You’ve all been there. You’re walking along and it starts to happen. You pull and tug. You might even take off your shoe hoping an adjustment will help. But the more you pull, the worse it gets.

Once your socks start to slip down into your shoe, there’s no going back. You might as well throw in the towel, and your socks too. So how can you stop this? You can’t. But a good sock can help you avoid it all together.

Let me first say, that while it seems outrageous to most of us to spend $12-17 on one pair of socks, it can be well worth it. Let me also say, there are less expensive alternatives that won’t leave you tugging at your frustration.

Let’s start with the best of the best—SmartWool. Need I say more? The fit—fantastic; the cushion—with so many options, you can’t go wrong; durability—I’ll let you know when I wear out mine; style—yeah, they look cool too.

But what’s behind the sock? SmartWool uses high quality merino wool and blends it with nylon and elastic. The nylon adds durability and wicking, and the elastic helps the socks retain their shape. The end result is sock perfection. With so many different weaves and weights available, you can’t go wrong. My favorites are the Adrenaline and the PhD in micro mini height.

Another favorite of mine is Wigwam. Again, they offer a broad spectrum of styles. You can find socks ranging from 100% cotton to 100% synthetic material. All of them fit well, and the various blends will suit you in any condition. I opt for the cotton blend at the gym and save the synthetic variety for long walks on the trails. These are a great alternative to wool, and consequently the cost is a bit easier on the wallet. My favorites here: Whirlwind low and the Rebel no-show.

The third player: Thorlo. You won’t find yourself tugging on these; however, their feel and comfort is not top on my list. I always find my feet wet after a workout or long walk in them, which has led to a blister more than once. They have been working to improve their materials and create better blends, so it may be time to give them a second chance.

Aside from these brand names, are there good ankle socks out there? I’ve found a very few. Addidas makes a decent low cut sock, but beware, they make several and not all of them are good. Haynes makes some ankle socks, but they can start … to … slip …

My advice? Spend the extra money up front, and you won’t regret it. Your socks will last at least twice as long as those other brands (probably 3-4 times as long), and you can be sure no one will pass you on the trails while you’re playing tug-of-war with your socks.