The Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew is a perfect option for men in search of a high-quality, lightweight sock that does best in the three seasons of Fall, Spring, and Summer.
The Light Hiker proved to be durable, breathable, and comfortable. We found ourselves reaching for it on day hikes and runs.
The Women's Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew has a similar design but features 59% Merino Wool, 39% Nylon, 2% Lycra Spandex. The blend is a little different, but many of our testers felt that the performance and comfort level was about the same (according to both male and female testers). Our female testers appreciate the female-specific design that left less material in the forefoot and provided a tighter fit around the heel.
As a lightweight sock, it is pretty darn comfortable and well fitted. Stacked with Merino wool in the heel and sole, it is perfect for long adventures through the mountains. Our feet felt continuously fresh and ready for adventures on the next day. Additionally, the material on the top of the sock is light and thin, allowing ample airflow and breathability. Our male testers thought the fit was perfect for the size, without any additional material. The 40% merino wool, 56% nylon, 4% lycra spandex material blend prevents the sock from stretching out and maintaining its shape - even when wet.
In comparison to other heavier sock designs, this and the women's Darn Tough light hikers did not do as well because of the limited amount of material in the forefoot and heel. For example, the Darn Tough Full Cushion provides more cushioning in the forefoot and heel that makes it more comfortable to wear for extended distances. After testing, our feet weren't as raw after long days on rocky trails. On warm days, our testers preferred the lighter design (for better breathability) and fancied sacrificing the extra cushioning.
Additional cushioning was found in the heel and forefoot, while the top of the sock was light and thin. The compression panels around the arch and ankle provided additional comfort that was hard to find in any other sock tested.
With a lightweight design, it's no wonder that this sock isn't super warm. Given the lightweight design, our testers didn't prefer it in cold environments. In our dry tests, it kept us warm for about ten minutes before going numb in the sub-zero temperatures of Alaska. We are able to use this sock while walking in cold temperatures, however as soon as we stopped, our feet went numb. In our wet tests, the wool did a decent job at insulating when wet. However, it's not a comparative warm sock. Overall? This is not a warm sock and is best suited for the warm to cool temperatures of Fall, Summer, and Spring.
Looking for a warmer model? Take a peek at theDarn Tough Full Cushion for men or the Smartwool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew for women. Both offer better insulation when wet and dry.
Wicking and Breathability
This sock is super breathability with excellent wicking capabilities. Alongside the Women's Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew, we recommend it for cool to warm weather or high-intensity activities like trail running or fast packing. The Merino wool blend in addition to the nylon and spandex material provides a tight fit around the foot that allows moisture to move to the surface of the sock, providing sufficient evaporation. The thinner fabric design is less absorbent, thus making it a great option for active activities.
While it breathes well, it certainly is not perfect. Some of our testers reported that the bottom of their feet got warm (on super hot days) which means a little less breathability at the bottom of the sock. That said, of all the socks tested, it is one of the most breathable, earning a Top Pick.
This Light Hiker is perfect for warm days on the trail. Its thinner design, coupled with many breathable panels on the top of the foot, keeps our feet dry and comfortable.
Backed by the Darn Tough Guarantee, we are happy to report this sock is super durable. Even though we noticed a little pilling after just 10 miles of use, we didn't notice anymore in the long term (and we've had them for over a year now!) We saw the same trend in all the Darn Tough socks tested.
The Smartwool socks in comparison showed less durability overall, while the Wigwam Hiker Pro (a synthetic-blend) provided the best in strength overall. That said, 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 throughout your lifetime, Darn Tough will send you a new pair without question. As a result, this contender earns high marks in this metric.
After about 20 miles of use, we see some pilling in high use areas - however this was also the extent of it after 60 miles of trail trekking. This Darn Tough sock has lived up to its name!
With its lightweight construct, it will dry out on the trail. The tightly packed wool fibers offer sufficient breathability and dying speed — especially on the move. However, in our tests, it took about 120 minutes to fully dry, making it about the middle of the pack when comparing its performance to other socks on the market.
We typically find that a sock with less wool dries faster than those without. As a result, if you're in the market for a sock that dries super fast, the Wigwam Hiker Pro is your best bet. If you want a merino wool sock that dries quickly, the Danish Unisex Merino Wool Sock is the second fastest to dry of all contenders. This is because it only has 33% merino wool blend. Overall, the Light Hiker Micro Crew does a decent job drying both on and off trail - it's just not the fastest (or the slowest) out there.
A look at the comparative weights during our dryer tests. Here the vertical line with the name of the sock shows the time at which each dried in our controlled in-lab tests.
As our Top Pick for Active Wear, we'd recommend this sock for any activity that requires high intensity…in most conditions. This light hiker has a tight fit that provides a durable and cushioned performance. We recommend it for all conditions (including rainy ones) because it regulates through a wide range of temperatures. We just wouldn't recommend it for standing around on a cold winter day. Overall, it's a wonderful and versatile lightweight contender that is quite versatile and best for cool to warm weather. Take it with you on your next trail run, backpacking trip, or day hike.
Josh lounges by beautiful azure lake after hiking and running up to 15,000 ft in the Peruvian Andes. The Darn Tough Light Hiker did a great job keeping his feet dry and protected on the treacherous trail. Check out other options available for both men and women in our Best in Class review!
With a lifetime guarantee and great performance, it's worth $20! You can't beat the comfort of the material and durability it offers. If you're on a super tight budget, be sure to look at the full-length Danish Merino Unisex Sock (only $9 per sock), our Best Buy award winner.
This Top Pick features a lightweight merino wool blend that is perfect for any three-season trail adventure. Take it with you on rainy day hikes or through warm desert temperatures. In all conditions, it will hold up for years to come, coming full circle with a lifetime guarantee.