Socks as Mule-shoes: Real Life "Darn It." Stories

Hiker tripping through some deep mud - Darn It.

We believe in our socks. A lot. So much so that we back them up with an Unconditional Lifetime Guarantee. No matter how hard your socks get put through the wringer, we’ll replace them at the end of their lifecycle. Life is tough. Our socks are tougher.

But just because we guarantee our socks for life, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll last forever - that's where we get to deliver on our promise. When those "Darn It." moments happen and socks get sent back to the Mill, many of you can’t resist sending along tales of the adventures their socks joined them for.

Nothing makes us happier than opening and reading a story of how a single pair of Darn Tough socks lasted through miles and miles of trails, hours upon hours of long shifts, and were even worn by a mule. We hit up the warranty desk to send over some of their favorites, and they did not disappoint. The hardest part was picking the best letters to feature.

Say Yes to the Dress Socks

A wedding invitation sent to Darn Tough with a hand written note about how much the couple loves the socks

"You were the sock that made me throw away all my other socks. You are the sock that I proposed in, knowing I wouldn't overheat & sweat." - Noah 

First off — and we know this has nothing to do with a warranty issue — we have been invited to SO MANY weddings. So many. Thank you. While we’re almost positive the gesture is purely ceremonial, how great would it be if we RSVP’d with a YES and a “plus 200”? We promise we wouldn’t all choose the fish, and we’d bring gifts.

But seriously, making a wedding guest list is difficult — it can easily balloon to an unmanageable number if one’s not careful. So we really appreciate people taking the time to put Darn Tough on their invite lists.

A Long, Full Life

A letter thanking Darn Tough for making socks in Vermont and sharing how Geoff converted to Darn Tough

“Enclosed are my first pair of Darn Tough socks. I think they are four years old, but given my relationship with them they may be older. … Your mill, your team, your socks are without a doubt the finest socks I’ve ever worn. And like many who have been 'converted' to Darn Tough, I never thought I’d write the previous sentence.” - Geoff

Thanks, Geoff. The way you quantified the age of your socks really got us thinking — does sock age correlate to calendar years or is it an accumulation of experience? Let’s say, for someone like Geoff, he really took his socks to hell and back. Four years feels like a gross understatement that doesn’t even begin to pay homage to everything these socks have been through.

Maybe we should all give our socks two ages? Like, “my socks are 4 human years old and 20 sock years old. They’ve seen some things.” We’ve all been converted to Darn Tough long ago, but we also never thought we’d be seriously pondering sock years in the way people do the conversion on human years vs. dog years.

Survival of the Knittest

Robert's letter describing the incredible journeys his socks took around the world

“My son wore two pairs of your socks on his 6-month, 2,000-km trek from the top of New Zealand to the bottom of New Zealand. The socks survived. The boots did not. … Then I wore a single pair on a 3-month, 13,000-mile motorcycle ride from Virginia to Peru. The socks survived. The motorcycle did not.” - Robert

For those who don’t know off the top of their heads, 2,000 kilometers is 1,242.742 miles. (We had to look it up.) That’s a long hike no matter what system of measurement is used. While we’re sad that Robert's son’s boots didn’t survive the trek, we are pleased to know the socks — and his son — made it back safely.

This story alone sounds pretty book-worthy, but then Robert follows it up with an adventure of his own. Riding 13,000 miles from Virginia to Peru with a single pair of socks… that’s movie worthy. What a cool family of adventurers. We’re happy to have our socks play a small part in these epic journeys. 13,000 miles is 20,921.472 kilometers by the way. (Also looked that up.)

Havasupai in Socks

The note from Delfina describing how her partnered hiked in just socks

“My partner’s hiking shoes were killing him, and for one of our 6 mile hikes during our camping trip to Havasupai he wore your socks for the hike. No shoes. You read that right. He only wore your socks to traverse the canyon, river crossing, wet ladders, and all the technical pieces of the hike. … after we returned to our campground, there was not ONE thread out of place. We washed them in the creek and they may as well be GOOD AS NEW." - Delfina

While we aren't recommending fully hiking in just socks, this is amazing. Havasupai is a gorgeous area, so it would be such a bummer to not get to enjoy it because of bad hiking boots.

Delfina and her partner smiling by a waterfall on their hike

Before there were boots, people used to just walk barefoot. Maybe there’s some sort of middle ground between heavy-duty hiking boots and just going toes out? Have your partner report back and let us know how it goes!

