I can’t say enough good things about Darn Tough Vermont. Last season, I reviewed their mesh run/bike and hiking styles in our women’s sock round-up, and I’m pleased to be back singing the praises of their winter offerings for women and children, just in time for stocking stuffer season. (Don’t worry guys: Darn Tough has a great selection for men as well.)
New to me this season is Darn Tough’s ‘Coolmax’ option, which is a wool-alternative. Though I never had any complaints about Darn Tough’s merino wool, I have to admit to loving the softness of Coolmax. So far, it’s performed every bit as well as wool, wicking away moisture and keeping my feet warm and dry, all with a more breathable, more flexible feel.
Below are my top three favorites for winter wear, whether you’re hiking, biking, walking, or skiing.
1. Run/Bike sock: In the summer, you can opt for the mesh version of the Run/Bike sock, and in winter, just switch to the Coolmax or wool version. I like mine cushioned, but you can opt to go without cushion as well. The no-show length stops right at the ankle, but the Run/Bike is also available in a 1/4 sock or crew. Basically, there are about as many ways to order up this sock as there ways to order a latte at Starbucks. I decided to try out one No-Show Merino wool cushioned Bike/Run sock and one No-Show Coolmax cushioned Rike/Run sock, and truly, it’s like Sophie’s Choice: the Coolmax feels softer to me, but darn it if the wool doesn’t feel more substantial. It comes down to personal preference (as long as you’re not of two minds like me). Additional things to love the Run/Bike for: reinforced construction at the toe and heel, and seamless design. I’ve yet to get a blister in these socks. Pick some up from between $13-$15 at Amazon or CampMor.
2. Hike/Trek boot sock: Just like the Run/Bike socks, the Hike/Trek is available with our without Coolmax, although instead of the choice between cushion or no cushion, you get to choose between cushion or extra cushion. No doubt about it, the Hike/Trek socks are more rugged than the Run/Bike, meant for serious winter trekking, snowshoeing, and the like. I wore my pair of boot socks with full cushion all day on a soggy sports field in pouring rain, and my feet survived to freeze another day.
Adventurers choose between a 1/4 sock, micro crew, boot sock, or mountaineering sock, and all come in fun colors and patterns. I like the crew for everyday winter wear, because it comes up just high enough to cover low boots or the fit snug around leggings without encasing my whole calf. While in the elements, give me the boot version. The wool versions include 67% Merino wool with some Nylon and Lycra to add some elasticity, and the Coolmax versions are made with Coolmax Polyester, Nylon, and Spandex. Pick up any version of the Hike/Trek for between $20-$29 at Amazon, CampMor, or Backcountry.
3. Kids Ski/Ride sock: I’ve already mentioned how my kids embraced Darn Tough’s kids’ Hike/Trek socks, and they love the ski socks for the same reason: minimum squeezing, itching, and general irritation. Their Ultra Light ski sock is still padded, and comes up over the calf, but is so lightweight, the kids don’t mind it on (and their feet stay warm). If your kids aren’t weirded out by weighty socks like mine are, they have the option for the cushioned padded ski sock as well. The bright colors are fun (and easy to spot in the ski gear bag). Put them in the kids’ stocking after buying from Amazon or CampMor for around $14.