REVIEW: Darn Tough Kelso Micro Crew Light CushionGear
Review by Daniel Neilson
STYLE: Hiking Sock
WHAT THEY SAY: Silky soft and lightly cushioned, the Kelso hiking sock keeps you moving with all the naturally quick-drying, stink-fighting benefits of Merino wool.
Painted on to the wall in Darn Tough’s Vermont mill are the words: ‘We have yet to produce our best sock’. Yep, Darn Tough take their socks seriously, and so should you. The sock is the best defence against blisters and against cold feet; two things that can quickly ruin a trip. And among all the gear we feature, £20 is probably the best investment you can make, and it is an investment. Darn Tough is so convinced in their socks they offer an unconditional lifetime guarantee. They don’t cover socks that your dog mauled, nor if you burnt them whilst drying them on the fire, but apart from that – got a hole? You’ll get a new pair. But you probably won’t get a hole – unlike nearly all other socks we’ve tested, ours are still going strong after a good couple of years of heavy use.
Darn Tough has every right to be confident. As we’ve said before, these are exceptional socks. Why? Firstly, comfort. To get a tad technical, all the socks are knit on fine gauge machines (168-needle machines giving on average 1441 stitches in a square inch to be specific). The fine knit makes them more durable and less bulky. And the better the fit, the longer they’ll last.
Most of the range are produced using merino wool – naturally odour beating and wicking – and reinforced on the outside and inside with nylon and lycra. The merino wool is sustainably sourced and from non-mulesing sheep, and Darn Tough are working towards getting all wool that adheres to the emerging Responsible Wool Standard.
The socks are also still made in Northfield, Vermont start to finish in one mill. ‘Nobody ever outsourced anything for quality,’ says Darn Tough’s CEO Ric Cabot. It’s a family business too – the knowledge passed down from father to son.
In this mill, they produce dozens of socks, across several categories: hike, athletic, run, snow, hunting and lifestyle. The Kelso Micro Crew Light Cushion in the hiking range is a particular favourite – soft, with an undetectable seam and close-fitting – bunching or chafing is eliminated. There’s a light cushioning across the bottom, but if you’re on a longer distance hike, we’d recommend a higher cushioning underfoot. The team also love the Hiker Micro Crew for a more demanding hiker option and I rececntly bought a pair of Coolmax Vertex No Show Tab Ultra Light running socks for the trails. It’s light for sure and effortlessly comfortable, it also employs Coolmax Polyester yarn that enhances the wicking capabilities of the sock. It fits and never slips.
When we discuss gear, we talk about design and materials, but rarely about skill, craft and deep-seated generational knowledge. Here is proof that we should hunt out more brands like Darn Tough for our adventures.