Lacy, the Mule

Heidi's letter, telling the story of how her mule wore Darn Tough socks when it lost a shoe

“Once I gave a pair of my Darn Tough socks to my mule to wear, after she lost a shoe deep in the backcountry. One pair of socks got her 19 miles down the trail safely—a rocky, nasty trail.” - Heidi

We had to read this letter several times to be confident we got the story straight. Heidi was working on a backcountry trail crew, using pack mules to help haul supplies. While out, one of the mules lost a shoe (muleshoe?) and to help get it safely back to the trailhead, Heidi packed the sole full of moss and slipped one of her Darn Tough socks over it.

Well, for 19 miles over rough, rocky terrain Lacy Mule hoofed it back without any damage to her hoof. Pretty wild.

Heidi taking a selfie with her mule string on the trail

It’s one thing for a person to lose their shoe and have to hike out with only socks on, but trusting your pair of Darn Tough socks enough to give them to a four-legged equine hybrid is a reputation we would have never been able to create on our own. So thank you, Heidi.

Silver Rhino-lining

A hand-written letter and a picture of Darn Tough socks, talking about how the author fell in love with Darn Tough

“After a couple of weeks in Africa volunteering with an anti-rhino poaching unit, all of my shirts had permanent sweat stains, and my underwear were, let’s just say… not brought home. But my socks held!” — Michael

We can’t think of a much more hardcore way to start a sentence than casually dropping the fact you spent two weeks trekking through the sweaty jungle protecting rhinos.

Vermont summers are hot and humid enough already, which is one of the reasons we love Merino Wool, but knowing that our socks survived the African jungle while his underwear is probably resting in pieces somewhere really inspires confidence.

Standing Tall

Frank's letter, including an image of him with a hard hat on

“I bought these socks for a plant-wide shutdown where we work 12 hours a day every day until the plant is back up and running. The shutdown lasted 60 days, and I wore these three pairs of Darn Tough socks every day. Cotton socks would leave my feet soaking wet with pruned toes, your socks kept my feet dry and cushioned all shift. I like your socks so much that I threw out (gave my son) all my other pairs of socks and only wear these three.” - Frank

With 40-years of history of making socks in Vermont, our Mill employees know what it takes to be on your feet all day. So they would really relate to Frank’s plant-wide shutdown, the effort it takes to get everything up and running again, and the importance of taking care of your feet.

We’re happy to hear you and your feet survived the plant shutdown, and your son now gets to discover the benefit of high quality socks all on his own.

El Camino de Santiago

“I am currently walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. My son told me to get Darn Tough socks. I brought 3 pairs with me. Out of the group of 20+ people I am with, I am the ONLY one without a blister or hot spot or any type of problem. Even when my feet got soaked in the rain and we walked 5.5 hours in wet socks and shoes” - Amy

Amy, we’re so glad you get to experience the Camino de Santiago, and even happier to hear your feet are having a good time. We know there are a lot of hostels along the route to stay at, hopefully there’s a place your fellow travelers can upgrade their socks so they, too, can enjoy the trek. Enjoy the walk and don’t forget to stretch!

Vermont Winter: Marked Safe

"While visiting my boyfriend at his cabin in Vermont, I dropped one of my crew hiking socks returning from the laundromat. I didn't realize it had fallen in his driveway, which is dirt/gravel, at the top of a small mountain, and sees traffic from tractors, cars, trucks, and wildlife. My sock sat under the snow and ice all winter, and mud season. The poor sock took a beating. I found it under one of my car tires this spring. The only damage it took was several small holes in the ankle. After a wash you'd never know it had sat outside during a VT winter." - Laura

A closeup look at the socks after they'd been rescued, with just a couple tiny holes

Vermont winters are no joke. We can say this from experience, because we’ve survived them year after year. It’s not just the cold temps or the snow that’ll get you. It’s the thaw, freeze, snow, freezing rain, regular rain, freeze and 3 feet of snow that will do it.

Laura, knowing your sock was so close, yet so far, from a nice warm drawer or on a foot near a roaring fire sorta makes us sad, but it also makes us proud. Thinking back to one of the stories above, your sock probably aged 50 sock years that winter. What a life.

Tell Us Your "Darn It." Story

We love hearing from our customers about their experiences with our socks. The adventures and torture you put them through is more than we could have ever dreamed of.

But no matter how you use your socks, they are still covered by our Lifetime Warranty. All you need to do is fill out a warranty form and send them on in. If you want to write a letter, just know we’ll read it, and we’ll appreciate it — we might even show up to your wedding.