If you’re looking for the highest-performing, most comfortable, and all-around best Darn Tough socks, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve put together a guide compiling everything you need to know about one of our favorite Merino wool sock companies.
Although, this isn’t your typical review guide. We’ve gone a little old-school (and overly complicated) with the structure of this review. Instead of just mundanely listing each product out, we’ve decided it’s best to cover different elements about what makes Darn Tough socks great. We literally could fill out the entire alphabet (and more), but we’ve provided you a bit of the highlight.
So, it’s back to the ABCs with the A-Z Guide To The Best Darn Tough Socks!
Disclaimer: To maintain genuineness and authenticity, Merino Wool Gear DOES NOT sponsor products. Yet as an Amazon Associate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
It sounds like such a faux-marketing phrase, right? All-weather performance. What does that even mean?
Well, I’d love to tell you that Darn Tough just uses the term to help sell socks, but I’d be lying to you. Honestly, their socks are as close as you can get to four-season, all-weather performance.
Many of their socks are crafted with Merino wool, regulating your microclimate no matter the outside temperature. They keep you warm in the wintery months while helping to cool you down in the summer. It’s just the nature of the fabric itself.
Apart from the material, Darn Tough has taken their sock knowledge to the next level with many engineered features. There’s a seamless toe box, targeted cushioning, mesh breathability zones, and so much more!
We’re only getting started. So, I’ll get more into these features in a bit.
No matter how technical the material may be, performance would be nothing without breathability.
Still, many companies use breathability as a marketing term rather than an actual property. In fact, I have fallen victim to this common farse every so often.
So, trust me when I say, no matter what your ‘feeling’ of breathability may be, the best Darn Tough socks are breathable.
Compression & Recovery
If you’re looking for medical-grade compression socks for diabetes, then I’ve got some bad news for you: none of Darn Tough’s socks are considered too compressive. But that’s just because they don’t want to make a fall advertising claim to fool their customers. Moreover, Darn Tough has an entire line of compression socks (typically over-the-calf) that aid in blood flow and recovery after a long day on the trail.
These obviously are not medical-grade compression, but they do aid in blood flow and promote muscle recovery. According to Rehab Mart, the standard pressure from high-pressure compression socks is 40-50 mm Hg. However, the Darn Tough compression socks are only 15-20 mm Hg, make them only lightly compressive. This slight pressure aids blood flow to the heart, especially after a tiresome day on the trails.
To be completely honest, the only time I’ve ever used compression socks is after a long international flight. However, I plan to bring them in my pack on the next hiking trip to test my recovery speed.
Merino wool by itself is rather delicate. Thus, Darn Tough incorporates synthetic materials like nylon, polyester, and spandex to improve overall durability. But the fabric itself is not the only reason Darn Tough socks are so, well, darn tough. It’s attention to detail.
Darn Tough socks are durable due to their unique knitting technique. They knit on a fine-gauge knitting machine using a small needle. There, the higher-density stitching reduces bulkiness while improving durability, comfort, and fit.
Moreover, Darn Tough uses some of the best Merino wool on the market. Unlike other companies, they don’t blend the wool with synthetics but rather reinforce the sock’s exterior with synthetics. This not only improves next-to-skin comfort but provides an armor-like structure for the soft Merino.
“Throw in 3 generations of knitting know-how, and you get one darn tough sock!”
Above all, it’s the knowledge of the sock industry that makes Darn Tough socks great. The self-proclaimed ‘sock nerds’ create one of the most durable socks we own. Their luxurious materials and technique are nothing without their knowledge.
Expensive But Worth It
If you are perusing our gear shop or just checking out Darn Tough’s collection, you may be appalled when you see the price. Over $20 for one pair of socks? You have to be joking, right?
Well, we’re not joking. Most of Darn Tough’s performance socks cost $20+ for midweight crews and up, and anywhere above $15+ for ultralight athletic socks. We know it seems ridiculous t first to shell out that kind of money for only one pair of socks, but here’s the thing: these socks will literally last you a lifetime.
Again, this is not a figure of speech; Darn Tough believes in their craftsmanship so much that they offer a lifetime guarantee on every pair of their socks. So, if you purchase five pairs of socks for $100 total, you’ll never need to rebuy another pair of socks. Now that’s a fantastic deal!
