Review: Team Micro Crew Ultralight

By: Eric Senseman

Ultrarunners—those that run distances beyond the marathon—tend to run lots of miles on a variety of terrain. Indeed, ultramarathons—races beyond the marathon distance—are held in all different conditions: snow, ice, or rain; mud, dirt, road or rocks; mountains, hills, plains, or creeks. It’s our feet, as much as anything else, that feel the burden of these various elements most acutely. But whether running an easy three miles or a mountainous 100-mile race, it’s imperative to find socks that will keep your feet comfortable and supported. Are there socks that can continually withstand diverse conditions without wearing out? Do socks exist that can both keep feet warm in the winter yet let them breathe coolly in the summer? Darn Tough Vermont’s (DTV) Run/Bike line of socks fit the bill. In particular, I have found that the Team Micro Crew Ultralight sock is idle for long distance running on the trails. Here are the reasons why.

DTV 1701 - M. Run Team Micro Crew Ultralight (Black)

The Team Micro Crew Ultralight excels in three important areas: comfort, functionality, and durability.

Foot comfort during a training run or race is essential to success. If blisters or hotspots form, then running form alters, running pace diminishes, and general discomfort ensues, all of which negatively affect a run or race. Each of the DTV Run/Bike socks does exceedingly well in providing enough comfort and support for the foot without crowding the shoe or causing the aforementioned blisters or hotspots. The thickness of the sock is perhaps its most comfortable feature. As the thinnest sock in the DTV Run/Bike sock line, The Team Micro Crew Ultralight provides just the right amount of support without being too bulky and controls foot temperature perfectly.

Indeed, socks serve an important function for runners: in addition to keeping our feet in pristine condition, they are meant to keep our feet warm in cold temperatures but should not suffocate our feet in warm temperatures. Made of mostly wool, the Team Micro Crew Ultralight have the unique capacity to keep your feet warm in cold temperatures while allowing your feet to breathe and stay cool in warm temperatures. I train in Flagstaff, Arizona, where we experience extremes on each end of the temperature spectrum, and, amazingly, I have found that these socks perform optimally throughout the year. Nearly as important as temperature control, the Team Micro Crew Ultralight keeps debris and rock from coming into contact with your feet. Socks that sit below or at the ankle can prove inadequate on trails. However, the Team Micro Crew Ultralight serves as the perfect trail sock, since the sock sits several inches above the ankle, protecting your feet from trail debris.

Finally, these socks are as durable as they come. There is a reason that DTV offers an unconditional lifetime guarantee: these socks last, and they last throughout the seasons even with a great variety in conditions. There isn’t much more to say about the durability of DTV Run/Bike socks other than this: among the sock brands that I have worn, none have lasted half as long as DTV without a hole developing.

In Summation, among DTV’s outstanding variety of socks in the Run/Bike line, the Team Micro Crew Ultralight stands out as the ideal long distance trail sock. These socks last through the seasons without wearing out; they keep your feet supported and comfortable in all different environments and temperatures; and they keep your feet free of blisters, hotspots, and trail debris—a very important feature for a trail sock.

Review: Nordic Bjorn Sock

By: Ben Lustgarten

I am currently in Canmore, Alberta putting the new Darn Tough Nordic Bjorn Sock to the test with some on-snow ski training! I put in around 20 hours of skiing with only these socks last week and here is what I think of them!

 SkiRide Nordic Bjorn Sock

Comfort: These socks are very comfortable, no complaints at all. There are no hot spots on any part of my foot. My heels feel perfect even for a 3+ hour ski! The Bjorn sock is the cushioned version of the 2014-15 nordic ski sock that Darn Tough made this year. I like the cushioning for a few reasons. First is that it makes a snug fit in the nordic ski boot. With a bit of compressible cushion, the Bjorn sock makes the foot secure in the boot and not slide around at all. It is also nice to have the cushion on the bottom of the foot, because although nordic skiing does not involve a lot of pounding like running, there is a lot of pressure on the feet especially during longer over distance skis. Also, it is a bit warmer for the colder temperatures. The cushion is also nice for classic striding so that the bottom of the big toe and forefoot is cushioned when pushing the ski down into the snow and kicking back. So as a summary: no hot spots, cushioning for better fit and also increased warmth. It also seems that these socks will last longer than maybe the ultralight version. I have only had cold feet once when using Darn Tough socks and it was 40 degrees and raining hard and windy in a 65 mile road bike ride, the only thing to keep me warm would have been a space heater.

