Make & Model - Danner Light II
Materials - Nubuck leather and 1,000-denier nylon upper, Gore-Tex liner, removable Airthotic PU instep, fiberglass shank, recraftable Vibram Kletterlift rubber outsole
Colors - Brown, Dark Brown, Matte Black Kevlar
Sizes - 7 to 14 including half-sizes; B, D, or EE. Women's sizes also available.
MSRP - $380
URL - http://www.danner.com
In contrast to the $100 boot we reviewed at the start of this guide, the flagship Light II represents the top end of our guide's budget spectrum. In fact, it's nearly quadruple the price of an entry-level boot. Fortunately, right off the bat the Light II seems virtually indestructible, with an ultra-thick Vibram outsole supported by a tough fiberglass shank. The tall leather upper is sturdy and supportive with only a handful of stitched seams; its three pairs of lace hooks allow for precise adjustment of fit and reduction of heel lift. Nylon sections on each side of the boot provide good breathability, but also repel water thanks to a Gore-Tex liner. Comfort is good, but not great — it feels like an old-school combat design built to a higher standard. The Light II is made in Danner's Portland, Oregon factory, and its stitchdown construction allows for re-crafting and re-soling that can extend the boot's life for decades to come. While it's undeniably costly, and certainly not the cushiest boot you'll ever wear, we could see this pair lasting a lifetime with proper maintenance, and that's a truly rare quality in products these days.
– Extremely sturdy and supportive
– Danner offers in-house recrafting and resoling services
– Made in the USA
– Heavy weight, rigidity, and flat outsoles cause the boots to feel clunky
– The white plastic airthotic inserts sit loose in the boots and are nearly as hard as the insole beneath. More cushioning would be a welcome addition.
– Slight wrinkles on the insole material near the toe can be felt through socks