• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

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

 
Vera Stewart
Posts: 246
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
30
bike books dog food preservation greening the desert
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This winter, three pairs of socks will do battle.

Prologue: I've worn out three pairs of Darn Tough socks in the past couple of years (and had two pairs replaced, free of charge from the company, although paying for shipping made replacements not actually free to me. ) I was very happy when I first tried the Darn Toughs, as they are far more comfortable then most socks I'd worn until finding them. It's also more then possible to wear them two or three times before having to wash them without feeling particularly grungy. Which is especially useful for camping trips. However, they are expensive, and I have never been able to find them on sale locally. I have, however, come across some other high-end socks at discounted prices, so I want to try them out and compare and determine for myself which socks are really the best deal.

Disclaimer: If you're in a different location and have different access to sock possibilities then I do, then the cost comparisons will be different for you. Also, if you wear your socks in different situations then I do, and have different feet then I do, and cut your toenails at a different frequency then I do, use a different washing machine then I do, etc., then your sock longevity will be different then mine.

Proclamation: I had to buy these socks, and no sock company has offered to send me money or free sock samples.

I will be testing and comparing these three (women's medium size) pairs of socks over the winter (and likely the next winter as well, as my past Darn Tough socks have lasted about two, two and a half winter seasons, and besides, Smartwool guarantees their socks for two years. Soooo then, these should last at least two years, right?)

Competitor One - Darn Tough's Cushion Boot Sock - 64% Wool, 33% Nylon and 3% Lycra - purchased at full price $31 CDN

Competitor Two - Smartwool's Light Cushion Hike  - 62%Wool 37% Nylon 2% Elastane - purchased on sale for $13 CDN

Competitor Three - Icebreaker's Merino Light Cushion Hike, Left and Right Anatomic Fit,  - 61% Wool, 37% Nylon 2% Elastane - purchased on sale for $12.50 CDN


It's not a typo, both the Smartwool and Icebreaker do indeed state they have the exact same ingredients.

Now, the Darn Tough pair has an unintended advantage, as I should have purchased one of their light cushion pairs, but what I actually have is their medium weight cushion. I haven't quite decided how to measure this yet, but I do expect the Darn Tough's (DT) to last longer because of the extra cushion. At the moment I'm planning to require a 10% longer life from the DT's because of their extra cushion - if they don't last 10% longer, then they don't win the longevity contest.

I can only wear these socks in the winter (for these purposes, September through to April) because in the summer I prefer being barefoot or in sandals.

Test conditions:

I will be wearing each pair of socks 2 days, and then washing all three pairs in the same wash load. (If I don't wear them all before I have a wash load, as I will be alternating them with other socks and stockings, then they'll all wait until they're all ready for the wash.)  All three call for warm water wash, no bleach, the Darn Tough's ask for gentle wash, the Darn Toughs and Icebreakers allow for drying by machine on low, which doesn't matter, because I dry everything on a line anyway. I will be using a front-load washer for the majority of the time, on regular cycle and use Nellie's brand laundry soda. ( I figure that a front-loader's regular cycle is like a top-loader's gentle cycle, so I don't think this will disadvantage the Darn Tough's.)

Every five washes, I will be making note of each pair's condition. (I won't necessarily post here unless something noticeable has changed.)

In the end, I hope to determine which stay comfortable longest, and which, for me, give the greatest comfortable lifespan per dollar.

The competition began on September 1st, and the competitors have just come out of their first wash and dry.

SAM_5419.JPG
[Thumbnail for SAM_5419.JPG]
The Contenders
 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6706
Location: Left Coast Canada
844
books chicken cooking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
how exciting!

Can you tell us a bit about the fibre content (cotton, wool, &c) of each brand and what you think of the texture?  I'm also interested in how tight the tops are as I'm looking for socks for a Christmas present for a diabetic.
 
Nicole Alderman
garden master
Posts: 1714
Location: Pacific Northwest
267
cat duck forest garden hugelkultur cooking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I love my Darn Toughs! I got a 6 pairs of them last August, and despite wearing those same 6 pairs of socks pretty much non-stop without alternating with any other socks, only two have worn holes. A few are getting thin, but considering I wore through 6 pairs of Costco's wool socks in 1-3 months, I'm really pleased with the Darn Tough socks' endurance. And, they have a life-time warranty, so I can mail the pair of holey socks to them, and they'll mail me new ones without any extra charge (speaking of which, I really need to get around to doing that!). These are the socks I bought from them, and have been wonderful in both the summer and winter (my feet never overheated this summer, though the rest of me did!). I find the socks a little itchy where the change from one color yarn to another (definitely perfer the solid-colored socks, but the ones I got were only $7 each, including shipping). Mine are knee highs, and they are snug but not too tight. I find them about as tight as any other knee-highs I've owned. My legs are average size, I think (I'm 5'4" and weigh 130 pounds when not pregnant, and I don't have stick legs).