Fit: I am almost a perfect size US 10, EU 44, sometimes 43.5 with a slightly wider than normal foot. For Darn Tough that puts me on the edge of sizing between medium and large. I use a size large for all micro crew cushioned and ultralight socks, and I use a size large in the Bjorn and Sven socks. They fit perfectly! I pull the socks on and right as my toes reach the end the heel cup fits snugly and the sock wraps my foot very well. I feel no movement when skiing skate or classic, and they are not too tight.

Function: I find the Bjorn Nordic sock will be my go-to ski sock forever. I find no reason to use any other sock, because I do not think any other sock can beat the feel and function of Darn Tough. The merino wool keeps my feet warm and temperature-regulated, and warm when wet. To be honest I used the same pair of Bjorn socks for 4 workouts in a row (two days) and they did not smell, I just air-dried them after each workout and put them back on. Felt great! The fit my feet well and work for their purpose: to make your feet feel good when nordic skiing.

Conclusion: These are the best socks I have tried when nordic skiing! I’m excited to race and train with them this winter every time I go skiing! If you are deciding between brands, go with Darn Tough. They are made in Vermont, they are merino wool, and they have an unconditional lifetime warrantee, and they are amazingly comfortable socks! How can you beat that?

-Ben Lustgarten, SVSEF Gold Team

50 Miles of Wilderness Commemorating 50 Years of The Wilderness Act

By: Kel Rossiter

Photo #1

Autumn’s confetti of color served as a festive audience along our journey.

Wilderness has always been a contested term. The word offers an expanse of subjectivity in which to insert interpretation and to project meaning. In 1964, wilderness was given an official political definition with the passage of the Wilderness Act. Congressional acts aren’t often noted for their eloquence, so The Wilderness Act of 1964 is all the more exceptional in its lyrical designation of wilderness as:

A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

With that act, Congress settled itself upon a term for what wilderness was and set about designating certain areas of federal lands—national parks, forests, and otherwise—as “Wilderness Areas.”

50 Miles of Wilderness

Our route through the Sandwich and Pemigewasset Wilderness Areas in NH.

Flash forward 50 years and I found myself with my long-time outdoor partner and environmental historian friend Dave back in the early and cold months of 2014. During an approach to some Huntington Ravine ice climbing, we struck upon the realization that it was the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, in yet, with all the silence of a tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it, neither of us had heard about anything being done to commemorate the Wilderness Act. So, we began to consider ways in which we could contribute a personal celebration to the Wilderness Act party.

How precisely that led to us coming up with the “50 Miles of Wilderness for 50 Years of Wilderness” idea I still can’t piece together: While I did the Boston Marathon a decade ago, to call me a distance runner would be like calling Neil Armstrong an alien because he once walked on the moon. Dave, for his part, does trail run regularly, but to call him a die-hard distance runner would be like mistaking President Obama for the Pope because Barack happens to go to church regularly. It would have made much more sense to devise a “50 Wilderness Climbs for 50 Years of Wilderness” or, hell, even “50 Hours of Freezing Your Butt Off on some Weird Link-up of Climbs for 50 Years of Wilderness” but somehow we settled on “50 Miles of Wilderness for 50 Years of Wilderness” (it did have a nicer ring to it)…and that explains how I found myself stumbling around in the fog in the dark-AM hours of October 1st, looking for the trail that would lead us to the top of Mount Whiteface, our first highpoint on the journey.

Photo #2

In the dark and on the move—Dave in the early AM.

