A virtually indestructible sock with a lifetime guarantee
Let’s talk socks for a minute. If there is one single item in your hiking arsenal apart from your shoes perhaps, that is likely to make you miserable out on the trail it’s probably your socks. Over the years poor fitting and performing socks like the ones that bunch up at your toes have at times driven me to despair. Thankfully all is not lost and with a bit of research I have settled upon one sock manufacture, Darn Tough that takes pride in churning out some of the best socks in this very competitive arena. The family run operation is located in Green Mountains of Northfield, Vermont where it’s been operating for the past 36 years. Like their website testifies they only make socks and are obviously very proud of their products as they offer an unconditional lifetime guarantee – put a hole in a pair and they will gladfully send you a free replacement. Not that I’m even approaching that point with several of my older Darn Tough socks still stoically soldiering on after many years of heavy use.
A large reason why these socks last for so long is because they use high density knitting with a reinforced heel and toe which translates into hard wearing and more durability. Apart from that, the socks are performance fitted with just enough elastic support around the arch, toes and heel to ensure they remain where they should be and not bunched around your toes. The socks are comprised of around two thirds merino wool, one third nylon and a smidgeon of Lycra.
What first attracted me to Darn Tough was they had my exact sizing. As a US size 9, I usually found socks either too tight or swimming on my feet, mercifully Darn Tough make a medium size (US 8-9.5) which fits perfectly. Other things I like about these socks are they don’t generally slip which means even when wearing in new boots the likelihood of developing blisters is reduced. The socks are available in light and full cushioning though personally I find the light version sufficient even with hiking boots on rugged trails. I also like the fact they make a Coolmax version which is great for those who find wool irritable and are better at wicking away moisture.
Over time I have gradually replaced my full sock outfit with Darn Tough as they also fashion a range of everyday socks which are just as comfortable and durable. One thing I recommend is to wash the socks either in cold or warm water inside-out as suggested by Darn Tough to better remove sweat and other nasty’s that tend to congregate there. The sock drying times are pretty decent at around four hours on a warm rock and a bit quicker with the Coolmax version. Here’s hoping that my most recent acquisition of Darn Tough socks stride well into the next decade.
Darn Tough socks key features:
Fabric: 67% Merino wool, 29% nylon, 4% Lycra
Fine gauge knitting
Reinforced heel and toe
Size: (Men’s) Small 5.5-7.5, Medium 8-9.5, Large 10-12, X-Large 12.5+
Care: machine wash in warm water on gentle cycle
Unconditional lifetime guarantee
Country of origin: USA
Darn Tough Men’s Merino Wool Hike-Trek: ($15 USD) (as at Apr 3, 2014)