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OR – Darn Tough Vermont

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Not only does Darn Tough Vermont make excellent socks in America but they also are offering Maple Creamies with Bacon!

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I didn’t think you could make anything from Darn Tough Vermont any better until they added bacon.

www.darntough.com

Ever Wonder Where Those Socks Came From?

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Despite the US Army’s recent interest in wool, it never went completely away. All four services recognize the advantages of wool and issue Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ Merino wool socks to their personnel. In particular, the Army’s Fire Resistant Environmental Ensemble (FREE) relies on a Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ sock to provide no melt-no drip protection in a wide variety of conditions.

These days almost everyone is issued socks prior to deployment and many of you receive Merino wool socks for that purpose. But, did you ever wonder where they come from? I did, so last week I visited Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢’s factory in rural Vermont but I didn’t expect what I found.

The first thing I saw after meeting my host, Shannon McKenna, Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢’s Director of Government Sales, was a mural. On it was a simple statement that gets to the heart of their philosophy.

Nobody ever outsourced anything for quality

Naturally, any company located in Vermont is going to have at least a little bit of Yankee, but I must admit I was still surprised at the village atmosphere. I was introduced to Ric Cabot, CEO of Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ and the man behind the outsourcing sign. The more I talked to him, the more I realized how similar our outlook on life and business is.

It turns out the mill was started in 1978 and Ric Cabot is a 3rd generation sock maker. One of the first things he told me as we walked along the production line, wooden ruler hanging out of the back pocket of his work pants was, “You’re not just buying socks, you’re buying us.” To him, it’s easy. People are the most important part of process. It’s simply a matter of explaining the goal and then working together.

Ric Cabot doesn’t think that outsourcing is just about shipping jobs overseas. When I mentioned the slogan at the entrance he said, “If you’re serious about something you’ll do it yourself.” He wants to do as much as possible in house. For instance, they build all of the socks with their name on them. They don’t send anything out to sub-contractors.

Everyone should want to be Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢.
-Ric Cabot

When I commented to Ric Cabot about how impressed I was with how smoothly it all ran, he turned to me and commented, “It all goes back to the ruler.” I could tell by his conviction that he wasn’t just talking about that ruler he carries around the factory in his back pocket for spot checks of socks on the line. He also meant the personal ruler he uses to measure success. It’s not just about “quality” as an industrial term. Ric Cabot is interested in sustainability of community. He knows each of his 147 employees; some are 3rd generation employees just like him. He shared with me that his factory is more than just those 147 employees. All told, he says there are over 500 dependents plus, by extension, his suppliers around the country.

Don’t think it’s always been roses. They’ve had tough times. Ric went on to tell me, “Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ is the mill, it’s not a name we put on a pair of socks. It’s my family. In an rural American environment, we’ve pulled ourselves from near bankruptcy to become the producers of the highest quality performance sock brand.”

Anybody can build a Berry compliant sock, but it’s still not Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢
-Shannon McKenna

Shannon knows many of the men and women who wear their socks. You’ll see her at trade shows, greeting everyone with a smile. She told me, “We perform best, when you don’t know we’re there.” But it’s more than a smile and a kind word. Their commitment to excellence shows through in so many ways.

Many of the workers at Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ are veterans. In fact, the head of R&D served in 10th SFG(A) in the 1960s and we had a fun conversation reminiscing about the old Chippewa mountain boots and thick wool socks issued up into the 1990s. More still, have family who are serving overseas so there is a passion to ensure that they build the best product possible.

Additionally, Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ listens to its customers. The Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ Tactical footwear line is pretty broad and includes Tactical Boot, Tactical Dress and Tactical PT socks. With 23 styles ranging from True-Seamlessâ„¢ mesh, no-show PT socks to over-the-calf Extreme Cold Weather Mountaineering Boot socks, they’ve got one of the largest selection of Berry Compliant styles available in industry, covering all the bases. In fact, every style has been issued to one organization or another.

Take the FREE sock for instance. To satisfy the US Army’s requirement for a head-to-toe FR environmental clothing system system integrator ADS turned to Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢. They selected the “Merino Wool Boot Sock Cushion” due to its inherent no-melt no-drip, anti-microbial, and warm even when wet properties.

