Ankle Socks vs. Quarter Socks: Are They Different?

In many instances, ankle and quarter socks are identical to one another.  Both rise about 4 to 6” from heel to cuff, have raised and recessed ribbing, feature a Y-heel pocket, and are available in various sizes.  

However, some sock brands may make both ankle and quarter socks.  In this case, ankle socks will typically rise 4”, resting just above the talus bone, and quarter socks will extend up the leg about 6”. 

Below we’ll share more details about the naming and design of both the ankle and quarter socks.

FeatureAnkle SockQuarter Sock
RiseOften 4”. Just above the ankle bone.Often 6”.  A couple of inches higher than the ankle bone.
IntentOften for athletic use.Either for athletic or casual use.

Naming Creates Confusion

Where much of the confusion lies when learning about ankle and quarter socks is with the name.  A quick visit to our local Marshall’s resulted in two socks, those by Champion and RBX, that look virtually identical to one another:

ankle and quarter socks can be the same

As you can see on the label, the Champion socks are ankle socks, whereas the RBX socks are quarter crew socks, yet they both have the same design.

The root of the problem is that there’s no standardization across the sock industry for labeling.  Therefore, it’s up to the companies to label a sock as quarter or ankle.

Most companies will usually make just an ankle or just a quarter sock.  For example, when visiting the Hanes website, you’ll see that they only make ankle socks.

hanes ankle socks

Whereas undergarment maker Jockey only makes quarter socks.

jockey quarter socks

However, some specialty sock brands such as Bombas and Feetures make ankle and quarter socks!

feetures ankle and quarter socks

The bottom line is:  Don’t get too hung up on the name of the sock.  Ankle and quarter are used interchangeably between many different brands.  When deciding on a sock, look at the rise, construction quality, and features.

Visual Comparison

When brands make both ankle and quarter socks, you’ll quickly spot some differences.

For example, when visiting the Feetures website, you’ll see that the ankle and quarter socks have varying heights:

feetures ankle vs quarter socks

Their ankle sock is made to rise just above the talus bone, whereas the quarter sock will extend up the leg a few more inches.  This results in two socks that you can wear differently. 

For example: 

The ankle socks would be an excellent choice to wear for summer athletic activities such as jogging, walking, soccer, tennis, and more, as the modest cut allows for an increase in airflow and won’t get in the way of any athletic equipment.

The quarter socks are more versatile and can be worn for athletic and casual activities.  The higher rise of the sock allows them to be worn under pants without exposing any skin when sitting down.

The bottom line is to go with socks that work best for the activity.  Ankle socks are more limiting in the wardrobe but work well for athletic activities.  However, quarter socks rise higher and can be worn for athletic and casual activities.

Feature Comparison

The ankle and quarter sock are virtually the same for features.  However, brands may make their socks different depending on the intent.   For example, an athletic ankle or quarter sock will often feature moisture-wicking and odor-resistant fabrics.

On the other hand, a casual ankle or quarter sock often relies on breathable cotton fabric and extra cushioning for comfort.


We hope that this article provides you with some clear examples of how these two socks can differ from one another.

Theo Lawson

With a five-year background in men's fashion, Theo Lawson has shifted his focus to the world of socks. To him, socks are more than just a piece of clothing - they're a way to express yourself and make a statement.

To improve his knowledge, Theo consults with manufacturers and interviews industry leaders to stay up-to-date on the latest sock trends. His dedication to the field has earned him the trust of companies, celebrities, and sock enthusiasts, making him a true testament to the impact that one person can have when passionately pursuing their expertise.

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