It’s difficult to describe the feeling of Darn Tough socks on your feet. Seriously, I know you’re probably thinking, “then why would they even talk about foot feel.”
But hear me out: the only thing I can honestly say is that these socks fit and feel different from any other socks you’ve worn before.
They are supportive but not too tight. Warm but not too hot. Protective but not bulky. It’s really a whole new ballgame when it comes to the foot feel department.
You may not hear this from other reviews, but the sock comfort aspect I enjoy the most is the feeling of contact with my shoe insole. I tend to hike many technical terrains, so I must maintain enough surface area, with minimal slippage, to improve balance and reduce blisters. Wearing these socks is one of the closest feeling I get to not wearing socks but with all the added benefits.
And that’s what good socks should feel like, right? Like you’re wearing no socks at all!
Gentle Cycle Only
While Darn Tough’s Merino wool socks are built for the rugged outdoors, they don’t do well in the turbulent laundry cycle. Even though the wool is blended with more durable materials like nylon and polyester, the washing machine’s intensity can damage the fibers.
This is why Darn Tough suggests only wash their socks in a gentle cycle. Here are their exact recommendations from their FAQ page.
“Machine wash in warm water on gentle cycle with socks inside-out. Do not bleach. Tumble dry on low. Do not dry clean.”
Note: Improper care may void Darn Tough’s Lifetime Guarantee, so be sure to strictly follow their care instructions.
Even though Darn Tough says it’s okay to tumble dry on low, we always avoid the dryer at all costs. Wool has a tendency to shrink in the presence of heat, and as their socks can be a bit expensive, you don’t want to ruin them by carelessly running them on the wrong dryer setting.
For more Darn Tough care instructions – and all wool apparel – you can check out our comprehensive Merino care guide.
Hiker’s Dream Sock
Serious hikers often hold staunch opinion’s about gear. Some swear by carrying an ultralight tarp/bivvy set up for maximum mileage. In contrast, others prefer a double-walled silnylon shelter to improve comfort. If you don’t understand any of these terms, that’s alright. The point is, these outdoorsmen – and outdoorswomen – take their hiking gear seriously, and they don’t often agree.
Well, except on one thing: Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Socks.
The Merino wool blend construction keeps your feet warm and odor-free on the trail. The cushioning saves your feet. Oh yeah, the form-fit and zero seams reduce blisters and irritation. I honestly wear them when I’m not on the trail.
The best part is that Darn Tough makes multiple variations if you don’t like one specific aspect of these socks. So, if you want a lighter cushion or fabric for summer hiking, they make the Light Hiker Micro Crew. If you think the micro crew height is too tall, they make the same sock in a 1/4 crew height. Basically, there is a version of their popular hiking sock for every type of individual. Thus, you can enjoy nature and hike your own hike.
And that’s one thing all hikers can agree upon.
Darn Tough is a US-based company, but they understand that their socks are sought-after by adventurers around the world. Still, you cannot ship internationally directly from their site. But, several official Darn Tough retailers offer overseas shipping. Here are three of our favorites:
- Amazon (country-specific)
- Vermont Country Store
Note: We haven’t fully covered Darn Tough’s comprehensive lifetime warranty yet. But, if you’re looking to replace your socks from another country, it’s best to file a warranty claim within the original country of purchase. Darn Tough is more than willing to guide you through the process, but you may have to cover international shipping charges out of pocket.
Jarvis, Morgan, & Tuttle
For being a small state tucked away in the Northeastern US, Vermont has a rich history. They have the Hardy Boys, Bernie Sanders, and Ben & Jerry’s. Darn Tough is proud of their Vermont heritage. So much so that they have incorporated the names of famous Vermonters in many of their socks. Here are three of our favorites.
In the early 19th century, American merchant and innovator William Jarvis led the charge that brought Merino sheep to Vermont. This led to Merino mania, as their wool was the softest and most comfortable on the market. Darn Tough created this midweight work sock dedicated to Jarvis so that you can stay comfortable on the job all day long.
The Morgan horse – one of the oldest breeds in the US – is Vermont’s state animal. Known for its versatility, this majestic animal is a staple in a variety of equestrian events. As with the horse breed, Darn Tough’s Morgan Lifestyle sock is versatile enough to fit into all aspects of your life.