As for their fiber composition, it really varies on how thick the socks are. They have "ultra-light" socks that are 46% Merino Wool, 50% Nylon, 4% Lycra® Spandex. The thicker "extra cushion" socks, however, are 73% Merino Wool, 25% Nylon, 2% Lycra® Spandex. It seems like the outside layer of thread/yarn is likely the nylon and spandex, while the inside is wool--probably since the nylon and spandex are more durable than the wool? So, the thicker the socks, the higher the wool percentage (except for their "Thermolite socks" which have no wool: 64% Thermolite Polyester, 32% Nylon, 4% Lycra® Spandex. I haven't tried those socks, nor do I really want to. I like my wool!)
 
Vera Stewart
Posts: 246
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
30
bike books dog food preservation greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Notes from initial wearing:

Icebreakers - These felt very tight when I first put them on. I'm accustomed to folding over the top part of socks, to wear them doubled over my ankle, unless it's particularly cold, and I couldn't comfortably do that with this pair, at least not right now, right out of the box. After a little while, the sensation of tightness receded somewhat.

Smartwools - Certainly not as tight as the Icebreakers, I was able to turn the tops down. They weren't loose, but definitely looser then the Icebreakers (and the Darn Toughs as well.) The Smartwool pair doesn't seem as warm as the other two.

Darn Toughs - Felt the softest of the three. This fit is the fit that I've grown used to, so it was the most comfortable. Almost felt too warm for this early September weather.
SAM_5430.JPG
[Thumbnail for SAM_5430.JPG]
Icebreakers
SAM_5433.JPG
[Thumbnail for SAM_5433.JPG]
Smartwools
SAM_5460.JPG
[Thumbnail for SAM_5460.JPG]
Darn Toughs
 
Vera Stewart
Posts: 246
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
30
bike books dog food preservation greening the desert
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The sock competition continues.
There has been no noticeable change in any of the socks to date.
 
Vera Stewart
Posts: 246
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
30
bike books dog food preservation greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The sock competitors have just emerged from their 10th washing.

So far, none have any visible changes.

However, the Smartwool pair are starting to feel a touch loose. They were the loosest to begin with, also they feel slightly "rougher" then the other two, which at first I didn't like, but it's growing on me. I think that the failing of the Smartwools may be an eventual loss of sufficient elasticity to keep them up properly. We're definitely not at that stage yet, though.

The Icebreakers are also feeling less tight then they did at the start of the competition, which in their case is a good thing.

The Darn Toughs have not seemed to change in any way.
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
Posts: 206
Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am glad to have run across this thread!  I have become a fan of Darn Tough ever since an old neighbor introduced me to these locally made socks.  I have definitely worn holes through several pairs but I also wore them all winter long.  My husband and kids have Smartwool socks for skiing.  My husband prefers the Darn Tough socks for skiing but the kids were stuck with Smartwool because Darn Tough didn't make small enough socks when we bought them.  That may have changed now though.  I look forward to reading your conclusions.
 
Nicole Alderman
garden master
Posts: 1714
Location: Pacific Northwest
267
cat duck forest garden hugelkultur cooking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Darn Tough does make smaller socks now. They have Junior size small, medium, and large. The small fits my three year old. He has large feet and has been wearing them since he was two. They were a little big then, but since they are so form-fitting (tighter around the arch), they have always stayed on better than any of his other socks. They also have never even worn thin, despite him wearing them for a year. They're not itchy, and he loves them!
 
Vera Stewart
Posts: 246
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
30
bike books dog food preservation greening the desert
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
These socks have now been washed 20 times.

How are they doing?

As you can see from the photo, the Smartwools are becoming distended. The Icebreakers are starting to look a little thin at rub points under close inspection, and the Darn Toughs are still looking and feeling fine.
20wash.JPG
[Thumbnail for 20wash.JPG]
 
Vera Stewart
Posts: 246
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
30
bike books dog food preservation greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
All these socks will go through their 25th wash in a few days. It will also probably be their last wear 'n' wash cycle until October, as it's becoming too warm for me to continue wearing wool socks comfortably.
I suspect there are some people who can wear wool all year long, but I'm not one of them.
After their last wash, one of the Smartwool socks disgorged a big ball of fluff from it's interior.
However, I will be keeping all three pairs until the return of the contest in the autumn!
 
Vera Stewart
Posts: 246
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
30
bike books dog food preservation greening the desert
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I took the three pairs of competing socks out from storage today - I will probably start wearing them again next week.
 
Those are the largest trousers in the world! Especially when next to this ad:
Video of all the PDC and ATC (~177 hours) - HD instant view
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!