Outdoor Federation

Smartwool vs Darn Tough

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You might not think of socks as the “sexiest” piece of technical clothing you’d want to add to your outdoor adventure wardrobe, but the reality is that if your feet aren’t happy the odds are pretty good that the rest of you isn’t going to be all that happy, either.

A couple of companies on the market today offer top-quality socket options made from technical fabrics or wool. But even though the marketplace is more crowded today than ever before to companies have really separated themselves from the rest of the pack – SmartWool and Darn Tough.

SmartWool (unsurprisingly) makes some of the very best wool socks money can buy. These aren’t your grandpa’s wool socks, either. The material is lightweight with amazing moisture wicking properties, the heat retention and insulation capabilities are off the charts, and the style and engineering that goes into each and every SmartWool product is top-tier as well.

Darn Tough also makes some very awesome modern wool socks that take advantage of only the highest quality merino wool available. This allows them to be lightweight, super strong, and very durable with a top-quality insulation grade as well.

If you’re going to be splashing some cash on quality socks these days products from these two companies are where you’re going to want to laser focus your attention for sure.

Let’s break these options down a little better below.

Fun Outdoor Quiz

Construction Qualities

If there is one thing that the Darn Tough brand is known for when it comes to their wool socks it has to be the comfort level that they bring to the table thanks to their construction approach.

Darn Tough is almost universally regarded as the best wool sock company in the business when it comes to uniform construction, guaranteeing a more comfortable fit, a more consistent finish, and the ability for these socks to feel like “gloves for your feet” in a way that few other wool socks can.

Photo Credit: Instagram @darntoughvermont

The same small, family-owned company has been making these socks for more than 40 years and you really aren’t going to find a whole lot to dislike when it comes to the construction of these socks. Some complain about a little bit of slippage over time, but these issues usually don’t come about for at least a couple of years of continuous use and wear.

SmartWool also offers very well made and impeccably designed socks with a focus on consistent construction, but it isn’t quite as consistent all across the board the way that Darn Tough socks are.

The different socket options from SmartWool are made with specific activities in mind which is maybe why the construction differences can happen from one option to another. All the same, these are still very well made wool socks in this feels like a bit of a nitpicking issue.

We can say that reviews online are pretty unanimous in their belief that SmartWool socks wear out a lot faster than those from Darn Tough. Most reviewers believe this to be because of the lighter and thinner material that SmartWool brings to the table and we don’t necessarily disagree.

Absorption Properties

One of the main reasons people choose to take advantage of wool socks is because they offer fantastic absorption properties, able to both wick away moisture and to remain very warm even when soaking wet – something that other technical fabrics have an almost impossible time with.

Because they are universally thicker than SmartWool socks you can expect the options from Darn Tough to be more absorbent. If your feet are prone to sweating you are going to appreciate the extra level of absorption that Darn Tough squeezes into their socks compared to SmartWool.

At the same time, if you anticipate walking around wet areas or in wet/snowy regions the odds are pretty good that any exposed parts of your Darn Tough socks are going to soak up a lot more moisture as well. This may be something you’ll need to consider before you take advantage of these kinds of socks.

Photo Credit: Instagram @alisonvagnini

Fit and Finish

When you stack these two sock options against one another side-by-side it becomes immediately apparent that SmartWool socks are definitely more modern, have a more stylish fit, and are a lot closer to fashion socks in their fit and finish than SmartWool socks – which makes them more attractive for everyday use for sure.

SmartWool socks are also going to feel nicer in tight fitting shoes and boots because they are thinner than the options from Darn Tough. This is another consideration you’ll want to zero in on before you pull the trigger on this purchase, really considering the kind of footwear you’ll have on when you’re stomping around in SmartWool or Darn Tough socks.

Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day, it’s really hard to imagine you going wrong with any of these socket options.

SmartWool socks are some of the best looking merino wool socks on the planet today, each of which are made to cater to specific activities and to support your feet whenever you go adventuring. There’s a lot to love in the slimmer, thinner profile of these kinds of socks – particularly if you’re looking for warmth, durability, and a tight fit when snuggled into tighter fitting footwear.

Darn Tough socks are very durable, have a high level of moisture absorption, and are going to protect your feet in any weather condition while adding a lot of extra warmth when soaking wet the way that only merino wool can. The socks are made 100% in the USA (in Vermont) by the same small, family-run organization that started this business 40+ years ago.

When you get right down to it there’s a lot to fall in love with when it comes to both of these sock options. It’s all going to come down to your specific needs, your specific budget, and your specific interests as far as which one suits you right down to the ground best!

Last update on 2024-05-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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