A folk legend from Turnbridge, Vermont, Fred Tuttle was a charismatic farmer and subject of the mockumentary Man with a Plan. After a fake run for senate, the down-to-earth Vermonter became a cult legend. Darn Tough’s Tuttle work sock honors the man who Vermont US Senator Patrick Leahy called “the distilled essence of Vermonthood.”
You know Darn Tough products are legit when scammers try to copy them exactly. These scammers are selling products on Amazon under the Darn Tough brand without approval from the company itself. It’s important to note if you’re buying legit Darn Tough socks or some cheap imitator’s knock-offs. Here’s a quick guide, much of which can be found on DT’s site.
How To Spot A Fake: Packaging
Although Darn Tough has recently updated their packaging, you can typically spot a fake right away from the box. There will be two style and sizing stickers on the front (top right) and back (bottom right) of the package. Authentic Darn Tough sticks also contain a UPC (barcode) on these stickers. Some of the counterfeit products print this information on the box rather than an actual sticker.
Next, all of Darn Tough’s information on the box is spelled correctly, so if you see a grammatical mistake, it may be a fake.
How To Spot A Fake: On The Sock
There are two tell-tale signs that your DT socks are fake. First is the extra threading on the inside and the Darn Tough insignia near the toe box. Second is the registered symbol commission on the Darn Tough name. Let’s take a visual look at both examples.
Extra Threading Inside Logo
“In fact, if the inside of the sock looks like a bad case of bed head with yarn going every which way, it is likely not the real deal. We keep it tight.”
Omission of ® Symbol
Maybe if it’s for copyright reasons, or the counterfeiters aren’t paying close attention. But, if you see a missing register symbol, you may want to seek a refund ASAP.
How To Spot A Fake: Amazon Authorized Sellers
Most of us do our online shopping on Amazon, which is why counterfeiters thrive on the platform. Darn Tough has released a list of authorized Amazon sellers (see below) to combat this issue. If you’re more into the traditional shopping experience, they also have an authorized brick-and-mortar store finder.
- Darn Tough Vermont
- Dearborn Supply
- Gear Coop
- Outdoor Gear Exchange (GearX)
- Go Bros
- Lone Cone
- Shoe Annex
- Sole Provisions
- Outdoor Equipped
- Marathon Sports
Finally, suppose you have any questions or concerns about the authenticity of your Darn Tough socks. In that case, you can always reach out to them via their support email. Or, you can reach out to us, and we will make sure you’re taking the proper steps – pun intended.
Note: Merino Wool Gear is not an authorized seller of any Darn Tough products. In fact, we don’t sell any products. We just provide objective information based on experience and expertise to lead you into better purchasing decisions. It’s just how we roll.
“In a nutshell, if you wear a hole in them, we will replace them free of charge, for life.”
Seriously. It’s a lifetime guarantee. Darn Tough believes in their products so much that they will replace them for free, for life. How crazy is that?
I could ramble on about the fantastic customer service or dive deep into why these socks will last forever, but it’s not that complex. It’s a simple lifetime guarantee for every pair of socks.
However, there are three situations in which the warranty does not cover: bites, burns, and lost socks. So, don’t let Fido go to town are roast your feet over a campfire. Other than that, Darn Tough has you covered for life.
“You can make the argument that if I buy one pair of socks at $20, I will never have to buy that style of sock again.”
Marc & Ric Cabot
Father & Son Darn Tough Founders Marc & Ric Cabot inside Cabot Hosiery Mills. Photo Credit: Vermont Business Magazine
Without the Cabot family, there would be no Darn Tough. There would be no lifetime warranty. Moreover, there wouldn’t be such a large community of adventures in love with Merino wool socks.
In 1978, Marc Cabot founded Cabot Hosiery Mills, and his son Ric joined the payroll in 1989. They primarily made socks for clothing retailers like GAP. But in the early 2000s, most of these companies moved to overseas manufacturing around that time. Thus, Darn Tough was stuck owing bills with no clients but a world of sock expertise.
In 2004, Ric Cabot led the drive to create the world’s most durable sock, launching the Darn Tough brand. They make all of their socks in their home of Vermont (which we’ll get into next) and take pride in the fact that they are sock nerds.
