I bought my Danner Mountain Light hiking boots in 2016, in preparation for a trip. We were taking our two young boys to Iceland and had planned to do it up: explore towns, see natural wonders (read: waterfalls) and do a ton of hiking. Ideally, I needed a hiking boot that was waterproof…but one that wasn’t overly heavy or stiff or — quite frankly — ugly so I could also wear them for sight-seeing. Danner boots had just become fairly well-known thanks to the movie Wild, and they were so cute that I wanted them with a passion.
My only hesitation? They were $360.
So. After a ton of research (and, frankly, ordering and rejecting several pairs of more affordable hiking boots) I took the plunge. Now, four years later…were those Danner hiking boots worth the cost?
Quick Background: What To Know About Danner Hiking Boots
The Danner Company was started in Portland, OR, in 1932 by a guy who set out to make the best logging boot ever. The company evolved over the years and now focuses on hiking and work boots. The women’s hiking boots I’m wearing — Danner’s Mountain Light Hikers in cascade — were first introduced in the 1970s and are still handmade in Portland. Since the ’70s, they’ve been updated with a Vibram Ketterlift Outsole. This outsole is designed for comfort and stability, and provides good traction on wet or dry surfaces (something I can personally attest to). Additionally, my Danners also have Dri-Lex waterproofing which makes them waterproof…yet still breathable.
These boots are part of Danner’s recrafting program. This means that my boots (even after the 365-day warranty) can have parts replaced, get restitched, etc.,
Since Danners are handmade in the US and can be recrafted, The Mom Edit has included Danner on our Sustainable Style brand list.
How Do Danner Boots Fit?
The Danner Mountain Light hiking boots run big. Even with thick hiking socks, I went down a half-size. The toe-box is nice and roomy, so nothing pinches or rubs as I hike. When sized properly, my foot is snug in the boot (not slipping around), but my toes still have room to breathe.
The one small annoyance with Danner boots is that I typically have to re-tie them at least once on the trail. If I don’t tie them tight enough to begin with, they’ll slip out of the top clasps (this happens pretty quickly — a sure sign I didn’t tie them properly at the start)…but in general, after a couple of hours of hiking, I’ll eventually notice that they laces have loosened up, and I’ll re-tie.
Are Danner Boots Comfortable?
My Danners are made from a thick leather that only needed a light breaking in. I was nervous in Iceland because I had dithered over ‘which pair’ for so long I didn’t have time to break them in (rookie mistake). I wore them around the house for a few days, and then we left for Iceland. Our first hike was just under 3 miles round-trip, and I didn’t have a single issue with the boots. Literally not one. They were comfortable, even when rained on, and were good to go the next day for another hike. My feet were happy the entire week in Iceland, despite all of the hiking.
Additionally, I’ve hiked in these Danners under the blazing sun in Moab, and through humid East Coast summers — they weren’t overly hot then, either. They’re heavier than the average everyday shoe — similar to a snow boot, but not as heavy as a pair of really warm Sorel snowboots. The ankle support is great, even in rock scrambling situations or over uneven, tricky-to-navigate terrain. Our hikes are now typically 5 – 8 miles long (as the boys have gotten older our hikes got longer).
I pack my Danners for every trip that involves hiking, knowing I can wear them even in situations where I don’t need stability or good traction.
Like, uh, leaving the hotel for coffee. 🙂
Are Danner Boots Waterproof?
I have fully tested the waterproofing of these hiking boots. And with the exception of that one time…YES. These boots are definitely waterproof. Where have they been tested? Well…my Danners and I have hiked in the rain dozens of times…
…meandered down creekbeds, wandered into waterfall sprays, squelched through mud, stomped through puddles, waded along beaches, and missed that rock we were jumping for a few times.
Of course, that one time we had to cross a knee-deep river, and I should’ve just taken the darn things off. No boot is going to be waterproof when water fills in from the top. Lesson learned.
Happily, they (mostly) dried out quickly — I had to hike in them the very next day.
Do Danner Hiking Boots Have Decent Traction?
I’ve squished through slimy mud, then balanced on a moss-covered log. I’ve hiked up slippery rocks next to waterfalls, and have gone canyoneering in my Danners. I’ve even worn them in the winter on icy streets (but haven’t yet hiked on ice in them). That said, I’ve been really, really impressed. The bottom is as grippy as advertised.
How Have Danner Boots Held Up Over The Years?
Well…four years later and my passion for these Danner hiking boots is undimmed. Not only is the support just as good (especially around the ankle, where I really need it), but the traction is also rock solid. And I’m still getting compliments on these boots (literally last weekend), which is saying something. While I’ve made sure to dry them completely before putting them away…and I always store them in my closet (rather than the moldy basement), I really haven’t done anything special to keep these boots looking nice. Granted, these boots now have a worn-in look and a few scuffs, but they’re even softer now, and the color has faded into a really nice mellow tan.
I love them.
As a point of comparison, here’s a photo of the boots from one of our first hikes in Iceland…and a random photo from last weekend. I had just stepped in a puddle, so they’re still wet.
I keep meaning to pick up some of Obaneuf’s Heavy Duty Leather conditioner (I’ve heard good things about it), but….just…haven’t yet.
Can You Seriously Wear Danner Hiking Boots Sightseeing?
Ohhhhh yeah. These boots, in addition to their durability and stability and longevity and waterproofing and comfort…they cute, too. In fact ‘sooo cuuuuute‘ is the discriminating factor of the Danner hiking boot, the original reason for my passion, and one of the main reasons I love them still.
Whether I’m just strolling around exploring a quaint little town or, uh, active sightseeing — the kind that could include climbing six dozen steps in Ecuador, for example…
…these boots are perfect. So good, in fact, that I frequently wear them around Philly. We love hiking in the Wissahickon and then heading out for a beer…
…and other cheesy fall activities. *cough*pumpkinpatch*cough
And yes, I have worn these boots with faux-fur. Why?
Because I can.
Now that’s versatility.
Where To Buy Danner Boots?
Backcountry – This is where I bought my Danner boots. They’re currently running a promotion for 20% off one item, and Danner is included in the promotion (so are Yeti coolers, BTW). Use code 20FULLPRICE.
Amazon – obviously. These ship right from Danner themselves.
Free People – Sizes are pretty picked over, but if you’re looking for another nod to their fashion street cred…here it is.
Bottom Line: Danner Hiking Boots Are TOTALLY WORTH IT
That’s it! If you guys have any other questions about my Danner hiking boots, let me know and I’ll do my best to answer.
And now, for the pinners…