Breaking-in the iconic boots with the red laces: How good are Danner boots?

How good are Danner boots? The retro tan leather hiking boots with the iconic red laces have been embraced by a new generation since Rees Witherspoon donned an ill-fitting pair in the film, ‘Wild’ based on the incredible memoir by Cheryl Strayed. The hiking trail is the last place you’ll find me opting for style over substance, but must the two be mutually exclusive? I bought a pair to find out.

This is not a sponsored post, I purchased these hiking boots myself based on my own research. However, this post contains affiliate links. If you click on one of these links and then make a purchase from the linked advertiser site, I’ll make a commission at no extra cost to you. Please read my Privacy Policy for details.

How good are Danner boots off the silver screen?

Danner Mountain Light: the Hollywood story

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The tan leather hiking boots feature on the cover and promotional artwork for both the film and the book. But in a case of art imitating life, the Danner Mountain Light boots aren’t the ones worn by Strayed on her formative trek back in the 90s. The publishing house selected the image of a worn-in boot from stock images. Then when adapting the memoir, producers of the film approached Danner to request they create a boot for the film to tie in with the book cover.

Danner revamped a boot previously manufactured in the 1970s & the result was the Danner Mountain Light. The films release proved to be the perfect marketing vehicle and now the Danner Mountain Light is here to stay. But before you rush out and buy a pair, how good are Danner boots?

Read more: The Oregonian discusses how the movie ‘Wild’ and Danner boots developed the Mountain Light.

How good are Danner boots: The Company

Danner are a boot-maker located in Portland, Oregan who have been crafting boots since 1932. They are a company committed to creating quality boots. While the Mountain Light gained a following recently after the release of the film ‘Wild’, they make boots to suit all outdoor pursuits.

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How good are Danner boots for hiking

Danner Mountain Light boots straddle the line between a genuine hiking boot and a lifestyle boot. If you are in the market for a boot exclusively for thru-hiking, perhaps consider other boots that offer more ankle support. I have written a lengthy review about how the Danner Mountain Light boots fare as genuine hiking boots, including sizing, the break-in process and the pros and cons of this boot on a multi-day hiking treks.

Read on: Danner Mountain Light Review: Everything you need to know.

How good are Danner boots as a lifestyle shoe

I originally purchased the Danner Mountain Light boots to be worn on multi day treks. While they were up to the task, they aren’t the best on the market if this is all you’re looking for in a hiking boot. But for someone who wants a high quality boot to wear in the great outdoors, the Danner Mountain Light are perfect. But, there are a few things you should consider.

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These boots come at a premium price. If you’re just buying them purely for aesthetics, consider if this is a worthwhile long-term investment.

If you love them enough to wear them year in year out. Then the cost per wear will balance out as the high price reflects the quality of the product.


How good are Danner boots in terms of quality? The reason the boots cost so much is because the quality is exceptional. The upper is constructed from a single piece of full grain leather and the stitch-down construction mean that these boots can be resoled through Danners Recrafting service. They’re also made in the US. This is increasingly rare as clothing labels continue to shift production overseas to lower costs. You may have noticed a decline in previously high quality brands over the past twenty years. This is why.

If high quality is important to you and you’re looking to buy a boot that you can wear for years to come. Definitely consider the Danner Mountain Lights.

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Break-in Period

How good are Danner boots leather quality? The break-in period gives you an indication of the calibre of boot we’re dealing with. The break-in process is no joke.

If you’ve previously been guided by the ‘genuine leather’ label when buying leather goods, know that this is not an indicator of the kind of leather, nor the quality. Those who have only ever worn leather fashion shoes and not full grain leather shoes, are in for a new experience. If you aren’t committed to breaking in a pair of boots for several months (at a minimum). Maybe look elsewhere.

High quality leather, is a nuisance to break in. It takes time to warm up, soften and mould to your feet, and there’s no real short cuts. You just have to wear them, wear them and wear them some more. There will be blisters. Getting past the stage where the heel cup dug into my achilles was especially brutal. But the reward is a boot that moulds to your feet perfectly and lasts significantly longer than those made from synthetic material.

How good are Danner boots- are they worth the cost

If the Danner Mountain Light boots fit with your existing style and you have an outdoorsy lifestyle, preferably living in a cooler climate, the Danner Mountain Lights will bring you a lot of joy. They look just as good on the trail as they do with a pair of jeans and a cosy woollen jumper. The Mountain Lights are a quality boot that can be worn as a traditional hiking boot, as well as an everyday boot of superior quality than you’ll find on the high street.

If you’re looking to invest in a pair of boots with the option to resole, these boots could very well outlive you if properly cared for.

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But don’t jump on the bandwagon without properly considering how these boots are going to fit into your lifestyle and existing wardrobe. The expense and lengthy break-in period means these are not shoes to impulse buy.

How good are Danner boots for you & did they live up to the hype?