ProView – Darn Tough Tactical Socks
They might be darn tough, but are they Alaska tough? The Darn Tough Hunt socks are versatile, comfortable, durable, and will keep you warm and dry no matter what conditions you find yourself in. I have enjoyed testing them so much that I have 4 more pairs in my cart waiting for me to check out!
Darn Tough Tactical Socks
Product Description: Darn Tough Vermont Socks are purpose built premium merino wool socks made in Vermont, USA. Our socks are guaranteed for life to be the best fitting, and most comfrotable.
Offer price: $22.00-$30.00 MSRP
They might be darn tough, but are they Alaska tough? The Darn Tough Tactical socks are versatile, comfortable, durable, and will keep you warm and dry no matter what conditions you find yourself in. I have enjoyed testing them so much that I have 4 more pairs in my cart waiting for me to check out!
- Moisture wicking
- Made to last
- Protect against hot spots/blisters
- Unisex (not really a con, but pay attention to size conversion)
- Limited colors
Hunting in Alaska is an important part of life for many people. Some live off the road system and hunt out of necessity for survival, others as part of cultural traditions, and many enjoy self-sufficiency through connecting with nature. I enjoy knowing my food is nutrient-dense, lived a high-quality life, was put down humanely, processed with the utmost respect, and that I contributed to the future conservation of a species through selective harvesting. The time frame I had to test these socks fell after the end of the fall big game seasons and before the start of the winter seasons, but I still put plenty of miles on them chasing small game and scouting. To me, being a good hunter is a year-round activity. During the “off-seasons,” I think it is just as important to be out understanding the eco-system, learning the behaviors of your targeted species, and monitoring the health of herds.
Whether actively hunting or just scouting, you always need to be prepared to face a variety of conditions and activity levels. You need gear that can keep you comfortable and dry while you are quickly ascending a slope to catch animals you have spotted from below, but also keep you warm when you sit for hours and glass (looking for animals from a spot-and-stalk position). Warm sunshine on a south slope can turn into sideways snow in a matter of minutes, so your gear must be able to handle the transitions. The Darn Tough Hunt socks performed flawlessly and will be my go-to for all future trips. I tested the Hunter Micro Crew Cushion, the Hunter Boot Sock (cushion and full cushion), and the Mountaineering Over the Calf Extra Cushion (very similar to the Hunter Over the Calf Extra Cushion), all of which excelled for their intended uses.
Each pair of socks fit true to size and are very comfortable. The socks stay in place better than any other sock I have ever worn and the seamless toe design prevents any rubbing in the rare event that the sock shifts. The socks all have just the right amount of tension in the calf/ankle to keep them from sliding down without leaving your legs feeling squeezed. I have made a point to wear a pair each day over the last month whether venturing out into the woods or just doing chores around the farm. I love wearing them! Gone are the days of peeling off my socks as soon as the hike is over. You are truly able to put them on and forget they are on.
There are currently only two color choices for the hunt socks, which are charcoal and forest. Being a bigger fan of solid colors than camouflage, I love that they are neutral colors. For anyone who likes to color coordinate, these colors should complement any existing color pattern you currently have. I also like the striping and color changes within the pattern of each sock that seem to accentuate the areas of support and added comfort. They look as comfortable as they feel.
All four pairs have a large percentage of merino wool (lowest 61% with the micro crew up to 72% with the over the calf sock), with the rest of the sock being made of nylon and a touch of Lycra spandex. The socks also have ribbed arch support and integrated mesh zones to aid with breathability.
While each sock is very versatile, each has its own strength when it comes to performance. The micro crew is incredibly lightweight and breathable. It is perfect for lower height boots or even trail sneakers. I did enjoy a few short hikes with this sock and it can be worn year-round, but, with the snow piling up, I have had to switch over to higher boots. This sock does an incredible job with moisture management and will be my go-to for any strenuous, low boot outing in the future. The boot socks are the perfect height for high cut hiking or skiing boots. The cushion sock is so comfortable you will forget it’s there. (As I am writing this, I am realizing I am wearing the same pair I skied in all afternoon.)
The full cushion sock looks almost identical, but a quick squeeze reveals how much burlier this sock is. The extra cushioning underfoot was very welcome during long hiking days and cushioning along the calf/ankle kept blisters away from any warn areas on my boots. These socks are ultra-durable and built to withstand any kind of abuse. I expect to be wearing them season after season. Both socks were great with wicking away moisture, even when I wore a pair of boots that were slightly cracked on a slushy hike. It took quite a bit to get these socks to feel fully saturated. Even when I did manage to get them wet, they dried out in what seemed like a matter of minutes once I climbed into my sleeping bag.
The over the calf socks are the warmest pair of socks in the group. They are thick from top to bottom and my go-to for my coldest days of hunting. I also like to pair them with my tall, waterproof, uninsulated boots. Hunting in low lying areas before freeze-up requires moving through marshy areas and many stream crossings. My waterproof boots don’t have the same insulation as my mountain boots and the socks kept me cozy all day. Similarly, these socks worked great under waders when waterfowl hunting. I love the extra warmth they provided my lower leg when standing in near-freezing water for hours. All of the socks also kept a fresh feel and smell, even on multi-day ventures, thanks to the anti-microbial properties of the merino wool.
They aren’t joking when they say these socks are built to last. Though I rotated them, the only times I did not wear these socks in the last month was when going to the gym or dressing up. There is some slight pilling, especially in higher motion areas like the ankle, but the integrity of the socks do not feel the least bit compromised. They also feel just as soft as the first time I tried them on despite multiple washings. It is a nice piece of mind knowing they are also guaranteed for life, but I doubt I will ever get to test this feature.
Friendliness to the Earth
Darn Tough is continuously striving to reduce their environmental impact. The first and most obvious is them creating a product built to last. The fewer products break down, the less they end up in landfills, and the fewer resources are used up. Per their website, they have a goal of “producing the most responsibly made product” and are working towards this with their commitment to shifting their wool supply to Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) certified Merino wool that prioritizes animal welfare and sustainable farming practices. Darn Tough also states that their packaging uses recycled paper, water-soluble glues, and vegetable inks.
The Final Word
In case I left any doubt, these socks are great. Prior to testing these socks, I had been using a wide variety of wool/synthetic blend socks. I always assumed socks were socks, I always needed to bring multiple pairs to change out as they got wet or sweaty, and specialty socks were just a marketing gimmick. For anyone who puts in long miles in the backcountry (hunting or not), definitely try out a pair or two of the Darn Toughs designed for your sport. Your feet will thank you!
About the Gear Tester
Michelle currently resides in South Central Alaska and works as an environmental technician for the Native Village of Eklutna performing fish, wildlife, and habitat surveys in an effort to restore their historic lands to their traditional bounty. When not at work, you can fine her hiking, skiing, climbing, horseback riding, running, biking, hunting, fishing, or trying out new ways to explore the outdoors. She can be found on Instagram under michelle_ventures. To learn more about the river restoration project, visit eklutnariver.org.