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Darn Tough Light Hiker No Show Lightweight Hiking Sock

rated 5 of 5 stars
photo: Darn Tough Light Hiker No Show Lightweight Hiking Sock hiking/backpacking sock

A cushioned Merino wool sock that works as well for running as hiking, long on comfort and by all accounts as tough as they come. Superb.


  • That Merino feel
  • Terry loop cushioning where it counts
  • Warm enough for wet trails and cold rain
  • Darn Tough Guarantee


  • Men's don't come in purple
  • I don't want to take them off!

Sometimes, in my sartorial existence, there are articles of clothing that are just so comfortable, so right, that I kind of don’t want to wear anything else. Blue jeans in general, for sure, but then there are certain pairs of blue jeans that I just reach for day after day. Or my NRS river runner’s lightweight hoodie, which is so light and comfortable I wear it more around the house than for its intended purpose.

And over the years I have had and worn out numerous pairs of socks that fill that role. After all, my feet support all 80 kilos of me, day after day, whether I am out running, hiking, or skiing, out and about between office and lab at work, or just padding around the house. So it feels important, right, to treat the dogs nice with a good pair of socks. Having said that, I have been guilty of impulse buying “pretty good” socks in 3-packs at what seemed a good price, and using them for the daily grind. They don’t last long.

Then my wife gave me a pair of Darn Tough hiker’s socks for Christmas, and it was like I couldn’t keep them off my feet. I’d look down and… there they were! Not that there aren’t decent wool socks available here in Norway, including some quality names like (Vegard) Ulvang (a Nordic ski champion) or Devold (160 years in the wool business). But Darn Toughs are just that much more soft, easy-on, and comfortable.

I’ll admit to a preference for things made in Vermont, whether it’s maple syrup, cheese, or ice cream, and now socks. I lived and explored in Vermont for 20-some years. I agree with the sentiment of the classic (in my mind) 1914 poem “No Vermonters in Heaven”. But I moved to Norway a couple years before the Darn Tough brand was founded (in 2004) by Ric Cabot, heir apparent of the then-declining Cabot Hosiery Mills. It ain’t declining no more! Darn Tough socks have only recently become available in Norway, and they are a bit pricey even when purchased on a trip to the US, so it took a Christmas gift for me to get around to trying them out. Darn! All those wasted, sore-foot, holey-sock years!

So, when our Vermont friends came over for our recent canoe trip in Sweden, we put in a big order, including a pair of the No Show socks for me, as well as hiker’s socks of different weights and some knee-highs for backcountry skiing next winter.


Although I wanted them for running, I chose the cushioned hiker knit over the lighter running socks because of the local weather—a lot of my running is in rain and cold mud, even in summer, but especially in the shoulder seasons. I’m glad I did. These socks fit nicely inside my couple of pairs of running shoes in current use and provide a little more warmth and padding than my lighter running socks.


41% merino wool delivers soft comfort, with 56% nylon for strength and 3% Lycra for stretch and fit. My size 12 (US) / 46 (EU) feet are right on the borderline between L and XL in Darn Tough’s size chart. The Ls I got as a present always felt a little small, so I went XL. Despite my being on the low end of the size range, they slide on and fit like a dream, snug everywhere and neither tight nor loose anywhere. The ankle cuff is snug and in dozens of kilometers of running, many of them with damp to wet feet, there’s been no movement or bunching.


The socks are cushioned with terry loops everywhere it matters, from the back of the heel, down underfoot, and over the toes. I have hammer toes and a long history of hurt at the end of long runs or days on the trail, mostly from my toes getting rubbed the wrong way resulting in painful calluses and corns. I’ve learned to deal with those with some careful razor blade work, so they’re no longer nearly as bad as they used to be. I want to keep it that way, and the toe cushioning in these socks goes a long way toward that goal.

One of the charms of Darn Tough’s over the ankle socks is the addition of colorful motifs featuring bears, hedgehogs, and other animals, or trees and mountains, or sometimes just contrasting stripes. With these No Show socks there’s not much to show, just a few cm over the ankle, and so none of that frippery. Mine are in staid shades of with red accents over the toe and heel. I see they also come in black (for hiking and running Goths?) and gray with red accents. One women’s version comes in purple with magenta accents – jealous!

And then there’s the unconditional lifetime guarantee. There’s always that nagging question of whether we’re talking about the lifetime of the product or of the user. I haven’t had occasion to send in a pair yet, but have heard plenty of good stories. I really don’t expect any socks to last forever, but if they hold out for twice as long as my best Norwegian Ulvangs, then they’re worth twice the price. My experience with my Christmas socks makes that look like a pretty good bet.


Well like most people growed up in temperate climates I've been wearing socks of one kind or another most of my life, some warm summer days excepted. These days I run 30-50 km a week, and for the past month or so a lot of those kms have been in these socks.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $23

About the Author

Rick Strimbeck is an American transplanted to Norway where he says he'll "never run out of mountains." He is a veteran backpacker and expert nordic and backcountry skier and in summer runs, hikes, kayaks, and canoes in Norway's mountains and fjords and elsewhere in Europe and the U.S. When he's not outside, he does research on Norway's trees and alpine plants and teaches as a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

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Price MSRP: $18.00
Current Retail: $17.95-$19.00
Historic Range: $17.95-$19.00
Reviewers Paid: $23.00
Height No Show
Weight Lightweight
Pair with Hiking shoes, trail runners, hiking sandals
Materials 56% Nylon 41% Merino Wool 3 % Lycra® Spandex
Origin Made in Vermont, USA
Price MSRP: $18.00
Current Retail: $12.07-$199.95
Historic Range: $8.96-$199.95
Height No Show
Weight Lightweight
Pair with Hiking shoes, trail runners, hiking sandals
Materials 54% Nylon 43% Merino Wool 3% Lycra® Spandex
Origin Made in Vermont, USA
Product Details from Darn Tough »

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