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85 Years Of Danner: The Evolution of a Hiking Boot

Danner Explorer 650 available for men and women
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Danner Boots have come a long way since launching 85 years ago. Yet the classic aesthetic and quality remain much the same.

Danner Explorer 650 Hiking boot for men and women
Danner Explorer 650 boot

There’s something special about a classic hiking boot, worn leather and scuffed-up toes. The foot-molded comfort is a sign of countless miles trekked and mountains climbed.

This year, Danner unveiled a boot that melds the old with the new. Its Explorer 650 is a lighter, more breathable model with classic looks and a rugged design.

History Of A Hiking Boot

The first Danner boot sold for less than $4 a pair in 1932. In the midst of the Great Depression materials were cheap, and Charles Danner was determined to make a handcrafted work boot that was both high-quality and affordable.

In the 1950s, Danner foresaw the widespread utility of work and hiking boots and opened its first retail store. Throughout the ’70s, the brand focused on hikers and worked to create a midweight boot built for the trail.

In 1979, the company released the Danner Light, the first waterproof hiking boot made with a Gore-Tex lining.

Danner, American-made hiking boots for 85 years
The classic Danner hiking boot.

Throughout the years many things changed at Danner, but the brand’s commitments remained the same, making it a mainstay on hiking trails around the U.S. and beyond.

Modeled after the Danner Light, the Explorer 650 — available for women and men — brings new tech to the old classic by replacing the stitch-down sole with Vibram tread.

The Danner 650 Explorer made with a vibram sole
The lug pattern and Vibram sole increase grip in wet conditions.

Danner Explorer 650

The Explorer 650 boots share the same platform as the brand’s Mountain 600. By working with the engineers at Vibram, Danner brought modern technology to the sole.

The shoe has a new outsole made with Vibram’s Megagrip compound and lug pattern. And by pairing that with Vibram’s SPE midsole, which uses infused natural rubber, Danner aims to increase durability, decrease weight, and enhance comfort.

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Designers examined wear patterns and removed unnecessary rubber from under the arch to create a lighter boot. And with the Danner Dry liner — a breathable, waterproof barrier — the 650 aims to keep feet dry without overheating.

The boot still ticks many boxes. Waterproof? Yes. Lightweight? It weighs 33 ounces for the pair, which is not much more than trail running shoes. Stylish? You be the judge.

Danner Explorer 650 available for men and women
The Danner Explorer 650 replaced some of the leather with Nylon for a more flexible fit

Quick Break-In Boot

Danner claims a fast break-in period. By replacing some of the leather with nylon, the team at Danner was able to make a more flexible boot, which increases your ability to lace up and head out.

While we still recommend working your way up to an epic thru-hike, gone are the days of needing to obsess over incrementally increasing your mileage during break-in.

Most of all, the right hiking boot will take you on newfound adventures down the trail.

–This article is sponsored by Danner. See the company’s Explorer 650 here. 

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