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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Darn Tough CoolMax Micro Crew Cushion > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen

Darn Tough Vermont
courtesy of
darntough.com

Darn Tough Vermont

CoolMax® Micro Crew Cushion Socks

Test Series by
Ryan Christensen

Last Update - January 27, 2010

CoolMax Micro Crew Cushion Socks

ACCESS MAIN REPORT SECTIONS VIA THESE LINKS:

INITIAL REPORT
September 14, 2009

FIELD REPORT
November 30, 2009

LONG-TERM REPORT
January 27, 2010

INITIAL REPORT
September 14, 2009

Reviewer Information

Backpacking Background

Name:  Ryan L. Christensen
Age:  45
Gender:  Male
Height:  6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:  235 lb (107 kg)
Email:  bigdawgryan(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country:   Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA

I began backpacking at twelve, continuing until 25. After an extended hiatus, due in part to a bad back, I resumed cycling, hiking, and backpacking several years ago. I also began snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I share my love for backpacking and these sports with my children. I am a midweight backpacker, but carry a full array of necessary gear.
 

Product Information:

The information below came from Darn Tough Vermont's
product packaging, website, and Spring/Summer 2010 Catalog.

CoolMax Micro Crew Cushion Socks
Manufacturer: Darn Tough Vermont, U.S.A.
Manufacturer website: http://www.darntough.com
Place of Manufacture: Vermont, USA
Year Manufactured: 2009
Materials:
Charcoal

33% Coolmax® Polyester
31% Nylon
27% Acrylic
5% Polyester
4% Lycra® Spandex
Colors Available: Charcoal
Light Blue
Sizes Available:
Small
Medium
Large
X-Large

Women: 4 - 6.5; Euro: 35 - 37; UK: 2.5 - 5
Men: 6 - 8.5; Women: 7 - 9.5; Euro: 37.5 - 41; UK: 5.5 - 8
Men: 9 - 11.5; Women: 10 - 12.5; Euro: 41.5 - 43 ; UK: 8.5 - 11
Men: 12+; Euro: 43.5+; UK: 11.5+
Warranty:
UNCONDITIONAL LIFETIME GUARANTEE

Darn Tough says "We guarantee our socks to be the most comfortable and durable socks you've ever owned or your money back."
MSRP: $16.00 US [per sales manager]

Product Specifications
Manufacturer's Specifications  
Height: 3/4 height
Weight: Not Listed
Tester's Actual Measurements  
Height: 9.25 in (282 cm)
bottom of heel to top of cuff
Weight: 1.4 oz (39.7 g) ea or
2.8 oz (79.4 g) for the pair
Style Tested: 1467 - Charcoal [Men's Large]

Product Description:

The CoolMax Micro Crew Cushion socks, hereafter referred to as "socks" are part of Darn Tough Vermont's Hike & Trek grouping of socks. They are a medium-weight sock constructed of fine gauge yarn woven in a tight-knit fabric. The fabric itself is all synthetic material and feels somewhat silky to the touch.

The arch area of the foot is slightly elasticized for additional support. The "cushion" is located in the toe, heel, and bottom. The toe and heel turn are black in color. However, the other cushioned areas (the ball, and below and above the heel) are a combination charcoal/black.

The leg section consists of ribbing around the entire circumference of the socks. The ribbing is approximately 0.25 in (7.6 cm) wide and approximately 5.5 in (167.6 cm) long. Near the top of each sock, there is a logo on each side of the sock. The logo area is approximately 1 in x 2 in (30.5 cm x 61 cm).

The manufacturer calls these socks 3/4 height. The socks measure approximately 9.25 in (282 cm) from the bottom of the heel to the top of the cuff. The cuff is simply the ribbed section rolled over and sewn 0.75 in (23 cm) down from the top. There are two stripes on the cuff; one is black and the other is light gray. Woven on the inside of each cuff are VT USA and L. The socks are made in Vermont (VT) U.S.A and I am testing the men's Large (L) socks. Woven on the foot side of the toe seam is the company name, Darn Tough.

details collage

Initial Impression:

As I pulled the socks from the box, I immediately noticed how "silky" the socks felt. I really like how they felt to the touch. I also liked the color combination. I personally like shorter crew or ankle socks--these seem to fit within that range. I also like the fact that they are made in America and have been for more than thirty years. Darn Tough Vermont has an impressive guarantee as well. They guarantee their socks to be the most comfortable and durable socks one has ever owned or their money back. They also tout "No asterisk or small print." They also state that the president of the company personally reviews every sock sent back to ensure future quality. That attention to detail at the highest level is impressive to me.

Initial Testing:

After taking them from the box, I removed the socks from the cardboard container that held them. I inspected them on the outside and the inside. I found no loose threads, errors in the weave, or faulty seams anywhere. Inside the socks, I found something I consider very significant; a narrow, tight toe seam. I personally do not like bulky toe seams that ultimately rub the tops of my toes. The manufacturer uses "super soft and tightly packed terry loops to surround and hide the toe seam." It refers to this as "Ring Toe Construction." After a thorough inspection of the socks, I pulled them on. With the socks now on my feet, I was impressed by two additional things. First, they fit snugly across my feet. There was no slop anywhere, yet they were not overly constrictive either. The second thing I liked was how soft, or silky, they felt against my skin.

