Danner Hiking Boots: Are They Worth The Cost?

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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 pair of hiking boots that was waterproof…but one that wasn’t overly heavy or stiff or — quite frankly — ugly, so I could also wear them for sightseeing. Danner boots had just become fairly well-known thanks to the movie “Wild,” and they are so cute that I wanted them with a passion.

This post has been just been updated for 2023.Cause guess what? We still love our Danners.

From The Trails To The Streets: Are Danner Hiking Boots Worth The Investment?

If You’re In A Hurry…The Best Places To Buy Danner Hiking Boots:

After a ton of research (ordering & rejecting several pairs of more-affordable hiking boots), I took the plunge. Now, 7 years later...are those Danner hiking boots worth the cost?

My only hesitation? They were $360.

Yikes.

So. After a ton of research (and, frankly, ordering and rejecting several pairs of more-affordable hiking boots), I took the plunge. Now, seven years later…are those Danner hiking boots worth the cost?

Quick Background: What To Know About Danner Hiking Boots

The outsole of Danner hiking boots is designed for comfort & stability, + provides good traction on wet or dry surfaces.

The Danner Company was started in Portland, OR, in 1932 by a guy who set out to make the best logging boots 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 re-crafting 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 U.S. and can be re-crafted, 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 Danner Mountain Light hiking boots run big. Even with thick hiking socks, I went down a half size.

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 the 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 three 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.

My Danner hiking boots were comfortable, even when rained on, & were good to go the next day for another hike.

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 snow boots.

The ankle support is great, even in rock-scrambling situations or over uneven, tricky-to-navigate terrain. Our hikes are now typically five to eight miles long (as the boys have gotten older, our hikes get 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. 🙂

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.

Are Danner Hiking Boots Waterproof?

I’ve 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…

I've fully tested the waterproofing of Danner hiking boots. & YES. These boots are definitely waterproof.

…meandered down creek beds, 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.

Danner hiking boots, in addition to their durability, stability, longevity, waterproofing & comfort...are cute. The stylish factor is a main reason we love 'em.

Do Danner Hiking Boots Have Decent Traction?

Danner hiking boots have great traction. I've hiked up slippery rocks & worn them on icy streets, & I'm really impressed.

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.

Danner hiking boots have grippy soles, & are great for any activity that needs a li'l traction.


How Have My Danner Boots Held Up Over The Years?

7 years later, & my passion for these Danner hiking boots is undimmed.

Well…seven 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, 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 a more recent 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 boots, the original reason for my passion, and one of the main reasons I love them still.

These Danner hiking boots, in addition to their durability, stability, longevity, waterproofing & comfort...they cute too.

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…

Danner hiking boots, in addition to their durability, stability, longevity, waterproofing & comfort...are cute. The stylish factor is a main reason we love 'em.

…and other cheesy fall activities. *cough*pumpkinpatch*cough

Danner hiking boots, in addition to their durability, stability, longevity, waterproofing & comfort...are cute. The stylish factor is a main reason we love 'em.

And, yes, I have worn these boots with faux fur. Why?

Danner hiking boots are so cute, they can be worn w/ a ton of different outfits — even faux fur.

Because I can.

Now that’s versatility.

Bottom Line: Danner Hiking Boots Are TOTALLY WORTH IT

Durable, comfortable, so very cute…I don’t think any other shoe could replace my Danner hiking boots.

Danner hiking boots, in addition to their durability, stability, longevity, waterproofing & comfort...are cute. The stylish factor is a main reason we love 'em.

The Best Places To Buy Danner Hiking Boots:

Backcountry – This is where I bought my Danner boots.

Zappos – The fast (and free) shipping is great. Mike got his Danners here.

AmazonObviously. These ship right from Danner itself.

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.

xo,

S

And, now, for the pinners…

Danner hiking boots, in addition to their durability, stability, longevity, waterproofing & comfort...are cute. The stylish factor is a main reason we love 'em.
Danner hiking boots, in addition to their durability, stability, longevity, waterproofing & comfort...are cute. The stylish factor is a main reason we love 'em.

26 COMMENTS

  1. Ooh, I have an engagement photoshoot on a 10-mile hike coming up, and have been stressing out about what to wear. I have perfectly functional, but ugly, hiking boots — will be splurging on these much cuter ones, I think.

    Now, any advice on what to do about hair/makeup when being photographed on a 10-mile hike in the middle of nowhere??

    • Honestly…I would just do a full face of natural-looking makeup. Make sure you use both face primer AND eye primer (urban decay) so it doesn’t run off, and bring a bit of powder for touchups. I would seriously do a full smokey eye in colors that are just a shade or two darker to give your eyes definition without screaming EYEMAKEUP. And maybe plan for a small eye makeup touchup, too. Several years ago I wrote about the makeup I use for a full day of travel…and I’d still recommend these products. (I tend to wear more eyemakeup now…but I’m older so I need it.) 🙂 https://themomedit.com/stay-proof-day-to-night-makeup-for-travel/

  2. BTW – I wanted to report back on a great Danner sale at CampSaver, I got my pair for literally 40% off. Have never shopped from there before but I was looking for other retail options since Backcountry and REI both don’t stock extended sizing (the boots do come in women’s 5 and 5.5, but only stocked down to a 6 at many places).

