Bombas Hiking Socks vs Darn Tough Hiking Socks from the Trail

Darn Tough socks compared to Bombas socks in real trail conditions competition. Who wins?

You’ll know from my other posts how much I love Bombas. But when a friend gave me a pair of Darn Tough hiking socks, I had to do a real comparison of Darn Toughs compared to Bombas on the trail. I hiked two days on Japan’s Kumano Kodo Trail (get all the details of the hike and how to do it here) in real trail conditions that included sun, rain, mud, and a solid soaking from rain. I’ve got the goods on which sock performed the best. I’ll answer if Bombas socks are worth it or if Darn Tough socks are worth it. They are premium socks with premium price tags, so which should you pick and why?

One-Year Old Socks

Everyone loves a new pair of socks. But what about socks that are a year old? Do they still perform like they should after wearing them for a year and do you still love them? In this sock test, both pairs of my socks were about a year old. They both had about the same amount of wear on them; the Bombas socks came from my private collection, and the Darn Tough sock pair came from my friend. The Bombas pair were the women’s calf socks. The Darn Tough pair were the Bear Town Micro Crew Lightweight Hiking Sock. To be fair, Bombas has a women’s hiking sock (which I love.) Even though I have a pair, they were new, and I wanted to compare socks of similar age. Are Darn Tough better than Bombas or are Bombas better than Darn Tough?

The Trail Conditions

The Kumano Kodo is no joke. An UNESCO heritage trail and the sister trail to its famous sibling, the Camino de Santiago, the Kumano Kodo is a rugged trail in Japan that enjoys annual pilgrimages to Buddhist’s and Confucius’ shrines along 50 km or so through Japan’s southwest peninsula.

It’s not as long as Spain’s various Camino trails, it’s a bit more rugged and much less a walking party, but the Kumano’s jagged stone and root trail that’s 1000 years old can put any hiker to the test. Our first 20 kilometers were in the rain and mud. Precipitation drenched us solid for eight hours straight as we climbed uphill; my rain slicker, waterproof Hoka trail boots, and bucket hat took a beating. Our second 20 kilometers on the second day brought us bright sun, drying out the trails, and providing a gorgeous downhill hike in the Japanese Cedar woods.

All the Gear

Day one’s gear only differed from day two by the socks. Here’s my complete ensemble:

Top: Thai t-shirt
Second layer: Decathalon zippered hoodie
Bottom: Skirt Sport Capri Skort
Overlayer: Full-length rain slicker purchased at 7-11 (and ditched for day 2)
Socks: Day one, Bombas. Day two, Darn Tough
Boots: Hoka Sky Toa GTX Women’s Hiking Shoe
Hat: Bucket hat for ponytail
Backpack: Quencha waterproof bag

Which Sock Wins, Bombas or Darn Tough?

Both pairs of socks, although they were both a year old, performed well. They fit snugly, stayed up, handled the trail conditions beautifully, and provided comfort all day. Differentiated on the minutia is where one pair performed better than the other. Let’s break it down.

Overall feel: equal

Heal: equal

Arch: Bombas honeycomb arch fit stayed true the entire day even though the sock’s tops got wet from the rain, the sock’s bottoms stayed dry due to waterproof shoes. Darn Tough’s arch fit shifted just a bit, but not enough to cause any discomfort.

Toe: Bombas is a clear winner in the toe box. Both sides of the toe box stayed snug around both my pinky toes and my big toes whereas the Darn Tough’s big toe fit expanded and bulged out from the outside of each toe. Even though Darn Toughs’ toe box is tapered more than Bombas, the tapered fit did not stay true to my toes. See toe box pictures above.

Material: Bombas’ extra-long stable cotton (67% Cotton (Supima®) 29% Polyester 4% Elastane) held its form even when it got damp. My vegan heart liked this non-animal product. Darn Tough’s material blend (54% Nylon 43% Merino Wool 3% Lycra Spandex) worked fine, although I’m not a fan of Merino Wool due to an allergy. I had no allergic reaction here.

Mission: I love that Darn Tough is a small company, although bigger than Bombas, trying to make it against the big guys like Hanes. I love that Bombas is a small company, but I love it more that Bombas gives one pair of socks to people experiencing homelessness for each pair of socks sold. Bombas wins on mission.

The Clear Winner in a Bombas vs Darn Tough Socks Comparison

Thus, even though the Darn Tough (get free shipping) socks were cuter (who can’t resist a bear on a sock?), Bombas still performed better and even gets an extra special mention since it performed better in worse conditions (a full day of rain vs a full day of sun.) I’ll stick with my Bombas (they’re cheaper too!) Use this link to get money off your first purchase. Bombas hiking sock is the clear winner in the rain for sure.

More Hiking and Gear Reviews

If you like this real review and learning more about hiking around the world, check out our gear review page and our youtube channel. Find our recommended hiking gear here.

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