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Darn Tough Over-the-Calf Lightweight

photo: Darn Tough Over-the-Calf Lightweight snowsport sock

Specs

Men's
Price MSRP: $23.00
Current Retail: $18.99-$28.95
Historic Range: $18.99-$28.95
Reviewers Paid: $13.72
Women's
Price Current Retail: $25.00-$28.95
Historic Range: $13.17-$28.95

Reviews

2 reviews
5-star:   2
4-star:   0
3-star:   0
2-star:   0
1-star:   0

Darn Tough intended these lightweight, over the calf socks for snow sports as a thin sock inside tight, form fitting boots. The merino wool blended with synthetic fibers to increase elasticity and wear made them a great liner sock with excellent moisture wicking properties.

Pros

  • Darn Tough makes good socks
  • Very close fit
  • Good wicking for a thin sock
  • Elasticity is very durable
  • Comes in pretty patterns
  • Vermont made
  • DT Guarantee

Cons

  • No cushion bottom
  • Material stiffens when soiled

Darn Tough makes a wide variety of socks and most folks seem to like the ones they try. My personal previous experience with their socks was limited to a single pair that I didn't especially care for and I didn't bother to get replaced when they got a hole despite the famous guarantee.

DSC08487.jpg
They still look too small without my feet in them.

When looking for over-the-calf socks to wear with the Amundsen Peak Knickerbockers I came across these and the pretty mountains on them caught my eye. I grabbed a couple of pair last April and used them as my primary liner socks for the rest of the year. The experience has definitely improved my opinion of Darn Tough and shows that sometimes it's a good idea to give a company a second chance.

Fit:

DSC08497.jpg
Stretch to fit, snug but not tight.

The OTC Light socks are designed to have a very close fit. The thin material has a fair amount of elasticity from the synthetic fibers used in the blend. This lets the socks stretch to fit tightly wrapped around the foot. This close fit extends all the way up the calf. Based on their sizing chart I ordered the Large and feel the sizing is perfect for my 11.5/45 wide feet, but I think with the elastic nature of the material the socks will feel just as perfect for other feet in the appropriate size range.

Comfort & Support:

DSC08492.jpg
Macro look at the top of the ankle joint; designed to bend without bunching.

While these socks provide little in the way of support they definitely provide some comfort. The snug, smooth material leaves nothing extra to bunch under the feet or at the ankles. The slight compression on the lower leg was a sensation I grew to enjoy as part of getting dressed in the morning.

Insulation & Wicking:

Being a very thin sock the OTC does not provide a lot of warmth. In a ski boot the insulation of the liner keeps your feet warm so this sock is really about moving moisture, which it excels at. These qualities are what made it work well as a liner sock in warm weather despite being intended for snow sports. I hike in full leather Limmer Light-Weights using a Smartwool hiking sock with the Darn Tough OTC Lights as a liner.

People on the internet will tell you that hiking in hot weather in leather boots with wool socks means my feet were soaking wet. As is often the case, people on the internet don't know what they are talking about heh. Despite the rest of my body being soaked in sweat my feet were always dry when I took my boots off. The outer socks carry the moisture away from the liner sock leaving the foot relatively dry inside.

Construction & Durability:

DSC08490.jpg
Seamed on top rather than in front of or under the toes.

The material used in these socks is a blend; 60% Merino Wool, 36% Nylon, 4% Lycra Spandex woven into a very fine knit. Darn Tough makes their socks at their mill in Vermont and takes pride in the quality of their construction. The company is well known for its replacement guarantee, standing behind their products after purchase.

DSC08496.jpg
Inside look at the heel shows tailored shape and no wear.

On first feel they seemed very light and thin giving me a low expectation as far as durability. Now, hundreds of miles later, that seems silly. Despite the friction involved in the role of a liner sock as it moves inside the outer sock there are zero signs of wear on the OTC Lights. Toenails haven't cut through from the inside and the material around the legs has maintained its elasticity very well.

Testing Conditions:

DSC08333.jpg
Chasing white blazes or maybe white whales heh

I've worn these socks for about 8 months of hiking now. Used exclusively as a liner sock for hiking they have been on day hikes, weekend trips, and longer trips like my June Cohos thru and a week on the Long Trail in September. Even now during hibernation season between Fall and Winter hiking they see a lot of use on trips to the hockey arena for Mini Stranger heh.

Conclusions:

First, let's get the part about Darn Tough being darn tough out of the way. It really is true though; They make socks that last. There is more to them then that though. The design and construction of these socks really shows a lot of thought and care. This is what impressed me most about these socks other than my dry feet at the end of the day.

My previous liner sock, the Smartwool Outdoor Sport Light Cushion, was probably more comfortable due to having some bottom cushion and if they hadn't stopped making it I'd probably still be using it. Despite that sock making me very happy I have to admit that the DT OTC Lights are better at keeping my feet dry. Same boot, same outer sock, the OTC wins the wicking game.

