, gradually turn numb, then ache again when they’re starting to warm up. It’s sort of a winter right of passage. Once you know, you know. 

Other than achiness and numbness, cold weather can affect you and your feet in these ways:

  • Prevent you from walking 
  • Distract you endlessly and make you fixate on the cold
  • Redness and discomfort from frostnip
  • Frostbite 

Sock liners insulate your feet and help prevent those side effects of cold weather conditions. These socks can help protect your feet from the elements more than three layers of regular socks would. Depending on just how cold it is outside, you can choose the thickness of your liner. You can go with shorter sock liners or ones that go up to your mid calf. You won’t be surprised to learn that wool socks and sock liners are made for winter and will keep your feet extra cozy. 

Compression Sock Liners

We mentioned compression sock liners in passing and now we’ll give you a better understanding. Compression sock liners are often worn under compression socks. The liner protects the outer sock from dirt, oils, and bodily fluids to extend the life span of the compression sock. Compression socks are engineered to promote blood circulation in the legs and feet through applied pressure. They must be replaced every 4-6 months in order to experience all the intended health benefits

Certain compression sock liners come with their own built-in compression. These liners can be useful if you’re standing or sitting for long periods of time and you don’t want your socks to be visible. Prolonged sitting and standing causes blood to pool in the legs, which results in pain, numbness, and the uncomfortable pins and needles feeling you’re likely familiar with. If you have poor circulation, consider wearing compression sock liners under your regular socks.

What Is a Liner Sock Compared to a No Show Sock? 

Just because both liner socks and no show socks are designed to be unseen, doesn’t mean they’re the same. No show socks can be used as sock liners because of their no-slip heel grip and protection. This is why the two sometimes get confused. We’ll go through the main differences between these sock types:

No Show Socks

No show socks are mostly used to protect against blisters and as a moisture barrier, so that sweat doesn’t damage your shoe. These socks cover the parts of your feet and can be worn alone with loafers, moccasins, boat shoes, slip-ons, flats, and certain boots, heels, and running shoes. No show socks come in a variety of patterns that you can use to accentuate plain low cut shoes or to show off while your shoes are off. You can use no show socks in place of sock liners, or you can wear them on their own. 


Sock Liners

The main purposes of sock liners are extra comfort, insulation, and protection. Compared to no show socks, sock liners are not as flexible. They don’t come in many colors or patternsyou’ll mostly find them in white, grey, and black. The advantage of sock liners over no show socks is that they can be worn with certain sandals, like toeless or sheerless liners. In general, sock liners cannot function as no shows, and are best worn with another pair of socks.

Now that you know the importance of sock liners and all the types they come in, you’ll have no problem adding some pairs to your wardrobe. You can wear sock liners to hike, strut around in heels, exercise, survive winter storms and dance all night. Think of liners as the unseen and loyal best friend of socks. They’ll have you feeling confident in your ability to tackle the day, no matter what it brings.