Best Darn Tough Socks For Hiking

5 Best Darn Tough Socks For Hiking (Budget & Quality)

What Is A Darn Tough Sock?

Merino wool, nylon, and Lycra are used to make Darn Tough socks. When it comes to keeping your feet cool and dry, this combination of materials is particularly effective.

Running, hiking, snow sports, and other outdoor activities necessitate strong, durable Darn Socks.

Socks for men, women, unisex, and children are available in a variety of thicknesses, calf heights, and designs. The type of activity you intend to partake in, as well as the current weather circumstances, will usually affect your decision. We appreciate that the company is family-owned and operated, as are the socks, which are all produced in Vermont.

In order to keep your feet dry and comfortable, socks are essential. Darn Tough Socks play a critical role in your overall comfort, whether you’re camping, hiking, or backpacking. Fortunately, we’ve got your back—and your toes.

As part of this review, we sought out socks that were both comfortable and durable. Each brand’s socks were then analyzed through online reviews on a variety of different platforms.

To narrow the field, we evaluated each sock based on its quality, our testing results, and the number of positive customer reviews and comments.

Take a look at our favorite hiking socks of the year.

1. Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion Sock

One of the most popular socks on the market is the Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew. A thin and breathable material is used throughout the entire garment. Cushioning that lasts mile after mile is built into this shoe.

When you put in a lot of work, the increased Nylon content and merino wool content keep your feet dry and comfortable. The only drawback is that some high-top hiking boots won’t fit because of the shoe’s shorter height. It’s also our go-to light model for hot weather and thru-hikes of any duration.


  • Extremely breathable
  • Comfortable
  • Well-fitted
  • Non-itching
  • Excellent wicking capability
  • Rapid drying


  • Slippery fibers
  • Shorter width

Where to purchase Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion Sock from?

You can get Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion Sock here on Amazon

2. Darn Tough Quarter Cushion

A good balance between breathability and durability is critical for long-distance hikers on paths like the Appalachian Trail (PCT) and the Appalachian Trail (AT). It’s time to introduce Darn Tough’s Quarter Cushion, one of the most popular and highly regarded designs on the PCT. With these hiking socks, you get all of the benefits of crew-height socks, but in a more compact package.

While they won’t fit all hiking boots, their ankle-high shaft height makes them a good match for trail runners and hiking shoes.

As a reminder, the quarter-height Smartwool Run Zero Cushion is a real ultralight sock, but your feet will become toasty in the summer and won’t dry out as quickly. Because of their reduced bulk and increased durability, these socks are a great alternative for those who like the lower cut but still want cushioning and padding for the heel and ankle.

These socks are popular among long-distance thru-hikers and serious travelers because they accomplish what they’re designed to do.


  • Trendy
  • Lightweight
  • Very sturdy
  • Excellent for long distances


  • The lower cut provides less defense

Where to purchase Darn Tough Quarter Cushion from?

You can get Darn Tough Quarter Cushion here on Amazon

3. Darn Tough Hiker Boot Full-Cushion

We prefer Darn Tough’s Hiker Boot Full-Cushion socks over the Micro Crew Cushion socks when it comes to mountain-ready performance. For sports such as summer mountaineering and winter hiking and snowshoeing, this model’s thicker padding and higher percentage of merino (66 percent vs. 61 percent) outperform the Micro Crew.

It doesn’t look like much, but the performance fit provides a snug and comfortable fit that doesn’t feel excessively large. All in all, these socks are well-made, long-lasting, and comfortable enough to wear for extended periods of time in subzero temperatures.

The same goes for all heavyweight socks, so you’ll want to be sure you have adequate room in your boots before you buy. In comparison to Smartwool’s Classic Hike Extra Cushion, the Hiker Boot Full-Cushion features a much lower profile and a lighter overall feel.

In terms of pricing, Smartwool has a slight advantage ($23), but we like the Darn Toughs’ tighter and more streamlined fit for maximum performance while minimizing weight (on the flip side, we like wearing the cushier Smartwool on hut trips and more casual winter adventures). The Hiker Boot Full-Cushion sock is a proven choice for those who plan to spend a lot of time above the treeline, and it’s a sock that should last a long time.


  • Durable quality
  • Durability in a winter-ready design


  • Slightly costly

Where to purchase Darn Tough Hiker Boot Full-Cushion from?

You can get Darn Tough Hiker Boot Full-Cushion here on Amazon

4. Smartwool Classic Hike Extra Cushion Crew

For those who favor Smartwool’s lightweight hiking designs, the Classic Hike Extra Cushion Crew is a fantastic option. The Mountaineer Classic is the only other heavyweight sock on our list, and these socks are a close second in terms of cushioning.

Despite using less merino wool than the Darn Tough, the Classic Hike Light Crew features the same classic design and feel as the Classic Hike Light Crew, but with a notable increase in warmth and cushioning.