It’s not your typical success story, to be honest. But with hard work, knowledge, and a strive for excellence, Darn Tough is the embodiment of the customers they serve: they’re Darn Tough!
Northfield, Vermont. Photo Source: Trip Advisor
Darn Tough: the essence of the Green Mountain state.
Located in the heart of the Green Mountains, the small city of Northfield, Vermont, is home to our favorite Made-in-the-USA brand. Darn Tough has called the 6,000-person town home for nearly half a century. They are so prevalent that they are the second biggest employer in town—the first being Norwich University.
The vast surrounding mountains offer the ultimate testing ground for all of Darn Tough’s products. But, the state of Vermont means much more to the brand than you can imagine.
Darn Tough is Vermont. Vermont is Darn Tough. Here’s a brief video of how they keep their production facility running in Northfield.
Okay, you may not believe us on this one, but it’s the truth. Darn Tough Merino wool socks DO NOT STINK! It doesn’t matter if you have the nastiest smelling feet in the world; the odor-fighting properties of wool will keep your socks smelling fresh.
Let’s take a quick science lesson so you can understand wool’s exceptional odor resistance. Bacteria on your skin digest the nutrients in your sweat, thus emitting a foul odor (which is why your feet stink in the first place). With traditional synthetic or cotton socks, this odor gets trapped in the fabric. But since Merino wool’s microstructure holds moisture, the smell gets trapped in the water vapor and not the material itself. Thus, your socks – and any other Merino wool garment – will stay fresher for longer.
Pretty cool, right? Darn Tough products aren’t the only Merino wool products that don’t stink. So, if you want to learn more, check out our guide on the best socks for stinky feet!
Padding & Cushioning
Socks are socks, right? Well, if you’re buying products from the same place you buy groceries, this may be the case. But Darn Tough makes socks for high-performance in all aspects of your life. They have several different cushioning levels for better comfort: No cushion, light cushion, and full cushion.
When you think about cushioning, you may envision an added foam material of some sort, but that’s what is referred to as padding. The cushioning is created by knitting terry loops in high-impact areas. In other words, there is a towel-like texture on the bottom of the foot to aid in stress reduction. It’s a pretty advanced knitting technique, and we love how Darn Tough takes pride in this craft.
Now, if you’re looking for additional padding, Darn Tough does offer a few options. You typically see the added padding around the shin, which helps to reduce chafing from ski & snowboard boots. Take a look at some of their targeted padding socks below.
Merino wool is not as quick-dry as its synthetic competitors. But that’s one of the main reasons that it is odor-proof. Still, if you’re out on the trail, you want to keep your feet as dry as possible. Luckily, Darn Tough socks dry quickly.
I just take them, tie them to my backpack and let the sun do the work.
But, if you’re a Darn Tough traveler, you may not always have the convenient option of hang-drying your socks. So, if you’re on the road and need to do laundry, we suggest flat-drying these socks.
Basically, you lay the washed socks on a towel, which you then can sandwich together. Put a mild weight (like a backpack) on top of the towel for 10-15 minutes. Your socks will dry out quickly as the towel absorbs excess water. Now, you’ll still have plenty of time to catch your flight.
Returns & Exchanges
As with most of this write-up, Darn Tough says it best:
“If our socks are not the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you have ever owned, return them for another pair. No strings. No conditions. Socks guaranteed for life.”Darn Tough Warranty Page
If you want to initiate a return or exchange for a new size, make sure to fill out the proper form on Darn Tough’s website. I’ve included the links to the initial forms below if you want to start a warranty claim with Darn Tough.
Sustainability & Ethics
Most Merino wool is sourced ethically and sustainably. Yet, there is still work to be done to make the process more environmentally friendly. Darn Tough recognizes the challenges of their brand and is fully transparent about their material usage and ethical practices.
For one, they source all of their Merino wool via Woolmark Certification. Thus, ensuring the sheep are treated fairly and the thread is high quality. For the rest of their materials, Darn Tough even provides exact numbers for their consumption. It outlines their plan to utilize more sustainable yarn in the future.
