Darn Tough Vs Smartwool: Socks Review

Wool isn’t just to keep you warm in the winter anymore. With the modern marvel of Merino wool, you can wear wool any time of year.

Whether you’re hiking in the snow or running in the heat of the summer, Merino wool socks are the perfect answer to the need for breathability and moisture management.

Darn Tough and Smartwool are two of the most well-known companies for Merino wool socks. Compare each product before you buy to get the best socks for your next adventure.

Quick Comparison: Darn Tough Vs. Smartwool Merino wool socks

 Darn Tough
Our Best Pick
How Does it Thin?BetterWorse
Wool ContentVaries depending on sock typeVaries depending on sock type
Elastic ContouringYesYes
Drying TimeMoreLess
Stitches per InchMoreLess
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price

Why Merino Wool?

Merino wool originated in Spain, but Merino sheep were domesticated most recently in New Zealand and Australia. Merino sheep have very fine and soft wool, and it is not nearly as scratchy as regular wool, either, making it a great choice for a hiking, work, or running sock.

Merino wool is great as it dries fast and has antimicrobial properties. It wicks away sweat and evaporates to the outer environment. This keeps your skin dry and warm.

Synthetic fibers can absorb around 7 percent of their own weight in moisture before they feel wet, but Merino wool can hold up to 30 percent.

Odor control is fantastic with Merino wool as well, and it is incredibly resilient with its natural fiber curl that increases its elasticity and strength.


Smartwool, based in Colorado, creates more than just socks out of Merino wool in the U.S.A. It offers a full line of garments created. The company offers light to thick socks and different types of sock technologies.

No matter what activity you want to wear socks for, you will probably find the right pair from Smartwool. Smartwool also offers a two-year guarantee on their products, so, if you’re not happy with them, you can return them within that time period. Smartwool’s Merino wool comes from the Southern Hemisphere.

Darn Tough Vermont

Based in Vermont, Darn Tough’s socks are not just for hiking. The company also offers socks that are tailored to different activities. Darn Tough is nearly 40 years old, and it is family-owned and has been for three generations of sons. Socks are produced in the company’s one mill in Northfield, Vermont.

If you don’t find the socks you buy from the company to be the best you’ve worn, you can return them for another pair. Darn Tough offers a lifetime warranty on its socks. The company’s wool hails from America and other countries.

Wool Content

The wool content of Darn Tough’s and Smartwool’s socks both vary by the type of sock. You will find more or less Merino wool in each company’s various kinds of socks. As you compare different types of socks, look at the specific Merino wool content for the type of sock you want to buy.


In general, Smartwool’s socks seem to fare worse than Darn Tough socks when it comes to the lifespan of a sock. Smartwool’s are more liable to thin more quickly than Darn Tough’s, according to some users.

Darn Tough socks are made with uniform construction and quality, making it easier to gauge how long a particular pair of socks is likely to last compared to Smartwool.


Merino wool socks from both Smartwool and DarnTough are very comfortable. You may find Darn Tough socks to be more comfortable if you prefer thicker socks as Darn Tough uses more stitches per inch in sock construction than Smartwool. However, you may like Smartwool socks better if you’re looking for something that is thinner and that provides a snug in-shoe fit.

Smartwool socks also have an arch-hugging design that can help prevent hotspots and blisters. Arch support on the Darn Tough hiking socks also provides a comfortable fit.

Some Smartwool reviewers have noted that bunching may be an issue with certain types of the company’s socks. Darn Tough advertises that their hiking socks offer ribbed support, which prevents bunching.

Additionally, each company offers elastic contouring on their socks, which plays a role in comfort.Also, Darn Tough and Smartwool offer cushioning from light to extra for those who prefer varying levels of cushion.

Finally, the cushioning in the toe and heel of Darn Tough socks is higher than those from Smartwool.


Darn Tough’s socks are, in general, thicker than Smartwool socks. This means high-quality construction and more stitches per inch than Smartwool. Darn Tough socks are also guaranteed for life.

Final Verdict

Neither Darn Tough nor Smartwool socks are necessarily inherently better than the other. Depending on the activities that you need Merino socks for, your physical build, and your personal preferences, you may have a definite preference for one kind of sock over another.

Both companies produce their socks in the U.S.A., and both use Merino wool. This desirable wool makes it the perfect fiber for work and play at any time of year.

Merino wool is definitely the way to go if you want a fiber that is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Its wicking properties are higher than those of synthetic fibers, and you don’t have to worry about any odor problems as the wicking prevents bacteria overgrowth.

Both companies also offer nice guarantees, although Darn Tough offers a lifetime warranty and sock-replacement guarantee compared to Smartwool’s two-year guarantee. Darn Tough makes thicker socks than Smartwool, although Smartwool offers lighter, thinner socks that are perhaps better suited to certain activities than Darn Tough socks.

Choose socks that meet the specific conditions of the activity you plan to use them for, and consider your personal preferences for sock height, cushion, and design before you purchase.

You can purchase Merino wool socks for everything from running to hunting to everyday work and play wear.


Chief editor here at Sky-Liners, Breana is a former expat and outdoor enthusiast who grew up on camping, hunting, and hiking. If she could live anywhere, it would be a tree fort in the woods. For now, she's surviving on weekly hiking trips and monthly mountain breaks. You can read more about Breana's adventures on her blog at 3rdCultureWife.

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