Someone once told me leather boots are like a good relationship: They take a lotta work but they’re worth it so don’t give up on them easily.  This is the perfect way to summarize my Danner Mountain Light Cascade Boots.
Danner Boot.jpgLet me backtrack: I have a pair of (what I’m calling) summer short-distance hiking boots so I was looking for a more serious backpacking boot.  Let’s be honest: I have serious goals, such as thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, which means whatever new boots I found — They needed to hold up their end of the bargain.  I began forming a checklist:

  • The boots needed to backpack long distances.
  • They should be able to cross over multiple terrains.
  • They needed to support a large amount of pack weight.
  • The boots should thrive in various temperatures.

All my research lead me to Danner and their Mountain Light Cascade Boots.  One person said she has had her pair since 1990, another since since the early 90s, and still another since 1988.  I needed this boot.  See, to me there are two hiking items I almost form a relationship with: my pack and my boots.  I want these items to last and physically show the trails I walked, the memories I made.  I want them for a lifetime.

It’s been about three months since I purchased these boots and after getting a large amount of interest and questions on my Instagram page, I decided to do a review.  I was going to wait until I had the boots for a year, but instead I’ll do a follow-up post or update this one when that mark hits.  So here’s my review on these iconic Danner boots.

  • Pros
    • They have amazingly thick soles.  I feel I could walk on any terrain and never have sore feet, truly.  Other hiking boots have made me feel as if I was walking on sharp rocks barefoot; I was in so much pain I could hardly continue hiking.  These Danner boots — I’ve never had that problem.  In fact, they have so much support, I often wear them to work where I’m on my feet the entire day.
    • Wonderful ankle support.  I have fallen into holes that come up to my thigh and I have twisted my ankle so that it was parallel to the ground; however, with the support in these boots, I am amazingly able to walk away unhurt.
    • Amazing traction and grip: These boots will grip onto the most wet and slick rocks.  I almost feel invisible wearing them, not even joking.
    • There’s few stitches so water does not get in.  I’ve walked in a good amount of water and snow, and my feet have remained dry.
    • The boots have something called Dri-Lex, which allows them to breathe.  It also provides vapor transport so they dry quickly and resist odor and mildew.
    • They keep my feet warm but never to the point that my feet are hot and sweaty.
    • They can be recrafted, meaning they replace the outsole, rework the leather, and restitch the seams.  Because these should be able to be worn for decades, this is a great idea.
    • They’re a beautiful design.  Not that you’re going for looks when hiking, but people apparently find them so pretty that they buy them solely for fashion.
    • They’re made in the US — Portland, Oregon to be exact!
    • I’ve called Danner a couple times about their products and the people there are so nice — as in really really nice.
  • Cons
    • The issue right now is the tri-fold tongue, which was designed to decrease debris and water from getting into the boot.
      • First problem with it: It has created a significant fold at the bottom of the tongue/above the boot.  That crease cuts into the top of my toes with each step.  I’ve read this is something that can be worn out so I’m currently in the process of testing this theory.
      • Second problem: It is hard to lace the boot super tight.  Because of this, debris does get into the boot more than any other footwear I’ve owned.  Danner reps have told me when the leather softens more, it may become even looser, which decreases ankle support.
    • There’s no shock-absorption, as is with many other hiking boots on the market.
    • The leather takes awhile to break in.  It is thick, hard leather and your Achilles tendon will go through some severe pain before the leather softens.  As one person said, the boot doesn’t wear to your ankle; you will wear to the boot.  He was 100% right.  I have pretty significant callouses on my ankles to prove it.  Saying this, I will add though that these boots never once gave me a blister, though I attribute that to awesome hiking socks.  (Thanks again, Darn Tough!)
    • These boots are not waterproof.  I get it: They are breathable . . . but a full-leather boot that isn’t waterproof?  Travesty.


  • Rating: IMG_2397IMG_2397IMG_2397 out of Five Vistas
    I adore these boots, but with that toe-fold-cut issue and not knowing if it will wear out, I don’t want to rate them too high yet.  Again, I’m going to wear them rugged to see if it wears out and update this review after my test.
    Note: Danner has told me their Explorer Boots are built the same as the Cascades but the Explorers have a slightly higher platform with a regular tongue so they can be laced tighter.  Because of that lacing system, they provide better ankle support, which is preferable for various terrains.  The Explorer Boot is also waterproof — Good and bad.  Bad because it may not breathe well so it may be hotter.  In the end, if my Cascades don’t work, I may try these because I truly do love Danner and want to support them.


  • Tips when tracking down your own Danner boots
  • Two words: Leather conditioner.  Buy it.  Use it habitually.  Don’t think you can handle this on your own.  Conditioner works miracles.
  • Sizing: People seemed pretty confused about what size to order and I recognize all feet are different.  However, here is what I’ve seen: First, some say the boot is too narrow.  The boot has a medium width so if you have a wide width, this is not for you.  Second, some recommended to size up from what you regularly wear, while others claimed to size down.  Don’t play the guessing game.  Look at what size your other boots are and get that size.  I am a size 6.5, my other hiking boots are a 6.5, I ordered a 6.5, and they fit.
  • Remember: Leather boots are like a good relationship.  They take work so don’t give up on them immediately!  Wear them for a bit with good socks; if they bother you, take them off and give your feet a break.  Condition again then wear again.  Take them off if they hurt once more.  Repeat.  I promise the leather will soften.

Danner Boot2.jpg

Happy trails!

2 thoughts on “Gear Review: Hiking Boots II

  1. Morning Bezzy. Just read you Review about your boots. Again another unbiased assessment. well done. Have you tried lacing them differently regarding the “Tongue” problem ? Google “Lacing Walking Boots”, there are other ways to lace which may alleviate the problem.. Best wishes, Midad xx

    1. Thank you! I had heard of this but have not yet tried but I think I very well may! I appreciate it much! I’m hoping that or wearing them down more will solve the issue! Thank you, thank you!!!

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