Which Darn Tough Socks To Buy ((INSTALL))
Wearing Merino Wool hiking socks is like ensuring you'll encounter some sort of trail magic. Merino sheep eat, drink, and breathe wilderness travel. Their secret? Merino Wool. Its crimp and scale patterns make it naturally thermoregulating, which has helps protect sheep from the elements. It's quick drying ability has also made it an essential for winter and summer hiking socks.
which darn tough socks to buy
Smartwool is an excellent sweat-wicking, moisture-managing brand. However, once Smartwool gets wet, it stays wet. I think the fabric blend in Darn Tough is much more ideal, as this sock both meets Smartwool in its moisture-regulating abilities but also dries incredibly fast. This means no blisters or hot spots, which makes for unmatched comfort. Darn Tough socks stay dry and keep you dry.
This guide does not include liner socks. Some hikers swear by the two-sock system, which consists of a very thin liner sock underneath a wool or synthetic hiking sock. After talking to our experts, though, we determined that most people should try hiking with a single pair of socks first.
We wandered trails close to Vancouver, British Columbia, where we live, during the peak of summer. We wore the socks day-to-day, too, using them as anyone normally would wear socks, to see which models could stand up to everything we put them through.
Our Coolmax Micro Crew socks dried more quickly than our wool models after we washed them, which we expected. In contrast to wool, the Coolmax fabric didn't regulate our feet's temperature quite as well (wool often prevents sweating before it starts). However, the socks did keep our feet dry in the long term by wicking the sweat away and dispersing it throughout the sock's material, where it dried quickly.
This was also the only sock we tested with an anatomical fit (other than the Injinji toe socks, which are a different breed altogether). This Icebreaker design offers specific left- and right-footed socks, so you have slightly less fabric around the outermost toes, gaining a few extra millimeters of wiggle room in your footwear. If the toe box in your boots or shoes is a little snug, this extra space can make all the difference in comfort. Speaking of comfort, these were also the softest socks we tried.
Injinji Outdoor Original Weight Crew NuWool: This was the only toe sock we tested; we did so because it popped up in reviews on OutdoorGearLab and Switchback Travel. But we found that toe socks were just too unusual for most people. During our testing we found that in boots that were already tight, this sock took up too much extra space. The design also left our feet feeling hot, which may be because of the extra material around the toes.
The company makes men's, women's, unisex, and kids' socks with different thicknesses, calf heights, and designs. Usually, you pick based on the weather you're heading out in or the activity you're doing. All the socks are made in Vermont and the business is family-owned and operated, which we love.
On the heels (no pun intended) of a trip out to Utah, I purchased three pairs of Darn Tough socks. Given the environment we were going to be in (hot, dry, mostly desert) I opted for the women's midweight sock in the 1/4 sock height, which sits just above the ankle. I wear a size 11 in women's shoes, so I opted for the Large. As a big-footed woman, I'm forever paranoid that women's sizes won't fit my feet, so I also ordered the same sock in a men's Large.
My husband, who at this point could be considered a committed collector of Darn Tough socks and has probably half a dozen pairs, says he loves them because they're warm without making his feet sweat, tough but really comfortable, and extremely durable.
Not everyone is willing to spend $20+ on a pair of hiking socks, which we understand, and REI Co-op offers a budget-friendlier alternative to merino wool with their Coolmax EcoMade Lightweight Hiking Quarter. Made with fabric constructed from recycled plastic bottles, these socks provide a soft next-to-skin experience without the usual environmental burden of polyester (REI has been strong of late on the sustainability front). They wick moisture well too, making them a great choice for hot-weather adventures when you still want decent cushioning and support.
On particularly hot summer days, you just might not want to put wool on your feet, which is understandable. For these occasions, Darn Tough makes a synthetic sock with Coolmax polyester (the same material used in the budget REI option above), a highly porous fabric that is made specifically to keep your feet cool. These socks are a nice option for hot-weather hikers, and like our favorite merino models, they are snug-fitting, well cushioned, and do not stretch with use. All that, and the bump in breathability is noticeable.
We're not claiming these socks will stop crime or save babies, but they're guaranteed to hold their ground. Light and breathable with cushion that adds spring to each step, these naturally thermo-regulating and stink-fighting Merino Wool socks will give you that extra push when the going gets tough.
These particular socks were the Darn Tough Cushion Sock with Merino Wool. Darn Tough also makes a COOLMAX version of this sock that we will get to later. Merino wool is the softest wool of any sheep. Merino is excellent at regulating body temperature, wicking sweat and unlike cotton, actually retaining warmth when wet. Merino also contains lanolin, which gives the wool antibacterial properties. Darn Tough is no stranger to making socks.
BOTTOM LINE: I have and would recommend the wool Darn Tough socks to fellow runners. They are made well, have a proven reputation and come with a lifetime guarantee. I would try one pair of each and see which version (COOLMAX or wool) that your feet enjoy more.
The company was founded in 1978 by Marc Cabot, who had worked in the textile industry in New York State until he purchased and rebuilt a vacant mill in Northfield. His son Ric Cabot joined the company in 1989. Through the 1990s, Cabot Hosiery primarily manufactured socks for retail chains such as Gap, which relabeled the product for sale under store brand names. As retailers began looking to foreign manufacturers able to offer a lower price, Cabot Hosiery's sales declined from $7 million to $5 million annually, leading the company to lay off about 40 workers. By the early 2000s, the company owed several million dollars to its lenders, had defaulted on loans, and was late on tax bills.
In 2004, Ric Cabot devised the strategy of selling socks designed for durability under an in-house name, leading to the launch of the "Darn Tough" brand that year after both Cabots invested additional personal equity into the business. The socks were initially distributed locally, but high demand, particularly among outdoor enthusiasts, led the company to reach distribution deals with national retailers, including REI and L.L. Bean. The company also sold socks to the US military, which is required by law to purchase supplies from domestic producers, with sales to the armed forces making up as much as a third of all revenue. Driven by the "Darn Tough" brand, Cabot Hosiery's sales rose through the 2000s, and by 2012 the mill employed about 130 people. During the first half of the 2010s, sales continued to rise by about 60% annually, and in 2015, with Ric Cabot by then having taken over the role of president and CEO from his father, the company announced a 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) expansion of its factory. As of 2016, annual sales for Cabot Hosiery were just under $50 million, and the company employed about 200 people, with plans to hire more as expansion continued. 041b061a72