It’s refreshing to see a company go through the extra hoops to provide accurate and reliable information to their customers. And that’s why we love Darn Tough in the first place. They admit their shortcomings and are willing to invest in their product to create the best socks in the world. It’s truly inspiring.
If you would like to learn more about the sustainability and ethics of Merino wool, we’ve put together two comprehensive guides. We must acknowledge both sides when it comes to Merino wool’s environmental and societal impact.
Thermolite® & Coolmax® Technology
We are a website dedicated to Merino wool. Still, we would be doing you a disservice if we didn’t talk about Darn Tough’s use of both Theromlite® and CoolMax® Technology.
These specialized, enhanced fabrics are crafted from synthetic polyester by LYCRA – whom Darn Tough also uses for their spandex material. Let’s take a closer look at each.
Thermolite is crafted to provide maximum insulation against your body without making the fabric too heavy to hinder performance. That delicate balance of warmth vs. weight is necessary for all-day comfort and protection. Thermolite has hollow synthetic fibers which create tiny air pockets, helping to shield your skin from the frigid outside temperatures. It’s an exciting fabric innovation, and you can learn more over on LYCRA’s website.
CoolMax is self-explanatory: this fabric offers maximum cooling power. It’s a polyester blend, which allows for better moisture-wicking and drying, thus, cooling you off in the process. To be completely honest, I much prefer Darn Tough’s woolen socks to their CoolMax line. But again, it’s all about personal preference.
Ultralight to Heavyweight
Growing up, I thought there were only two types of socks: regular and winter.
I honestly had no clue that there was such a vast world of socks, especially when it comes to the weight of the fabric. When it comes to Darn Tough, they offer four distinct fabric weights for their socks: ultralight, lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight.
It seems simple enough, but since I like to overcomplicate things, I’ve taken their fabric weights a step further. Most of our fabric comparisons are in terms of fabric density, so it’s better to stay true to our review metrics. I took known weight (ultralight, lightweight, etc.) darn tough socks and compared their thicknesses to known weight (GSM) clothing. So, if you’re confused about which material thickness for your socks, you at least have a baseline of comparison below.
|Darn Tough Fabric Weight||Approximate GSM fabric weight|
|Ultralight||130 – 170|
|Lightweight||175 – 215|
|Midweight||220 – 280|
|Heavyweight||280 – 350|
This not-so-fancy measurement may not seem that important at first. But when you are purchasing expensive socks for a specific purpose, you need as much information as you can get. For instance, midweight socks may be great for fall hiking but may not be suited for summer trail running. So, if you understand the warmth and breathability of each yarn weight, you can better gauge your purchasing decisions.
Note: The fabric weight is nearly independent of the cushioning and padding levels of the sock. Although, there are some combinations of fabric weights and cushion levels that Darn Tough does not manufacture together.
Variety. Lots of Variety
I used to think socks came in four different styles: two colors (black & white) and two heights (short & tall). Maybe it was just my upbringing, but even as I started getting into Merino wool, I thought socks should still be basic. But, Darn Tough’s immense – and necessary – put me onto a whole new outlook when it comes to foot fashion.
Each one of Darn Tough’s 100+ sock styles is meant for a specific activity. Some are built for high-impact hiking, while others are crafted for everyday comfort. Darn Tough offers different colors within each performance category (typically three to five color options per style). For example, the previously mentioned Hiker Micro Crew socks come in denim, black, gray, and taupe.
These colors aren’t just limited to your basic neutral pallet, either. There are wild designs and color schemes throughout Darn Tough’s entire collection. If we had to pick a favorite sock style, it would be the Number 2 Micro Crews forest silhouette. It’s minimalistic and straightforward but ever so unique.
However, the wide variety of styles and performance levels often leaves me second-guessing myself at checkout. Like, did I really choose the right sock? Is there something better that I’m missing out on? Yet, I’ve always been satisfied once I receive the socks because they consistently exceed my expectations no matter the style.
Note: Don’t become overwhelmed if you see too many styles available. Instead, check out Darn Tough’s Sock Finder tool to help you pick out the best pair of socks for your activity level and comfort. The more personalized your buying decision, the more likely you will be satisfied with your purchase.
