Darn Tough Vermont is a sock brand that hails from the US, but is available to buy around the world. As the name rather gives away, the USP here is that they're super-hardwearing, and to that end Darn Tough offers an 'unconditional lifetime guarantee' on all of them. I'd wager that not many people are maximising the potential on this offer, but it does inspire confidence nonetheless.
The Darn Tough range includes your regular day-to-day socks (dress and casual) as well as specialised options for a range of activities, from running to hunting. However, I'm focusing here on its walking range. I've tested a few pairs to see if they're fit to inch their way into T3's best hiking sock and best walking sock guides. Read on for my full Darn Tough walking sock review.
Darn Tough walking socks: design and comfort
The hiking range includes heavyweight, midweight, and lightweight options. I've tested out a few midweight options, which use yarns designed with warmth and protection in mind. They are indeed cosier than other hiking socks I've tried. The design uses 66% merino wool for its quick-drying, breathable and odour-resistant qualities. Most hiking socks will use merino wool for these reasons, and it's undoubtedly effective.
The arrangement of padding depends on which style you go for. Almost all the hiking styles include padding underfoot and over the heel and ankle. The padding is bouncy and ultra-comfortable, as well as providing a solid barrier against your boot – a key precaution if you want to avoid blisters.
If you're heading out in the winter, you might want to opt for a 'full cushion' option, which includes padding all over, including up the leg, but typically I'd probably go for a zoned cushion option. With these, the top of the sock is a bit thinner to deliver more breathability and a closer fit in your hiking boots.
A flat toe seam – a common feature in decent hiking socks – removes another potential hotspot. Darn Tough's is indeed almost invisible.
Darn Tough says its socks have a "unique 'put it on, forget it's on'" feel, and on this front I think it delivers pretty well. There's 2% Lycra Spandex knitted in, which probably accounts for the extra stretchiness and cling. While you can of course feel you're wearing them, the fit is excellent: tight enough to keep them securely in place as you hike, but not too tight as to be constrictive or irritating over long periods of wear.
I tend to look for brands that have are at least making a bit of an effort to be eco-friendly. For instance, the new Smartwool Hike range is manufactured using a percentage of recycled nylon. There's nothing in the sock descriptions to suggest any particular nods to sustainability here, although I was pleased to see the packaging uses recycled paper, water-based glues and vegetable-based ink, making it fully recyclable.
Verdict: are Darn Tough walking socks worth it?
Whether they're as indestructible as that lifetime guarantee suggests, only time will tell, but Darn Tough certainly makes some excellent hiking socks. The padding is protective and ultra-comfy, a bit of extra stretch delivers a snug fit and ensures everything stays in place in your boots, and there are options for a range of hiking needs and style preferences. They're pricier than the cheapest walking socks, but they're still not going to break the bank. I think it's worth paying a little more for socks that fit well and won't immediately wear through, and these fall securely into that category.