This is a more common query than one might think. For price alone, it depends where they are made. As a rule, Italian-made socks tend to be more expensive but also built really well. I’ve heard many riders ask about shoes and hot spots. I look down and they have cotton socks on. I tell them to try a pair of cycling socks, because it’s cheaper than a pair of new shoes. Cycling socks are made of a synthetic fiber or wool rather than cotton. Cotton socks are significantly less expensive and can cause blisters. This is because cotton absorbs moisture (sweat), saturates quickly and is even more slow to dry. So, to make it easy, 100-percent cotton socks shouldn’t be used for cycling.
Also, keep in mind that synthetic socks usually last significantly longer than cotton ever could, so you have that added value. Wool socks come in warm- and cold-weather options, but both types offer a bit of retained warmth. I love wool because it also adds a bit of additional padding when a stock insole isn’t quite enough or the body of a new shoe is stiff and unforgiving. A few pairs of quality wool cycling socks make breaking in new cycling shoes painless or can add time to a pair of shoes that are on its final days with the added padding.