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Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Review

Light Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion
Top Pick Award
Price:   $20 List | $19.95 at Backcountry
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Pros:  Breathable, comfortable, well-fitted, thin materials, merino-wool blend, no itch
Cons:  Lacks warmth in cold temperatures
Bottom line:  This merino-wool blend hiker is breathable and thin and performs well during high and low intensity activities.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Darn Tough
By Amber King
Wednesday December 13, 2017

Our Verdict

This Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew is an excellent option for men in search of a stellar lightweight hiking option. Built with ample compression paneling and a 60% merino wool blend, it has one of the best fits tested. The merino wool feels soft against the skin while providing insulation when wet. It also breathes very well making it a great option for higher-intensity sports like running or fast packing. As a result of its construct, it won our Top Pick for Warm Weather activities (for men).

Even though we love its high-quality construction, we do have a couple (but not too serious) caveats. In comparison to some quick drying socks in this review like the synthetic Wigwam Hiker Pro, it doesn't dry very fast. It also doesn't provide ample warmth in cold weather like our Notable Mention for Comfort and Versatility, the Smartwool PhD outdoor sock. This is because of its lightweight design (and to be expected). That said, it fills a niche as our Top Pick for Warm Weather (for men). If you're looking for a similar sock that is best for women, check out our Top Pick for Warm Weather, the Darn Tough Micro Crew Hiker. Wear both through the three seasons of Fall, Spring, and Summer, but get a warmer sock for the cold winter months.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Hiking Socks of 2017

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew is a perfect option for those in search of a high-quality, lightweight sock that does best in the three seasons of Fall, Spring, and Summer.

Performance Comparison


The Light Hiker proved to be durable  breathable  and comfortable. We found ourselves reaching for it on day hikes and runs.
The Light Hiker proved to be durable, breathable, and comfortable. We found ourselves reaching for it on day hikes and runs.

Comfort


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 appreciated the female-specific design that left less material in the forefoot and provided a tighter fit around the heel.

As a lightweight sock, we found it to be pretty darn comfortable and well fitted. Scoring a six out of ten in this category, we thought comfort was about average for a hiking sock. Stacked with merino wool in the heel and sole, this sock is perfect for long adventures through the mountains. Our feet felt continuously fresh and ready for to take 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.
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.

Warmth


With a lightweight design, it's no wonder that sock only scored a six out of ten in this category. Given the lightweight design, our testers didn't prefer it in cold environments. In our dry tests, our feet stayed warm for about ten minutes before going numb in the sub-zero temperatures of Alaska.


We were able to use this sock while walking in cold temperatures, however as soon as we stopped, our feet went numb. A warmer model like the Darn Tough Full Cushion (for men) or the Smartwool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew (for women) is a better option in the case of winter weather. In our wet warmth tests, we are happy to report that the wool did a great job insulating wet feet. As a result, we would recommend this sock for rainy days in moderate temperatures, but not for the coldest of days.

Wicking and Breathability


As one of the highest to score in this category (nine out of ten) alongside the Women's Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew, we recommend it for cool to warm weather. The merino wool blend in addition to the nylon and spandex material provides a tight fit around the foot that allows moisture to move smoothly through it. The thinner fabric design is conducive to taking moisture away from the foot (and not holding it in).


That said, it doesn't earn a perfect ten in this category because 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, this and the Wigwam Hiking Outdoor Pro provided the best breathability. As a result, it's still a Top Pick for Warm Weather.

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.
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.

Durability


Backed by the Darn Tough Guarantee, we are happy to report this sock earns a solid nine out of ten in this category. 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!
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!

Drying Speed


Earning a seven out of ten in this category, this sock takes about 120 minutes to fully dry in a dryer. In comparison to the rest, this about the middle of the pack. That said because this sock contains a little less merino wool than the Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew - Women's it dried out a little faster (10 minutes faster).


We typically found that a sock with less wool dried 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.
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.

Best Application


As our Top Pick for Warm Weather, we'd recommend this sock for warm weather hiking in all conditions. This light hiker has a tight fit that is more accommodating for those looking for a durable and cushioned option. 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!
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!

Value


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 in the market for a high-value synthetic option, but sure to check out the Wigwam Hiker Pro for only $14! Or if you're on a super tight budget, be sure to look at the full-length Danish Merino Unisex Sock (only $10 per sock) or the People's merino wool sock that is ankle-height and goes for only $9 per sock.

Conclusion


This Top Pick for Warm Weather hiking 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 and comes complete with an incredible guarantee.

Amber King
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