In this review I will be talking about the Danner Mountain Light and Mountain Light II boots and my overall experience with and love of Danner Boots. I remember the first time I saw a pair of Danner boots when I was 13 or 14. I was a Boy Scout at the time, and I was on a trip with my troop. I remember that one of the dads had a really cool looking pair of somewhat beat up boots that he was wearing. He was ex-military so a lot of my fellow scouts looked up to him, including me, and I remember asking him at some point on the trip what kind of boots he was wearing. I think I had on a pair of beaten up tennis shoes, hardly the best thing to wear on an outdoor hiking trip, and I had been wanting a good pair of hiking boots for awhile. He told me his boots were made by a company called Danner, and that he had them for a long time.
To this day I can not remember what model of boots they were, or even if he told me what model they were, but I do remember them looking pretty cool. I really wanted a pair like his, but when I got home from the trip I found out how much they cost; a small fortune for a 13 year old at the time. I was not able to get my pair of Danner boots then, but my love affair with Danner had begun.
It was not until I was in High School that I actually got my first pair of Danner boots. They were the Mountain Light model, and boy did I use the hell out of them. I would still have that pair today if my feet had not grown out of them. Today, I own a pair of Mountain Light boots and a pair of Mountain Light II boots. I have had the Mountain Light boots for 5 or 6 years, and the Mountain Light II boots for 2 or 3 years. Both boots are great and have served me very well, and in most cases are not a whole lot different, although I do use the Mountain Light II boots more often. This is primarily a personal choice, and because my Mountain Light boots are more worn down (they probably could use a re-crafting). The main difference I see between the two boots is that the Mt. Light II are slightly lighter and have a more modern look and feel. Other than that, there is not a big difference between the two.
Lets take a look at the original Mountain Light boots and my assesment of them. Like a lot of Danner's products, these boots are made in the US by expert craftsmen and women in their factory in Portland, Oregon. They weigh 4 pounds, so are not exactly the lightest hiking boots you will come across, but are very comfortable and durable. You will have to break them in a bit; it only took me a couple times of use to break them in over a 3-4 week period. They are built with a 100% waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex liner that has come in handy many times on weekend trips and around town when it is rainy and wet. They are remarkably breathable considering the waterproof lining, as most waterproof lining and construction is by nature not very breathable. Their construction is solid and very durable.
Danner uses a stitchdown construction, which increases stability for your feet and makes the boot recraftable (again something I should probably do with my boots). What I mean by recraftable is that these boots- and any other Danner boots that are recraftable- can be sent to Danner's facilities in Portland, Oregon and essentially re-done to be made almost new again. This means the Vibram outsoles can be replaced, as well as other aspects of the boots. This is a great service Danner offers, especially if you have had a pair of boots for a long time, and means that you can re-craft your boots several times if need be.
The Mountain Light II boots are a little lighter than the Mountain Light boots, clocking in at 3lbs 8 oz. If you are looking for a pair of hiking boots that are super light, then neither of the Mountain Light boots are probably what you are looking for. Having said that, the Mountain Light II boots are surprisingly light considering their size and construction, and offer many of the same benefits and features as the original Mountain Light. As I mentioned earlier, I use my pair of Mountain Light II boots more often than my other pair, simply from a personal choice, not because they are superior to the other.
I have used them on weekend trips, on extended hiking and backpacking trips and adventures, as well as for daily use. They are perfect when it is raining and wet outside and I need something to protect my feet from the elements. At this point they are fully broken-in and have molded themselves to the shape of my feet and are still really comfortable. Both the Mountain Light and Mountain Light II boots have a more narrow fit than normal, so I would be aware of that when ordering them. If your foot is more wider than normal, consider getting them in a "EE" size. Also I would suggest trying them on to find the right size before purchasing them or testing them out inside your home for a few hours if ordering them online.