Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock Review

In a world where most clothing seems to come from China and be of debatable quality and life, these thick, durable, woollen Made-in-Vermont socks are a standout - and have a well-deserved cult following.

Hightly Recommended

Overall Rating: Highly Recommended

It is hard to imagine a sock getting a 'highly recommended' rating, but that is what we have given these, based on their thickness, ruggedness, durability, and sheer value for money.

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by Roger Caffin |

Field Testing

Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock Review - 1
Picture courtesy of Darn Tough Vermont.

I was a long-term wearer of another well-known brand of thick woollen socks for many years before I met these - in a gear test in fact. I was impressed as soon as I put them on: they felt thick and robust - and I have known many socks in my life. My wife, who is sometimes just a shade suspicious about my gear enthusiasms, took to them as well, and with the same enthusiasm. As a former research scientist in a textile physics / wool research laboratory, I also knew a bit about socks from the technical side of things.

Many months later, having abused the ever-loving-daylights out of them on tracks, on scree, walking in sandy rivers, walking in the snow, and so on, in light to very light footwear, I was still wearing my first pair. In fact it was several YEARS before that pair finally developed a small hole in one heel and were discarded. Basically, I had been deliberately wearing that one pair for all my walking, just to see how long they would last. The photo here shows the sock I had been wearing after about a year beside a new unused one. The used one has shrunk slightly, but still looks pretty good.

Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock Review - 2
Used and unused socks.

Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock Review - 3
The very fine loop pile knitting.

Because I was a bit curious, I had some correspondence with the manufacturer about the socks. You see, while (almost) everyone knows that the loop pile found on the inside of thick socks comes from the knitting process, few know much about the technical details of sock knitting machines. The loops are there to add bulk to the sock, but long floppy loops made from thick yarn do not remain very effective for long: they get compacted. The secret to the Darn Tough Vermont socks lies in both the special knitting machines they use and the yarn. The yarn is a good wool blend and finer than average, but the knitting is much finer as well. This would produce a thinner sock, except that the knitting machines are set to do a multi-layer knitting in the regions around the foot. The end result costs more to make, but the 'floppy loops' are smaller and tighter, the sock is thicker, and it stays thick for a very long time.

Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock Review - 4
My socks at the end of a day.

Since knitting machines are automated, they can be programmed to produce a wide range of socks, in shape and thickness and style and size and cuff length... and also in colour pattern. While this Review is about the one model of sock which I use, I should point out that there are a horde of other models available, varying in thickness, cuff length, and fibre content. Each model comes in a range of colours and sizes: this one model comes in four sizes from Small to Medium to Large to X-large. But that's not all: they come in a range of coloured patterns as well - in this case about five. So ... I have two colours in this model and my wife has two different colours. Now we know whose socks are whose.

The range of models, sizes, and colours Darn Tough makes has created a problem for the company in one way. Shelf space at the retailers is always at a premium, and for a long while it was hard, or even impossible, to find a retail shop which carried the exact model, size, and colour I wanted. I resorted to buying them from the factory (which has been in Vermont for thirty years), although the company was not originally set up for web sales. I am pleased to report that it seems that most of the range is now available over the web (from Amazon) at a good price - slightly better than the average retailer in fact.

I will make a real endorsement here. Sure, my first pair of socks was free, part of a gear test. But after that I actually bought the next few pairs for myself and my wife! Yes, I actually paid cold hard cash.

Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock Review - 5
My wife wearing the socks in a range of conditions.

I mentioned that both my wife and I wear these socks now, in all sorts of conditions. The left-hand photo here shows my wife river-walking in the wilds of Wollemi National Park (Australia) - trust me, it's easier to walk in the river than fight the scrub on the banks. The middle photo was taken in 'poor weather' (sadly rather common) while snow shoeing in Kosciusko National Park (Australia) at about 1,800 meters (5,900 feet). The right-hand photo was taken on the rather steep Pas de Mont Colombe on the way to Lac de Merveilles on a variant of the GR5 in France, at the end of a three-month walking holiday there.

Specifications

Manufacturer Cabot Hosiery Mills Inc
Web Site www.darntough.com
Year/Model 2008, Boot Sock Full-Cushion • 1405
Material 62% Merino Wool, 34% Nylon, 4% Lycra® Spandex
Sizes Small, Medium, Large, X-large
Weight (measured) 108 g (3.8 oz) / pair Medium
MSRP US$17.96 (Amazon)

What’s Good

  • Thick
  • Durable
  • Long-lasting

What’s Not So Good

  • Hard to get from retailers

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Web store (partly done - Amazon)

Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.


Citation

"Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock Review," by Roger Caffin. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/darn_tough_vermont_boot_sock_review.html, 2010-04-20 00:00:00-06.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock Review


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Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock Review" on 04/21/2010 19:03:26 MDT Print View

@ John,

I too purchased a pair of the Darn Tough 1/4 mesh socks, be aware, they will not hold up anywhere near as well as Rogers DTV Boot Socks held up. I'll post up some pictures of my blown out Darn Tough 1/4 mesh socks after only 4 days of stream crossing and dusty mesas. I swear by Darn Tough Vermont socks and own several pairs and styles, best ones I've had, but the mesh version are definitely more suited for trail running and mountain biking.

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: "Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock Review" on 04/21/2010 19:26:25 MDT Print View

best running socks I have ever used and the only ones my choco lab can chew on for an hour without destroying...

