The Socks — Darn Tough from Vermont


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Ah, the lonely sock. Hidden away behind layers of Pebax and Grilamid, our backcountry skiing stockings still play a dominant role in our comfort, even our safety.

Darn Tough Ski/Ride socks are my pick.

Darn Tough Ski/Ride socks are my pick.

During testing these past few seasons I’ve found a few socks that worked okay, but nothing exceptional enough to review. I tried major brands as well as cheapos. Some were too long, up over the knee unless folded, then they formed a tight band that reminded me of a blood pressure cuff. Other contenders touted their compression panels and support. Compression? Sounds like a good way to cut off circulation and get cold feet. Oh, and cushioning on a ski sock? That’s simply a good way to make your boots feel sloppy and packed out. Still other socks I tried seemed to wear out unusually fast. Or if they didn’t wear out, I ended up with a matrix of harsh nylon that felt like steel wool.

Here is the deal with ski socks: a sock inside a ski boot need not do anything but form a thin comfortable interface between skin and boot liner, and hold up reasonably well. A little added warmth and odor control from wool is good too (that’s where they contribute to safety). All else is gimmickry.

So, here is a sock I think might be The Sock for me: Darn Tough Ski/Ride. Tall, but not too tall. Seamless, but no goofy stuff squeezing my feet. Thin, but not quite as thin as some dedicated ski socks. Durable? Anything can get a hole in it, but with an unconditional lifetime guarantee I’m not worrying too much about wear.

Darn Tough socks are made from 62% Merino wool, 34% nylon and a touch of Lycra. You can get other socks of that ilk, but somehow the Darn Tough version just seems to do it all while being unassuming, sort of like folks in Vermont, where they’re made. The formula is simple. They use a high stitch count so the wool is thin but dense, and they use a last that makes the sock fit snugly yet not like support hose. More, it appears the nylon content is some kind of yarn that blends well with wool instead of making the sock abrasive.

For some reason Darn Tough was off my radar. Luckily our production assistant, Joe Risi, visited the factory when he was in the NE a few weeks ago. He brought back samples. Now that I’ve had a chance to use the Darn Toughs for a few missions, I’m convinced. I’ll be sure and do a 100,000 mile report — and eat crow if these socks are not all I think they are. Meanwhile, a heads up for any of you guys and gals looking for backcountry skiing socks. Darn Tough might be The Sock.

Shop for the Darn Tough ultimate ski sock.

Comments

16 Responses to “The Socks — Darn Tough from Vermont”

  1. John Young November 27th, 2012 9:36 am

    Best, longest lasting, socks on the planet.

  2. Christian J November 27th, 2012 10:29 am

    Darn Tough socks are the best. I wore them for nearly 5 years while trail running and doing ultra’s before I tried the ski sock. They last forever and the only reason I have more than one pair is so I have a backup in case one is being laundered.

  3. Alex Kerney November 27th, 2012 10:33 am

    For some reason my feet destroy socks. I don’t get blisters or anything, just socks don’t seem to be able to exist between my feet and shoes or boots. My record is around 5 hours from a new pair of smartwools to having a holed pair (there may or may not have been a game of full contact tag in the airport with a member of congress).

    That said my first (and only pair at that time) of Darn Toughs lasted me for 5 years through a couple of 100 day seasons. I finally put a hole in em, posted how awesome it was that I got that much milage out of them, and got a response from the owner (I think within 24 hours) offering me a new pair.

    Damn, products that work and last + customer service, Darn Tough goes on the company short list.

    Only problem is that because they do work so well, I can’t just use the factory sale for Christmas shopping every year.

  4. Pieter November 27th, 2012 11:00 am

    I’ve yet to jump (back) into this skiing thing, but Lou, I dare say you’ve written a concise manifesto on how socks in the backcountry should work in general–at least as far as I’m concerned–regardless of application. Good patterns/lasts, high quality materials, preferably a wool blend, good, tight knits, uniform thickness (I REALLY don’t like these variable thickness socks…in anything; even dress shoes) and appropriate snugness. Anything more (or less?) than that tends to not work so well for me. As you said, gimmicky.