Here you can see a freshly knit FREE sock on the right and a fully finished version on the left. Remember that ruler? Quality assurance checks are made at each step in the process with gauges placed at various stations to verify measurements. But that trusty ruler still randomly comes out to make spot checks.

After the sock is knit, unless the sock is seamless, the toe seam is added and excess material trimmed. Then it heads over for a wash and dry which sets the size you see above. Commercial varieties are also dyed in this step. Then it’s off to packaging which includes the addition of any labels. A quick note on seamless sock technology. Yes, it’s cool and Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ can do it. But they don’t include it on every style. It’s mainly because it isn’t necessary. For socks with a low nap, it makes a big difference, but for the thick terry nap socks like the mountaineering variety it superfluous. Sure, they could replace ALL of their machines to produce seamless socks and lay off the workers who finish the socks, but why do it? How does that best serve the community?

It’s important to note that everyone wears socks and Darn Tough Vermontâ„¢ recognizes this. They offer far more socks to the commercial market than they do for GIs. Interestingly, they don’t sell direct. There’s a reason for this. They don’t want to compete with their retailers.

I came away from my visit realizing that for this crew, making socks is a passion. There’s an investment of more than just money and materials. It’s an investment in community. To me, it’s an investment in America.

www.adsinc.com/darn-tough-socks

Darn Tough Vermont Receives Team Soldier Certification

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Thanks to their inclusion in the Army’s FREE (Fire Resistant Environmental Ensemble) clothing system, Darn Tough Vermont’s 14021 Merino Wool Boot Sock Cushion has been awarded the designation of U.S. Army Team Soldier Certified Gear by PEO Soldier making it the only sock with this distinction.

The Berry Compliant 14021 Boot Sock is made with Merino wool, a naturally flame resistant material that regulates the Soldier’s temperature in any environment. They excel during deployment because they maintain fit, comfort, and soft cushioning for days on end without washing. Additionally, their superior knit keeps their socks in place without falling down during a long day on patrol, which is a common complaint among Soldiers.

Darn Tough Vermont produces tactical socks for the US military as well as Federal Law Enforcement units. All of their tactical and military socks are available to military units at www.gsaadvantage.gov, or for individual purchase at www.adsinc.com/darntough. Their civilian all-weather performance socks, which are made with similar techniques to their tactical socks, are available in select retailers, or from online retailers at www.darntough.com.

Mountaineering Sock from Darn Tough Vermont

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Darn Tough Vermont has developed a new Mountaineering Weight Sock. While it won’t be available to the public until July, they are shipping their first military order next week to a Navy customer. Designed to complement heavy mountaineering boots like the La Sportiva Makalu or the Scarpa Inverno, it is an over the calf, full cushion sock made up of 77% fine gauge Merino wool and they tout it as their warmest, thickest, and most durable sock yet.

Darn Tough Vermont Mountaineering Sock

Darn Tough Vermont will have a limited supply of this sock available for teams to T&E this month. Interested organizations should contact www.darntough.com

Darn Tough Vermont Tactical Sock Kit

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Darn Tough

As our readers know, we are big fans of Darn Tough Vermont and so is the US military. Several of their products are issued through RFI and they recently developed a Sock Kit for a US customer. It covers everything a foot craves; comfort and warmth.

Darn Tough Vermont Tactical Sock Kit
Socks are described below and are in order from Left to Right.

This five sock system was developed with members of the Special Forces community to offer a family of socks to cover any mission in any climate. Darn Tough Vermont socks are known for their long term durability and comfort. The fine gauge Merino wool used in these socks is naturally anti microbial, fast wicking/fast drying and will keep the wearer warm even when wet. Dense terry loops for cushioning without bulk and heavily re-enforced heels and toes are just two of the features that make these socks unique.

1493 Merino Wool ¼ Sock Mesh
68% Merino Wool, 28% Nylon, and 4% Lycra® Spandex
Color: Graphite
Category: Physical Training
The ¼ Sock Mesh is a light weight PT sock with reinforced heels and toes. The cuff breaks approximately 2” above the ankle. These socks have open mesh knitting on the top of the foot for greater breathability and no cushioning on the bottom of the foot for a performance fit.