I’d been alpine climbing this summer in the North Cascades and those approaches certainly help to put me line for a 50-miler, but I knew that nothing beats the real thing when it comes to training, and I’d have to do many a running mile to prep. In August, I swapped out my mountain boots for running togs while I was climbing over in Central Europe. And, though I’ve never had a natural compulsion to run, the sinewy streets and accretion of ages of architecture in Budapest, Vienna, Passau, Regensberg and the like provided visual eye-candy to tempt me to the taking.

Photo #3

Scenes from my summer of running—Europe’s architecture is wild—but it’s not wilderness.

Problem is, aside from the fact that those millenium-old architectural wonders are the antithesis of “America’s Crown Jewels” of wilderness, all those lovely little European cities also occur along the Danube River—which is to say that for all in intensive purposes the running is flat.   That might explain why, somewhere toward the top of Mount Tripyramid, deep in the Sandwich Range Wilderness, my hamstring seemed to twanging like the high string of a banjo. Now, some might look at the relative 4160′ elevation of Tripyramid and wonder what the fuss is, but as any analyst of trails will tell you, eastern trails were built back in the day when, if a person wanted to get to the top of a mountain, they went to the top of the mountain. No switchbacks, no horseback graded paths, just up. So up we went. This was not the Danube.

One feature of American Wilderness (I’ll use capital “W” to connote the political definition) being “untrammeled by man (sic)” is that these areas tend to be more off the beaten path and the trails themselves deliver more of a beating—they’re rustic, rooted, rife with fallen trees to limbo under or hurdle over (chainsaws, being mechanized instruments, aren’t allowed in Wilderness). And though exceptions are certainly made for the trammeling by humans that things like trail signs present, their prevalence is certainly diminished in Wilderness Areas…

Which explains for why we may have actually run 52 miles. At a junction along the Livermore Trail, heading toward the Kancamangus Highway, the lay of the land seemed to suggest that we should head downhill—or maybe that was just the power of positive thinking once again gone awry. Enjoying a blissful run down evenly graded logging road, we began to wonder why we didn’t remember seeing a logging road on this section of the map we plotted…and then we turned around. The evenly graded logging road was not nearly as pleasant on the return.

Between the fog-navigational challenges and our most recent misstep, and with some cell reception showing, Dave called his partner Rachel—our pit crew at the 27-mile mark—to let her know we’d be a bit longer. Leaving the Sandwich Range Wilderness and entering the Pemigewasset Wilderness, our path onward went wonderfully well at first, with long stretches along the Sawyer River Trail’s wide, flat expanses, and then for slower and markedly unpleasant stretches of side-hilling and squeezing every last drop of water out of the spruces that clogged the Hancock Notch Trail.

Photo #4

Twenty-seven miles in and looking good—or at least we’re smiling!

Coming into our pit stop was sweet relief—both because it meant we were more than halfway and because of the Christmas-cornucopia of treats it supplied. In that sort of third-person view on oneself that tiredness can provide, I saw myself sitting there on the curb of the parking lot along the Kancamangus Highway, with a half-eaten banana on my knee, shoveling fried rice into my mouth with my hand (I’d forgotten to pre-pack a spoon), taking swigs of my Very Green juice drink in between. I may have looked like a wreck, but I was a wreck refueling. After a few hundred more calories went in, I treated myself to a pair of dry Darn Tough’s, peeling off the mucky Light Hiker Micro Crew’s and feeling the cosiness of a fresh pair.

The rest of the run went by in flashes and blurs of the Northeast’s celebrated autumn paparazzi of color. In yet, for all it’s show of glory, we were it’s only witness. We never saw another soul along the trail. The wild trails of the Pemi interior gave way to the popular Ethan Pond Trail at its edges. Still no souls. Our plotting out of 50 precise miles had required some routing jiggery, and one outcome of that was that our last three miles of this wilderness run would be along the tracks of the scenic train running up to Crawford Notch. While on the one hand train tracks are hardly emblematic of wilderness, on the other, running along those quiet, straight, and graded final miles provided a time for transitioning back to civilization and for pondering what wilderness means to me, fifty years after it was politically defined, and some twenty years after I began exploring its various expanses on the American map.

