Old Fashion Durability
I purchased my Danner Explorer boots because I needed a hard use, supportive and waterproof backpacking boot. My Merrell MOABs, which I previously reviewed, were great lightweight hikers but I didn’t feel they provided the support or bombproofness that other more heavy duty backpacking boots might. During my product research of many different popular brands I was constantly drawn to the Danner Explorers which I then purchased and have been putting through the ringer ever since.
Danner the Company
Danner was started by Charles Danner in the 1930’s in Chippewa Falls, Wisconson. The company made its name when they relocated to Portland, Oregon in order to meet the heavy demands of Portland loggers. Danner claims to hold to seven construction standards. That they use only the highest quality materials when crafting their boots and take pride in delivering performance driven, long-lasting, durable boots in every category. “Whether it’s hiking, uniform, military, hunting or work products, all of our boots are constructed to our high standards, which ensure the best quality products. “
Part of the reason that I was so drawn to the Danner Explorers was their style. I really like the old fashion all leather look in a time when most hiking boots and gear are decked in neon colors and busy patterns. Right out of the box their is something rustic and masculine about them, like your grandfathers cologne. The leather is soft but firm and upon first putting them on I could tell that the support that I was lacking with my Merrells would not be a problem with the Explorers.
The Airthotic insole that comes with the boots did take a little getting used to considering that I have never had any foot problems and apart from a trial pair of aftermarket insoles that i received through work have never felt the need to use orthotics or upgrade the factory insoles in any of my boots or shoes. After wearing them for a period of time though I actually really like the insole, it cups the heal and provides plenty of support but you hardly notice that it is there.
The Vibram outsoles that are used with this boot are excellent. They are pretty wide compared to other boots I’ve looked at and provide a very stable base for when you are carrying weight through the bush on uneven ground. I normally have between 45 and 65 lbs. on my back when packing it and this difference in stability, when compared to the Merrells I previously used, cannot be understated. While the lugs are not overly prominent, they provide plenty of grip in my opinion on wet and loose ground alike.
While in the beginning these boots tend to be on the stiff side, after multiple uses the leather breaks in well and forms to your foot. Now I feel comfortable and confident wearing these boots all day long without running the risk of blisters or foot sores. I will say that the boots are a little on the heavy side. This is certainly due to their all leather construction and liberal use of stitching but I’m willing to carry the extra weight for the added security that all leather durability provides.
Durability is the main feather in these boots cap. Rain, mud, rocks. Nothing it seems is able to stand up to these boots and conquer them. I have fully submerged the bottom half of this boot in water, not on purpose mind you, and my foot stayed bone dry. With both the full grain leather and Gortex liner underneath you can rest assured that your feet won’t be getting wet from anything but the sweat you work up pounding that trail. Whenever I do manage to break these trail eating wolverine-like boots I can, for a nominal fee, send them back to Danner in order to be re-crafted. Danner will restock them, rework the leather, and replace the outsole depending on what you would like them to do and bam, your favorite years worn in boots are back in business. Also, I cannot say enough good things about Danner as a company and their handling of customer service issues. I haven’t had to deal with them for my own Danner products, but through my job in the industry I have called Danner for customers and they have always taken care of any customer issues without hassle or complaint.
Overall I would have to say that despite their high price tag, $330 retail, these boots are worth every damn penny. If supporting USA companies is important to you, you won’t mind shelling out the extra for the fine US labor and craftsmanship that went into making these boots. They are bombproof, almost sneaker comfortable and capable of tackling anything the outdoors can throw at them, and when they finally take one on the chin and drop, send them back to Danner and for the price of a much cheaper, not nearly the same quality boot, you can get your babies re-worked and back to you good as new, but without the break in period. These are by far the best boots I have owned thus far and are worth the investment, tenfold.