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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Darn Tough CoolMax Micro Crew Cushion > Test Report by Ray Estrella

Darn Tough Vermont Micro Crew Cushion Coolmax Socks
Test Series by Raymond Estrella
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - September 19, 2009
FIELD REPORT - November 18, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - January 18, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 49
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 210 lb (95.30 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, plus many western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly UL, I try to be as near to it as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with brother-in-law Dave.


INITIAL REPORT

The Product

Manufacturer: Cabot Hosiery Mills Inc
Web site: www.darntough.com
Product: Micro Crew Cushion Coolmax
Year manufactured/received: 2009
MSRP: N/A
Size reviewed: Large (fits US Men's 9 - 11.5)
Other sizes available: Small, Medium and Extra Large
Color tested: Charcoal, also available in Light Blue
Weight listed: N/A
Actual weight: 2.8 oz (79 g)

Darn Tough Sock
Photo courtesy of Cabot Mills

Product Description

The Darn Tough Vermont Micro Crew Cushion Coolmax Socks (hereafter called the Micro Crews or socks) are synthetic multi-fiber blend socks that are part of the company's Hike/Trek line. They are constructed of 33% Coolmax polyester, 31% nylon, 27% acrylic, 5% polyester, and 4% Lycra Spandex. The Light Blue have a slightly different blend of the same materials for some reason. But the heck with them, I got the manly-man color. (Hooah!)

As may be guessed at they take their name from the Coolmax polyester fibers that make up the majority of the content. Coolmax is said to make the socks softer, more durable and to give them superior moisture management.

packed on map


I received two pairs of them. They came in the retail packaging, seen above, which has a wealth of information printed on it. It has a bunch of marketing hype, the lifetime guarantee, a sizing chart, and laundering instructions. They are as follows; turn inside-out, machine wash warm, dry on low, no bleach, no dry cleaning. Dry cleaning? I'm a guy. They don't need to worry about that.

The socks feel very solid to the touch. All areas are very dense, even the thin sections.
They are what I would describe as light-weight, because they are not as thick as all my medium weight socks. Yet they are much heavier feeling than any light sock I have due to the construction features. This is hard to explain, just trust me…

The 5 in (13 cm) high leg is made with a mock ribbed look. Actually I should not call it "mock" as it has ribs, but they are formed with differentiated weaves instead of the old knitting methods of years gone by. While it feels "ribbed" on the outside, it feels smooth inside. Smooth inside is good. It has the Darn Tough Vermont "mountain" logo on the side. I like mountains.

The main portion of the body is smooth. The darker grey areas above and forward of the heel, plus the area under the ball of my foot is made with a higher density weave for added cushioning. The dense loops may be able to be seen in my normal inside-outside shot below. This is the most cushioning I have ever seen in this weight class. (And I have a LOT of socks.)

inside outside, who's on my side?


The black areas at the heel itself and the toe is denser yet and reinforced for longer wear. Said toe is made using "ring toe construction for a comfortable, invisible seam". It does feel pretty flat. Just above the toe is the "Darn Tough" name.

While the company positions them as hiking socks they are a bit thinner than what I am used to. I prefer a medium/heavy sock. I do a lot of walking in trail-runners and will use them alone in them. For backpacking I will wear them with some X-Static liner socks if they will fit under them.


FIELD REPORT

Quick & Dirty, Nitty Gritty

The Darn Tough Vermont Micro Crew socks are proving to be as tough and nicely cushioned as the company's other socks that I own. But the moisture wicking claim has not been borne out for me. Plus these are the worst socks I have used in many years as far as foot odor is concerned. They stink! Please read on for all the smelly details.

Field Conditions

I have used the Micro Crews with trail-runners for my evening walks for a total of 100 mi (160 km) to date. These are mostly on paved roads and walking trails with some dirt and grass thrown in for good measure. The temperatures have ranged from 45 to 95 F (7 to 35 C)

I first used the Micro Crews for backpacking on what turned out to be a 33 mi (53 km) backpacking trip from Sonora Pass to Kinney Reservoir in northern California. We had 6400 ft (1950 m) of gain on trails that ranged from fine dust to granite and volcanic rock. The temps ranged from 29 to 52 F (-2 to 11 C). I carried a 30 lb (13.6 kg) pack.

Observations

I need to state that I have two pairs of Darn Tough Vermont's wool Micro Crew socks that I bought after my brother-in-law Dave tested and raved about them. I too like them a lot although I wear them for day-hikes and walking in trail runners. So I applied for this test expecting the performance to be similar.

The Coolmax version is very comfortable. The dense areas at the heel and forefoot are quite springy. The Micro Crews fit my feet snug but not too tight. I really like the height of them as it helps keep debris out of my socks, unlike a true quarter-sock.

I only took them on one backpacking trip, and on that trip only used them for a half day. This is because while expecting to do the entire trip in waterproof trail runners, which the Micro Crews worked great with, I had a test pair of Asolo Everland boots show up as I was literally walking out the door to head to the trail-head. The boots had too much volume for the Micro Crews to fit correctly with and I did not like the feeling that I could not get the boots tight enough, so switched to thicker hiking socks that I had also packed.

But I put anywhere from 30 to 40 mi (48 to 64 km) of exercise-walking in per week just to keep my legs in hiking shape. (I should crawl on my stomach, huh?) For these walks I wear a different pair of trail-runners each day swapping between four pairs, two from Solomon, one New Balance and one Teva.

The socks have worked fine from a comfort and durability level. They fit well with all the shoes and I have not had any blisters or hot spots even on walks up to 10 mi (16 km) in distance. There is absolutely no wear showing on the socks. They are tough.

They have been washed at least once per week (I have the two pair) sometimes twice. I let them dry with the other clothes for a few minutes, taking them out while still damp to finish air drying.

The problem I have with them is that they do not wick sweat away from my feet. My Teva trail-runners have mesh on the sides that is see-through. I can feel wind blow through them on my feet when it is cold. (Or my feet are wet.) I expect whatever socks I am wearing with these to stay pretty dry as it does not get any more breathable than that. But the Micro Crews are always wet, and so are my feet. After a long walk my feet look like I have been swimming too long.

And the anti-odor treatment that is being employed for the Micro Crews need to be readdressed in my opinion. These are the worst foot funk offenders I have seen in many years. This is most likely because almost every sock I own is wool based. But I have reviewed some synthetics here that did not get anywhere near the funky state of the Micro Crews.

I am going to keep plugging away on this test, and plugging my nose when I take them off… I will try to put at least as much distance on them again over the next two months to see how they hold up. Please come back then to see how it went.


LONG-TERM REPORT

Observations

My activity level always drops as the holidays had me spending more time with my family, so I put about 70 miles (110 km) of walking in with the Micro Crews over the past two months. The temperatures ranged from 34 to 70 F (1 to 21 C).

I did keep wearing and washing them at least a few times a week even if I wasn't walking.

Nothing much is different from the Field Report. The durability is great with no signs of shrinking, stretching, pilling or wear of any kind. The color has not faded a bit that I can tell. The Micro Crews seem to be living up to the Darn Tough reputation.

But they still make my feet stink so now that the test is over I shall retire them to occasional use in Minnesota during the summer and go back to the Merino based versions.

My thanks to Cabot Hosiery Mills and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.

Ray Estrella
I measure happiness with an altimeter

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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