About to head out on your next adventure? Whether traveling by plane, train, car, or another mode of transportation, Todd Shaffer, M.D., recommends wearing compression socks for any trip lasting more than two hours because compression “increases blood flow in the feet and legs where blood normally pools” after long periods of sitting which can lead to uncomfortable swelling. The best compression socks for travel offer the right amount of compression for your needs, and the best option for you is made from a material that feels comfortable, but a good fit is important, too — too loose and the socks will roll down, too tight and they’ll be wildly uncomfortable.
Mark J. Mendeszoon, DPM, FACFAS, FACPM, is a foot and ankle surgeon, and podiatrist at Precision Orthopaedic Specialties, Inc. in Chardon, Ohio. He’s a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association, and the owner of Achilles Running Shop in Willoughby, Ohio, and Erie, Pennsylvania.
Todd Shaffer, M.D., MBA, is a practicing family physician in Kansas City, Missouri. He’s a member of the Board of Directors for the American Academy of Family Physicians and was recognized with the AAFP Degree of Fellow. Dr. Shaffer also has a Master of Business Administration in physician leadership from Rockhurst University in Kansas City.
Alain Tanbe, M.D., RPVI, FACS, is a vascular surgeon at Mercy Medical Center in Maryland. Dr. Tanbe treats disorders of the arteries and veins, as well as a broad range of vascular diseases.
What To Look For When Shopping For The Best Compression Socks For Travel
Amount Of Compression
The amount of compression that a pair of socks provides is described in millimeters of mercury (or mmHg for short). For the average wearer trying to prevent blood clots and other issues associated with prolonged sitting, Alain Tanbe, M.D., tells Bustle that a pair of compression socks with 15 to 20 mmHg is likely suitable. On the other hand, a pair of socks with less than 15 mmHg will offer light compression to relieve fatigue, should that be what you’re looking for. And for people with vein problems or edema, Dr. Tanbe recommends going with a pair that offers 20 to 30 mmHg of compression. However, you should consult your physician to ensure that compression socks are suitable for you — and what the best fit is.
While many compression socks feature the same amount of pressure throughout, others boast graduated compression — typically meaning that the most amount of pressure is applied at the ankle and it lessens up along your leg. Mark J. Mendeszoon, DPM, FACFAS, FACPM is a fan of this style of compression sock, since it better “helps return blood back to the heart.”
Fit & Sizing
To choose a pair of compression socks that fit well, first consult the manufacturer’s sizing chart, which may take into account measurements such as your shoe size, calf size, and more. Dr. Mendeszoon explains that compression socks should “feel like second skin,” so if you notice “discoloration in your toes or have numbness in your toes” when wearing them, you may need to size up. On the other hand, if you find that the socks are bunching or sliding down, they’re likely too loose and you should consider going down in size.
Compression socks are usually made from a blend of fabrics. These are some popular materials you may come across:
- Nylon or polyester: Synthetic fabrics like nylon or polyester can be great options for compression socks for travel since they excel at wicking away moisture from your skin and keeping you comfortably dry.
- Merino wool: This material is a good choice for year-round use, since it’s actually naturally temperature regulating. Plus, it’s breathable, moisture-wicking, and odor-resistant.
- Cotton or bamboo: These natural fibers are both known for being soft and breathable, making them popular options for socks.
- Spandex: Most compression socks feature some amount of spandex (or a similar stretchy material) to create the compression effect and bounce back after. Plus, the stretch makes it easier to get them on and off.
Shop The Best Compression Socks For Travel
In a hurry? These are the best compression socks for travel:
- A Popular Everyday Pair From A Trusted Brand: Bombas Everyday Compression Socks
- A Fan-Favorite Pack Of Compression Socks For Travel: CHARMKING Compression Socks
- Higher Compression Rating Socks That Are Sweat Wicking: Bombas Performance Compression Socks
- A Pair Of Merino Wool Compression Socks With Supportive Soles: Sockwell Graduated Compression Socks
- A Pair Of Socks With Light Compression: Dr. Scholl's Graduated Compression Knee High Socks
- A Pair Of Zippered Compression Socks For Easy On & Off: bropite Zipper Compression Socks
- The Best Compression Socks For Wide Calves: BAMS Compression Socks Wide Calf
- A Pair Of Sheer Compression Socks: Truform Sheer Compression Stockings
- A Pair Of Cotton-Blend Compression Socks: SocksLane Cotton Compression Socks
- A Popular Sock With Heavy Compression: Hi Clasmix Graduated Compression Socks
These top compression socks are all available on Amazon, so you can quickly get your hands on your perfect pair before heading out on your next trip.
