Hikers shell out hundreds of dollars on trail shoes to protect and support their feet as they pursue new goals in the outdoors. However, your socks are the first line of defense against moisture, heat loss, blisters, and other common foot problems on the trail, and they’re a lot less expensive to upgrade.
Of course, most socks come with trade-offs. Your cotton socks may get you around town no problem, but on the trail they absorb moisture, which can lead to injuries or illness in extreme situations. A thick, cushioned sock might provide impact protection and warmth but often isn’t very breathable on warm days. Meanwhile, plenty of socks are comfortable for the first dozen miles but degrade rapidly on multi-day trips. Soon they’ve got more holes than your Crocs and offer all the comfort of a burlap sack.
Darn Tough Vermont’s Light Hiker Micro Crew cracks the code. This lightweight merino wool sock, available in both men’s and women’s models, is a longtime (and much loved) Darn Tough offering, recently redesigned with several improvements.
As always, the sock is made from merino wool. Merino wool is naturally soft, durable, and thermoregulating, so it’s comfortable in both hot and cold weather while wicking moisture and resisting odor.
Like all Darn Tough socks, the Light Hiker Micro Crew is knit right here in the USA, at one of the two company’s Vermont mills. Its fine-gauge knitting machines provide a dense knit for maximum durability and a performance fit that stays snug on the foot. This knit reduces slipping and bunching to improve comfort and help prevent blisters.
Another way Darn Tough reduces friction is with its seamless toe. The tube of the sock is closed by looping up the ends of the yarn, avoiding that irritating bunch of material right in the most sensitive part of your foot. This unique lack of a seam is especially important with lighter socks, says Darn Tough’s product line manager, Owen Rachampbell. “Some brands might have a thicker, seamed sock, and you might not notice it, but with a technical, lightweight sock, you’re going to notice a seam at the toe, especially if you’re hiking downhill or have close-fitting footwear.”
These are classic features you can expect to see in any Darn Tough products, but they’re not the end of the innovations in the Light Hiker. This sock has cushioning not just on the ball and heel, but stretching up behind the Achilles and in the toe. “That Achilles cushion offers impact and friction protection against boots with higher collars or tongues,” said Rachampbell, “and that toe cushion protects when hiking or running downhill.”
Another new feature is multiple mesh panels on the top of the foot. These panels both reduce bunching when the foot flexes and promote breathability. “The mesh creates air channels to help move moisture away from your foot, aiding the merino’s moisture-wicking properties,” Rachampbell said.
Rachampbell, an avid thru-hiker, knows firsthand how important sock choice is in the backcountry, but he calls the Light Hikers his favorite socks for every occasion. “These are the first ones I reach for when I open my sock drawer every day.”
“Footwear has gotten lighter with new technology, and this sock follows that trend, but it’s a great sock for any hiker,” he continues, “whether you’re taking a walk in the park with the kids or thru-hiking. It’s designed to have all the technical features of our bestselling midweight socks, just a little bit lighter.”
Darn Tough doesn’t merely make claims about its product quality; in 2004 Darn Tough became the first sock brand to add a lifetime warranty. “We believe these socks can and should last forever,” Rachampbell said. “This guarantee isn’t just a promise to the customer, it’s a challenge to us.”
If you’re constantly focused on fine-tuning your hiking footwear, maybe you’re missing the root of the problem: your socks. The key to more-enjoyable days on the trail doesn’t have to be a new pair of next-gen hiking boots or trail runners. Maybe it’s just spending an extra few bucks for a pair of high-quality socks, guaranteed for life.
We make the best socks. We guarantee them for life, unconditionally. If our socks are not the most comfortable, durable, and best-fitting socks you’ve ever owned, return them for another pair. They’re knit with silky soft merino wool that is sustainably sourced and made in Vermont, USA.