Jeff Piper
(jmpiper)

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: How would these compare to Dahlgren socks? on 04/22/2010 12:32:20 MDT Print View

Thanks for the reply Jason. Great comparison for me between the two socks. I'll have to get my self a pair of the Darn Tough for a Shasta trip I have coming up next month to see how they work out.

Andrew Lush
(lushy) - MLife

Locale: Lake Mungo, Mutawintji NPs
re: Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock Review on 04/22/2010 22:18:16 MDT Print View

Darn Tough socks are on sale now Backcountry Gear. 20% off.

http://www.backcountrygear.com/apparel/Socks.cfm

KEN LARSON
(KENLARSON) - MLife

Locale: Western Michigan
Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock on 04/23/2010 06:23:20 MDT Print View

Better deal can be had at:

http://www.clothesbuy.com

Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock Full Cushion 1405 (2 Pairs)

$39.95

FREE SHIPPING AND NO TAX

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock on 04/23/2010 07:05:40 MDT Print View

3 pack for $47.99 + free shipping

Note: I've never ordered from this company.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock Review on 04/23/2010 18:53:35 MDT Print View

Roger, has anyone done a wash test on these or other wool socks? I where wool socks everyday regardless of the activity and wash them everyday. My questions is- am I washing them too often? Could/should I wear the socks for two days or more then wash them less often. Which will give me better wear? I also don't want any grunge factor (smelly/dirty feet), so that has to enter the equation.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock Review on 04/23/2010 19:05:30 MDT Print View

Tad, for what its worth, I'll wear a pair of socks more than once before washing as long as I didn't wear them for long periods of strenuous activity, or they got dirty. I just let them air out overnight to allow any moisture to evaporate, and they're good as new in the morning!

donald buckner
(toomanyarrows)

Locale: Southeast U.S.
Good deal on 04/23/2010 20:04:01 MDT Print View

Thanks Chris for the 3-pack deal heads up. I liked these so well that I ordered a 3 pack for myself and a 3 pack for my wife. That should do us for many, many years. My cheap Wal-mart merino wool $7 socks barely last a year with light use. I never could bring myself to pay $17 for a pair of socks but I would not mind paying much more for wool long underwear and other wool garments. Funny, now I see the value of the all important wool sock. Especially one that lasts and lasts! I have seen the light!

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
darn tough on 04/24/2010 11:48:15 MDT Print View

like most of us, I've tried lots and lots of different socks- about two years ago I gave Darn Tough a go and haven't had the need to try anymore

I use the Micro Crew Cushion for hiking, I recently replaced all of my work socks (I wear boots everyday for work) w/ the Boot Full Cushion ones- they are great as well

I follow DT's advice and wash them in cold, inside/out and then let them air dry- I should get lots and lots of life out of them

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: darn tough on 04/24/2010 14:17:21 MDT Print View

>I follow DT's advice and wash them in cold, inside/out and then let them air dry- I should get lots and lots of life out of them

Hmmm, I didn't know they recommended that. I've just been washing in hot water and putting them in the dryer! Will their method really prolong the life of the socks?

Jason Lee
(jasonthelee) - F
Durable on 04/26/2010 07:27:19 MDT Print View

Took two pair with me last year for the Sierra High Route and not a single worn spot or hole on the sock. They look brand new even today.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Darn Tough Vermont Boot Sock Review on 04/28/2010 17:05:54 MDT Print View

Hi Tad

Just got back last night from an extreme trip of 5 days. I wore the same pair of DTVs for the full 5 days (inside the New Balance MT910GT joggers), and they didn't seem to have changed much in that time. Just as padded as ever. I had only taken one pair anyhow. Sue wore her first pair for 4 days and them changed them because she had a second pair with her - 'why not?' she said.

I do normally change my socks every 3 - 4 days and wash the old ones - at least rinse them off, on very long trips like our several months in Europe. But on an extreme trip like this one, washing socks was not high on our list of priorities. Actually, finding enough water to drink was more of a priority!

If you wash them frequently you should use a very mild detergent at low concentration on the wool. You should definitely wash and dry them inside out so the loops can fluff up. Some people recommend a small amount of fabric softener: in small quantity I don't think it would hurt.

How much your socks and feet smell - very personal!

Cheers

John Addleman
(Jaddleman) - F

Locale: Boulder
Doc Brons on 04/28/2010 18:09:40 MDT Print View

Since we're on the topic, I usually wash all my wool, darks, and synthetics together on cold with Doctor Bronner's and tumble dry med heat perm press. Doctor Bronner's is a great laundry detergent. Multi-use in the home!

Alright, so now Eugene has made me concerned about using the meshes for a CT thru-hike. I'm also considering the Defeet wooleators that Skurka likes, has anyone had both those socks?

EDIT: FWIW, I just compared DTV Low cushion, DTV 1/4 mesh, and Defeet wooleators in a store. The DTV mesh and the wooleator were very close as far as thickness and lack of cushion. The DTVs do have an elastic arch, which I like.

Edited by Jaddleman on 05/02/2010 12:36:22 MDT.

B Roo
(VermontGal) - F
Darn Tough everyday on 09/18/2010 10:19:44 MDT Print View

I wear my Darn Tough socks everyday - I've pretty much given up on all the other socks in my drawer. So far they hold up much better than my smartwools. While I have tried to get better at wearing slippers in the winter, I do sometimes still pad around the house in my wool socks.

The BEST place to get DTV for a good price is to go to their factory sale, in Northfield VT, in November. Cosmetic blems wool hiking socks in the $7-8 range.