Danner‘s Wayfinder, its latest boot for the outdoorswoman, holds up on price point, comfort, and support.
Sometimes, women are forced to either make do with men’s gear or reappropriate the common hiking boot for hunting purposes. With many trail-focused boots not able to hold up to the off-trail lifestyle of most hunters, it’s nice to see mainstream brands like Danner developing hunting boots specifically for women. Finally, the tide is changing.
Brand new to the 2018 Women’s Danner lineup is the Wayfinder boot ($140), available in a couple different colors and insulation options. I laced up the “brown/buff” version and headed into the Montana hills to test hike in different weather conditions on varied terrain.
Danner Wayfinder: First Impressions
I’m notoriously difficult to fit when it comes to hiking boots because I have wide toes and narrow heels. Right out of the box, the Wayfinder’s toe box felt a little crowded. But the heel and sizing felt perfect.
If you have a narrower foot, this likely won’t be a problem for you. And I found a solution to my issue: I just switched up the way I laced the boots, and they worked while gaining elevation over multiple miles.
To test whether the narrow toe bed would be an issue on the trail, I went for an easy 2-mile walk with a bit of elevation gain and loss in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. Zero blisters later, the Wayfinders passed with flying colors. I also experimented with some lacing techniques to further tighten the areas around my ankles.
Once I dialed the lacing, I could focus on the weight of the Wayfinders. Due to my finicky feet and disdain for bulky footwear, I prefer hiking and backpacking in trail runners. So at 35 ounces, a full 10 ounces less than my current hiking boots, these were an absolute dream. I could immediately feel and appreciate the difference.
Bigger, Wetter, Longer Walks
A 6-miler in the Bridger Mountains also made for a great dry- and warm-weather experience in the Wayfinders. The breathability might not have been at the level of the trail runners I’m used to, but my feet also didn’t swelter or swamp up. And still, no blisters! This is a first for me when it comes to breaking in a brand new pair of boots. I was impressed.
But it was a big stormy walk in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness a few days later that really sold me on the Wayfinder. The trail itself is rocky, and it was so muggy on the way into the hills that it nearly felt tropical. Still, the boot’s breathability pulled through, and I wasn’t wishing for a pair of sneaks at any point on the walk.
A girlfriend and I were hiking to the top of a waterfall, and, as we made it to the helm, thunder began to ripple through the big draw we’d walked into. Rain dripped through the woods, and the rocks slicked up immediately. I found the Wayfinder outsole to be grippy and stable, and I was grateful for the ankle support.
The boot is tall, and the level of stiffness feels supportive and flexible in that you don’t realize you need it until you do. In another pair of shoes, that iffy moment might have made for a rolled ankle.
These Boots Are Made for Wading
To test the Danner Dry technology, we walked through multiple creeks on this trip. I also made a point to stand in above-ankle water for a full three minutes. I could feel the glacial coldness of Montana’s continued runoff through the lightweight material, but not a drop went through this boot.
The Wayfinders get an A+ on waterproofing. That’s a huge bonus for those of us who get out into wilder places on a regular basis.
Final Verdict: Great Boot for the Hiker and Hunter
Starting at $140, the Wayfinders are an affordable option against a lot of the upmarket hiking boots out there. And the price measures up to the durability.
If I could change the Wayfinder, I’d add a locking eyelet at the ankle to secure my wonky feet. But I solved that without much trouble. Lacing a heel lock into this boot works just as well if this is a problem for you. And the internet is rife with lacing techniques that can help alleviate heel lift and movement.
Danner built these boots with the female hunter in mind. And with bowhunting season coming soon, I plan to head off the trail to higher places. I’ll continue to call on the warm-weather Wayfinder boot for hunts and hikes alike.