Hands-on Gear Review

Darn Tough No Show Light Review

Darn Tough No Show Light
Price:  $15 List | $14.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Good wicking and breathing, snug but not tight fit, minimal bulk
Cons:  Seams create creases and rub points, slippery in the shoe
Bottom line:  A well made light running sock that has no cushioning at all.
Editors' Rating:   
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Material:  52% Merino Wool, 44% Nylon, 4% Lycra┬« Spandex
Warranty:  Unconditional lifetime guarantee
Ankle Cut:  No Show Tab
Manufacturer:   Darn Tough

Our Verdict

The Darn Tough No Show Light was the only "light" sock in this review that featured absolutely no cushioning or padding. Whether you prefer some cushioning in your socks or none at all is a personal choice. We tend to prefer a light or ultra-light sock with a moderate amount of targeted cushioning only where its needed, but a large percentage of the running population prefers a light sock with no cushioning. Luckily, if this is you, virtually any of the socks that we have reviewed also come in versions without cushioning. Made of a blend of merino wool, nylon, and Lycra, the No Show Light is a thin, tightly woven, and durable sock that does an effective job of wicking away moisture. We found that it wasn't as comfortable as the more padded socks in our review, and was also not as effective at slip resistance, but was still a cool sock that we enjoyed running in.

Looking for a longer sock?
For a longer version of the Darn Tough Light sock, check out the Darn Tough Quarter Light, an ankle length version designed for running and hiking available for $16.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Running Socks for All Seasons


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Andy Wellman

Last Updated:
Thursday
February 16, 2017

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The Darn Tough No Show Light was the only light running sock that we tested that had no cushioning or added padding whatsoever. (We tested another pair as well that was unfortunately discontinued during our testing period, so doesn't show up in this review.) Some people prefer the closest and snuggest fitting sock without the added volume of cushioning, and for those people a simple light sock is best. It is important to be sure to size your shoes with your preferred amount of bulk in a sock in mind, because if you wear a bulky sock and suddenly switch to a light sock, your foot may end up swimming inside your shoe.

This sock is unique not only for its thin construction, but also because it is one of two socks we tested, along with the Smartwool PhD Run Light Elite Micro, that is made with a blend of merino wool. Wool helps expand this socks comfort range from cool to hot, and is also an effective wicker of moisture. We will admit that we prefer a light sock with a bit of padding, and that this sock didn't work well for our feet, especially on runs over a few miles. However, despite being the lowest scorer in this review, we still think it's a great sock, and heartily recommend it for runners who prefer a very thin running sock.

Performance Comparison


Trail running is our favorite use of running socks. Here we are testing on the Gray Copper trail above Ironton in the San Juan Mountains.
Trail running is our favorite use of running socks. Here we are testing on the Gray Copper trail above Ironton in the San Juan Mountains.

Comfort


We didn't think that the tightly woven wool fibers in this sock felt as comfortable against the skin as the looser polyester fibers of the comparable Darn Tough Coolmax Vertex Tab No Show Ultra-light Cushion. We found it to be one of the least cozy fabrics against the skin, although still better than the rougher olefin fibers in the DryMax Running Mini Crew. We also felt that due to the very thin fabric, the tiny amounts of extra fabric at the end of the toe and heel seams were more noticeable, sticking up and providing potential rubbing points. We will admit that this sock is still comfortable, and only in comparison to the rest of the socks we wore did we find it to score lower. 6 out of 10 points.

A closer look at the No Show Light. The red fabric over the toes is a sturdier  more durable fabric for protecting the highest wear areas.
A closer look at the No Show Light. The red fabric over the toes is a sturdier, more durable fabric for protecting the highest wear areas.

Fit



With no padding  the thinness of this sock allowed every little crease to be more visible and more easily felt. Notice the ridges and bumps on the heel.
With no padding, the thinness of this sock allowed every little crease to be more visible and more easily felt. Notice the ridges and bumps on the heel.

