Skip to content

Thorlo pickleball socks review

In previous blogs, I’ve written about the importance of correct footwear and socks when playing pickleball. For a long time, I’ve been an advocate of Thorlo socks for racket sports, as well as the basketball or tennis focussed socks from Nike, Adidas and Under Armour.  What distinguishes all of them is the level of padding, support or traction the socks offer over a standard sock or running focussed sock.

When Thorlo launched a pickleball sock, the PBMU, there was a sense of derision online as to why a dedicated sock was needed for the sport.  Does pickleball as a sport need a specifically engineered sock? I’d argue it might be a wider cultural requirement, rather than the needs of the sport. The thing that often makes pickleball distinct over other racket sports is the volume of play logged by a player. 

In the social sphere of pickleball, anecdotal feedback from the States is that duration of play can substantially extend beyond a couple of hours. Combined with mainly outdoor play in warm weather, a sock that’s focussed on the pickleball community needs to offer long term comfort and breathability.  

Thorlo’s main offerings come in a variety of heights, from no shows through ankle to crew length. For racket sports, it’s mainly crew length on sale for men in two variations of cushion/padding.  The base “light cushion” sock is reasonably thick around the entire sole of the foot with a thinner collar, breathable top of foot and lighter weight calf element. The other “max cushion” variant is a thicker more woolly feeling sock that “fills” out a shoe so it’s useful in shoes a smidge large or for extra protection when your feet are sore after long term use. 

When I first bought these, I assumed that Thorlo didn’t just rebadge a current sock with pickleball and release to the market.  It must be very much its own thing, or so I thought.  It currently only comes in an ankle length version for the UK, which was an initial concern as I prefer crew length socks. I’m regularly wearing an ankle brace now so a longer length would theoretically be of help to protect from rubbing from a brace. 

There is generous padding all around the toes, balls, arches and heel. I initially thought the padding was between my older light level sock and the max cushion. Possibly the top of the foot is a smidge thinner with a slightly more open texture. This allows improved ventilation within the shoe over the max cushion but could create issue with either a lack of structure or lack of protection from a thin tongue in a shoe. 

One feature of Thorlo socks is the incredible durability. I still have socks working almost as well as the day I bought them that are a decade old.  The elastic may be slightly loose around the top but the core foot part is not showing signs of holes or structural damage. Wearing older versions of the sock appears to have tricked me into thinking the pickleball socks are unique in the Thorlo range. 

When researching the materials for the Pickleball sock, I consulted the Thorlo website and noticed that they seem to have updated the range prior to my purchase of these.  They offer a very similar looking tennis sock in a variety of heights. There is a difference in the colouring of the foot part and some branding but the core sock structure seems identical to the T1CMU tennis ankle sock. The fabric content is 74% THOR•WICK® COOL polyester, 25% nylon, 1% elastic: identical to the tennis ankle light cushion sock.

I thought there was a difference between the older light cushion sock I have and the pickleball sock. However, if you’ve more recently bought Thorlo light cushion ankle socks, the PBMU may just be a tiny colour and design tweak from what you have already.  My pickleball socks seem to have more toe padding and the top part seems to be a more breathable construction but this could all be confirmation bias and they are probably identical bar the aging unless there has been a redesign in the intervening years.

How does the sock perform after all this preamble? Really well: it’s my go to sock for tournaments, long court days and pretty much every shoe I own. The thickness fills out most shoes enough but not too much. If the shoe is a bit big it’s perfect to pair up: if it’s true to size, these aren’t too thick to feel “full”. The max cushions can feel bulky so aren’t a default choice for me. If my feet are super sore on the last day of a multi day event, that’s when I bring out the max cushion. You could call them “Goldilocks” socks: not too cold, not too hot, just right.

Is there anything better that I use or any way to refine it to be better? My Under Armour Playmaker socks have a rubberised grip on the sole which helps prevent toe jamming or hard stops: Nike used to have tennis socks with this function but don’t offer anymore. Thorlo’s ultra light cushion tennis socks do have what I assume is a rubberised “power grip” to them but I’ve not tried them yet: they are on the way.  My Nike Elite Basketball socks are another really excellent sock: they have less padding, have less durability but perform excellently. I’d like the rubber grip on the sole to prevent sliding in the shoe.

My variety of other brand socks like Fabletics, Stance or Lululemon all perform really well but aren’t quite as padded in the right places as these are. These other brands are more generic fitness socks so won’t have the extra padding. They will work well but not optimally and are unlikely to last like a Thorlo will. 

I was once told, if you have foot issues, get a pair of Thorlos. These have been my tournament sock for years and I think the pickleball version is my favourite. They aren’t too high, absorb sweat if it runs down your legs to prevent the shoe getting soggy and they just last. £14 might seem expensive for a pair of socks but they seem to last for ever: my £22 On Running tennis socks to match my Roger Pro shoes started to show wear within a couple of uses.  Not all socks are created equal but you can always buy in confidence with Thorlo.

If you want to get hold of a pair, I couldn’t find an easy to source online retailer for the Pickleball version without expensive postage but as they seem to be identical in almost all ways to the light cushion tennis sock, you can pick up from Amazon here, as well as a lot more from their range including running, work and more. You can also try your local racket store as they are commonly stocked.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *