Another Blogosphere Compression Sock Comparison Post

Currently, I have 5 pairs of compression socks and all of them feel quite different in fit and compression. I have acquired these pairs through either paying full price, buying a Schwaggle, or in the case of one pair, free from a Ragnar Relay sponsor.


Let’s start on the far right, shall we? Ok.

Thanks to reading SkinnyRunner’s posts on compression stuff, I figured I would go el cheapo, and get a pair of Walmart Special Geriatric Antithrombotic socks for $18 or $20. I am wearing them right now so this will be your only action shot with the socks. Also you get to see Louie’s ass, too.


(Also have my Aspaeris Pivot Shorts on – more shameless sponsor plugging)

So these bad boys? You can’t really run in them comfortably. And they are ugly (one of my Ragnar van-mates last year said it looked like my legs were prosthetics. Hot). BUT they are very compress-y. They are also pretty long, in case you are tall unlike myself. These, in my opinion, are an excellent option for post race recovery. And they are cheap.

The Recovery Sock (lime green, second from the right)

These socks have a special place in my heart because they are made in Italy (did I mention I’m 1st generation Italian? Probably but in case you didn’t know). I got these with a Schwaggle. They are snug (still less than the medical grade ugly ones), come in a good selection of colors, and feel like good quality socks. They are pretty thick, though. I have done a few long runs in them and the fabric is breathable, but, again, a little thicker of a sock than I’m used to. The length is average – right in the middle of all the socks I own. I wear an XS in these.

Zensah (pink, in the middle)

The thing that kind of cracks me up about these is that they label the socks with “L” and “R”. I am pretty skeptical that there would be much difference in “sock performance” if I wore the “R” on the left and vice versa. But since it would go against every fiber of my being to do that, I will never know for sure if it’s a crock of shinola.

These were another Schwaggle purchase. I had tried on the Zensah calf sleeves in the past and was not impressed, but figured I’d take the $25 risk on the full sock. Turns out they are a great option for short-legged folks like myself. They fit perfectly, lengthwise (I’m 5 feet even and I have a 27-28” pants inseam). The compression is better than the calf sleeves, but still less than the Granny Socks and Recovery Sock. But they are cute and they aren’t as thick as the Recovery Sock, which I prefer when using them during running.

PRO Compression (pink, second from left)

We’ve arrived at the only pair I have not laid out personal funds to acquire. PRO Compression is one of our Ragnar sponsors and they provided us socks for our 203.5 mile journey to insanity. I would say that if you are in the market for super-cute socks that you can wear in a race, these are probably your best option. They have the best selection as far as colors, prints, etc. They are also good for people with normal-to-long legs. For me, they are almost too long, so I can’t pull them up which reduces the amount compression I’m getting. If they came in an XXS, I think they would fit perfectly for me. They are also not thick which, again, I prefer for running/races. They don’t, however, breathe as well as the Zensah’s and The Recovery Sock (I felt like I had more foot sweatiness when I ran my 18 miler in these last weekend). The compression seems about the same as the Zensah’s, probably a bit more.

CEP Compression Calf Sleeves (white, on the left)

We have come to my personal favorites. I paid full price for these at Road Runner Sports in like 2010, and that’s probably why I got the sleeves over the socks (the socks were ~$50 while the sleeves were ~$35. At the time we were still a half-employed household). But, I kind of like that they are just sleeves because I get to wear whatever socks I want. I have used these in pretty mush every half marathon and marathon since I bought them.

They also have an extensive array of sizes. If you have slim calves, they will have a size for you. I ended up with the women’s size III (the smallest is a size II). These are about as tight as the tan Walmart ones, but they are thin and lightweight. I’ve had them for a while now and they have not lost much of their compression strength. They seem to be good for most leg lengths – they are maybe just a smidge long for me, but it works out because they extend down to my sock line. Of all five compression socks I own, I have to say these are the best.

To summarize my thoughts on the above brands:

Best Socks For Short People: Zensah & CEP

Best Socks For Tall People: PRO Compression

Best Socks for Looking Cute In a Race: PRO Compression

Most Affordable Socks for Recovery: Walmart Anti-thrombotic Ugly Socks

All-Around Good Compression Socks Not Made In China Or Some Other Cheap Labor Country: The Recovery Sock

Most Compression & can be worn while running: CEP

Overall Winner: CEP

(Good until the end of April 2012, PRO Compression is offering $20 off a pair of socks with free shipping if you use the code RR20)


  1. Great list, and I love that you made categories for the short and tall people of the world. I just tried Swifteick brand, and I fell in love. Perfect for short people and like air conditioners on my legs. My CEPs are too baggy on my feet (wish I had just the sleeves), so I switch the left and right to keep it from rubbing my toenails off. So far, I haven't had any side effects from switching the L and R. But it still goes against my nature to not follow the directions!

    And i got my spools of velvet ribbon for headbands at JoAnn's. It was in a generic ribbon spool section. The by-the-yard stuff is a ripoff, but they had more width options with it. Maybe if you have the coupon from their weekly ad, the price wouldn't be too bad. I made five headbands for my friends who ran my last race with me, and I still had some left over. But the glitter ribbon ran out.

  2. I agree with you 100% Pro Compression are PERFECT for tall people. I am 5'11" and those are my favorite so far.

  3. My bro just bought CEP sleeves and loves them. After all the good you have told me I need to try them. Agree with the weird Zensah L/R, although, I still wear them as I am told, lol.

    Ready to run in the Pros this weekend. At night. When its not 90.

  4. CEP's are my fave too...they just feel so damn good after a long run. I took advantage of the discount code and ordered some baby blue ProCompression ones too.

    Side note...I'll be running through Corona around 3pm tomorrow for 90+ degree heat. Good grief. Good luck!!!

  5. Thanks for doing this review. I have been wanting a pair of compression socks for awhile but always unsure which were the best.

  6. I adore my CEP sleeves and socks. So good for recovery!!

  7. Are the Pink Pro Compression ones the Marathon Pink ones? I like how the color looks more in your picture than on the website. I have the Pro Compressions in yellow and loveeee them. Thanks for this super informative post! ;-)

    1. Yes, as far as I know. They are more like hot pink! I love the yellow - they weren't an option when I got mine. But I have the blue argyle that are really cute, too.

    2. ooh in that case i may have to buy another in pink. hahhaha. i think i work just to afford running! thanks for the tip!

  8. I think CEP are the most compression-y of all the socks. In fact, I am often annoying by HOW LONG it takes to get those bad boys on and off. I also find most socks annoyingly long. I think the runningskirts ones with the hearts on the side are probably the "shortest" ones I have tried. Rumor has it they are coming out with new colors next month.


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