ProView – Darn Tough Running Socks Review
I spent the last month and a half testing out socks from the Darn Tough running and hiking lines. My time was spent on the trails of Southcentral Alaska during the spring shoulder season with conditions ranging from single digit temperatures to soft, slushy snow. Having a sock that could keep my feet both dry and warm were vital to me being able to perform in these challenging conditions. My adventures varied from short runs down my local trails to hiking out and exploring glacial caves.
Darn Tough Running Socks
Product Name: Darn Tough Running Socks
Product Description: Darn Tough Vermont Socks are purpose built premium merino wool socks made in Vermont, USA. Our socks are guaranteed for life to be the best fitting, and most comfrotable.
Offer price: $22.00-$30.00 MSRP
Overall, I am very impressed with these socks and would recommend them to anyone who hikes or trail runs. I wish I had worked these into my running routine a long time ago and prevented many cases of cold, waterlogged feet. While only time will tell if they do hold up from breaking down in the high friction areas, I have no doubt these socks will help me get through many, many miles in the meantime.
- Moisture wicking
Running is a sport I took up in grade school and I have continued with it into my adult life where I have competed in distances ranging from 5ks to ultra-marathons. Several years ago, I swapped out my outdoor socks for merino wool socks for all activities except running. In school, we were only allowed to wear plain, white, cotton socks for training. The popular belief at the time was that plain socks were safer than dyed socks. I became acclimated to wearing plain, cotton socks on all but the coldest of runs and never thought to change this routine. (Yes, I even donned cotton socks for my marathons!) Having the opportunity to test these socks made me question this routine.
The current goal of my training is to get ready for my upcoming field work season. I used the socks for a combination of hiking and trail running. I wore the hiking socks, which are a bit heavier, for running when the temperatures dipped below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. They kept my toes at the perfect temperature. Above 20 degrees, I was able to transition to the thinner running socks. I am a person who naturally runs warm, so I appreciated having a thinner sock as the temperature rose. The hiking socks I found to be comfortable for hiking in temperatures above 20 degrees. I also used the running socks for a couple of hikes above freezing.
Consistent with their other performance lines, Darn Tough Run and Hike socks are well fitted and comfortable. I appreciate that these socks stay in place and never slouch down. It is always a disappointment to get into a good pace only to have to stop and adjust socks. The merino wool blend has a soft feel as opposed to the itchy feeling traditionally associated with wool. The hiking socks have a nice, thick cushion on the bottom. While I did hike a bit in the running socks without problems, I definitely missed the extra cushion when donning boots.
Darn Tough does a great job of balancing neutral colors with fun shades and has many different combinations to choose from. All of the socks I tested were the micro crew height stopping a few inches above my ankles and giving a classic athletic look. My favorite style point with the running socks is the turtle on one side and rabbit on the other. Any seasoned runner knows we all have fast days and slow days!
Though my favorite feature of these socks is the ability to wick away moisture allowing my feet to stay dry, warm, and help prevent blisters, several other well-thought-out features are built into these socks. The performance fit and arch support prevent the socks from slipping or bunching (they really do stay in place!), the “flex window” of less material where your foot moves the most prevents stride interference, the thin and lightweight design makes them ultra comfortable, and underfoot terry loops give enough cushion to help your socks stay fresh feeling during your long runs and hikes. I had more than one instance where I post holed into deep snow or ended up on mushy ground. The socks continued to perform flawlessly despite my poor choice in foot placement and resulting wet footwear.
Darn Tough’s claim to fame is how well their socks hold up. After all, they unconditionally guarantee them for life. This durability is the result of a blend of merino wool, nylon, and spandex. The running socks are made of 48% merino wool, 48% nylon, and 4% spandex, while the hiking socks are made of 59% merino wool, 39% nylon, and 2% spandex. Both types of socks held up well for the test period, though I did notice pilling on the high motion area between the ankle and heel of my running socks. I was concerned at how quickly this started, but the rate of pilling has leveled off and there is no sign the sock is wearing through at this point.
Friendliness to the Earth
Upon receiving my package with my new socks, I was prematurely disappointed to see them arrive in what I perceived to be a plastic bag. Upon further inspection, I realized my mistake. This packaging felt every bit as durable as plastic, but was made from plant materials. The note on the package describes it as “backyard compostable” stating that it will break down in about 6 months. The socks themselves were held together by cardboard. I love that there was not one piece of plastic in this packaging! Also, the fact that they build the socks to last for life means less going to the landfill overall. I hope to see many other companies follow suit with this type of packaging ingenuity.
The Final Word
Overall, I am very impressed with these socks and would recommend them to anyone who hikes or trail runs. I wish I had worked these into my running routine a long time ago and prevented many cases of cold, waterlogged feet. While only time will tell if they do hold up from breaking down in the high friction areas, I have no doubt these socks will help me get through many, many miles in the meantime. Do your feet a favor and invest in some high quality socks for all of your outdoor ventures!
Read more Darn Tough reviews here.
About the Gear Tester
Michelle currently resides in South Central Alaska and works as an environmental technician for the Native Village of Eklutna performing fish, wildlife, and habitat surveys in an effort to restore their historic lands to their traditional bounty. When not at work, you can fine her hiking, skiing, climbing, horseback riding, running, biking, hunting, fishing, or trying out new ways to explore the outdoors. She can be found on Instagram under michelle_ventures. To learn more about the river restoration project, visit eklutnariver.org.