Gear | December 14, 2020 11:16 am

Review: These Are Hands Down the Best Socks for Hiking and Trail Running

And if you happen to wear through a pair, they'll send you another

Darn Tough Hiker 1/4 Sock
Darn Tough
By Ben Fox

Socks are boring until you’ve found a good pair that’s comfortable and last forever. For the past few years, I’ve been exclusively wearing Darn Tough socks whenever I hike, and most of the time when I run. With cozy, seamless construction, high-quality merino wool and a lifetime warranty to back it up, there’s very little reason to look elsewhere. My favorite pair is the Hiker 1/4 Cushion.

Design and Materials

Darn Tough socks are made with a blend of merino wool and nylon, with a touch of Lycra for stretch. Merino wool is soft without being itchy, moisture-wicking and naturally anti-microbial so they ward off stink much longer than cotton socks. Merino socks aren’t revolutionary, but Darn Tough makes theirs with a unique fine-gauge process that makes the socks both more comfortable and more durable than many others. Plus, they have a seamless design that helps prevent chaffing and bunching.

Testing

I first started wearing Darn Tough socks while managing backcountry huts in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. I spent months at a time living miles into the woods, hiking and trail running every day. The rocky granite trails and lack of washing machines meant I would wear through pairs of shoes and socks over the course of a summer. I fell in love with the Hiker 1/4 Cushion socks not only because of their comfort but for their durability. They were the only socks I didn’t wear holes in after a month of hiking. And when I finally did tear a pair, I could have sent them back to Darn Tough to get them replaced, thanks to their lifetime guarantee, but I was so happy with their performance I went out and bought a few more pairs. They’re the perfect combination of lightweight, comfort and durability with mid-level cushion density underfoot. The 1/4 height sits just above the ankle, which helps keep dirt and rocks away from my ankle when running and hiking off-road.

What We Like

  • Superior materials. These socks are incredibly comfortable thanks to their soft, moisture-wicking merino wool.
  • Lifetime guarantee. Wear a hole in any sock and you can send it back and they’ll replace it for free. There’s no other sock company that does that.
  • Made in the USA. Although most of the old New England mills have been closed down, Darn Tough is keeping the tradition alive in their Vermont factory.

What We Don’t

There’s not much I don’t like. Of course, you can buy a six-pack of Nike’s for the same price as a single pair of these. But those will wear out in no time. My only complaint is that sometimes I want to wear an ankle sock instead of the 1/4 length. When I do, I reach for the No Show Light Cushion.

Should You Buy It?

Short answer: yes. I dream of the day when my sock drawer is filled with Darn Toughs, and I wear them for every activity. They’re really that good.

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