Photo #5

Entering the colorful flatlands of the Sawyer River Trail

During that exploration, I’ve seen many straightaway paths in my thinking, but switchbacks as well. In those twenty years of Wilderness exploration, I have transtioned from a outdoor neophyte to a person who makes his living and his life in natural places. I still believe in the symbolic and real gesture of wilderness as a place where humanity puts aside it’s claim to the top triangle of the pyramid, puts aside its desperate clinging to scientific rationalism, and says, in effect, “In this place, nature knows best.” In yet, I also realize the attraction that these places hold to those with wild spaces still left within their hearts, and I realize that unless that value is understood by the wider herd, then the resource will ultimately wither: In order to be valued, Wilderness must be encountered. And in order to be saved, Wilderness must be valued…but if too many are encountering it, is it still wilderness?

As I jogged along—OK, maybe now it was more of a fast-walk—thinking about such contradictions and conundrums in my own thought, I by necessity also reflected on some of the contradictions, conundrums, and just plain confounding actions of those we’ve appointed to manage these Wilderness places. They’ve got a tough job. Defining the reasonable boundaries of human activity in a place that is supposed to be wild makes you something of the adult chaperones at a high school homecoming dance. A recent flashpoint in my guiding community has been the issue of placing bolts on the rappel route off of the West Ridge of Forbidden Peak, a “Fifty Classics Climb” in the North Cascades. To put is quickly, this route is in a Wilderness Area and a guide put in bolted rappel anchors on a descent path that was previously riddled with an ugly confetti of rope, webbing, and whatever else. The National Park Service cut those bolts in an unusual display of efficiency and authority and then, not long after, a climber was killed by rockfall while negotiating these confetti anchors (see Rock & Ice’s article HERE for some background and analysis on this specific incident).

Photo #6

Scenes from this summer in the alpine—on the classic wilderness route, West Ridge of Forbidden Peak.

I strongly admire and support the idea that declaring an area as Wilderness is an admirable gesture of restraint among our all-too-ambitious race, but I also believe in consistency of thought and critical reflection in its execution. Speaking generally, one could argue that trails themselves—and maintained trails are prevalent in Wilderness Areas–are evidence of “trammeling”. More particularly with Forbidden Peak, one might wonder how nylon tat—with its goudy array of colors and a UV decay time of somewhere around the current age of the Wilderness Act—is somehow more “natural” and less “impact” than two simple 3/8” cylinders drilled 2” deep into a rock expanse the size of a vertical football field. Particularly when apart from the fauna that inhabit those alpine reaches—who are not in any way affected by the bolts (or the tat, for fairness I have to say)–the only people who might conceivably see those bolts are climbers. And if there are climbers who choose to eschew the bolts in favor of their own “wild” solution, let them express that wildness and leave their own tat mess.

These kinds of contentions and contradictions are evident throughout the history of Wilderness over the past 50 years. Many have struggled individually with the question of what “wilderness” really is and as a society we have struggled with the question of what the value of “Wilderness” is and also the question of who it is that really values—and benefits from—its existence.

Photo #7

Fifteen miles go until we reach the edge of civilization.

The fact that I was thinking about Wilderness as it pertains to climbing while completing the last three miles of this “50 Miles of Wilderness for 50 Years of Wilderness” run is perhaps telling. In so far as I enjoyed the process of training for the run and the many hours of trail time contemplation it afforded, I am at the root a climber: No walk, hike, or run should begin without an ultimate climb in mind or end without some kind of climb having been accomplished. But whether trail runner at root or climber at the core, it is well worth considering and celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Wilderness Act, embracing the concept of wilderness in its variety of interpretations, seeking out one’s own definition for it, and joining in that diversity of conversations, and—ultimately and most importantly feeling the sense of wildness in your own bones that wide open, wild spaces can offer.

Photo #8

Untrammeled—and just perfect.

