An old-school look with a new kind of sole… 84-year-old Danner ships a Vibram-equipped upgrade to a stalwart hiking boot design.
Retro and solid on any trail, this year Danner upgrades its Mountain 600 boot, including a new Vibram midsole and Vibram tread. The result is a lighter, more flexible boot that retains the brand’s long-loved aesthetic.
Leather uppers, tiny D-rings, rivets, and laces hide new the tech underfoot. The boot, at $180, was made for serious hikers as well as anyone who likes old-school treatment on an ankle-high hiker.
We caught up with senior product designer Ryan Foust to talk about the Mountain 600 and the company’s push with its “performance heritage” line.
Danner Mountain 600
Can you describe “Performance Heritage”?
Ryan Foust: It’s a design philosophy at Danner that blends classic style with contemporary materials, technologies, and performance features. The Mountain 600 has an iconic Danner look but introduces the first-ever Vibram SPE midsole, a new compound made with a blend of rubber and EVA which is extremely lightweight. The boots weigh about 18 ounces each in a sample size.
Who is this boot made for?
The Mountain 600 is built for men and women. Danner is known for heavy-duty backpacking boots, so it’s exciting to have a lightweight option.
It’s perfect for someone who also appreciates a timeless Danner look and comfort right out of the box.
Vibram EVA Midsole And ‘Megagrip’ Outsole
What is the partnership with Vibram?
Vibram is one of Danner’s longest standing partners. When Vibram introduced us to the SPE compound, it was a no-brainer to add it to our hiking boots. SPE provides the best qualities of rubber and EVA in a durable and lightweight compound.
What is important about a midsole, and why is that where Danner focused on new tech?
The midsole provides comfort, support, and protection on all different types of terrain. Traditional midsoles are often made of heavy compounds that make the overall weight of the boot heavier. For the Mountain 600, we wanted to focus on the midsole to increase comfort and make the boot lighter.
Is the Mountain 600 a performance boot that looks good, or a good-looking boot that performs well?
I would say both. We designed it to withstand harsh conditions you might encounter on the trail. That’s why we used grippy Vibram Megagrip compound in the outsole and a waterproof, suede upper. However, we also wanted to maintain a sense of style for casual use around town. The goal was to make a boot that could perform on the trails and still look good.
How do the “self-adapting” lugs work?
The lugs are designed to move with the natural motion of your feet, providing better traction and stability on the trail.
Inspiring A Better Boot
How do you improve on a product if you’re already proud of it?
We’ve been making boots since 1932 but are always looking to innovate while staying true to our roots. A great example is when Danner became the first footwear brand to use GORE-TEX in footwear in 1979, making the first truly waterproof and breathable boot.
How do other brands in the industry impact what you’re doing?
We’re seeing more athletic footwear being used for hiking and different types of outdoor recreational activities. This insight inspired a line of waterproof, athletic hikers designed to withstand wet and muddy conditions that we commonly see here in the Pacific Northwest.
How do you break in a good pair of boots like these?
There is virtually no break-in time necessary compared to traditional hiking boots – instant comfort right out of the box.
What other company – in any industry – gives you inspiration?
There is a small company from Montreal called Millimetric instruments that makes amazing, beautiful guitars.
These guitars remind me of the way we design Danner boots. The guitars look unique and have a handcrafted element to them, like nothing you’ve seen before, but there is something familiar to them that makes you want to pick them up and play them forever.
–This article is sponsored by Danner. See the company’s Mountain 600 boots here.