Whether you’re a student, private or airline pilot, chances are that you fly far more often than even the most frequent of travelers.
This means that comfort and durability are more important to you as a pilot than most other people shopping for compression socks. So with that in mind, here are the compression socks we recommend for pilots.
Best Compression Socks for Pilots
Best Overall: Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks
These socks strike just the right balance between comfort, support, and price.New: $16.54
These Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks are our top pick, striking just the right balance between comfort, support, and price.
Made of breathable material, and with 20-30 mmHg of compression, the socks do a great job at reducing the risk of clots.
They are ideal for pilots who fly frequently, as they can handle repeated washings without losing their compression, or shape.
Best for Long Flights: Wanderlust Travel Compression Socks
These socks are ideal for airline pilots or anyone who flies long-haul.New: $19.98
If you’re an international airline pilot, or otherwise frequently fly long-haul, these socks from Wanderlust make a great choice.
They offer graduated compression, with 25 to 30 mmHg at the foot and ankle, 15 to 20 mmHg up to the calf, and 10 to 15 mmHg under the knee. This also means that they are easy to put on and take off at all times.
The Wanderlust Travel Compression Socks blister and friction protection design, soft foot padding, and comfortable cuffs all go a long way in making sure that comfort is maximized as much as possible.
Best for Student Pilots / Budget Pick: Dr. Scholl’s Compression Over-The-Calf Support Socks
10-15 mmHg of compression, comfortable and irritation-free at a great price.New: $16.36
If you’re more of a casual flyer, are a student pilot, or expect to get through a lot of socks weekly, these Dr. Scholl’s Compression Socks are just the ticket.
Made from 95% nylon and 5% Lycra Spandex, these socks provide 10-15 mmHg of compression at a very attractive price point.
With their cotton-free design to reduce moisture absorption and irritation, they also score high marks for comfort.
With the Most Compression: Truform 30-40 mmHg Knee High Socks
Deliver the maximum amount of compression while maintaining comfort.New: $21.10
For pilots who are recovering from deep vein thrombosis, or have deep swelling, a pair of extra firm compression socks are necessary.
Made in the USA, these Truform Knee High Socks offer 30-40 mmHg of compression while managing to maintain a high level of comfort, which isn’t always possible with extra firm compression socks.
What to Look For When Buying Pilot Compression Socks
- Compression Level
The compression level, ranging from mild to extra firm, is one of the most important factors to consider.
The highest compression level socks may not always be the best choice because it depends on the time you will fly for, in addition to any current medical issues you may have (though hopefully nothing that will affect your medical certificate).
Compression levels are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).
- Mild (8-15 mmHg): Helpful for mild swelling
- Moderate (15-20 mmHg): Most commonly used, as they help with swelling, and reduce the risk of clots
- Firm (20-30 mmHg): Best suited for severe swelling or pilots currently at risk of deep vein thrombosis
- Extra Firm (30-40 mmHg): For a pilot with deep vein thrombosis, has recently had surgery, or with extreme swelling, extra firm compression socks are a must
Pilots are most likely to find moderate and firm compression socks the most beneficial.
- Graduated vs. Uniform Compression
The difference between graduated and uniform compression socks is that graduated socks are tightest around the ankle, and then pressure decreases the further up the sock you go. Uniform socks apply the same amount of pressure throughout the entire sock.
Graduated socks are generally considered the better and more effective of the two.
- Style & Fit
You have a few options when it comes to the style and fit of the sock.
-Ankle: Your standard everyday sock
-Knee: Offers more support but can itch or get hot
-Over the knee: Offers even more support
As a pilot, you will be wearing compression socks often, so only consider socks made of high-quality materials that are designed to last. The socks need to cope with everyday wear and repeated washings without losing effectiveness.
Breathability can also be important, so your feet and legs don’t overheat, even in a cockpit environment.