1418 Merino Wool Nordic Boot Ultra Light
60% Merino Wool, 33% Nylon, and 7% Lycra® Spandex
Color: Graphite
Category: Tactical Boots
The Nordic Boot Ultra Light is a light weight ¾ height tactical socks that is approximately 7” tall. The heels and toes are reinforced and there is no cushioning on the bottom of the foot for a performance boot fit. The leg is a rib knit construction.

1466 Merino Wool Micro Crew
67% Merino Wool, 29% Nylon, and 4% Lycra® Spandex
Color: Graphite
Category: Tactical Boots
The Micro Crew is a ¾ height tactical sock that is approximately 6” tall. The leg is a flat 5 x 1 rib construction with resilient terry loop cushioning on the foot bottom.

1403 Merino Wool Boot Sock Cushion
67% Merino Wool, 29% Nylon, and 4% Lycra® Spandex
Color: Graphite
Category: All Condition Boot Sock
The Boot Sock Cushion is a mid calf sock that is approximately 9.5” tall. The foot bottom and leg is surrounded by resilient terry loop cushioning.

1405 Merino Wool Boot Sock Full Cushion
67% Merino Wool, 29% Nylon, and 4% Lycra® Spandex
Color: Graphite
Category: Cold Weather Boot Sock
The Boot Sock Full Cushion is a mid calf sock that is approximately 9.5” tall. The foot and leg is surrounded by densely knit terry loop cushioning. The heels and toes are reinforced.

Notice, all of the socks in the kit are manufactured from Merino wool which provides a myriad of advantages including comfort, inherent FR properties as well as being anti-microbial.

For more information contact Darn Tough Vermont. Additionally, the entire Darn Tough Vermont line is available on GSA.

OR – Day 1

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

Huge…if you use one word to describe Outdoor Retailer it is huge. Here are a few teasers. Expect full articles soon.

Eagle Industries
Eagle has come a long way on their commercial line. The packs look very good and they are preparing to launch a softshell jacket.

Surefire
Surefire unveiled the Saint, their new headlamp. It is very slick and will accept either CR123 or AA batteries.

Surefire Saint

Darn Tough Vermont
Darn Tough has developed a full range family of socks for a military customer. They cover everything from PT to desert ops to arctic conditions.

Garmont
While the T4 addition to their line of tactical boots might still be a ways off, the new TXT (Tactical Cross Trainer), is a beefy, purpose built trail runner designed for military use.

Stanley
Stanley has released a new 8 oz flask.

Stanley Flask

Energizer
Most people don’t know that energizer manufactures their own line of flashlights. Even less well known is that they have developed a tactical flashlight. This new light is so packed with features that it is going a full write up very soon.

Darn Tough Vermont Socks

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

Darn Tough

A relative newcomer to “tactical” hosiery, Darn Tough Vermont makes one heck of a sock. For over 30 years the Cabot Hosiery Mill in Northfield, Vermont has made socks, but for everybody else. Five years ago they decided to launch their own brand and within a year the “Darn Tough Vermont” brand hit the market. They immediately began to work with members of the military to develop socks that meet the unique demands that service members face each day.

They have a sock for everything from PT to mountainous cold weather environments. They have filled both individual as well as unit orders for both conventional as well as special operations forces of all services in addition to Federal law enforcement agencies.

Three components make Darn Tough Vermont socks stand out: premium quality yarns, exacting manufacturing standards, and unique knitting techniques. Merino wool is their material of choice. They can be worn in almost any climate and will keep the end user comfortable no matter how hard he sweats. Additionally, Merino is naturally anti-microbial, suppressing the growth of foot fungus, is warm even when wet, and naturally Flame Resistant. The consumer line is knit with 100% 21.5 fine gauge Merino wool from New Zealand but any of the socks can be manufactured to Berry compliance. For example, their Army Aviator sock on the RFI program is Berry Compliant as well as the Marine Corps sock.

When we spoke with Darn Tough Vermont they made an excellent point. The modern Soldier wears and carries over $11,000 worth of equipment. So why would you provide low-quality footwear? The foot is the foundation of the Warrior and our Warriors deserve the best.

Darn Tough Model 1466
Merino Wool Micro Crew Cushion

For more information contact Darn Tough Vermont. Additionally, the entire Darn Tough Vermont line is available on GSA.