by: Dave D’Abate
Darn Tough Vermont makes some incredibly comfortable socks. The only problem was, I wasn’t very familiar with the brand until this year.
From Darn Tough’s Press Release:
‘Darn Tough socks are designed, manufactured, and tested in Vermont, USA. Their high-density knitting allows for durability and cushioning without bulk. They also offer Merino Wool and Coolmax® blends for optimal comfort and climate control. The socks also include additional support around the arch, ankle, and toe to prevent blisters and add endurance. The socks are designed for every type of athlete and climate, from summer mountain bikers to winter Nordic skiers.’
Their original email had piqued my interest to stop by their booth at the OR Show and see what they were all about after some claims about how they really set themselves apart from their competitors. At their booth, I was fortunate to meet with Ric Cabot, co-owner of Cabot Hoisery Mills, Inc., Darn Tough Vermont’s corporate title. Ric told me that once I tried Darn Tough socks, I wouldn’t want to wear anything else. Having used a competitor’s brand of merino hiking sock working as a backpacking guide the past 3 years, I was intrigued to try out a few pairs.
I have always been a fan of merino wool in all of its applications in apparel. Darn Tough sent me some pairs of their Over-The-Calf Ski/Ride socks with Non-Cushion, Foot Cushion, and Full Cushion to test out on the slopes of the local ski resorts.
First, I took the Over-The-Calf Ski/Ride Ultralight Non-Cushion socks to Whitefish Big Mountain Resort for 2 days while on a trip to West Glacier, MT. The Ultralight Non-Cushion socks are designed for skiers who prefer shell fit boots for extreme responsiveness in racing or simply in resort skiing. The Ultralight also have a few new feature for 2010 with a more contoured toe box, a flex mesh window in the instep to reduce bulk and bunching, and a flat, smooth jersey knit construction with the highest density stitch I’ve ever seen in any comparable sock to enhance the fit of ski, snowboard and telemark boots. The merino wool in the sock provides plenty of warmth when tearing up the slopes and the non-cushion feel is incredibly precise in a variety of snow conditions. One small detail I love about these socks is that the high density stitching really shows in the sock’s gusset on the side of the heel. This is one thing in particular that I’ve seen on many socks where the stitching isn’t as tight and this spot can be very uncomfortable when it stretches out and folds over on itself or potentially tears out.
This is one aspect that sets Darn Tough Vermont above their competition with their Unconditional Lifetime Guarantee. Just ship your defunct sock back to Darn Tough and they’ll use it to figure out what went wrong and improve their product while sending you a free replacement. This is one kind of guarantee you just don’t see anymore and it’s great and refreshing to see a company stand by their product wholeheartedly. Darn Tough Vermont socks truly last you a lifetime, and even more.
Second, I tested the Over-The-Calf Ski/Ride Full Cushion sock at Snowbasin Resort right on the other side of Mt. Ogden here in the famous Utah powder. The Full Cushion sock had the added comfort of full foot comfort extending to the shin and calf allowing for a great full day of intense skiing some tough black diamond runs. The sock is already plenty warm, but the added cushioning would certainly add quite a bit more for those of you skiing in the colder areas of the world. These socks would have been more than welcome skiing in New York with 2 degree weather in January a few years back.
Third, the Over-The-Calf Ski/Ride Cushion sock with the cushion on the bottom of the foot was tested during a day of backcountry skiing on the surrounding peaks of the Wasatch Range. The cushioning under the foot was a great feeling when skinning or trekking up a slope with my boots on. The rest of the sock has the thinner, more responsive feel desired to navigate fresh terrain in the backbowls. Overall, this is the perfect sock for backcountry touring.
Darn Tough Vermont has certainly set the bar high for other companies manufacturing ski socks in the industry. These socks truly are Darn Tough with all the abuse and usage I’ve been putting them through. Even after a few washes, the socks retain their shape with little, to no shrinking, and they look brand new each time I put them back on. With the years of backpacking under my belt, my feet breathe a sigh of relief whenever I put on these Darn Tough Vermont socks. I’m definitely excited to be testing more of their socks in the future and look for a review on their Run/Bike Series and the Hike/Trek series from me very soon!