As an example, I had a very soggy, sweaty week on the LT this September. High humidity, warm, and steep, sweaty climbs had most of my body soaked for pretty much the entire week on trail. The only part of my body that wasn't driven crazy from the dampness was my feet. I would be curious to try their similar sock that has some cushion to see if the added comfort comes at the cost of this amazing wicking ability, but I have a feeling these current socks will last for years.

DSC08493.jpg
Still hugs the calves after many miles and washes.

Overall I have to rate the Darn Tough Over The Calf Light socks very highly. The only real negative thing I can say about these socks is that they begin to stiffen up a bit if worn for too many days in a row. Socks with higher wool content tend to handle that abuse better, but the elastic fibers in this blend will require rinsing a bit more frequently.

So yeah, if the worst thing I can say about these socks is you have to wash them sometimes I'd say they've earned the full five stars.

Experience

I used these socks for about 8 months of hiking and backpacking. I've been using socks for much of my life, though my experience with liner socks extends back only a decade or so.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $13.72 + Shipping

About the Author

John (LoneStranger) enjoys both solo adventures and family escapades on the trails and waters of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Alone or with his wife and daughter the preference is always for places without people where you can hear the breeze or watch a patch of sun slide through camp. He and his family help maintain a section of the Cohos Trail in northern New Hampshire and are seasoned veterans of Maine's Baxter State Park. On his own, John likes to push himself to always think a little bigger, higher, or farther and has hopes to do some longer distance trails. If you meet him on a remote summit you'll recognize him by the Trailspace hat on his head and the cheese and sausage he's stuffing into his smiling face.

whomeworry

Wow, that is one heck of a review! One of the best I've read. So much perspective, I feeel like I've prectically worn them myself.


12 days ago
LoneStranger

@Ed: Yet no up vote? I must work harder to earn your respect :p


11 days ago
Sean Van Cleve GUIDE/OUTFITTER

Just got a pair replaced under their lifetime guarantee!!!


11 days ago
Phil Smith

I might like my 3 pairs of Smartwool PHD socks the tiniest bit more, but they’re not nearly as durable. I have about 10 pairs of DT heavy calf height socks and 10 of lighter weight crews, my oldest are 8 or 9 years and it’s been at least 5-6 years since I bought any. I wear them every day for work, casual, and outdoors, usually 2-3 days per pair, sometimes alternating 2 pairs for a week. ONE sock has a spot about the size of a nickel where the matrix or “skeleton” of the sock is visible. I can’t feel it when wearing it. I’d almost feel like I’d be taking advantage of the guarantee if I send any in after this long.


11 days ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

I have two pairs of the same socks for skiing (Yeti and Bear designs, which are fun!), though mine are probably the midweight version. There's also an Ultra-Light version: https://www.trailspace.com/gear/darn-tough/over-the-calf-ultra-light/


11 days ago

Merino wool socks keep your feet warm while controlling foot odor. The legendary lifetime guarantee can't be beaten.

Pros

  • Merino wool for warmth
  • Excellent fit
  • Unconditionally guaranteed for life

I received these Darn Tough socks in August and have been testing them since the beginning of this ski season.

The only difference between the Darn Toughs Colorado and Honeycomb socks is the percentage of Merino wool and Nylon they have added to the 3% of Spandex they incorporated into the yarn. The Colorado has 62% Merino Wool/ 35% Nylon blend and the Honeycomb has a 56% Merino Wool/ 41% Nylon blend. Personally, I can't tell the difference between the two though it would stand to reason that the Colorado would be slightly warmer.

The size medium sock fit my size 9 feet perfectly. From the seamless toe to the top of my calf, the sock hugs my leg and has been incredibly warm for a lightweight ski sock. Putting the sock on I noticed a small Spandex panel on the front of the sock that really helps keep the heel properly placed.

The thinnest of the sock works really well with my custom foamed boots, allowing me to really feel the snow as I barrel down the mountain. Merino wool as we know is antimicrobial which has allowed me to wear the socks for several days in a row without washing, this helps a lot when I am traveling from ski area to ski area.
IMG_7195.jpg

Of course, on top of great performance, these ski socks come with Darn Tough's unconditional lifetime guarantee. Whether you wear them out, which is hard, burn them in the fireplace or the dog chewed them, send them back and Darn Tough will send you a new pair. Buy a couple of pairs once and you are SET FOR LIFE.

Details:

  • Size: Medium, Large, XLarge
  • Colors: Colorado: Black with graphic
  •             Honeycomb: Orange, lime, Royal blue
  • Price: $23

 

Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (I kept the product after testing.)

Disclosure: The author of this review received a sample of the product from the brand or its representative in exchange for a review.
g00se

Thanks for the review, Steve. I received a couple pair of DarnTough running socks that I'm currently testing their limits (So far, 81 miles on a single pair, and they are holding up well!).


5 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for the review, Steve. We use versions of the same socks in our family for kids and adults.


5 years ago
Steve Mullen INCENTIVIZED REVIEWER

I put 150 miles on a pair on the trail last year and continue to use them with no wear. They make terrific socks.


5 years ago

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