The best compression socks for travellers in 2024

Written by Travel Adventures

For a long time, I thought compression stockings were exclusively worn by nervous nellies worried about getting blood clots from sitting too long (deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a very rare condition in which a blood clot forms in your leg and travels to your lungs). As a result, I never thought I had a need for them.

But then, a few years ago, my mum threw a pair of compression socks in my Christmas stocking, knowing I had a few long-haul flights on the agenda. I was an immediate convert.

Compression socks are said to decrease your chances of DVT by keeping your blood pumping, but that claim isn’t medically proven. What they actually do is help reduce swelling and that pins-and-needles feeling you get when sitting still for, say, a 14-hour flight or a day of working from home. They’re tightest at the ankle and loosen as they get up to your knee, putting pressure on the veins, arteries, and muscles in your lower leg. That, in a very simplified way, pushes blood back to your heart to be pumped around more efficiently.

Depending on your comfort levels, you’ll want to be sure you’re getting the right millimetres of mercury, or mmHg. Medical-grade socks sit in the 20-30 mmHg range, while most casual socks (i.e. more comfortable) are still tight enough to encourage circulation at 15-25 mmHg. (The mmHg measurement calculates how much pressure is being exerted, technically on a column of mercury. It’s complicated, but just know socks that are 30 mmHg are extra tight, while 10 mmHg means they’re relatively loose.) Below, you’ll find a few Traveller editors’ favourite pairs, plus more top picks we recommend from brands we trust.

This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

Editor favourites:

Comrad Compression Socks

These are my all-time favourite flying socks. They’re made with moisture-wicking, odour-fighting fabric, which means you can pop your shoes off mid-flight without your neighbour catching a single whiff. Like most effective compression socks, these require a little elbow grease to get on – they’re supposed to be tight after all – but once you’ve been enjoying your in-flight movie for 30 minutes or so, you won’t even feel them around your legs. (They’re that middle ground of 15-25 mmHg.) They also don’t bunch or slip, a small detail that makes a huge difference if you’ve ever spent an inordinate amount of time hiking your socks up under your trouser legs. Besides the health benefits, they’re just generally well-designed. They’re available in neutral colour combinations and striped patterns, and look freakishly similar to your average pair of dress socks. Meredith Carey, former Traveler US editor

FuelMeFoot Compression Socks

My go-to compression socks were a total last-minute buy. A few days before flying to South Africa—on a lengthy New York-to-Nairobi-to-Cape Town flight path – I realised I should probably bring a pair along to wear on the planes. This pair was available on Amazon Prime, and had a 4.4 star rating from more than 50,000 reviews, so I went for it. They turned out to work extremely well, and I’ve worn them on every international or cross-country flight since. At 20-30 mmHg, the knee-high socks do take a bit of effort to pull on, but are not overly tight, and I can feel the difference in my calves almost immediately. I went for a classic striped design, but you can order them in a whole host of colours and patterns. Madison Flager, senior commerce editor

Ostrichpillow Bamboo Compression Socks

At just 8-15 mmHg, Ostrichpillow’s stretchy Bamboo pair are the perfect everyday compression socks. (It helps too that since they’re slightly less compressive, they’re easier to get on.) I don’t get up nearly as much as I should working from home (or on planes, for that matter), so wearing these while I sit at my desk means that I don’t get that pins and needles feeling from sitting still for so long. They’re also the plushest pair I’ve tried, thanks to their breathable, bamboo and recycled polyester fabric. While I’d probably pick up something more compressive for long-haul flights, these are easy on and easy off and are my go-to for shorter flights. M.C.

More of the best compression socks for travel:

Charmking compression socks

These Amazon bestsellers have brought in over 60,000 ratings, with an average rating of 4.4 stars. At 15-20 mmHg, these medium compression socks are ideal for long-haul flights, running, cycling, or for anyone with a job that requires long days on your feet, like nurses or stylists. They’re made from a mix of high-quality nylon and elastane, and are non-slip, breathable, and comfortable enough to wear all day long. Choose this three-pair pack in a variety of colours, with three size options meant to fit most travellers.

Lululemon MicroPillow compression knee-high running socks

It’s safe to say our editors (and our readers) swear by activewear from Lululemon. Many athletes rely on knee-high compression socks during long runs after injuries or for added comfort. Lululemon’s MicroPillow compression socks are designed with runners in mind, offering light cushioning and reflective details. The light compression works to hug your muscles while boosting energy and support as you move.

Physix Gear compression socks

Another top-selling Amazon find we recommend is the Physix Gear Sport compression socks. This pair has racked up over 84,000 ratings (yes, you read that right) with an average of 4.5 stars. These are an ideal option for any activity, whether that means travel days, long-distance runs, or maternity wear. With 20-30 mmHg, these knee-high socks will take a little work getting on, but you’ll quickly feel the shock absorption and added comfort. You can expect a boost in circulation and oxygen blood flow, which also promotes faster recovery post-workout and helps ease soreness.

Sockwell Graduated Compression Socks

With a quality merino wool and bamboo rayon weave, this Sockwell pair makes a luxurious option, and they come in a good selection of neutral colours. These socks offer firm compression at 20-30 mmHg. It means they perhaps aren’t for everyday wear, but are an excellent choice for long flights, or any occasion you’ll be sat for long periods of time. Amazon reviewers suggest that they’re tighter than most compression stockings with strong arch support, and retain their shape well, even after considerable use.

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