Danner Mountain Light II Review

 

  • Made in the USA
  • 100% waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX® liner is engineered to keep your feet dry and comfortable - even in extreme conditions
  • Full-grain, one-piece, all-leather upper offers a classic look with superior waterproof protection and durability
  • Danner's hand crafted stitchdown construction provides a wider platform for increased stability underfoot. This construction makes the boot recraftable.
  • Danner® Airthotic® a half- length, molded polyurethane instep that cups the heel and supports the arch area of the foot
  • Vibram® Kletterlift outsole is specifically designed for comfort and durability. The heel provides lightweight comfort as well as superb shock absorption. The compound guarantees great traction and stability on both wet and dry surfaces
  • Fiberglass shank
  • 5" height
  • weight 4lbs (pair)
  • MSRP: $310

As I slid my foot into the Danner Mountain Light II boots I felt nostalgic, well, I guess I may have been projecting a bit, but I felt as though I was slipping into the past where boots were "crafted" and built to last a lifetime.

Hiking the first few miles in the boots I realized that my "nostalgia" was painful and I quickly learned that backcountry adventurers from year's past were truly tough and dedicated to earning their licks on the trail. These boots were going to take some time to break in.

Danner has been crafting boots for 80 years and by taking their time honored system they have managed to produce a boot that is as aesthetically pleasing as it is useful. Built on a Vibram sole and wrapped in a full grain one piece leather upper lined with Gore-Tex this is an adventurer's boot made for real world use. Through thick and thin this is a stout boot which truly sines once broken in.

This boot does not come with a footbed/insole and I chose to use one of my custom insoles which really helped with the fit, especially since this boot is designed to be "wide and stable". Having an insole from a company you trust makes fitting a bit easier. Adding the insole also helped take up some of the volume that the boot allows and if you have low volume feet you may want to use a thicker insole than you are used to.

The lacing system is straight forward although the use of fat green laces also adds to the nostalgic trip. While hiking over a well maintained trail the boots felt comfortable and I did end up noticing a bit of heat build up which made me switch to thinner socks, unfortunately wearing thinner socks allowed my foot to slide around and although I never had any true hot spots I could tell right away that there was the potential for them until I fully broken in the boots. Since I spend most of my trail days in light hikers or trail runners hiking long days in a true boot caused a bit of fatigue simply because I was lifting so much more with each step, if you are like me and not used to it it can seriously diminish your ability to make super long mileage days.

Now that they have been broken in I have noticed a number of things that were concerns:

  1. The back of the boot right at the Achilles tendon was rubbing when I would flex my ankle and this has now gone away as the leather has broken in.
  2. These are not insulated boots, wear appropriate socks in cold weather.
  3. The entire boot takes some takes some time to break in, this means the upper and the tongue!
  4. Resole as needed, Vibram makes good soles but nothing lasts forever!
  5. Understand what having a Gore-Tex lined boot means, which is warmer and wetter inside the boot from perspiration.
  6. These boots have only a 5" ankle height which may be a bit low for some folks, be aware.
  7. There is no "lace lock" that many modern boot manufacturers use to keep your heel in place. This can be negated by lacing appropriately.

There are countless things that you may have an issue with any fitting boot, just be aware that if you invest in these or any other "lifetime" full leather boot, that they all take considerable time to break in. Use a leather treatment  and wear them a lot. Years ago I would wear boots like this in the shower to help soften up and mold the leather to my feet and help them break in faster. But ultimately the only way to get these feeling like a natural extension of your foot is to wear them!

The Mountain Light II is your grandfather's boot, only better. Designed to be lighter and more functional this boot is a great investment if you are not counting the ounces and desire a sturdy boot that you are willing to maintain and take care of. I am pleased to own a pair.

Steve Hitchcock Yeti

Yeti is an all around outdoor adventurer, enjoying everything from mountain and road biking, climbing and bouldering, orienteering, skiing, surfing, backpacking, trail running and exploring. Yeti is proud to make his home in the Colorado Mountains with his wife and son.

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