Last May I walked the 300-mile Cambrian Way, a wilderness route that runs the length of Wales from Cardiff in the south to Conwy in the north. I walked the entire journey in Danner Mountain 600 boots.
I’d put a lot of thought into what I would be wearing on my feet before the trek. I wanted something that would be lightweight and nimble but that could also offer protection through the many miles of bog that I could expect on the high moorland. In essence I wanted some of the features of a trail shoe and some of the features of a walking boot.
After searching around, I came across Danner, a U.S. brand that was founded in Wisconsin in the midst of the Great Depression. Over the decades they’ve been making boots for a wide range of activities and professions. The Danner Mountain 600 is their latest offering that’s designed specifically for hiking. With their light weight of just 1,050g a pair, their sturdy look and high enough ankle, I thought they’d be perfect for my walk through Wales.
"They were immediately comfortable and felt sturdy but also very lightweight. The sole felt as flexible as the kind you'd find on a trail running shoe. For the first 10 days of walking I was very happy with my decision to wear them."
Danner Mountain 600: Features
The Danner Mountain 600 combines a heritage look with modern features very nicely – it’s a great looking boot in my opinion. There are a number of different styles, including one in suede leather and one in full grain, and there a different colourways also. I tested the suede pair with red lacing.
The leather upper is on the thin side in comparison to typical walking boots. It has a Danner Dry waterproof membrane underneath and there’s padding around the top of the ankle and on the tongue. The eye-catching red lacing runs through tough metal eyelets.
The midsole is made from a Vibram SPE – which means Specialised Performance Elastomer. It’s a flexible blend of rubber and EVA foam. The outsole uses an equally flexible Vibram Fuga, this has triangular lugs of various sizes right across it.
Danner Mountain 600: Performance
The Danner Mountain 600s performed extremely well at the start of my Cambrian Way hike. They were immediately comfortable and felt sturdy but also lightweight, and the soles were as flexible as the kind you'd normally find on a trail running shoe. For the first 10 days of walking I was very happy with my decision to wear them.
One of the very slight early issues I encountered was with their grip as I found the lug depth maybe just a little on the short side for some of the extremely steep grassy slopes of Snowdonia, but on the whole the traction was fairly reliable.
As I hit the 200-mile mark I had really started to test these boots and some problems started to develop. I’m not sure that Danner’s proprietary membrane had the stamina for such a long distance and I think a hole or two developed in it (in each boot) underneath the leather. This meant that I was walking with wet feet for the whole of the last week.
Danner Mountain 600: Conclusion
Despite the problems I had on my last week on the trail, I do really like the Danner Mountain 600s. The Cambrian Way is considered to be one of the hardest long-distance walks in the UK and it was probably a level above the kind of walking they’re designed for. I think they’re better suited to lower level walking on simpler (less bumpy and rugged) terrain. I never really gave the leather a chance to dry out and I think this is what led to the problems with the membrane. With a bit of kindness (particularly, the addition of some boot wax), they’d probably have a fairly decent lifespan.