Initial Likes:

Initial Dislikes:

  • quality of workmanship
  • feel of fabric
  • toe seam
  • cushion
  • none

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FIELD REPORT
November 30, 2009

Summary:

During the Field Test Phase, I wore the socks approximately twenty-two different days. On average, I wore the socks 12 hours per day. These included one overnight backpacking trip, and numerous days to work and walks around the neighborhood.

Likes Thus Far:

  • quality of workmanship
  • feel of fabric
  • toe seam
  • cushion

Dislikes Thus Far:

  • do not wick moisture very well

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

CDT At the end of September, I wore the socks when I accompanied my boys' Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Venturing Crew on an overnight backpacking trip to Aldous and Hancock Lakes. These lakes are north of Kilgore, Idaho near the Continental Divide Trail, in the Centennial Mountains. Located along the Idaho/Montana border, these mountains are one of the few mountain ranges in the United States that run east to west. Aldous Lake is 7,340 ft (2,237 m) above sea level. It is a steep 1 mi (1.6 km) hike from Aldous to Hancock Lake. However, the trail drops down into Hancock Lake, which sits in a bowl formed by a landslide. Weather conditions were ideal, clear skies, no wind, and over night low temperature was near freezing.

I have worn the socks approximately twenty additional days. These have included wearing the socks to work, kicking about, and on my walks around the neighborhood.

Observations:

The socks have performed very well thus far. On my trip to Aldous and Hancock Lakes, I wore them in a new pair of mid-cut, Gore-Tex lined hiking boots that I literally pulled right out of the box. Although it was not a long hike, the socks provided great comfort and protection from both hot spots and blisters.

The socks continue to fit my feet snugly, but not too tight. I really like how they fit my feet and the support provided by the elasticized arch supports. The socks continue to be very comfortable to wear. In addition to the synthetic material, the "cushion" areas located in the toe, heel, and bottom contribute greatly to the overall comfort provided by these socks. Furthermore, the socks stay up on my calves.

CoolMax is a performance fabric with an effective fiber-based moisture management system. It can wick perspiration away from the body, and through the fabric, where it can evaporate quickly, allowing the wearer to feel cooler and more comfortable. I have worn the socks inside leather, Gore-Tex lined boots. However, my feet feel damper than when I wear merino wool socks with the same boots. I am not sure whether this is due to the socks or the boots, or the combination of the two. Nevertheless, this is something I am going to pay particular attention to during the next phase of the test where I will be wearing these socks in heavier hiking/mountaineering and cross-country ski boots. During the winter months ahead, I will also test how well these socks perform when doubled up for warmth. I have laundered these socks numerous times. They show no signs of fading, pilling or other wear. Overall, I have been very pleased with the socks thus far.

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LONG TERM REPORT
January 27, 2010

Test Series Summary:

During the Long-Term phase, I wore the socks approximately ten additional days. However, due to some family issues, I was only able to get in one backcountry trip during the last phase of this test series. It was an overnight outing in Island Park, Idaho. I also wore them on my nighttime walks around the neighborhood. I have worn the socks a total of thirty-two days during this test series. On average, I wore the socks 12 hours per day.

The socks have performed very well, keeping my feet blister free and warm.

Pros:

  • quality of workmanship
  • feel of fabric
  • toe seam
  • cushion
  • durability

Cons:

  • do not wick moisture as well as I had hoped they would

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

IslandPark

I have worn the socks approximately ten additional days during this phase of the test. These have included wearing the socks to work, kicking about, and on my walks around the neighborhood; all in GORE-TEX lined, mid-cut hiking boots.

I was also able to wear the socks on an overnight outing to Island Park, Idaho with my sons' BSA Venturing Crew. The elevation was approximately 6,293 ft (1,918 m). As shown in the photo on the right, the sky was gray and overcast. Temperatures ranged from a high of 24 F (-4 C) to a low of 12 F (-11 C).

Observations:

We planned to snowshoe on our Island Park outing. However, there was only about 12 in (30 cm) of very dry powder on the ground where we were. Although snowshoes were not needed, we did get some walking in. As shown in the photo on the right, I wore my GORE-TEX gaiters. The gaiters did an excellent job keeping the snow out of the boots. Because the snow was so dry, there was no problem with the boots becoming wet. After walking several miles, the boots were still dry. Likewise, my feet were dry the entire time. My feet were warm the entire time while only wearing a single pair of the 3/4 height, medium-weight, Darn Tough Vermont CoolMax Micro Crew socks with my GORE-TEX lined, mid-cut, hiking boots.

pillingThe socks are still in very good condition. They remain as soft and comfortable next to my skin as they did day #1. In my experience, they have likely prevented blisters, which has not been the case with some socks I have worn. After numerous washings, the color is intact, and they have not retained any funky foot odor. There is no fraying, or loose threads, the elastic is intact, and the socks continue to retain their shape. These socks live up to their Darn Tough name. However, they are beginning to show some wear. This appears as minor pilling in the heels and the arch (see photo on right).

Conclusion:

I estimate that I have walked approximately 100 mi (161 km) in these socks. To me, they seem to do a fair job wicking moisture away from the skin, but I had hoped they would far exceed other socks I wear. Such has not been the case. Nevertheless, I am very pleased with the overall performance of the CoolMax® Micro Crew Cushion Socks. They are very comfortable and I love the feeling of support they offer. I will wear these socks until they fall apart. Then, I will definitely considering purchasing other Darn Tough Vermont socks.


This concludes my CoolMax® Micro Crew Cushion Socks Test Series.
Thanks to Darn Tough Vermont and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to test these socks.

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