For our size 11 feet we ordered a large size sock, which Darn Tough tells us fits people with 10-12 foot size. We felt that this sock fit pretty darn well, easily and gently hugging our feet without any hint of tightness or looseness. There was a slight constriction at the front of the ankle, similar to the Feetures! Elite Light Cushion No Show Tab or Smartwool PhD Run Light Elite Micro, but this was an extremely minor complaint. Another small complaint is that we would make the area around the pinky toe slightly wider. 7 out of 10 points.

The Darn Tough No Show Light comes up to just below the ankle bones  barely visible above the top of this low cut shoe.
The Darn Tough No Show Light comes up to just below the ankle bones, barely visible above the top of this low cut shoe.

Wicking


The No Show Light proved to be one of the better wicking socks in this test, on par with the Thorlo Experia XCCU, but not nearly as effective as the DryMax Running Mini Crew. In our on-the-foot 15-minute wicking test we found that it was slightly damper on the outside than the inside, lending support to the fact that it was effectively wicking. In the one-hour drying test we found it be second driest, but both the inside and outside of the sock were slightly damp. This lends credence to the supposition that less material means less liquid absorption, leading to a quicker drying time. 8 out of 10 possible points.

Padding


As this is a light sock that has no padding, it was a bit hard to test and rate this sock for padding. Instead, we tried to rate it based upon how close it was to what was advertised. Frankly, we prefer some cushioning in our socks, but didn't want to penalize this sock for not having any, as that is what it is designed to be. The areas of high wear in the forefoot, toes, and heel, were made of a tighter woven, seemingly more durable fabric blend. Basically, this sock is exactly what it says it is, a light sock with no padding. We thought it lived up to its ideal a bit better than the Balega Hidden Comfort, and gave it 7 points. If you are inclined to light, no padding socks, we encourage you to also check out the Feetures! Elite Light Cushion No Show Tab, which is also very thin.

The Darn Tough No Show Light was the only sock in this review that had absolutely no padding or cushioning at all  as seen in this photo. It is made of a tightly woven and thin merino wool and nylon blend.
The Darn Tough No Show Light was the only sock in this review that had absolutely no padding or cushioning at all, as seen in this photo. It is made of a tightly woven and thin merino wool and nylon blend.

Slip Prevention


There is no doubt that we found this to be the least effective sock at preventing slip inside the shoes. It is made with a very tight weave, which may have hurt it when trying to create friction within the shoe. We also noticed that the Smartwool PhD Run Light Elite Micro was also very slippery and didn't grip the shoe very well, meaning there may be some connection with the wool fibers. Regardless, we gave it 4 out of 10 points, slightly lower than the Balega Hidden Comfort, and encourage you to fit your shoes tightly if you wear a sock this thin.

Getting ready for a run near Moab  putting on the No Show Light. We found that this very thin sock fit in our shoes differently than socks with greater volume  and suggest that you size your shoes with your preferred thickness of sock in mind.
Getting ready for a run near Moab, putting on the No Show Light. We found that this very thin sock fit in our shoes differently than socks with greater volume, and suggest that you size your shoes with your preferred thickness of sock in mind.

Best Applications


Obviously, this sock is designed for a person who prefers to have the thinnest sock possible without any added cushioning. We found that it works great on both hot and cool days, and it does a pretty decent job keeping out dirt and rocks for a no show sock, making it a decent choice for trail or road running.

Road tripping to the desert in the fall for some great trail running and sock testing  here gearing up with the Darn Tough No Show Light.
Road tripping to the desert in the fall for some great trail running and sock testing, here gearing up with the Darn Tough No Show Light.

Value


This sock retails for $15.00, pretty much average for a running sock in this review. It is a couple dollars cheaper than the other merino wool sock we reviewed, the Smartwool PhD Run Light Elite Micro, but also offers less padding than that sock. We found it to be well made and reasonably durable, and think it presents a good value for the money.

Conclusion


The Darn Tough No Show Light is a simple sock that is very light and has no padding. There is no doubt that this is a good quality sock that will perform well for someone who likes the closest and most intimate feel between their foot and shoe.
Andy Wellman

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Most recent review: February 16, 2017
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