- Supper soft and comfortable
- Supports metatarsal and ankles
- Light weight for summer temps
- Seamless toe for protection against blisters and hotspots
- Breathable and good moisture control
- High viz elements for added visability
- 6-month guarantee – 150-200 wears before compression lessens
- Hang dry
Source: Online, retail stores
Sizes: 3 – 5 (see chart below)
Colors: Black/Neon Green, Electric Blue/Neon Green, Red/Neon Green, Viper/Neon Green, White/Neon Green
Material: 69% Polyamide (Nylon), 16% Elastane, 15% Polypropylene
How obtained: Company sample
RBR advertiser: No
Tested: 15 hours
Several years ago, I reviewed CEP compression socks, the style that comes just below the knee. I liked how the compression helped support my muscles and kept my legs from getting tired. I only wear them in cooler temps because they are too warm for me in the summer. That’s until now when CEP introduced a shorter sock for cycling. When the rep reached out to us for testing, I was curious how they’d work. Both Lars and I have been testing them these last few weeks providing a male/female opinion.
Comfort and Supportive
There are two things you’ll notice the first time you slip on a pair of CEP Ultralight socks. First, they have a right and left sock, so look for the R/L. Second, they are very soft against your skin. The socks are snug but not tight, giving the feeling your feet and ankles are being supported.
The ultralight socks are 25% thinner than CEP’s other compression socks which is attributed to the use of polypropylene. Thus, it is lighter material without sacrificing strength and you’ll feel compression around the metatarsal area for support. The thinner material is perfect for summer riding as it is breathable and moisture is wicked away. Even in 90-degree heat and humidity my feet were comfortable.
Although the advantages aren’t as obvious with these low-cut socks, you should feel a difference during and after exercise. CEP’s proprietary compression profile helps increase circulation, contain muscles and support tendons and ligaments. They also help push swelling fluid out of the Plantar complex of the foot, and due to a snug ergonomic fit and seamless toe-closure will never rub or cause blistering.
These socks have a 4” cuff which is standard length for many cycling socks. The cuff was very comfortable and did not dig into my skin, yet it gave solid support. If you want support over your calves then pair with one of CEP’s Calf Sleeves.
Each of the color combinations has some high viz elements making you more noticeable to drivers in dayight. The fact that there is movement (pedaling) really adds to the visibility factor.
Sizing and Care
The CEP Ultralight socks come in sizes 3, 4 and 5 which translates to the sizing chart below. The sizes go by shoe size as well as an ankle circumference measurement which is done at the narrowest point.
Ankle Circumference: 8-9.25 in/ 20-23.5 cm
Men’s Shoe Size: 8-10
Women’s Shoe Size: 6.5 – 8.5
Ankle Circumference: 9-10.25 in/ 22.5-26 cm
Men’s Shoe Size: 10-12
Women’s Shoe Size: 8.5 – 11
Ankle Circumference: 10-11.25 in/ 25-28.5 cm
Men’s Shoe Size: 12+
Women’s Shoe Size: –
Like with all your cycling and athletic gear, you should wash these socks in cold water and hang dry them. I have washed/air dried them about 7 times without any shrinkage.
Like Sheri, I was familiar with longer compression socks, but had never tried a shorter version. I tried the socks in several different scenarios over the past few weeks. I have worn them at work all day at my standing desk, on a day-long car ride, on several bike rides, and even on a few runs.
When I run, I typically wear Injinji socks that have individual toes to prevent blisters. (The Injinji socks have never felt right inside my road cycling shoes though, so I do not use them cycling.) One of the claimed benefits of the CEP socks is that the tight fit also helps prevent blisters. I can confirm that when running, they performed equally to my toe socks, giving me an additional choice from the sock drawer when I go on runs.
After a day of standing at my desk at work, and a different day of riding in the car for nine hours on a long trip, I found that the shorter compression socks kept the same tight grip all the way above my ankles that I have experienced with full length compression socks. You could definitely tell that you were wearing a real compression sock. It doesn’t have the same grip around your calves as full length compression socks, because they don’t go that high. But they are much cooler since they don’t go all the way up your leg, which meant that they didn’t feel too warm even when it was hot.
When riding my bike, the socks performed well. They are very thin socks with a snug fit. So I noticed that I needed to tighten my cycling shoes a little bit more than usual so that my feet wouldn’t move around inside them.
I (Sheri) was a little skeptical at first if an ankle compression sock would really help me during and after rides. The knee-high compression socks were winners so Lars and I decided to give the CEP’s Ultralight short socks a go. I’ve been very happy with the comfort and the support. Each color combination has high viz elements so visibility to drivers is a huge plus. These socks are about twice as much as a regular cycling sock, but you should feel the benefits like we did.
I (Lars) was impressed that a shorter length compression sock would give you almost as much compression as a full length sock and still look like a regular pair of cycling socks. I will keep wearing mine. They’ve earned a spot in regular rotation through my sock drawer.
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women's cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri's full bio.