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Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Review

Light, breathable, and ready for sweaty hiking adventures, this thin sock is excellent in the summer season
Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew
Photo: Darn Tough
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $21 List | $21.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Highly breathable, comfortable, well-fitted, no itch, excellent wicking power, quick to dry
Cons:  Slippery fabrics, shorter length
Manufacturer:   Darn Tough
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 11, 2020
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 11
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Wicking and Breathability - 25% 9
  • Warmth - 20% 5
  • Durability - 20% 9
  • Drying Speed - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew is one of the best selling socks on the market. It offers a super breathable and thin construction throughout. It's loaded with durable cushioning that keeps your feet comfortable mile after mile. It has a higher proportion of Nylon to merino wool which provides awesome wicking power that'll keep your foot dry when exerting a lot of effort. The only caveat we have is its lower height that doesn't work with some high top hiking boots. Aside from that, it's our favorite lightweight model that's ideal for hot weather and long thru-hikes.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $21.95 at Backcountry
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$26.95 at Backcountry
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$15.95 at REI$16.00 at Amazon$29.95 at Amazon
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Pros Highly breathable, comfortable, well-fitted, no itch, excellent wicking power, quick to dryDurable, comfortable, wide temperature regulation, versatile, fittedLight, breathable, quick to dry, insulates when wetIncredible durability, quick to dry, accommodates a liner, comfortableInexpensive, comfortable, soft on the skin, good thermoregulation
Cons Slippery fabrics, shorter lengthNot ideal for hot temperatures, tall cut not best for allNo heavy underfoot padding or protection, lacks stand-alone warmthLoose fit, lacks compression paneling, loses wicking capabilities in cold weatherThinner materials, deforms when wet, lacks stand alone warmth
Bottom Line Light, breathable, and ready for sweaty hiking adventures, this thin sock is excellent in the summer seasonAn all-time favorite meant for long days on the trail in any seasonThis high value contender boasts a fast drying speed and ultralight construction suitable for warm weatherA synthetic full-length sock with exemplary durability and drying speed that excels in wet weatherThis high-value merino wool blend comes in a three-pack with a lower per sock price that's hard to beat
Rating Categories Light Hiker Micro Crew Darn Tough Hiker Fu... Merino Wool Ultrali... Wigwam Hiking Outdo... Unisex Merino Wool
Comfort (25%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Wicking And Breathability (25%)
9.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Warmth (20%)
5.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Durability (20%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
5.0
Drying Speed (10%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
Specs Light Hiker Micro Crew Darn Tough Hiker Fu... Merino Wool Ultrali... Wigwam Hiking Outdo... Unisex Merino Wool
Material 54% Nylon, 43% Merino Wool, 3% Lycra Spandex 66% Merino Wool, 32% Nylon, 2% Lycra Spandex 72% RWS Merino Wool, 26% Nylon, 2% Lycra Spandex 41% Polypropylene, 34% Acrylic, 23% Stretch Nylon, 1% Stretch Polyester, 1% Spandex 33% Merino Wool, 33% Acrylic, 33% Polyamide, 1% Elastane
Sock Thickness Lightweight Midweight Lightweight Midweight Midweight
Tested Length Lower calf High calf Lower calf Lower calf Mid-calf

Our Analysis and Test Results

Sock Updates
There are many lovers of Darn Tough's previous iteration, so we feel the need to outline the biggest differences we found with the current 2020 update. The newest version sees some new updates that make it more breathable. Here's the break-down:
  • New construction with a different proportion of materials. The previous version used: 40% merino wool, 56% nylon, 4% Lycra Spandex in its construction. Now, it uses: 54% Nylon 43% Merino Wool 3% Lycra Spandex
  • It's more breathable
  • Underfoot cushioning now extends to the Achilles.
  • Ribbing on the body of the sock has been taken off
  • Lighter

Overall, we're impressed with the updates to these socks' performance. It's a lot lighter and more breathable than before.

The Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew is our favorite for its lightweight and breathable design. It'll provide comfort all year round, whether you like to hike, run, or even cross-country ski. It's highly breathable, provides excellent wicking power, and dries quickly. Its durable construction will last a long time and is backed by Darn Tough's excellent guarantee. While the initial price is high, this Top Pick is a worthy investment.

