Thursday, 17 October 2019 09:18

Darn Tough 1/4 Pursuit Ultra-Light Merino Cycling Socks: Tested and Reviewed

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Slight confession to start this review with. It's way, way overdue. I've had these socks since the beginning of Spring but I've not reviewed them. In my defence there is a very valid reason for this. I can never find them. I'm constantly having to buy new hosiery. Seriously once I got myself 6 pairs exactly the same. Yellow and resplendent  with the Lion of Flanders. Within 3 weeks I was down to one. They still occasionally turn up but not with any consistency. Some people have a sock drawer. I have odd sock bedroom set.

In my years working in outdoor retail, sock were often seen as a little extra. It was so frustrating seeing people spend a small fortune on boots then next to nothing on socks. It's like putting a saddle cover on a custom built perch, wearing baggies on a carbon frame or having an unelected charlatan holding the highest office. It stops things working properly, it's uncomfortable and look really stupid to those watching.

A lot of novice cyclists make the mistake of using walking or running socks on the bike and whilst this is preferable to cotton office or silk stockings, it's not ideal. Even some experienced riders are guilty of scrimping on the foot protection. Finishing my first Velothon, my feet were burning, I had to sit down and I've put this down to the cheap socks I was in that day. I've learnt my lesson and look for the best now. Sadly that's expensive and I've had to accept that the odd sock look makes me look interesting.

As a hillwalker I'm a fan of Merino based products and Darn Tough Pursuits are just that. This what they say:



  • Performance Fit: No slipping, no bunching, and no blisters.
  • Fine Gauge Knitting: Unprecedented durability and our unique “put it on, forget it’s on” feel.
  • Fast Action Wicking: Pulls moisture away from skin. Fast drying.
  • All Weather Performance: Cool in the summer, warm in the winter.
  • Naturally Antimicrobial: Repels bacteria and odor.
  • Guaranteed For Life: No strings. No conditions. For life.
  • Merino Wool: The ultimate fiber for breathability and comfort in all conditions.
  • True Seamless: Undetectable seam fusion for an ultra smooth, invisible feel.



  • Ultra-Light: Our lightest sock for race day or anyone looking for a lighter-than-air feel from a tougher than hell sock.
  • 53% Nylon 41% Merino Wool 6% Lycra® Spandex

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 You may be asking why not 100% Merino. Well there are a number of reasons. Merino like all wools doesn't actually wick moisture away. It stays warm when wet and still works to reduce friction and therefore blisters but not  as effectively. Nylon does this. Also nylon has a far more robust nature than wool. My first pair of Merino walking socks lasted 20miles of the North York Moors and the stress of thousands of pedal strokes would soon divert too much new bike cash to your feet. Finally the Lycra helps the fit. It's not the 50s and baggy socks would look awful.

If you look at the company blurb there is a line I love. "Put it on, forget it". Lets say this together. THE MARK OF GOOD QUALITY KIT IS YOU FORGET YOU'RE WEARING IT.

Straight out of the packing the Darn Tough feel like top quality. At an RRP of £17 that should be expected but a lot of the time it isn't and anybody that partakes in outdoor pursuits knows that. The Darn Toiugh Pursuits are value for money. A snug fit and a little awkward to get on, they feel like a second skin almost immediately and were soon forgotten. But I reminded themselves to observe them and I then discovered a small problem.

The problem is the company name Darn Tough. Don't get me wrong the socks are Darn Tough but it wasn't long before a certain New Kids on the Block tune was my earworm along with the out of tune caterwauling of Donnie Wahlberg. For younger, or indeed much older readers, back in the late 80s/early 90s and before he'd developed an ursine-erotic relationship with cuddly toy, Mark Wahlberg was known as Marky Mark and was the lesser known sibling of Donnie. Donnie was the "tough one" in perhaps the worst boy band of all time New Kids on the Block or NKOTB. Those that do remember them will now have that earworm themselves, you can thank me later. Oh fun fact, Donnie was the shooter in Sixth Sense. You know the one that killed Bruce Willis at the start setting up the premise that he's dead all along. 


Where was I.... oh yeah, socks. The 1/4 length socks won't be to everyone's taste but they are UCI legal and if you do have well toned, smooth tanned calves they don't hide them. Perhaps the understated design doesn't fit the current fashion for lariness but the classic, simple black look is and always will be timeless. Anyway, a rider can always wear a humorous jersey or white shorts if they need attention that much.

Merino has one quality that I value above all others though and that is it's antimicrobial properties or in layman's terms, it can be worn for days without stinking like an old sock. As a regular commuter and cycletourer I need a sock to have this quality. I need to be able to ride 15 miles work then ride home. Touring I want a maximum of 2 pairs for 3 week trips. The Darn Tough 1/4 Pursuit Ultra-Lights do this. In reality I can't fault these socks in any way. They are pretty much perfect If I could actually add one feature it would be a homing beacon, because I've not been able to find them since the first week of September!!!!!!!

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