Position: 45°34’04″N 122°32’13″W
Footwear may not be the first thing you consider as a sailor, but it should be on your shortlist. A sturdy pair of boots serves many purposes beyond making hiking more practicable. In a pinch they can serve as dress shoes, or sea boots. I guess you could also use them as a bolas if you had to rope cattle, but that’s a stretch. I bought my first and so far only pair of Danner boots at the tail end of my midlife crisis in an aspirational hipster fervour with the encouragement of my daughter, Emma.
So effective was Danner’s marketing, visions of through-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail ranged through my head. Cutting a dash in any of Portland’s microbreweries also fired my imagination. Suddenly chic, my feet were filled with boundless energy. After breaking in, the heavy leather molded to my feet, while the grippy Vibram soles lead me safely up and down rough and rocky trails. Lined with Gortex, my Mountain Pass boots, with de rigueur red Cheryl Strayed laces, only periodically need treatment with leather dressing (dubbin’ to you Brits).
In the past five years my boots have climbed volcanoes on two continents. When my plastic sea boots split, I kept watch for several weeks in my Danners. My feet stayed dry and warm, and with care I kept the sea salt from doing any permanent damage. On a recent stroll through the Cibola National Forest near Sandia Heights, Albuquerque, a couple of mountain bikers called out to me, “Cool, retro hiking boots!” With their youthful affirmation, my feet felt ten years lighter.
Danner is something of a Portland institution. Founded in 1932 in Wisconsin, old man Danner headed west four years later when he found out all the lumberjacks in the country were busy cutting down Oregon’s trees. Back then a pair of spiked boots retailed for $20. World War II contracts with the army followed and a clever pivot to hiking boots in the 1960s secured the company’s brand position. Today, it is a subsidiary of Japan’s mega shoe retailer ABC-Mart, but retains its US-based manufacturing operations and with it the all-important Made in USA label.
To date I’ve walked over 4,000 miles in my Danners and they have been re-soled twice. Expertly recrafted at the Danner factory store in Portland by Leo J., he has successfully kept my boots lugged and out of the dumpster. Functional, handsome with old-school craftsmanship, environmentally sound, and serviced by helpful skilled technicians, I heartily recommend Danner boots.