Positioned among the quiet, rolling hills of Northfield, Vermont—a stone’s throw away from some of finest ski areas in New England like Mad River Glen and Sugarbush—some of the best socks on Earth are being knit by the good folks at Darn Tough Vermont. It’s here, in a massive and impressive mill, that up to 20,000 pairs of top-notch socks are produced every day by hundreds of passionate employees who keep the Darn Tough boat afloat.
This hardworking team is creating a serious buzz in the outdoor community, so naturally, we wanted to go see the mill for ourselves. Check out behind-the-scenes photos, below, learn how the magic happens and try not to buy a pair of these socks after. We dare you.
Left: Co-Owner Marc Cabot. Right: Co-Owner and CEO Ric Cabot.
Photo courtesy of Darn Tough Vermont.
“Our mission is simple. Create the world’s best socks and stand behind them unconditionally. We live and breathe in stitches per inch, seamless toes and cross stretch. We are, first and foremost, sock makers.” — Darn Tough Vermont
Each of Darn Tough’s knitting machines (nearly 200 of ’em total) creates 1,141 stitches per square inch. Talk about precision.
One of the many aisles of knitting machines at Darn Tough’s mill.
A closer look at the machine.
And even closer…
These fine gauge needles are the tools behind each and every stitch in Darn Tough socks.
Once the knitting stage is completed, the sock is spit out into a pile and moved to the many remaining production phases. One of Darn Tough’s biggest claims to fame is that its machines knit the entire sock at once—including the toe, which is not a simple task—opposed to competitors that use separate machines to attach toe sections. This results in a more cohesive and durable sock (no bumps!) with a true seamless toe closure; less moving parts and less room for any sort of tearing or wearing out over time.
Following the knitting process, each sock is stretched out
to test durability and fit the human foot just right.
Yarn galore in between Darn Tough work stations.
After the knitting and stretching stages have been completed, each sock is washed and dried in industrial-sized machines. This process shrinks the socks to fit the human foot properly so they don’t shrink 10 sizes the first time you clean them yourself.
Just a few of the many bags of socks en route to the washing and drying area.
One of the massive washing machines, ready to go.
Once the socks are nice and dry, each one is placed on a foot form
to achieve prime shape and fit your foot just right.
Another look at the shaping process.
Throughout the entire sock-making process, each and every product is thoroughly inspected. But it’s at this point that there’s an entire inspection team that looks into the fine details—hand-clipping any loose yarn and reporting flaws to a massive data system to improve Darn Tough products in the future.
After thorough inspections, the socks are inspected yet again and packaged up in-house to be shipped all over.
All those extra clippings are recycled into this machine and given to various businesses at no cost. Oftentimes, the material is turned into airline seats. How cool is that?
Keep in mind that the photos above provide just a glimpse of the insanely complex and commendable process Darn Tough goes through to make its socks. This is a company that exemplifies hard American work—resulting in some of the best ski socks we’ve ever slipped our feet into. So, next time you’re considering a new pair, consider Darn Tough. And, if you’re skeptical, consider the company’s quality promise: “If our socks aren’t the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you’ve ever owned, we’ll replace them free of charge, for life, no strings attached. That’s what we deliver.” Now that’s a darn good guarantee.
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A few more photos, courtesy of Darn Tough Vermont, for good measure: