I converted my wife to Darn Tough socks a while back…now she’s hounding me to buy her a boat load for Christmas. She keeps coming back from her runs saying, “Don, you have to get me more of these socks.” The right answer to that is “Yes dear.”
I know they’re good cause I wear them too, but when my wife says their good….trust me folks it ain’t worth arguing about.
Are Darn Tough Socks Worth It?
In my humble opinion, Yes. I’m not as fanatical about them as my wife, but my experience concurrs with her opinion too. I’ve owned Darn Tough socks well before I ever I started reviewing durable products for this blog.
Darn Tough didn’t become a benchmark brand in the buy it for life community overnight. They also didn’t make #1 on our list of Top Clothing Warrantees without good reason.
Darn Tough earned their reputation for premium quality and durability over the long haul.
Reasons I think Darn Tough Socks are worth considering
- Unconditionally guaranteed for life
- Saves money in the long run
- Seriously uncanny ability to remain fresh(Merino Wool)
- Excellent thermal properties in cold and hot
- Extremely durable
- Precision constructed(1441 stitches/inch)
- Comfortable fit and premium feel
- Peace of mind/high owner satisfaction
- Higher initial price(pays off later)
- Hang dry instead of dryer
- Pet hair on floors clings on
- Need more flat black/white/grey colours in their lineup
Now, for a guy like me who doesn’t like wasting money on junky products, the idea of never having to buy another pair of socks is pretty tempting.
In fact, quality and durability is what this whole website is about. I investigate and review the world’s toughest and best warranted products.
If your obsessed with researching your purchases and prefer quality over quantity, you’ll probably benefit from my like-minded research by signing up for my occasional recommendations:
What’s in this Darn Tough Socks Review?
- Company Overview
- Standout Features
- Unconditional Warranty Explained
- Hand’s On Men’s socks
- Hand’s On Women’s socks
- Common FAQ’s
- Specific Sock Recommendations
Company Profile: Darn Tough Vermont
Darn Tough has been family owned and operated for 40 years. Up in the hills of Northfield, Vermont they’ve been refining and field testing their socks for two things: Durability and comfort.
Frankly, I don’t know of any companies as fanatical about socks as Darn Tough.
Of course, you don’t get a solid reputation in an industry by cutting corners/“economizing.” During the 1990’s Darn Tough doggedly refused to outsource manufacturing as most other clothing companies were pouring offshore in a glut to reap larger profit margins.
Instead they went against the trend, stayed upmarket and now produce some of the world’s best socks. In doing so they built a name for themselves.
These are the kind of companies I encourage folks to support. So what if it costs a bit extra? Companies like Darn Tough deserve to be rewarded for supporting our economy and producing top quality products.
Similar companies that come to mind are Buck Knives, Earnest Wright & Son’s Scissors(UK), KeyBar key organizers, Mr. Lentz Leather etc.
You can check out the “Categories” menu above where you’ll find plenty of other worthy companies.
Darn Tough’s entire manufacturing process happens under one roof. Rick Cabot and his Father who own Darn Tough can step out of their Northfield, Vermont office and oversee every angle of their business at a moments notice.
That’s huge for quality control. Try outsourced your production to China and doing that! Who the heck knows what’s going on in a factory 5000 miles away? Hat’s off to Darn Tough on this one for sticking close to home.
Ric Cabot, says “we put just as much care into the finishing process as they do in manufacturing process itself.” So, What does the finishing process look like?
Firstly, socks are inspected for any defect as soon as they come off the knitting machines. This is followed by mechanical stretching of the socks.
I’m no expert, but it appears they are stretched as a kind of “breaking in” process as well as to check durability and integrity of stitching.
Next, the socks are “boarded.” This means they’re fitted over templates to insure they are a perfect fit for their size specs and defect free.
Finally, the socks are sent to packaging where they undergo a finally inspection and any thread ends from the knitting machines are trimmed off.
Multi-tier quality control systems like this remind me of airport security. You’ll never make it to your plane without at least three ID checks. Similarly, the more redundant checks a production system has, the better the end product will be.
Main Features of Darn Tough Socks
All of Darn Tough’s socks(except a few sports socks) are primarily made with Merino wool.Merino is prized for its durable and favourable thermal properties in temperature extremes.
If you have trouble with odour or sweaty feet, Merino wool is a God-send. During a recent 7 day trip I wore a pair for 3 days and they actually still smelled new!
It kinda freaked me out. Obviously results will vary, but, but how is this possible?
Apparently merino wool has great anti-microbial and moisture wicking properties that will really help keep your feet cool and dry. It also dries very quickly when wet which is great after a long day on the trail.
Next time I take a 7 day trip, I’ll save space in my carryon and just pack three pairs of Darn Toughs. It really was remarkable.