Being Darn Tough

By: Mallory

The summer is almost gone! Summer goals are wrapping up (we will revisit those) and school is starting. Much of the blogosphere is getting ready to enter into the fall groove. Entering into any groove when you are dealing with young adult cancer or a long term illness is hard though! Your peer group goes one way…and you can feel oh-so-stuck going a different way. Jealousy, isolation, sadness, anxiety…these are all feelings that are hard to contend with and difficult to trudge through but they are reasonable and rational feelings to experience when confronted by life-changing circumstances.

I find motivational quotes to be really helpful in staying true and tough…which is probably apparent from the multitude of motivational quotes that have found their way into Lacuna Loft pieces….like here, here, here, here and here :).


Motivational quotes are fine and dandy but taking small steps, even itsy-bitsy steps, to find happiness, love, and the mindset of being darn tough to face your challenges head on is really important. Don’t be too hard on yourself when the energy to get up and make a change just doesn’t feel available…but little by little we can all make our lives live-able and even great by altering our perception and attitude. Take a walk, call a friend, make something, write a letter to yourself or someone else…these are all ways that could help you take charge and stay tough when life is hard.

Having a motto (probably goes along with my love of motivational quotes) helps me find that extra boost when I just don’t want to take action…even when I know that I will feel better if I do. All year, my motto has been Darn Tough. I even have a lovely pair of cozy socks sporting the same phrase.

What actions help you to feel better when life is weighing you down? Do you have a motto or a phrase or a motivational quote that helps?

Here’s to being Darn Tough!

Post originally published on Lacuna Loft.

Boards and Bikes Bliss

By: Sasha Yakovleff

What’s the best part about riding a bike? I think it means different things for different folks- it could range from the wind whistling through your hair as your cruise down the street, to climbing up a hill working so hard the sweat pours into your eyes and makes you squint, or guinea-pigging a new line you just built, wondering if that sniper step-on/step-off you just finished will really work the way you want.

For me, one of the best parts of riding my bike is the places it takes me. I like to ride everything,everywhere, including some strange spots that are not normal to ride. Sometimes this means getting up at 5AM on a Sunday to hit a street spot while the security guards are sleeping, before they have a chance to kick you out for “grinding on your trick bike.” Sometimes this means putting a ladder in your truck and pulling over on the side of the interstate to session a fun-looking roof you happened to pass by on the way to Grandma’s house. Sometimes this means hiking up that hill you always wondered about, cutting down a few branches, and raking out a quick downhill run to session before anyone catches on. Why? Because it’s there, so go get it!


Photo by: Leif Trott

I recently rode my first natural fullpipe in a small town in Southwest Wyoming. I heard about this spot from a few friends but nobody really knew how to get there. I fired up good old Google maps and zoomed in on a few reservoirs until I found what I was looking for: an enormous overflow drain that emptied into the dry side of the dam, called “Hell hole.”

After coordinating with a filmer, healing from injuries, and waiting for the right weather window, we pulled the trigger on a cloudy Saturday afternoon. The spot was creepy and amazing at the same time. It was one of the tightest transitions I have ever ridden; every pump just got you higher and higher and faster and faster. I was blown away and now I’ve been hunting down every full pipe I can find, east or west.

Seeking my bliss means a few things to me; mainly riding my bike in amazing places and building weird features to create new spots to ride. There is always something new and exciting, you just have to sniff it out or build it yourself!

Originally posted on Seek Your Bliss.

When Mice Attack

By: RJ Thompson

If you’ve spent any time sleeping in a primitive backcountry shelter, you’ve undoubtedly seen evidence of the most menacing creature known to hikers and trail runners. The mouse – AKA candy criminal, backpack bandit, and/or sleeping bag slayer – is a camper’s worst nightmare.


At the Mass. state line, post-mouse bite.

I’ve had my fare share of run-ins with these knapsack nibblers. Earlier this summer, as I was boiling some water at the Clarendon Shelter on the Long Trail, a pair of mice went scampering over my camping pad right after I had blown it up for the night.  On a separate occasion at the Cowles Cove Shelter on the LT, mice scampered around my head all evening, and even my earplugs couldn’t eliminate the sound of their tiny feet pacing throughout the shelter. This led to an evening of roughly 45 minutes of sleep between the hours of 10 and 4 AM.

