Written by: Opt Outdoor Staff
Category: Hiking Crew Sock
Materials: 61% Merino wool / 36% Nylon / 3% Lycra
What We Like: Comfortable and very, very long-lasting.
What We Don't Like: Nothing.
Best for: Basically, any form of hiking or outdoor activity.
So you got your hiking gear list checked- boots, backpack, and walking sticks. You are ready to take on the world out there, correct?
What is missing you might be wondering? It is a simple pair of socks - the unsung heroes of hiking.
Without them, the best boots in the market will feel like pure hell. As a well-fitted boot will provide you with protection and comfort, a good pair of socks will extend the longevity of your feet.
Below we will get to know more about Merino wool. And we talk about why we recommend Darn Tough Socks for your hiking adventures.
What is Merino Wool?
Merino wool come from Merino sheep originating from Spain. The modern Merino sheep comes from high altitude mountainous regions. Places such as New Zealand and Australia. There temperatures range from below freezing to over 100°F.
Unlike conventional wool, Merino wool is an extremely fine fiber. It requires twice as much material to create a product compared to its regular wool counterpart of the same weight. Moreover, it's warmer than synthetic in the same weight class.
Main Benefits of Merino Wool
Warmth & Breath-ability
The wool of a Merino sheep protects them from extreme weather. It keeps them warm in the freezing winter and cool in the blazing heat.
Merino wool is famous because of the natural crimps and lofts of the fiber. It efficiently traps heat in the bitter winter.
Also, even when wet, the wool maintains its heat quality. Unlike cotton, it won't confine the cold and damp material to your skin.
Besides, Merino wool is porous. This means it expertly wicks moisture away from the skin before becoming liquid. As a result, it will keep you dry in high heat.
Synthetic fibers can only wick liquid to the surface. They then require your body's temperature to heat up to evaporate it. This means Merino wool won't leave you feeling wet or clammy after an activity.
Since it's porous, it's highly breathable, which will keep the body's temperature stable.
Softness & Itch-free
The second benefit of Merino wool is the fact they are a thinner and softer fiber. This means you can wear wool directly next to the skin. It is soft as feathers, itch-free, and safe for even the most sensitive skin. Furthermore, it is machine washable.
The third benefit is that the Merino wool is odor resistant. The sheep's wool has antimicrobial properties repelling odor-causing bacteria.
The fiber wicks away moisture so efficiently, preventing bacteria from growing. As a result, you can wear the product many times before washing. You don't have to worry about it stinking around your hiking partners.
This doesn't mean that it won't smell at all, but compared to synthetic socks, the smell will stay at bay longer. Thus they are some of the best materials to use to make socks and base layers.
Merino wool accommodates all types of activity in all weather conditions.
Darn Tough: The Brand we Love
Now we know there are plenty of great Merino wool sock brands out in the market. However, having a plethora of choices doesn't bring peace of mind to shoppers.
Opt Outdoor would like to highlight one brand that we love and currently use. That brand is Darn Tough Vermont.
After 40 years of business in the outdoors socks industry, Darn Tough is still producing their socks in Vermont, USA.
This is great because we are supporting the local community and our economy. Plus, they use ethically sourced Merino wool.
What we love most about them is their "unconditional, lifetime warranty." This means if you aren't satisfied with their products, you can return them to get a new pair, no questions asked.
Team Member Q&A
We are privileged to have one of our team members at Opt Outdoor to vouch for this brand passionately. She has been a devoted Darn Tough socks user. Here is what she had to say about them in our interview.
Why do you like Darn Tough socks?
I like them because I can wear them 3-4 times before having to wash them. They are durable, and I love their cute color block designs.
What activity do you typically wear them for?
I wear them every time I put on a pair of shoes that require socks. Also, I usually run outside 3-4 times a week. The temperature ranges from freezing to 100°F .
I've actually tried to smell them after long runs in the heat, and they have never smelled.
Have you ever worn them on long hikes?
Yes, I have. I wore them on my Machu Picchu hike (4 days), Kilimanjaro (6 days), and even on Everest Base Camp (11 days).
For Machu Picchu and Kilimanjaro, I only used two pairs. I interchanged them each day. For Everest, I added a third pair.
How have the Darn Tough socks held up in the washer?
I am careless when it comes to washing. I both machine wash and dry my socks in the dryer.
I know the recommended care is to hang dry or tumble dry on low heat. Yet, my socks never noticeably shrunk or compromised their quality.
What is the oldest pair you own?
I bought my first pair back in August 2013. I remember the date because I was preparing for my first ever hiking trip. So my oldest pair of socks is soon to be seven years old.
Come to think of it; I've never owned anything for that long before with continued daily usage. With my oldest pairs, they are thinner and worn out, but I have yet to put a hole in them.
Why did you choose Darn Tough over the other Merino Wool brands?
There is an overwhelming amount of brands in the socks category. What attracted me to Darn Tough was their "lifetime warranty."
I was skeptical because these socks were expensive. If I had to spend $25 on these socks, I like to have peace of mind that I am protected.
I also thought it would be a challenge for me to beat. I am still a happy loser.
Have you ever taken up Darn Tough on their Lifetime Warranty promise?
I owned three pairs of Darn Tough socks at $25 each. So I have spent $75 in the last seven years.
Doing the math, assuming I use them for only half of the year:
365 days / 2 =
182.5 days of use
182.5 x 7 years =
1,277.5 days total
$75 / 1,277.5 days =
$0.06 cost per day
Even if there is a hole in my oldest socks today, it was worth the money. These socks were with me on the toughest and most awesome adventures.
When I travel, I always have a "comfort thing," and these socks are them. It's silly, but they make me feel safe and ready to take on the world.
Will you add another pair to your collection?
Yes, because of living abroad, I was not able to purchase more. Being back in the states, I recently bought my fourth pair and will order a 5th pair too.
Soon, I will have to replace my oldest ones. They are still functioning, but I doubt there is any Merino wool left in them. I will always wear them for everyday use, but not on hikes.
Darn Tough is indestructible. The cost seems high at $25 - $30 per pair, but if you look at my math and its durability, it's a good investment for your feet.
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