1. A Fan-Favorite Pack Of Compression Socks For Travel
- Have garnered more than 50,000 five-star ratings on Amazon
- Tons of color and pattern combinations to choose from
- Budget-friendly option at under $3 per pair
- Only available in two sizes
These compression socks from CHARMKING are a major favorite on Amazon, boasting a solid 4.6-star rating overall after 65,000-plus reviews. And what’s even more shocking is the price. For just over $20, you’ll get eight pairs of socks, which works out to roughly $3 per pair. These moisture-wicking socks are made from a blend of nylon and spandex, and you can choose from a huge range of color and pattern options based on your own personal style — there are neutrals, eye-catching patterns, sporty options, and more. They’re designed with a nonslip cuff at the top to ensure they’ll stay in place right under your knee, and reinforced heels and toes provide extra cushioning.
One reviewer wrote: “My fiance and I wore these wonderful socks on a recent trip to Germany from Texas and they were a leg-saver. These socks were cute, comfortable, warm and prevented ankle swelling that I sometimes get while traveling.”
Compression rating: 15 — 20 mmHg (graduated) | Sizes: Small — X-Large | Material: 85% nylon, 15% spandex | Machine washable: Yes | Available styles: 38
2. A Pair Of Merino Wool Compression Socks With Supportive Soles
- Made from temperature-regulating merino wool
- Designed to support the arches
- Only available in two sizes
If you haven’t had the pleasure of wearing clothing that’s made from merino wool, you’re truly missing out. Luckily, these compression socks from Sockwell feature this odor-resistant, temperature-regulating material (in a blend with other materials like stretchy spandex) to keep you comfortable. These compression socks have four different zones of compression (with the most compression at the ankle, lessening up the calf). Seamless toes and cushioned, supportive soles add to the comfort factor as well.
One reviewer wrote: “Best compression socks I have worn! They are comfortable, look fun, warm and do a great job. Usually by the end of a flight I can't wait to get my compression socks off but these ones were so comfortable I was able to go from the airport to our lodging to the grocery store and then an evening out for dinner all with the socks on. Take time to put them on so they are positioned well and then they give great support. All my family loved them, too. Also, they stay fresh smelling and looking much longer than other compression socks because of the wool. I would definitely recommend and buy again.”
Compression rating: 15 — 20 mmHg (graduated) | Sizes: Small — Large | Material: 32% merino wool, 32% nylon, 31% rayon, 5% spandex | Machine washable: Yes | Available styles: 13
3. A Pair Of Socks With Light Compression
- A good option if you’re looking for light compression
- Come in a versatile range of solid and patterned neutrals
- Some reviewers find them to be too thin for their liking
With 10 to 15 mmHg of compression, these socks from Dr. Scholl's offer a lighter amount of compression then all of the other options on this list. (Note: The compression range offered by these socks is lower than what was recommended by Dr. Tanbe to prevent issues associated with prolonged sitting). However, multiple Amazon reviewers have confirmed that they’re effective on trips as well, with one shopper claiming that they “helped my legs not feel fatigued after traveling in a plane for more than 9 hours.” Made primarily with nylon, the compression socks won’t hold onto moisture, and a touch of spandex makes them easier to slide on and off. This pick comes in different neutral colors as well as a couple of subdued patterns, and two-packs are also available in case you need to stock up before your next adventure.
One reviewer wrote: “Light compression but effective. Soft, comfortable, stays up without binding. I’m buying more!”
Compression rating: 10 — 15 mmHg (graduated) | Sizes: 4 — 12 | Material: 96% nylon, 4% spandex | Machine washable: Yes | Available styles: 17
4. A Pair Of Zippered Compression Socks For Extra-Easy On & Off
- Zipper design makes them easy to put on and take off
- Available in open- and closed-toe designs
- Only come in black and beige
If compression socks are typically too tough for you to pull on, this pick from bropite might come in handy — in addition to being made of a stretchy nylon-spandex blend, they boast a near-full-length zipper that makes the whole process even simpler. They also include a reinforced heel plus arch support for added comfort, and you can opt for either a closed- or open-toe design. While only black and beige color options are available, this doesn’t deter Amazon reviewers in the slightest; the compression socks have nearly 5,000 reviews on the site and a 4.1-star rating overall.
One trade-off: Reviewers have reported mixed feedback on whether or not these are safe to machine wash. To make sure they last a while, it’s probably best to hand-wash them.
One reviewer wrote: “These Compression Stocking have zipper for easy on/off and moderate compression are excellent for sitting for long periods of time, for example at a desk in front of a computer all day. Also an excellent choice for long airplane or car trips.”
Compression rating: 15 — 20 mmHg (graduated) | Sizes: Small — XX-Large | Material: 75% nylon, 25% spandex | Machine washable: Unspecified | Available styles: 6
5. The Best Compression Socks For Wide Calves
- A great option if you often find compression socks too small around the calves
- Made from a soft bamboo fabric
- Some reviewers have claimed the fabric is too warm for hot temperatures
These compression socks are specifically created for those with calf widths ranging from 14 to 40 inches, depending on the specific size you go with. Made with bamboo, these compression socks feel like a truly luxe option — one shopper even described them as “ridiculously comfortable and soft.” The socks feature a knee-high design and graduated compression from the ankle up the leg and are available in neutral hues.