Warmest (And Coolest) Darn Tough Socks
I’ll admit, I have horrible circulation, and my feet often get cold, even in the summer. Therefore, I like to wear thicker socks when I’m hanging out at home or in the office (where the air conditioning is way too cold). Darn Tough’s midweight class of socks usually regulates my foot temperature the best. But, on those chilly winter mornings walking the dogs, or the occasional alpine summit, I need something much, much warmer.
Enter Darn Tough’s warmest socks: their Hike/Trek Mountaineering line.
Not only is the heavyweight fabric 25% thicker than their standard cushion, but the over-the-calf height provides more thermal coverage. The material comprises nearly 3/4 Merino wool, which makes them excellent at regulating temperature in cold-weather, high-movement activities. You’d be surprised at how breathable these mountaineering socks are too! You can also check out our full review of the best heavyweight Merino wool socks here.
If you’re not worried about warmth at all, then Darn Tough still has you covered.
On the other end of the spectrum, the lightest socks that Darn Tough creates are manufactured with ultralight fabric. These are best for running or any athletic activity where maximizing your feeling of contact with the ground can enhance performance.
XS to XXL
Thank goodness! I’m so glad that we have something for ‘X’ in this A-Z guide. In fact, I didn’t even have to stretch the name to something like ‘Xtra savings’ or ‘Xcellent customer service.’ In this case, the ‘X’ fits just right as it represents the myriad of available Darn Tough sock sizes – from XS to XXL.
So, if you’ve got tiny feet or have been mistaken for a sasquatch, Darn Tough has a sock that will fit you. For quick reference, their XS men’s socks fit a US shoe size of 2.5 – 5 (35 – 37.5 EU), while their XXL fits a US shoe size of 15 – 17 (50 – 53 EU). Still, as most of the population fits within these two extremes, we’ve put together a complete list of sizing charts for Darn Tough socks for your reference.
Also, just a heads up, if you think the sizing is wrong on your socks, you can always check the inside of the cuff. For example, a pair of large socks will have an “L” stitched into each sock’s cuff. It’s not a left-right kind of thing, as all of Darn Tough’s socks are ambipedal (it’s an actual word, look it up!).
Youth Sizes Included
In my search for Merino wool gear for myself and my family, I’ve noticed that there aren’t many gear options for my son. He has the same innate love for the outdoors as I have always had. At 18-months, he was even throwing his sneakers at me to go outside despite being a frigid Northeast February.
As for these Merino brands, there may be a shirt or two for kids, but many of them cater only to adult adventurers. They often neglect next-of-kin apparel when it comes to next-to-skin comfort.
However, Darn Tough knows that it’s better to enjoy good socks as a family, and they offer many of their more popular styles in youth sizes. While they only have 16 total socks listed for kids on their website, they are constantly adding new products for all ages. Here are two of our favorite Darn Tough socks for kids.
Note: Make sure to consult size charts for each specific product, even in youth sizes. Not all socks are made the same, and since your little one is growing, you’ll want to make sure you get the most out of their Darn Tough socks before they outgrow them.
Zero Seams, Infinite Comfort
There’s nothing more slightly annoying than sock seam irritation. The uncomfortable feeling of a bulging seam rubbing on the top of your toes can ruin any pair of socks, no matter how good the rest of your foot feels. It’s like having a rock in your shoe, but there is no way to get it out.
Darn Tough knows this feeling and uses proprietary True Seamless™ Technology in their socks. There is no rubbing, no itching, no annoyance, and no irritation. It’s simply an infinite feeling of comfort across the entire surface area of your feet.
In my opinion (which is often biased, mind you), their most comfortable sock is the Men’s Hiker Quarter Midweight Hiking Sock. Unlike the Hiker Micro Crew that I elaborated upon earlier, the Hiker Quarter feels better on my ankle since I like a lower profile on the trail. It’s really about personal taste when it comes down to it, but if you are interested in examining my favorite Darn Tough sock, take a look below!
Final Note About The Best Darn Tough Socks
I like to stay objective with all my reviews, but I honestly can’t help but fanboy at Darn Tough’s expertise.
As you just read, their extensive knowledge of the sock industry is second to none. They listen to the needs of their customers, crafting products for specific requirements. From high-performing athletic endeavors, standard crews, and even compression technology, Darn Tough should be your go-to sock for any occasion. And we mean it – a sock for every single occasion.
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