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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Darn Tough Boot Midweight Hiking Sock > Test Report by Richard Lyon

DARN TOUGH HIKER BOOT MIDWEIGHT HIKING SOCKS
Test Report by Richard Lyon

Initial Report April 23, 2021
Long Term Report July 25, 2021

PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

Male, 75 years old  
Height: 6' 3" [1.91 m]
Weight: 205 lb [91 kg)
Shoe size: Men's US 13, European 47
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Outside Bozeman, Montana USA, in the Bridger Mountains

I've been backpacking for half a century, most often in the Rockies. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m).  I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp.  Though always looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences. I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Backcountry trips are often planned around skiing or ski touring in the winter or fishing opportunities in warmer weather.

INITIAL REPORT – April 23, 2021

THE PRODUCT

DarnTough 1The Darn Tough Hiker Boot Midweight Hiking Socks are mid-calf socks knitted from merino wool, nylon, and Lycra - per Darn Tough's website 66/32/2 per cent respectively, per product packaging 64/33/3 per cent respectively. For those familiar with Darn Tough, these socks employ the company's Full Cushion approach, meaning that the cushioning is enhanced with terry loops throughout. [The alternative, Cushion, is enhanced underfoot only.] The manufacturer sent three pairs - two to wear and one to compare, i.e., the third pair not to be worn during the Test for use as a baseline at Test's end for evaluating four months of regular use. Such use I promise they will get. For many years I have been a fan and good customer of Darn Tough. These aren't a new product, though Darn Tough has expanded color choice.

Manufacturer: Cabot Hosiery Mills, Inc., darntough.com
Country of origin: USA. Made in Vermont.
Size: L; Men's available in S-XXL. There's a sizing guide on the product page on the manufacturer's website.
Color: Demin; available in five other colors. Each pair has a contrasting color, in my case orange, at the toe and heel.
Weight, measured: 1.7 oz/48 g per sock
Height, heel to cuff: listed, 14 in/36 cm; measured: 13 in/33 cm
MSRP: $26 US per pair; $75 US for a three-pack.
Warranty: "Guaranteed For Life: No strings. No conditions. For life."

These socks don't look special. Narrow ribs, careful stitching, extra width from the ankle to the toe, a small panel with the Darn Tough logo on each side an inch [2.5 cm] below the cuff. 

TRYING THEM ON

These socks look and feel very much like other pairs of Darn Tough midweight and over-the-ankle length socks that I own or have owned. The merino gives a soft, non-scratchy feel against my foot and the Lycra allows for some stretch in the length. Though on Darn Tough's sizing chart my feet are at the low end for XL, past experimentation and experience led me to go with size Large. The fit is slightly tight but my heels are fully enclosed in the reinforced heel cup and on the new socks' maiden voyage there was no slippage. To me this size and fit are preferable to a small bit of unused length at the toe, which is what I have experienced with size XL. Again from experience, I expect a tiny bit of lengthening from wear and washing.

Fabric weight is well suited to Montana's shoulder seasons and summer, when daytime temperatures can vary from 20 F [-7 C] or lower to 90 F [32 C] or higher. "Midweight" is an accurate description. There's about six inches [15 cm] of sock visible above the cuff of my trail runners [measured at the back].

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I wore the socks today on a short day hike in last night's two inches [5 cm] of fresh wet snow, with trail runners, and to split my daily quota of firewood, under shearling-lined hunting boots. Other than noting that my feet stayed warm at 26 F [-3 C] and as earlier reported no slippage at the heel, I have nothing to say - always good news when it comes to socks. A sock that causes no problems is a good functional sock. Testing will tell if the socks hold up to use on the dusty trails and bushwhacking of three-season hiking in the Northern Rockies.

LONG TERM REPORT - July 25, 2021

FIELD CONDITIONS

Since my Initial Report I have worn both pairs of testing socks at least once a week, on day hikes, dog walks, chores, and casual wear. Except for the backpacking trip discussed in the next paragraph, all this took place in Bozeman, Livingston, or Belgrade, Montana, at temperatures from 20-95 F [-7 to 34 C], in fair and foul weather, including a couple of late snowstorms. Hikes occurred mostly on hardpacked dirt trails, sometimes muddy, but occasionally on pavement or bushwhacking. On all such use the socks were inside trail runners.

In mid-July I took both pairs of socks on a three-day, two-night out-and-back backpack on the Slough Creek Trail in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. I wore one pair on the seven-mile [11 km] hike to our first campsite, on a sunny day when the temperature reached 90 F [32 C]. This hike had an elevation gain of about 500 feet [150 m], most of it in the first half mile [1 km]. Maximum altitude was about 7500 feet [2000 m]. The Slough Creek Trail is an old wagon road, unpaved and well used - fine hiking terrain. The second pair served as sleep socks both nights and my hiking socks on the way out, about five miles [8 km] in conditions similar to the hike in, though somewhat cooler as we started earlier in the day. I wore the first pair with wading sandals while flyfishing most of day 2. When hiking I wore over-the-ankle hiking boots.

CARE

I wash wool socks together with other woolens [merino shirts, sweaters, base layers] and synthetics about once weekly, whenever I have enough of such laundry to do a full load. I wash them on the Cold cycle of my top-loading no-agitator washer, using non-detergent soap. Socks are dried on low in the dryer. I don't clip sock pairs together in the laundry, so the testing pairs have been mixed up throughout the Test.

OBSERVATIONS

Fit has remained virtually constant throughout the three-month Test period. As is true with almost all of my socks, there's a slight bit of shrinkage when they emerge from the dryer, but that vanishes the minute I pull the socks back on. Throughout the Test period the socks have remained comfortably seated in my shoes or boots, with no slippage whatsoever. The Lycra has done its job well, as the cuffs have remained above my boot tops at all times. I'm glad I went with experience and not Darn Tough's sizing guide - Large is the proper size for my narrow feet.

When hiking I rarely notice much difference in comfort level of the socks I'm wearing - unless they are scratchy or become wet. With these socks the fact that I have nothing to report is thus good news. The socks did an excellent job of wicking on the backpacking trip despite the warm conditions. The pair used for fishing dried almost completely overnight outside in the dry air of the Northern Rockies.

Durability is in my opinion Darn Tough socks' signature feature. The photo at right shows one pair of the socks I wore [top] and the control pair. There's a small bit of pilling but, to my eye at least, almost no difference in thickness at the back of the heel or at the toe, the two places most prone to wear. I can detect a slight color fading in the orange which I attribute to having washed the test pair several times.

As noted in my Initial Report, I've been a good customer of Darn Tough for a long time. I have pairs of earlier versions of their Midweight Hiking Socks that have served my feet well for [literally] years. I'm hoping for no less from the latest version.

Overall - three great pairs of socks!

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

My Test Report ends here, with thanks to Darn Tough and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these socks.


Read more reviews of Darn Tough Vermont gear
Read more gear reviews by Richard Lyon

Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Darn Tough Boot Midweight Hiking Sock > Test Report by Richard Lyon



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