Performance Comparison


The Darn Tough Light Hiker is ready for any hiking or running...
The Darn Tough Light Hiker is ready for any hiking or running mission you have your mindset on.
Photo: Amber King

Comfort


For a lightweight sock, it is pretty darn comfortable and well fitted. It's excellent for long adventures in both the mountains, deserts, and everywhere in between. It offers cushioning throughout the length of the foot and through the Achilles. This level of comfort is suitable to wear while thru-hiking, day hiking, or running. The protective length makes for great wear while bushwacking through grasses.


After long missions, our feet feel fresh and ready for adventures on the next day, despite running or hiking over rocky or technical terrain. The material on the top of the sock is light and thin, allowing ample airflow and breathability. Our male and females testers felt the fit was true to size. The new sizing doesn't bunch at the toe and offers ample stretch that bounces back. The seamless construction makes for an even better fit and level of comfort.

It offers great cushioning underfoot to easily carry heavy loads for...
It offers great cushioning underfoot to easily carry heavy loads for long periods of time.
Photo: Amber King

The 54% Nylon 43% Merino Wool 3% Lycra Spandex blend prevents the sock from stretching out and maintaining its shape - even when wet. It provides an amazing fit and a great deal of comfort that will take you everywhere, from short day hikes to long backpacking missions.

These socks are nice and tight and don't slide down, even in a pair...
These socks are nice and tight and don't slide down, even in a pair of boots. They'll accommodate most mid-height hiking boots, but not the tallest models.
Photo: Amber King

Wicking and Breathability


This sock is super breathable with excellent wicking capabilities. We recommend it for cool to warm weather or high-intensity activities like trail running or fastpacking. The Nylon-Merino wool wraps the foot which grabs moisture and transfers it away from it. The thinner fabrics provide ventilation underfoot, and the cushioning doesn't absorb much moisture. If it does, it'll dry quickly.


We wore this sock while running in the Spring and hiking over snow-covered trails in Colorado. Our shoes weren't completely waterproof, so we noticed our feet getting damp. After leaving the snowbanks, within 20 minutes, our socks had dried out. Impressive. We also tested this sock while cross-country skiing in low cut boots and it offered the same performance in these conditions.

A look at the construction. The beefy areas of cozy comfort lay...
A look at the construction. The beefy areas of cozy comfort lay under the foot while there are plenty of areas that you can see where thin fabrics preside. This, and the Nylon construction, helps to grab and wick away sweat, keeping the foot dry.
Photo: Amber King

We also tested this sock in the desert during a backpacking trip. While temperatures got up to 90F, our feet stayed nice and dry. Never did we get a blister or felt like our feet were too hot. This is a huge improvement on the previous iteration that used to hold moisture underfoot. As a result, we'd recommend it for a range of temperatures as it breathes well.

This sock performs on warm aerobic endeavors like running and hiking...
This sock performs on warm aerobic endeavors like running and hiking in warm temperatures.
Photo: Amber King

Warmth


Through the Fall, Summer, and Spring, this hiker offers sufficient warmth on the trail. It'll be a great compadre on summer nights, and a wonderful trail friend on both Spring and Fall days. However, given the shorter length and lightweight design, it isn't suitable for the colder months if you plan on winter camping or standing around. It will, however, perform if you're in motion. For example; we tested it while cross-country skiing in a storm and it kept our feet nice and dry, and thus, warm.


Amber, our main tester, feels a bit cold this morning as temps dip...
Amber, our main tester, feels a bit cold this morning as temps dip into the 30s. The socks aren't the best for warmth.
Photo: Amber King

We also took them on a backpacking trip in the mountains where temperatures dipped into below 30F at night. We wore only these socks and appropriate layers for the experience. While the rest of our bodies felt sufficiently warm, our feet were cold. This isn't our first choice for sitting or sleeping in cold conditions due to its thin nature. However, for adventures that involve running or moving quickly in cold weather, this is one we'd choose. If winter camping is your thing, go for a warmer sock.

