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.
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.