Wool socks are worth their weight in gold on long hikes and cold days. But wool socks with a lifetime guarantee? Worth their weight in platinum. To someone that buys cotton socks in bulk at big box stores, expecting to have to replace them every few months, it may sound incredulous, but Darn Tough (www.darntough.com) really does offer a (truly) unconditional Lifetime Guarantee. Possibly Vermont’s best kept secret, if one of these American-made socks wear out, or fails to live up to your expectations, send it back for a replacement. If it’s not the most comfortable sock you own, they’ll give you a refund. If your dog gets a hold of it, they can send you another one. You get the idea.
In keeping with our wooly theme this week, I tried out a Merino Wool Hike/Trek Series sock (in Denim)with a cushioned sole that we stole at Outdoor Retailer. (Just kidding, their super-cool PR guy hooked us up) Many wool socks are thick, ungainly, and scratchy. But Darn Tough owner Ric Cabot’s family (we met him too) did not get into the sock business to be ordinary. Darn Tough products are slim, comfortable, and there’s a pair to suit nearly every activity. And don’t worry, they will certainly keep your feet warm despite their lack of bulk. What really separates them from the competition is their extra density, along with a seamless toe, thanks to some very fancy knitting machines imported from Italy. That density is what keeps the sock from matting down and turning mushy like a cotton sock does after a bit of heavy use. This helps make Darn Tough the strongest yet most comfy and easy to wear item you will likely ever put on your feet.
The sample pair that I reviewed are the 1/4 length variety, made with 62% Merino Wool, 35% Nylon, and 3% Lyrca® Spandex with packaging obtained from recycled paper (which is always a bonus). Right away, the lack of bulk compared to other wool socks is obvious, as well as the quality of the stitching involved. A closer inspection reveals that each area of the sock has its own set of features, such as the elastic arch support that keeps the sock from bunching up, the nicely cushioned sole, and a reinforced heel and toe section, all ensuring protection where you need it most, without the bulk normally associated with wool socks. Being somewhat new to modern wool socks, it was surprising to me how well the Merino wool regulates temperature. I was comfortable inside or outside, while lounging indoors, or working my butt off in the snow. And if your feet happen to sweat, Merino provides superior moisture wicking, denying stinky bacteria the damp environment they require to flourish. This is a huge plus, because you can wear them more than once before washing. Speaking of washing, they can be machine washed inside out, and tumbled dry on low heat. No need for dry cleaning.
Overall, my first experience with Darn Tough socks was a good one. They have a huge line that caters to most indoor and outdoor activities, in colors and designs that go from mild to wild. And the guarantee makes purchasing them risk free. The hardest part will be choosing which ones to get next.