But nothing compared to the Battle of Congdon on July 26, 2014. I arrived at the shelter (located just 10 miles north of the Massachusetts boarder on the LT) at around 7:30 PM. All of the bunks were taken, so my options were limited to the floor or outside on the dirt. The forecast called for rain by early morning, so I opted for the floor.

Everyone was in their respective sleeping areas shortly after sunset, and I gave it my best effort to fall asleep quickly so I could wake up early and finish my run before the rain started. My earplugs were in, my head was covered with a thin base-layer to keep the bugs off, and my sleeping bag was zipped. To me, it was luxurious.

And then the nemesis of the night approached. At first I could only hear them scampering around, sniffing for crumbs and trying to find a late night snack like a drunken college student stumbling into his apartment after an evening at the bars. Since I was on the ground, I was right in the middle of their regularly traveled path. I did everything I could to block out the sound and fall back to sleep, but then it happened.

A mouse had crawled directly onto my head. What occurred next was a fit of fury and a few sub-audible curse words (I didn’t want to wake anyone up if I could avoid it). The mouse had crossed a line. Scamper around my head and body if you’d like, but keep your dirty paws to yourself. Even more insulting – the mouse decided to leave a few droppings on my camping pad before it mounted my head. I imagine the mice refer to this prank as the “poop and pounce.” Very creative for a mouse, I must say.

I resolved to waking and asking a nice, middle-aged woman if I could place my camping pad next to hers (head to toe) on the low bunk in an effort to avoid further mouse harassment on the floor. She kindly moved her pad over to make room for mine. I crawled into my sleeping bag and made a silent truce with my enemies below. If I could fall back to sleep, I would still be able to get about four hours of rest.

The truce did not last. Not long after I fell asleep, the scampering resumed. Even the woman next to me admitted to hearing them around her head. I attempted to stuff my earplugs in extra far to eliminate the sound of the pesky creatures, and that seemed to help a bit, as I ultimately drifted back to sleep. But not for long.

What happened next was completely unacceptable. I had removed myself from the floor – the apparent domain of the mouse. I even made a silent truce after enduring the poop and pounce. Instead of accepting my surrender and leaving me be, I was rewarded with a bite to my right index finger. This time there was an audible curse word, for I was fast asleep until the bite happened. Naturally, I was startled to have a tiny animal attempt to nibble on my finger in the middle of the night.

There was not much more I could do to avoid the (wait for it…) finger foragers. I placed both hands inside my sleeping bag, zipped it up all the way, and pulled the drawcord as tightly as I could so only my nose and mouth were exposed. This would have to do. There was no other option.

I was up with the sunrise and made my exit as quickly as possible. As I was about to start my run, a fellow camper came out of the privy and asked if I had been bitten by a mouse last night. I said, “Yeah, sorry if I woke you.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he said, “one got me two nights ago at another shelter. I woke everyone up when I yelled.”

I asked him if he was familiar with the poop and pounce trick. “It’s demoralizing,” he replied.

After a few laughs, I said farewell to my comrade and let the rain wash away the sins of the mice as I entered the foggy forest.


Sunset over Stratton Pond.


Below are some pics from the Long Trail Run, which started in Killington, Vermont and finished in Williamstown, Massachusetts. RJ plans to attempt to break the unsupported speed record on August 23. Weather may delay my start date.

Team Vidaraid Wins Untamed New England Expedition Race

Vidaraid, Darn Tough, Adventure Race

Team Columbia Vidaraid wins the Untamed New England Expedition Race in Maine.

“The Adventure Racing World Series made the first of two stops in North America when the Untamed New England Expedition Race took place in the Highlands of Maine last week. The race covered over 200 miles of rugged terrain including Moosehead Lake, the Appalachian Mountain Club’s 100 Mile Wilderness, the historic town of Greenville and the Kennebec and Dead Rivers. It was a challenge accepted by 39 teams from around the world, including Columbia Vidaraid who are third in the AR World Series rankings.” Full Story