I switched from wearing Smartwool Liner socks for hiking in trail runners five years ago to Darn Tough Hiker Boot Socks because I got sick of replacing socks that would wear through after just a few days of use.
The main source of sock abrasion when I hike is from crossing streams because small sand particles get into my trail runners when I wade through a river, stream, or brook, and rub against my socks inside my shoes. This chews up thin socks like sandpaper, and I often get holes under the heel or ball of my foot after a day or two of hiking in a thin wool liner sock.
I never stop to take off my shoes for stream crossing and don’t go out of my way to hop rocks to keep my feet dry because my mesh trail runner, La Sportiva Ultra Raptors, drain and dry quickly. I also find it safer to walk across a stream than to engage in the pathological stream crossing acrobatics that hikers put themselves through to avoid getting their feet wet. And on hot days, they’re nothing quite as refreshing for your feet as a walk through a cool stream.
Darn Tough socks are much more durable than sock liners (or any other hiking socks I’ve ever owned), with higher density knitting and pre-shrunk Merino wool which prevents shrinkage when they’re washed.
But I have one gripe with Darn Tough socks: they are quite difficult to get clean. Mud and sand particles get stuck deep in the wool weave of the socks and it is tough to rinse them out fully in a stream at night or in a washing machine at home, where multiple washing cycles can be required. The same goes for drying them, either tied to the outside of my pack or in a clothes dryer. They’re so dense, that I have to dry my socks on my feet by wearing them! It’s an inconvenience, I suppose, but not a showstopper.
Still, the durability of these socks is amazing. I’ve never seen socks put up with so much abuse, get so filthy, and clean up so well after a few washes, then Darn Tough Socks.
Disclosure: Philip Werner purchased the Darn Tough sock reviewed here with his own funds, and then he purchased even more.
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