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The Sock-o a Sock-o Darn Tough vs. Smartwool vs. Icebreaker Thread

 
Posts: 124
Location: Ontario, climate zone 3a
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I got a pair of Darn Tough socks a few years ago, and not being able to try them on in the store, I bought in my shoe size based on their packaging.  When I got them home, they were far too tight, particularly in the calf.  I really don't like anything that is tight around my calf, and the top of the sock was a definite pressure point.  Even the foot was uncomfortably tight.  I ended up giving them to a kid.  I looked at their website and found that they stand by their sizing (I have seen a lot of complaints online about them fitting too tight based on the size), and apparently they do have diabetic "compression socks", but the important thing for circulation is to not have tight points.  Anything that comes mid-calf has to be loose enough to accommodate your muscles and circulation.  If it leaves a dent in your skin, it is too tight.  If I ever buy another pair, I will be more pushy about actually trying them on in the store before spending the money.  Based on their durability in your test, it sounds like the materials are generally worth the expenditure, especially with their replacement guarantee.  I'll try a size up from their recommendation and look for something with more give at the top next time.
 
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The competitors have more or less retired for the season as I've switched to garden clogs and sandals now that my weather is warmer and I wear both without socks. I'll probably start wearing them again in October.
 
Vera Stewart
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Snow on the ground this morning, and wool socks on my feet. The competition resumes!
 
                        
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looking forward to the results, great work!
Thank you for the information.
-Josiah
 
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This was a great read. I originally started with Smartwool several years ago but I ended up switching to Icebreaker. Like you, I liked Icebreaker’s anatomical setup (L & R socks), but unlike you, I found my Icebreakers easily outlasted my Smartwools. I’ve recently acquired 2 pair of thick, over-calf Darn Toughs and they seem very nice although it hasn’t been cold enough yet to wear them with my Muck Arctic Ice.

The one point I wanted to mention that you didn’t address in your post (or I missed it) is that Icebreaker does in fact have free lifetime replacement. I’ve done 2 myself though I should note this was in person at an Icebreaker store.

Update: I also recently discovered that SW and IB are owned by the same company — VF Corp
 
Vera Stewart
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The demise of the first competition's winner has come. They have at last sprung a leak. (I will probably darn the hole soon.)

I'm not doing such a great job keeping track of how many washes the current competitors have had, but they're still being worn and washed here.
leakysock.JPG
[Thumbnail for leakysock.JPG]
 
Vera Stewart
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Update on Second Round of Competition: Darn Tough v. Wigwam v. Smartwool

Well, now my Darn Tough socks have wandered off on their own adventure somewhere. Hopefully I'll be able to find them during the spring cleaning that's just getting started here today. This is the second time I've had a pair of socks vanish on me during this long experiment, and I feel I need to explain why this may be so.

Sometimes even in the middle of winter, I take my socks off while I wander around the house.
Sometimes I put them some place odd when I do. I drop them on the 'wrong' side of the couch, or put them on a dinning table chair that's only pulled out from under the table once a month when I get around to dusting everything properly. I stick them in a back pocket, and then maybe one or both fall out during my wanderings, or maybe my dog, who loves playing with socks, decides to help herself and I don't notice until I've done the week's laundry and I'm missing my socks.

Last time this happened to a pair of Darn Toughs, I found them again. I am expecting to find my newest pair again.

However, it is also mid-March and I found my first flowers outside today (dandelions) and it's perhaps just about time to wrap up this experiment for the season anyway.

The Wigwams are my least favourite of the three at the moment. I've found them a bit too warm most days. It has been a very mild winter. I've found these so warm that when it's come to be their 'turn' in the sock rotation I sigh a bit.

The Smartwools are holding up well and have been quite comfortable.

The Darn Toughs are holding up well and have been quite comfortable and if anyone sees them wandering about let me know.
 
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Ghislaine de Lessines wrote:One thought I had reading through this thread again is that it would be interesting to know what factories these socks are made at.  I say this knowing that the Darn Tough socks come from a mill here in Vermont that was contracted to make all kinds of socks for other companies.  Darn Tough was created because they could not compete with overseas manufacturing,  but they knew they could make a better quality sock.  I wonder if either of the competitor socks were actually contracted to be made in the same factory.

Or maybe not.  This article mentions losing all of those contracts to overseas but now have military contracts.  https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bostonglobe.com/business/2016/04/21/darn-tough/qYaTdRFEcFSIM35ZQVjUuM/amp.html



THAT's where I know them from...Cabot. Every year TJ Maxx would get these in. I bought heavily. Several models had them without all the strangling tops that leave deep furrows in the calf after removal. The last two years they just stopped getting them in. I put back a fair stack just because getting socks made here, in my size, and without strangler tops is tough. But looking forward, I'll have to resupply somehow. Not finished reading the thread yet. Great stuff so far.
 
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Vera, this is the coolest thing I’ve read in a long time.  Fiber, socks, longitudinal study. 3 items on my (growing) list of obsessions.  Thank you for posting and periodic updates.
 
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Oh wow! This thread warmed the cockles of my geeky research heart. Thank you so much for this! I have all 3 brands and while I have also noticed that my Icebreakers don't last as long as one would think, the Smartwool is pretty great but man, my Darn Toughs are exactly that, DARN TOUGH! Love that you put them all through the test!
 
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Awesome research.

I didn’t wear socks for six years living in the tropics. I was in BC summer of 2019 and went to MEC where they recommended Darn Tough. I bought three pairs. They are my go to socks. I’m also mostly barefoot in the summer. I also go for days without washing them - I thought that was just me! All three pairs are showing very little sign of wear. I wear them with trainers, hiking boots, leather boots, . . . They’re the only socks I need.

Thank you Vera for sharing your discoveries over the past five years.
 
Vera Stewart
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Got my wool socks out today - thank you for reading this thread and leaving comments which reminded me to get to it!

An update on their relative conditions as I start in to another winter of the second round of the sock competition!

The Wigwams are quite fuzzy and the colour is quite faded, but they are still functioning
The Darn Toughs (which I did find again over the summer) - still look good on top and are not fuzzy at all but have wear points particularly on the balls of the foot - I fear they may wear through soon
The Smartwools are a bit fuzzy but not as fuzzy as the wigwams and otherwise are in good shape

At the moment, it seems the smartwools are ahead!

 
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I've had several pairs of Darn Tough for several years now, and the pairs which are very thick show no wear or tear, while the two pairs which are thinner (very thin, like standard dress socks thin) are getting very threadbare on the back of the heels. I need to mail those back for replacement, and will avoid the thin ones going forward. My feet are larger so I think these thinner socks might not have been large enough and have less stretch, while the thicker socks either are larger or the knit allows more stretch. I see the XX-large sizing on one site is for US15-17 and I wear a 16-17 depending on width.

In the same time I've had these socks, I've gone through 4-5 pairs of normal cotton socks. So as long as the return process is reasonable, these are definitely worth the price difference.
 
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