One reviewer wrote: “I have wide calves and have always had a hard time finding comfortable compression socks that worked well. These are perfect! They're soft and comfortable and fit well over my calves and provide appropriate compression.”
Compression rating: 20 — 30 mmHg (graduated) | Sizes: X-Large — 5X-Large | Material: 70% bamboo, 20% Lycra, 10% spandex | Machine washable: Yes | Available styles: 5
6. A Pair Of Sheer Compression Socks
- Sheer and barely visible
- Silicone lined band at the top to keep the sock from rolling down
- Multiple compression levels available
- More susceptible to runs and tears
For a discreet, barely-there look, opt for these compression socks from Truform, which are actually sheer. This popular pick boasts a 4.3-star rating overall on Amazon, after 5,000-plus reviews, with commenters calling them things like “my go to compression knee highs” and “absolutely perfect.” And while some compression socks are notorious for slipping down mid-wear, that’s not the case with these: The soft band at top is actually lined with silicone to ensure it stays in place. This pick features graduated compression, reinforced heels, and a knee-high length.
While this specific pair of socks offers 15 to 20 mmHg of compression, Truform makes other sheer options including a pair with super light compression (8 to 15 mmHg), an option with heavy compression (20 to 30 mmHg), and one with an open-toe design (15 to 20 mmHg), should any of those pique your interest.
One reviewer wrote: “Bought them for traveling, but will be using them almost daily. Great relief for my legs/Feet. Will be buying more pairs.”
Compression rating: 15 — 20 mmHg (graduated) | Sizes: Small — 3X-Large | Material: 80% nylon, 20% spandex | Machine washable: Yes | Available styles: 12
7. A Pair Of Cotton-Blend Compression Socks
- A great pair if you love the feel of cotton
- Super stretchy
- Some reviewers have struggled to find the right size for them
If you’re partial to cotton socks, you’ll want to check out this pair from SocksLane, which are made from a blend of cotton and stretchy fibers. Reinforced sole, heel, and toe areas add support and an extra-large top cuff that prevents them from sliding down during your travels ... because no one wants to have to make an extra pit stop just to yank up a pair of socks. Choose from neutral solids and stripes — just make sure to double-check the sizing guide, as some reviewers have reported the socks not fitting as expected.
One reviewer wrote: “If a compression sock isn’t comfortable, I just can’t tolerate wearing it. These [...] are the best I’ve found in this compression range. What makes these so remarkable for me is the soft and absorbent footbed. It’s like a micro-terry full footbed that is soothing all the way to my toes! The ankle and calf support is just right for wearing all day for travel or activities. They have retained their comfort through six months of wear and washing in a laundry bag in cold water delicate and line drying makes them a great value in my opinion.”
Compression rating: 15 — 20 mmHg (graduated) | Sizes: Small — XX-Large | Material: 65% cotton, 35% stretch fibers | Machine washable: Yes (but hand washing is recommended) | Available styles: 10
8. A Popular Sock With Heavy Compression
- More than 41,000 ratings on Amazon and counting
- Budget-friendly, with each pair costing just over $3
- Only available in two sizes
Thousands of Amazon reviewers are all-in on these compression socks from Hi Clasmix — giving them a 4.3-star rating overall, after a whopping 41,000-plus customers have chimed in — with one fan referring to them as “quality at a great price.” With up to 30 mmHg of compression, the socks offer the heaviest compression on this list. They also offer extra support in the arches, reinforced toes and heels, and nonslip cuffs at the top to ensure they stay comfortable and stay in place on your legs. The socks feature a blend of materials, including nylon and polyester, as well as copper which may lend them some additional odor control. Shop variety packs with all neutral socks or options with fun, colorful patterns (like polka dots, stripes, and hearts).
One reviewer wrote: “These socks were great for travel! I fly often (over 100 flights a year) and I always retain water in my feet. I recently ordered these and wore them on my flights to and from Greece (10-11 hours) and they worked like a charm! Kept the blood flowing and I had no water retention! They weren’t too tight and were very comfortable. Great find!”
Compression rating: 20 — 30 mmHg (graduated) | Sizes: Small — X-Large | Material: 85% nylon, 10% polyester, 5% copper fiber | Machine washable: Yes | Available styles: 19
Mark J. Mendeszoon, DPM, FACFAS, FACPM, foot and ankle surgeon and podiatrist at Precision Orthopaedic Specialties, Inc., member of the American Podiatric Medical Association, and owner of Achilles Running Shop
Alain Tanbe, M.D., RPVI, FACS, vascular surgeon at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, and other offices around Maryland
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