Darn Tough Mountaineering Extra Cushion Socks are serious socks for seriously cold weather. They are Darn Tough’s thickest sock and 25% thicker than their standard cushion sock. They are made of a combination of merino wool, nylon and lycra spandex to improve shape retention, longevity and wicking. They feature fine gauge knitting and fast action wicking. Best of all, Darn Tough socks are guaranteed for life or they’ll replace them for free.
Specs at a glance
- Gender: Men’s and Women’s
- Models available
- Sizing: Women’s (S, M, L); Men’s (S, M, L, XL, XXL)
- Lifetime Guarantee: Send them back for a free replacement if they ever wear out. Really.
Darn Tough Mountaineering Extra Cushion Socks are what you want in your boots in winter if you like a really thick sock. The over the calf socks go 17” above the heel, and the micro crew goes 8.5” above the heel. Darn Tough claims that liner socks are not needed with their socks, but I still use a liner sock with my winter system. I tend to get more movement in my winter boots than with my summer footwear since they are fairly stiff, and I want to decrease the possibility of friction as much as possible.
I first decided to try the Darn Tough Mountaineering socks because I was tired of wearing out Smartwool socks. After a season, the cushioning would be worn out of spots on the heel, down to the threads. I had already transitioned successfully to Darn Tough for three season hiking, so figured it was time to give them a try in winter. The promise of a lifetime guarantee sweetened the deal.
Darn Tough socks are knit on small needle, fine gauge knitting machines to produce high density stitching without being bulky. Turning the socks inside out, you can see a clear difference between Darn Tough socks and Smartwool socks. The Smartwool have a much looser looking knit than the Darn Tough. Darn Tough uses fine gauge, merino wool in the knitting of their socks. The outside and inside are reinforced with nylon and lycra for added comfort, durability and fit. Their socks are also pre-shrunk, so they maintain their size and shape when washed and dried.
The women’s version of Darn Tough’s Mountaineering Sock only comes in an over the calf version. They are great in extremely cold conditions. When it’s really cold, I like to pair these with an Icebreaker capri-length bottom base layer. There is just enough overlap to avoid a cold gap. I run fairly warm hiking and find these a bit too warm on my legs on many days when the temps are over 20 degrees F. I wish they made the women’s in the micro crew. On warmer days, I use the men’s micro crew and the fit is fine.
After long days, the Over-the-Calf Mountaineering socks might be a little damp from perspiration, but my feet do not feel damp and they are not cold, even in negative double digits. I’ve also overtopped my boot slightly in a stream hidden by snow. Although there was some initial coldness near the top of the boot, my toes were never cold. Removal of the socks at the end of that day revealed that they were more than slightly damp, yet they remained warm.
All of the Darn Tough Mountaineering Socks I have are on their second or third season. They are holding up very well. They show signs of some abrasion on the outer face in places, but there are no areas that are compromised down to threads like my old Smartwool socks.
Darn Tough definitely stands by their product. If you do manage to wear them out, simply fill out a warranty claim on their website, send back the old socks, and they will send you a code so that you can order new ones. You will have to pay shipping to send the old ones back, but they will ship you the new ones free. I recently sent back two pairs of my teenaged son’s Hiker ¼ socks. He wears Darn Tough socks every day, year round, and these two pairs were purchased years ago when his feet stopped growing. I had replacement socks within a week.
Each fall, Darn Tough has a factory seconds and overstock sale at their mill in Northfield, VT. I wanted to go, but have never been, which may be a good thing since I have a weakness for wool socks. I’ve heard from friends that it’s a really great time if you’re into socks.
About the authorWanda Rice has been backpacking since the late 1980’s. She has climbed the New Hampshire 48, the New Hampshire 48 in winter, the New England 67 and is working on the New England Hundred Highest and the Four-Season 48. Wanda also teaches for the Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC) Mountain Leadership School, the AMC New Hampshire Chapter Spring and Winter Schools as well as the AMC NH Winter Hiking Series. She leads day and overnight trips for AMC NH year round and loves mentoring new leaders. She is a gear junkie, a self-proclaimed Queen of Gear Hacks and loves sharing her tips and tricks with others. Wanda lives in southern NH and is looking forward to moving closer to the mountains in the next few years.
Disclosure: The author purchased these socks with her own funds.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.
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