Using them while cross-country skiing in this snowy environment...
Using them while cross-country skiing in this snowy environment proves to be a great application.
Photo: Amber King

Durability


Backed by the Darn Tough Guarantee, we are happy to report the Darn Tough Light Hiker is gritty and tenacious. After a month of hard testing and put roughly 50 trail miles on it, it's holding up well. While there's pilling on the sock after a few washes, we haven't noticed any other durability issues. The previous iteration we owned for over five years, and it keeps performing. Time will tell with this contender, but we imagine it'll perform similarly, especially with the integration of more Nylon which will most likely increase the durability of it.


This is one of the best lightweight wool-blend options when it comes to durability. If you happen to get a hole in the sock, Darn Tough will send you a new pair without question. While its lightweight, it's durable and well constructed.

After 50+ miles, we see hardly any impaction or stress on the fibers...
After 50+ miles, we see hardly any impaction or stress on the fibers underfoot. There's a bit of very minor pilling, but so far, durability is where you want it. Plus, it's built by Darn Tough, a US company that prides themselves in high-quality sock construction, and offers a stellar guarantee.
Photo: Amber King

Drying Speed


With its lightweight construct, it will dry out on the trail. The tightly packed wool fibers offer sufficient breathability and drying speed — especially on the move. In our dryer tests, it proves to be super fast to dry and hardly holds moisture. Once again, this is why this lightweight contender wins our Top Pick Award.


The new design of this sock is incredible at wicking, breathing, and drying out. In several scenarios this past Spring, we found ourselves hiking and cross-country skiing in the snow. While the sock did get wet (as our boots and shoes aren't waterproof), it typically dried within 20 minutes after we reached drier conditions. Even then, our feet stayed warm.

We test the Darn Tough Light Hiker on this super snowy day in the...
We test the Darn Tough Light Hiker on this super snowy day in the San Juans. This running mission turned cold, but this sock kept our feet warm when on the move. When we stopped, we started to feel a bit of a shiver.
Photo: Amber King

When subjected to our dryer tests, it proved to be very fast to dry and absorbs little water. The starting dry weight of a one size small (men's) sock is 0.85 oz. This is one of the lightest we've ever tested to start. We then washed both socks and remeasured it's 'wet weight' which came in at 1.25 oz. This means it gained 0.45 oz of water. To start, this is incredible and makes it a less absorbent contender. Then we put them in the dryer, checking and reweighing it every 10 minutes. It only took these socks 30 minutes to dry, which gives it a lightning-fast drying time.

The top of the foot and the length of the calf are where most of the...
The top of the foot and the length of the calf are where most of the breathable ventilation occurs. This huge amount of surface area and use of Nylon in its construction adds to its success in our drying speed tests.
Photo: Amber King

This, along with our field tests, verify our hypothesis that this sock is incredibly breathable and quick to dry. We'd recommend wearing them in almost any condition. Wet, dry, hot, and cool.

Value


With a lifetime guarantee and stellar performance, it's worth the high upfront cost. The level of breathability is impeccable and its lightweight construction is surprisingly comfortable enough to take a heavy load for miles and miles. If you put a hole through them, send 'em in and Darn Tough will replace them. What better value is there out there? While the initial price is high, the longevity you get out of this sock is worth the cost. An excellent value that's worth investing in. Plus, they're built in the USA.

This sock makes for a good choice while hiking, running, and camping...
This sock makes for a good choice while hiking, running, and camping in warmer weather. Here we set up an ultralight tent while exploring the mountains of the San Juans in early Spring.
Photo: Amber King

Conclusion


The Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew is a light, breathable merino wool sock that'll keep your feet dry on the trail. Its thin and durable construction makes it useable for all seasons, but its level of warmth is limited to only active sports in the winter. If you're seeking a sock that'll keep your feet dry and cool in the summer, will hold up for miles, and comes with a bomber, hard to compare guarantee, this one is worth the initial upfront cost.

This sock is our favorite for running, hiking, and backpacking. It's...
This sock is our favorite for running, hiking, and backpacking. It's suitable for warm to hot weather and can be worn in a low hiking boot or shoe. Enjoy its excellent performance throughout the year. Just know it's designed for those that like to stay on the move.
Photo: Amber King

Amber King