    • I wish I had a better answer. Our favorite hiking boots for kids – hands down – were these waterproof Adidas: https://shopstyle.it/l/bhLXg

      However, they’re almost impossible to find. Even more confusing, the ones we used in Iceland (and the ones on the Adidas site) are definetely waterproof, but the others I’ve found (on Zappos) which LOOK identical, are not listed as waterproof. Drives me nuts. They’re easily our favs. https://shopstyle.it/l/bhM1H

      Because I couldn’t figure out the waterproof thing, we ended up trying North Face, but they’re a little too narrow. But (finally) we tried Merrel’s waterproof boots, and Raines has been happy with them: https://shopstyle.it/l/bhM15

  3. Totally agree. Danner Mountain Lights are awesome. Price is completely justified. Love that they are made in the USA. Mine are about 2 years old and still look fairly new (actually wish they didn’t!). They are so good on ice/snowy conditions that I have preferred them to my dedicated “snowboots.” Great and grippy on the trails and definitely waterproof. They fit my shallow foot really well, as I find most boots have too much room in the front (causing my foot to slide around). I took my dress shoe size (8) instead of my typical boot size (8.5), so they do run about 1/2 size big. Definitely recommend also buying the insole/insert since they don’t come with any additional cushioning. I bought this through Danner and they fit perfectly.

  4. Have you tried changing the shoe laces to avoid the mid-hike loosening? Just a suggestion from a fellow hiker. Love the boots!

  5. Thanks for the info! Now can we please have a full-on what-to-wear-hiking post? I have recently moved to a place that has great hiking AND great breweries and wineries, so I need help hitting that comfy/cute sweet spot.

  6. I love everything you are wearing in all these photos too. The North Face jacket you hav mentioned before looks great on you. I have these on my “birthday” list. Wish I could try them on first.

  7. I love my Danners too! I bought them (per your recommendation) two years ago for a hiking trip in Oregon. No break-in needed, waterproof, comfy and the perfect grip. Back home in very cold Minnesota, I started wearing them on my daily dog walks in the winter! With wool socks, I found them to be my choice for even winter hiking on the daily. The only caveat being deep snow. Once the fresh snow is deeper than about 4”, it finds its way into the boot from the top. I too am so happy with how they have stood the test of time (and their “cost per wear”).

  8. Having worked with and worn Danner boots now and in the past they are one of the great boot makers out there in the United States today. I have the same boots you do, a year older, but they’re solid. I love them a lot. They may go in for a re-sole soon but everything else is still top notch (not that the sole is bad it’s just getting a little worn). I’ve worn them hiking in Maine, California, Vermont, Virginia, Florida, and tons of places in between. While it took me a little while to break mine in, after wearing them casually for a few days straight they were good to go. I didn’t find the same fit issue as you as I had to go up a half size but maybe that’s something that’s different between men’s and women’s boots. Don’t know for sure. Or maybe my foot is larger than I think it is. Anyway. Great boots. Great company. Great people to have worked with in the recent past.

  9. Thank you! This was well timed. My hiking boots (which I just realized are over 5 years old) are ready for retirement and I have been thinking about taking the plunge.

  10. Thank you for this! My question is completely Unrelated to the boots. What I want to know is what you are wearing in the picture where you are going out for coffee with your child, and are opening a door? You are wearing what appears to be a pants and sweater combo. Which one is it? I NEEED it.

  11. Currently traveling in Iceland and bought the Danners based on your Iceland posts – thank you!!! They’ve been PERFECT for this trip and I can tell I’ll be wearing (and loving) these for years!

  12. Not sure if I’m doubling up on comments, but doesn’t look like it published the first time, so here goes!
    OK! I’m finally convinced! How did you decide between the tan and the black? Anyone at TME have the black and have a strong opinion? And still feel good about going down a half size? Thank you!

    • Yes – go down a half size for sure!!

      And for me, the black wasn’t even in the running – I loved the classic look of the tan, especially with the red laces (and they still look cute with black leggings and hoodies, too).

  13. Hi! I would love to know where you got the backpack you’re wearing in the first photo. The one that looks to be the same color as your Danners.

  14. I retired from the National Park Service in mostly backcountry areas, am now 70 and have pretty severe neuropathy in my feet. Been a big fan of Danner for awhile but was reticent about forking out near $500 for Mountain Lights. I was going on a pretty low key 9 day, day hike trip with my daughter in the northwest so needed something comfortable but safe. Since then I have put them through the ringer at old work sites like Isle Royale N.P. and have not been disappointed. Essentially no breaking time, waterproof, very comfortable (they do run a bit big but I needed that), they clean up nice (if you follow the care instructions) and look great. A little retro but I have not found a better boot since the NPS stopped issuing Vasque Highlander 30 years ago (probably wasn’t supposed to say that),

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