The Danner Explorer 650 has the kind of Gear of the Year attributes deserving reward: features that deliver and unique styling, all from a brand that's been around the block (in a good way). Check out a pair as we're sure you'll be just as big a fan as us. Congrats to Danner for their Explorer 650. Nice boot!
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
Remember Danner boots from a while back? It seems like the company had been keeping a low profile for a while and now it's upping its game. The company's story is an interesting one. Danner Shoe Mfg. Company was founded in 1932 in Chippewa Falls Wisconsin (an old logging town) and, when the founder Charles Danner discovered that logging boots (his main product) were selling for a lot more out west in Portland, he packed up his family and company and headed westward.
Over the decades, the manufacturing facilities have expanded and ownership has changed hands but the boots are still distinctively Danner. I think the first pair I ever saw featured the leather/fabric combo. Perhaps that’s why I was drawn to the Danner Explorer 650 light hiker; the boots I’ll be writing about here. Oh… also of note: Danner was the first boot maker to incorporate a GORE-TEXTM sock into their product for total waterproofness. Cool.
Here they are front and centre at the top of a local hike. Distinctively Danner.
Fore and aft. Classic look. Note that I put some snowseal weather-proofing on these. The GORE-TEX layer will keep your feet dry but some conditioning may still be a good idea for the leather. The tongue rides a little higher than the cuff. I like this—it's not really intended to provide major support--it's more about a shin cushion. It looks like the logo hasn't changes much since '32. Bravo...it's a key part of the brand's heritage. Why mess with it?
The three lacing hooks are splayed wide, easy to locate and fast.
Here are the brass lacing eyelets. Note the solid stitching and leather/fabric combo that has become a bit of a Danner signature over the years.
The inside Danner Dry sock has a "loden" fabric-y feel that makes them feel cozy. The break-in time is next to nothing. Note that the upper part of the boot is mostly fabric, especially in the back. This makes them big on comfort and not so big on ankle support.
As a pair of light hikers, the Explore 650s get three thumbs up from me. They are light, remarkably comfortable and provide all the support I need for a day hike with a mid-to-light pack, and that's just what I was looking for. I own a pair of Scarpa GTX Kinesis Pros that I have had for a few seasons and they are my go-to boot for backpacking longer distances with a heavy pack. You know what, though?... when the snow clears from the alpine, I'll take the Danners out for a spin with a heavy pack and see how they do. Something tells me they'll fare pretty well. And maybe I'll be able to go further with less weight!
In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy them on shorter jaunts and around town (especially as our local "June Monsoons" and associated rains are arriving as I type). My favourite features of these boots are their extreme light weight (less than a kilo per pair) and comfort. They are definitely the most running-shoe-like hiking boot I have ever experienced. I also think the green fabric/brown leather combo is pretty slick.
Another "softer" benefit for me is the nostalgia of wearing a brand that I grew up with. Sure Danner is coming up with loads of cool new models, but they are still the brand I remember from waaay back hiking on the Long Trail in VT. I put Danner in the same bucket as brands like Pendleton, Patagonia, Levis, Vuarnet, etc. These companies have earned my business with their "staying power," classic styling and high-quality manufacturing.
Note that, size wise, Danner's tend to run a little small. Try them on at your local brick-and-mortal retailer. If you are buying them blind, perhaps hop up a half-size.
Price: $260 CAN
Weight: 935g / 33 oz
Sizes: 7-14 US
Colour: Khaki, green/bown, Dark brown
Warranty: 1 year
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