Monday, May 14, 2012

Darn Tough: Why are you still wearing cotton?

Cotton kills - we all know this. It gets wet, stays wet, and doesn't dry out. In the warm months, our feet sweat and when they are kept in wet socks they are more susceptible to blisters and sores. Wet socks can also prolong conditions of athlete's foot, trench foot, and even just plain ol' stinky foot. In cold, wet conditions, wet socks can lead to uncomfortable conditions at best, and at worst it can help to cause hypothermia or frostbite. Yet year after year, we buy cotton socks. Why? Because they are cheap. And when they wear out (in the heels, no doubt) then we go out and buy some more.

Are cotton socks bad socks? Not necessarily - as mentioned above, they are inexpensive, sold in bulk, and are fine when they can be kept dry and warm. But with prolonged activity, or sometimes any activity in the warm months or wet months, it can be very tough to keep your feet dry. With activities that include hiking, hunting, training, mountain biking, and athletics, I have struggled for years to find the perfect sock. I have always known that wool socks were better than cotton socks in the wet and cold, as they help to wick moisture away from the foot, can be warm even when wet, and are inherently warmer. In fact, it is that same wicking ability that makes wool socks - yes, wool socks - a great choice for warmer weather, as well. But wool socks are often itchy, or expensive, or too thick, and several of the brands I have tried just aren't that durable and wear out too quickly.

Enter 'Darn Tough Vermont' - a name that just sounds awesome. I discovered Darn Tough Vermont socks while shopping at my local outdoor outfitter, Manzanita Outdoor. I will admit that it took me getting several recommendations from several of the staff there to purchase an $18.00 pair of socks, but that $18.00 would change my life (or more precisely, the life of my feet) forever. Not only were they comfortable, but they didn't itch and they really did wick the moisture away in the heat and keep my feet warm in the cold. Lucky for me, the local weather was acting crazy, and over the course of just one week I was able to test my new socks out in warm, 80 degree weather AND sub-freezing temps in 4+ feet of snow. True to their word, Darn Tough Vermont socks are darn tough, and held up to their end of the bargain. So well, in fact, that I went back and purchased several more pairs, including some tall boot length pairs for use while training.

But I've been holding back on one of the best parts: they are guaranteed for life, unconditionally. If you can put a hole in them, take them back to where you bought them and receive a new pair. No questions asked whatsoever. Turn in old socks, receive new socks, for as long as you both shall live. Any company that will stand behind their product like that has my vote.

And if you're a girly girl (or a fashionable guy), don't dismay - they have all kinds of different colors, designs, ankle cuts, sport cuts, various lengths, kids socks, and even military/tactical grade socks. Chances are they have a sock that works for you. Visit their website today to learn more about these fantastic pieces of equipment that should be on everyone's feet.

Most people don't hesitate much to spend good money for a new watch or a fashionable pair of jeans, or throwing down a chunk of change for a new bracelet or a nice, warm coat. Your feet are one of the most important, but often underappreciated, parts of your body. They get you where you need to go, so treat them right by dressing them in a sock that works with them, and not against them.

Stay Aware, Stay Safe, Train Hard.

-Glen Stilson