  5. Lou Dawson November 27th, 2012 11:18 am

    The worst ones are the socks with the big wad of “padding” in front of your shin. If you think you need that, a visit to the boot fitter is probably in order. But they’re probably an easy sell to the resort crowd with rental boots (grin). I’ve also tested some socks with “support” and “compression” that nearly caused instant frostbite due to impaired circulation. Lou

  6. DavidAldous November 27th, 2012 12:25 pm

    I’m sold in Darn Tough socks for skiing. I use the ultra thin ski socks. My only complaint has been that the toe seam has been uncomfortable for me at times when the sock is new. For me after a few wearing and washing cycles that problem went away. They are the only socks I ski in and I think their light hiking socks are some of the longest lasting ones I’ve used.

  7. Harry November 27th, 2012 2:25 pm

    Been wearing these for years.. I wear both the ultra light for skiing, and the cushion before and after (always dry socks on then boots, no sweaty feet from the car freezing my toes to start).

    My significant other was tired of my admonishing her for wearing my good socks around the house to keep her feet warm, as it contributed to them wearing thin prematurely.

    I got her a few pair to skate around the hardwood on, thinking I would use the warranty, but 4 years on they are still good. After that amount of time I might just buy new ones.

  8. K DOG from the Loaf November 27th, 2012 4:03 pm

    I have a range of Darn Tuffs for MTB and road cycling – bullet-proof – but where they shine the most – because its the most wool you will wear on your feet – is the SKI SOCK – I rotate through 4 pairs during 50+ days on the mtn every year.

    I know Lou’s description portrays a very Spartan style for our friend in the boot but I contest that it need not be an ambivalent piece of hosiery. Darn Tough socks make me psyched to put on my boots. Their designs are way cool and I feel like I’m donning woolen gear that is a good as the boots I’ve invested in and not some sad sock excuse.

    Bottom line – these socks just last and last – warm and comfortable – worth every nickel.

  9. Tim November 27th, 2012 6:00 pm

    Rare is the wildsnow post and comment thread that I wholeheartedly agree with, so just chalk this up as another thumb’s up for Darn Tough. Good socks, Made in (I heart) Vermont, awesome customer service and warranty. I wouldn’t think of buying another brand of sport socks — their running/hiking socks are great too.

  10. Daniel Dunn November 27th, 2012 9:14 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with everything that’s been said here, Darn Tough are the absolute bomb! I love mine, and can’t wait to pay full price for a few more pair. It’s rare I say that about anything. Darn Tough socks are that good.

  11. jw November 27th, 2012 9:18 pm

    my jh runner won a schwag pair of darn toughs a couple of years ago in a local trail race. every bit as good as the smart wools i’ve been in for 20+ years of bc skiing & trail running. oh & they’re from my old stompin’ grounds, the greens…. buy in bulk……

  12. Ryan November 28th, 2012 6:44 am

    While I haven’t tried their ski socks I have multiple pairs of running socks and a couple of hiking ones. Bullet proof and absolutely the only sock I wish to buy more of. THE BEST!

  13. jim knight November 28th, 2012 6:28 pm

    darn tough = damn good
    trail or ski, look no further.

  14. Matt November 29th, 2012 2:59 pm

    Just came across this case study of Darn Tough, on the Outdoor Industry Association web site. Sounds like they not only make good socks, but are good people. Makes me want to get a pair.

    http://www.outdoorindustry.org/pdf/OIA_CaseStudy_DarnToughVermont.pdf

  15. jim knight December 9th, 2012 12:21 pm

    Hey Lou, Now that you’ve covered the lowly (now elevated) ski sock, how about a review of the lowly glove liner? Oh how I wish Darn Tough made a simple glove liner as good as their ski sock. Hint, hint. Instead, we see too many lightweights trying to be both glove and liner, and failure.

  16. Caitlin November 10th, 2013 3:16 pm

    These socks are pure quality. My toes and feet are cold even in the summer. I choose to ski, hike, ride my horse, and sleep in this Vemont made sock. Vermont strong :-)

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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