Socks: Relatively insignificant tubes of material that stop your shoes smelling like ass. At least that was the definition I would have given up until three days ago when my $21 pair of Darn Tough socks arrived from Vermont.
*Record scratch* You paid twenty one dollars... for socks?!
Ok, so backup a few months. I'm freshly in love with my Bacon Van and I'm consuming any and every Reddit post about #vanlife, exploration, and the great outdoors. Up comes the typical photo of a pair of legs sticking out the back of a van, backdropped by some impossibly gorgeous vista of lakes and snow-capped mountains. I scan the comments to see which dimension they traveled to for the shot, and see a post exclaiming "I have those socks, darn tough, I love them!" and another agreeing "Yep, got six pairs, will never stop wearing my darn tough socks". I'm sat there like, "Why do so many people have the same socks, how do they know they're the same socks, and why do they keep mentioning how tough they are?!" I asked, and got educated that it was in fact a brand of sock, Darn Tough, based in Vermont, and they were about to change my life. Over the coming months, I saw more and more people exclaim about these incredibly durable woolen socks, including many comments that echoed my current situation, "I never thought socks were important, until I wore these".
So when I bought my La Sportiva hiking boots, I decided to go the whole hog and get the socks. Ka-ching, that'll be a lot of money, please.
I couldn't contain my excitement... about socks
Some people my age are excited about the new brewery opening downtown, and spent their labor day weekend partying and enjoying their youth. I spent it refreshing the UPS website waiting for a pair of socks to be delivered. I was pretty amped that they would be turning up right before our planned hike the next day, as I knew I wouldn't be able to resist wearing them, and the delivery was impressively swift. I tore the box open to find absolutely no surprises whatsoever; there were the socks I ordered and a packing slip. There was a cute message on the inside of the box though.
So, come on, what were the Darn Tough socks like then?!
I ordered a cute striped pair from their hiking section, the Sierra Stripe Micro Crew Light in Moss. I didn't really know what I wanted, other than a pair of the socks all the cool hiking kids were raving about, but they seemed to fit the bill. Here's a photo of the very moment my feet fell in love:
Firstly, OMG, the fit. I have long, slim, pointy feet with finger toes (aka toes that look like they could perform basic household tasks with relative ease), and nothing seems to fit out of the box. Actually, that goes for the whole of my body. I was worried that these would be too rounded in the toe to fit, but I needn't have worried. My toes, and my heel, all fit perfectly into the sock without any feeling of stretching, or of looseness in weird places. In fact, it felt like someone had carefully swaddled a soft towel around my foot. For reference, I am a street size 9.5 (10 on the right foot if we're being picky) and the Medium did fit me fine.
On the bottom of the sock is a cushion, which is basically tiny loops of super-soft wool, that creates a meadow of comfort, and the rest of the sock has a thicker-than-average-but-not-wooly-sweater-level construction. Apparently this style isn't the thickest of the cushioned variety either, so I'd love to know how squashy soft those are.
You might be nervous about paying so much for woolen socks if, like me, you have a wardrobe of tiny sweaters you've shrunk by ignoring the ridiculously fussy washing instructions. This was my fear too, but these socks CAN be washed! Ok, so I've not taken the plunge yet, but that's because the merino wool acts as a natural antimicrobial so it's normal to go multiple wears before they need a soapy bath. Once you're ready, turn them inside out and plonk them in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. As you've probably guessed, you're not supposed to tumble dry them, but they're socks... they dry in like 4 minutes anyway.
So what's the conclusion of this thrilling review on $21 socks?
Darn Tough socks are damn near perfect. Obviously the price point is high, and that would be a downside, but it's the only downside, and honestly I think they're worth it. You don't treat these like your trashy Walmart socks, and in return they don't treat you like your feet ain't worth shit. They're more comfortable than you'll ever expect, they preserve your foot power on long walks, they keep your feet warm AND cool at the same time, and they're oh so pretty. If you need someone to prescribe you a dose of online shopping, I'm happy to be that man. Go buy a pair now!