Merino wool isn’t cheap its a premium material. For instance, Merino Icebreaker Tshirts start at over $50.(Check Amazon Pricing). The average for Darn Tough socks is around $20.
Although I can’t verify it, Darn Tough says they are very picky about their sources for wool. They hand pick humane suppliers in the USA, Europe and “Oceania(a assume New Zealand/Australia)”
Optional extra cushioning:
Long days in steel toed boots are made more comfortable while staying warmer on cold winter days. Every bit of padding helps especially when working on concrete surfaces.
Fit and Comfort:
Switching to Darn Tough from Hanes is a noticeable upgrade. For interests sake I wore a Hanes sock on my left foot and a Darn Tough hiker on the other for a day.
Aside from a weird look from a friend, I noticed that my “Hanes foot” was definitely more clammy and sweaty. It was generally less comfortable than my “Darn Tough foot.” It wasn’t an extreme difference, but it was noticeable.
According to Darn tough, they use state of the art 168 needle knitting machines using a very fine guage of merino yard.I have no idea how they’re able to create virtually invisible reinforced seams.
The socks are further reinforced inside in and out with nylon and lycra stitching.This adds comfort and durability.
There’s no doubt that the secret to the durability of these socks is in the stitching. Their socks are knitted with a staggering 1441 stiches per square inch using super fine needles.
This can only be appreciated under a macro lens so I decided to compare the stitching on a standard Hanes sock vs. a Darn Tough. As you’ll see the difference is very notable.
Using finer threads and tighter stitching allows a much higher density and strength without adding bulk.You’ll notice the stitching is much cleaner too. This, in essence, is why Darn Toughs are more robust and durable. All this does at to their cost, but you get what you pay for.
Unconditional Lifetime Guarantee
A while back I audited the very best warranties in the clothing industry. Darn Tough Sock’s came out on top. Companies like Eddie Bauer, Lands End, and Outdoor Research also made the list.
Darn Tough’s warrantee is truly insane. No one in the clothing industry dares to go as far as they do. I have to admit, its a major selling point for me.
In fact, Darn Tough’s Guarantee is more like an insurance policy than a warrantee.
It reads in part:
“Our unconditional lifetime guarantee is simple and without strings or conditions. 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. For life.”
So, basically if you ever wear them out, just send them in and they’ll replace them. They’re guaranteed for life with no strings attached.
Hand’s On Impressions
Men’s Perspective (Me)
I recently took Darn Tough’s Full Cushion Work Socks out for a test drive while helping a friend remove junk from his rental property for a day.
Four of us hauled old furniture, scrap metal and couches all morning and when I took my boots off at his front door for lunch my feet were still not sweaty or sore.
After lunch one of the guys pointed at my socks and said, “Nice socks.” When I told them what they were and that I was actually testing them out, they peppered me with questions for the next 10 minutes.
One of the things they liked about the socks was their looks. The bold Hi-Vis orange toe offset with black Darn Tough logo stitching kinda makes it look like the ultimate work sock.
The guys also liked the extra cushioning for steel toe applications especially in winter. The idea of “buy it for life socks” was a new concept for them, I think they liked it.
As I mentioned earlier, my very first impression with these socks the great comfort and fit. I don’t quite know how explain it, but it’s something like wrapping your foot in very soft towel. If you turn the socks inside out you’ll see why.
The compact stitching creates a rich of bed tiny towel-like loops that gives your foot a 360 degree hug of love. Yes, I said it. A foot hug of love.
I’m not used to enjoying luxury. I’m not a diva. Luxury is often a nice perk of choosing durable products, so I’ll take it!
For this Darn Tough socks review I followed the sizing chart(see end of article) and they fit perfectly. No lumps, offset heels or space at the toe. Darn Tough emphasizes the importance of correct sizing because it directly affects durability.
Durability: Jury is still out on this, but confidence is high. Anecdotally, hardcore trekkers claim up to 700 abusive miles per pair before trading them in.
That said, mine will last way longer than that. It’s no wonder Darn Tough is the go-to brand for backpackers and trekkers.
Looks: I struggled a little more on this one mainly because I’m a boring guy, and I’m not impressed by “whizz-BANG” style.
Darn Tough certainly has all kinds of that going on if you’re into that. They have some pretty bold designs and colours. Selection is huge though, so there’s plenty of options to choose a unique look for yourself.
Designs: My preferred designs are the hikers and work socks with extra steel toe cushioning. I’m all for the rugged utilitarian thing and they fit my purposes well. My wife, on the other hand, prefers the running socks but also has a pair of hikers.
A Lady’s Perspective(My Wife Erin)
My wife, Erin has a diagnosed health issue with her blood circulation(Raynaud’s disease). The main symptom is poor circulation to her extremities resulting in poor temperature regulation in her feet and hands. Cooler weather is especially hard on her.
As part of this Darn Tough socks review I was interested to find out her impressions regarding the claims that the Merino wool in Darn Tough socks have excellent temperature regulation properties. This is big deal for my wife.