The obvious drawback is a reduction in breathability, but the increased padding and insulation are ideal for individuals who seek maximal support and impact protection during winter outdoor activities (again, be sure to take your boot size into account, as these socks add considerable bulk).

For most summer hikes, socks like the Darn Tough Hiker Full-Boot Cushion and the Smartwool Classic Hike Extra Cushion will be too warm. In cold locations, these socks are a better alternative for transporting heavy loads and will save you $4 over the Darn Tough despite the Smartwool’s bulkier fit and feel.


  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Less expensive than the Darn Tough Hiker Full-Boot Cushion


  • Less wool than in the Darn Tough.
  • This item runs really hot in the summer.

Where to purchase Smartwool Classic Hike Extra Cushion Crew from?

You can get Smartwool Classic Hike Extra Cushion Crew here on Amazon

5. Darn Tough Coolmax Micro Crew Cushion

Wearing wool socks when it’s hot outside may not be something you’d like doing. That makes sense. Using Coolmax polyester, Darn Tough has developed a synthetic sock that is meant to keep your feet cool under these conditions.

These socks, like our preferred merino versions, are comfortable, have superb cushioning, and won’t lose their shape with repeated use like some other types. In addition to all of this, a noticeable improvement in airflow is also apparent.

While Coolmax’s socks are more comfortable, Darn Tough’s are more durable and provide a better fit (the downside is a jump in price). The only non-merino sock we suggest for serious performance use is this one. Coolmax socks, on the other hand, retain odors much longer than merino counterparts, which is a major drawback for those planning multi-day hikes.

If you’re not trekking in extreme heat or need a wool alternative, merino is the way to go. It’s simply better in practically every regard.


  • A performance-oriented synthetic sock


  • Merino wool is still preferred over Coolmax

Where to purchase Darn Tough Coolmax Micro Crew Cushion from?

You can get Darn Tough Coolmax Micro Crew Cushion here on Amazon

Factors To Consider Before Buying Darn Tough Socks


The following are our thoughts on hiking sock comfort after thousands of miles on the trail: Overall, Darn Tough’s hiking socks are superior to Smartwool’s in terms of comfort and durability, but they are thicker and denser in feel.

Fortunately, Darn Tough socks are built to withstand a lot of abuse. Smartwool hiking socks, particularly the Performance (previously the PhD) line, have outstanding breathability and a fantastic fit, but over the years, we’ve encountered more problems with durability and holes. Even if their comfort suffers a little, hikers may prefer the more trendy designs of new manufacturers like Stance.


Over the past several years, the outdoor industry has seen a rise in the importance of sustainability, and hiking socks are no exception. Recycled materials and certified RWS wool are two current developments in this market.

Humane treatment and rigorous adherence to environmental and animal welfare norms are evidenced by the former. Smartwool’s newly redesigned Performance line uses recycled nylon, and socks made with CoolMax EcoMade, a polyester derived from recycled plastic bottles, are two examples of enterprises using recycled materials.

Women’s-Specific Socks

Although socks for men and women are sold by many companies, in most situations there are no significant differences in performance.

Women’s socks are often different in color and size, but they are essentially identical to their male or unisex counterparts in terms of overall design and fit. Sizing is the most important factor in determining whether the sock is gender-specific or unisex.

What Are The Various Levels Of Cushioning In Hiking Socks?

Knit terry loops are used to create the cushioning effect of socks. In addition to providing additional protection and shock absorption, the cushion also provides additional warmth and comfort in high-impact areas. Our three levels of cushioning are No Cushion, Cushion, and Full Cushion. These levels can be found on our Size Chart page.

Targeted cushioning separate from the foot is featured in some of our Ski & Snowboard socks. Socks for steel-toe shoes with extra cushioning in the toe are available in our Work category.

Hiking Sock Care

We recommend hand washing and air drying most merino wool items. Some manufacturers say that merino wool can be machine dried, however we have found that this drastically reduces the longevity of the fiber.

There are few products that can be washed in the dryer with our usual clothing, but merino wool hiking socks are one of them. For some reason, they don’t have the same durability difficulties as other merino products, and the warm dryer has the potential to restore their natural shape. Line drying or machine drying?

We think you can go either method, but keep in mind that the dryer may cause a little more pilling and shrinking.

Hiking Sock Warranties

Since hiking socks have risen in price in recent years, warranties have become an important consideration when making a purchase. You can get a new pair of Darn Tough boots shipped to you if you have a complaint about their comfort or if a hole develops in your heel for any reason at all.

Stance, Features, and Farm to Feet, three more well-known companies, all provide lifetime warranties and full reimbursements in the event of a defect (with proof of purchase). The next level of protection is provided by warranties with a predetermined duration, such as Smartwool (two years).

Finally, budget-oriented manufacturers tend to have shorter or more limited policies. We wouldn’t make a final selection based simply on the guarantee, but it’s something to keep in mind.

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