Darn Tough Review with Liz Thomas

  • Date:Thu, Jul 21, 16

Photo courtesy of Liz Thomas.

Liz Thomas is an adventure athlete who made a name for herself when she broke the women’s unsupported speed record in 80.5 days on the 2,181 mile long Appalachian Trail in 2011. Thomas’ other achievements include hiking the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail, 3,100 mile Continental Divide Trail, and over 15,000 miles across the United States on various trails including the Chinook Trail across the Columbia River Gorge and the Wasatch Range.

Her advice and stories about hiking light, quick, and alone have been featured in Backpacker Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Outside Online, and Gizmodo, to name a few.

Liz graduated with a Masters in Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Through her work, Liz received the Doris Duke Conservation Fellowship for research on conservation, trail town communities, and long distance hiking trails with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. Today, Liz represents Darn Tough as a Brand Ambassador.

Can you tell us your most memorable time when you used Darn Tough gear?

Before I go on a 2000 mile hike, I always buy all my socks and shoes ahead of time and send them to resupply points to retrieve every 300 - 500 miles. I used to never be particular about what socks I used as long as they were made by an outdoor brand, so I'd look for the best deals. I remember seeing some Darn Tough socks on sale and thought, "Hey, I'll give this a try." That summer, I was hiking the Continental Divide Trail and had mailed myself a new pair of socks every 200 miles, because up until that point in my life, socks were more or less disposable.

On my Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail hike, I never ended up with "too many" socks, because I would keep wearing holes in the socks at the same rate that I would send myself new ones. I remember at some point on the Continental Divide Trail having so many pairs of Darn Tough socks, because they just wouldn't wear out. My clothing bag was filled with them. At that moment, I realized Darn Tough socks really are superior to other socks.

Photo courtesy of Liz Thomas.

What do you like about their gear?

Darn Tough socks have the densest weave of any socks brand out there. What this means for hikers is that a lot of the micro dirt that will make its way through other socks just doesn't get to your foot when you're wearing Darn Toughs. That micro dirt, or trail grime as I call it, mixes with foot sweat to create rubbing which can lead to blisters. The less micro dirt your feet are exposed to, the more your sock works like a protective glove for your feet.

Also, I love how lightweight the ultralight line is. As a long distance backpacker, I strive to carry the lightest weight gear all the time. Darn Tough’s No Show Ultralight Socks are right around 1 oz for a pair, which means I can still carry 2 pairs and have it weigh less than a one pair of a lot of other socks out there.

Do you think their gear is more style or function? How have you influenced their products?

For me as an athlete, I can't afford to get blisters, so function is the most important aspect. But it's funny, sometimes on a tough day, something as silly as looking down at my feet and seeing some good looking socks is enough to make me smile and improve my mood.

I can't claim to have personally influenced their products, but I do know that the new Vertex line of socks was designed specifically for people like me who are ultra lighters and ultra marathoners; people who go long distances and want the lightest, but toughest gear out there.

Photo courtesy of Liz Thomas.

What's your biggest gear challenge and how does the brand solve it?

My biggest gear challenge happens when I carry stuff that requires me to constantly fiddle with it to avoid chaffing. The best gear is the kind you forget it is there. It helps you, but never distracts you. That’s why I love Darn Tough gear. It does its job without taking attention away from me doing mine.

With all your years of experience, what still brings you a sense of newness or awe when in the wilderness?

Going to new places and stepping up the difficulty of my trips. While sometimes going to new places, new trailheads, and building new routes can be scary, that is when I learn the most, grow the most, and appreciate the wilderness the most.


LifeView Outdoors prepares people for their adventures with the right gear and tech. Since 2005, the retail operation in Nashville, Tennessee has delivered award-winning educational content for outdoor enthusiasts and schools across the United States.