Erin wound up loving them so much she wore the same pair of her Running Vertex ultra-lights for 3 days straight! This included workouts, house work, dog walks, and work.
Here’s Erin’s feedback:
Comfort? Very comfy, my feet stayed comfortable and didn’t sweat, get cold, smell or get clammy even after 3 days on non-stop use.
Fit? The sizing chart worked perfectly, the socks fit just right. No slippage, bunching, or weird lumps at the toe.
Looks? I love the variety of flashy colours available.I think they’re fresh and unique without looking stupid.
Overall? Their great. Comfy, durable, well fitted and great looking. I did notice a bit of pilling going on though. Most of all, with my circulation issues, these socks made a huge difference in regulating the temperature of my feet. If you have Raynaud’s, these socks really helped cut my symptoms. I’d like to look into some dressier versions too.
How much to Darn Tough Socks Cost? Average cost is around $20 USD/pair. Some versions are less some more expensive. Yeah its hefty, but quality comes at a cost.
Are Darn Tough Socks worth the extra cost? I think so. Essentially you are getting a lifetime replacement guarantee on one of the highest wear and tear items in your wardrobe.
Think about never having pay to replace your socks ever again.It pays off in the long run, but you also get the added luxury and satisfaction of a super comfy socks right now.
How thick are the Darn Tough Socks?These aren’t the wool socks your grandma knitted. The super fine yarn Darn Tough employs now means that the bulkiness associated with wool is thing of the past. Thickness is now selected depending on application.
For instance, my wifes vertex runner’s are ultra light and you’d never guess they these sports socks were 41% Merino wool. Technology has come a long way.
Is the Merino Wool in Darn Tough socks scratchy? Not at all. Quite the opposite. Don’t ask me the science behind it, but they are way softer than my Walmart socks.
Do Darn Tough socks shrink? All Darn Tough socks are preshrunk and are sized according to your shoe size.That said, you are supposed to warm wash them and either tumble dry on low or line dry.So it stands to reason it’s possible.
Who Are Darn Tough socks for?
- Anyone struggling with cold or sweaty feet.
- Helps Folks with poor circulation
- high impact sports
- tough work environments.
- extreme climates- Merino wool does great in temperature extremes and wet environments.
What about Darn Tough’s Warranty Service, Is it good? I haven’t had to make a claim yet, and I haven’t heard or read any major complaints in my research for this Darn Tough sock’s review.
The claim process is pretty straight forward. Just fill in the online form and send in the socks.
They’ll process your claim in about 3 days and send you a new pair after your old socks arrive. Not bad.(Note: they don’t cover lost socks, and purposeful damage like puppy damage etc.)
Warning: Beware of Counterfeits!
Sadly there are plenty of knockoffs circulating. So beware of insane deals on “darn tough socks” they’re likely counterfeit.
Darn tough has a tutorial on how to spot counterfeits.
Top Socks by Darn Tough
After doing this Darn Tough socks review, these are my top recommendations. These socks will serve you well for the rest of your life so it’s worth choosing a timeless style.
Remember, its important to choose the perfect fit so consult the sizing chart at end of this article first.
Work/Hike: Hiker Boot Sock Cushion: A darling of backpackers and trekkers, this sock is a best seller and won the Backpackers Editors Choice Gold Award. Definetly a must have. You can price check it here on Amazon.
Casual: Garden Crew Light. A nice light sock designed for chilling out. Virtually undetectable seams means you’ll practically forget you put them on.
So, whether you’re hitting the mall or chilaxing on the deck these comfy everyday socks won’t let you down. Available in multiple designs. Price check it on Amazon.
Sport: Running Vertex No Show tab ultra-light: A top choice for an athletics and fitness sock. They’re durable, light, low cut, and stay cool throughout your workout routine.
Work: Work Full Cushion Toe Can hard work and luxury go together? Not often. But in this case, Yes. As As I mentioned earlier, I loved these socks. Great for long hours in steel toed boots, cold weather and concrete floors. These are WellRigged.com’s editors choice.
Sport: Tab No show light cushion: A great choice for whatever athletic endeavors you’d like to tackle. Light, understated and rugged. These guys will wick away sweat and keep running cool.
Hike: Hike micro crew cushion is well known and respected among hard core trekkers, these are the go-to socks for long days on the trail. The extra cushion is a major upgrade for your tired feet.
Darn Tough’s Warmest Sock: Mens Mountaineering Socks/ Womens Mountaineering Socks. The thickest, warmest socks Darn Tough makes. These are over-the-calf socks and provide extra cushioning for the entire foot and leg. The Mountaineering Sock is 25% thicker than their standard cushion socks.
(Note: Every Darn Tough Sock has it’s size stitched on the inside of the cuff. That’s handy when sorting laundry in a busy household)