Our verdict

The Mountain Light silhouette dates far back to 1979 and was largely inspired by logging boots of the time. We can recognize this unique red-laced profile from miles away. It is a long-standing Danner boot that has earned our respect with its craftsmanship and quality and the fact that it's handmade in Oregon, USA. However, we had to accept the boot's massive weight, steep price, and arduous break-in period before we could reap the benefits of this highly sought-after backpacking boot.

Pros

  • Highly durable leather and rubber
  • Premium materials and craftsmanship
  • Top-notch waterproofing
  • Can be resolved and recrafted
  • Secure lockdown and support
  • Very stable and reliable platform
  • Sexy and snazzy vintage look

Cons

  • Breaking in takes time and effort
  • The heaviest boot out there
  • VERY expensive

Audience verdict

91
Superb!

Who should buy

We believe that the Danner Mountain Light is the perfect boot for you if:

  • You're a diehard for classic leather boots with vintage lumberjack aesthetics
  • You need a rugged, stable, and highly durable backpacking boot
  • You want the best-in-class waterproofing with a Gore-Tex membrane and a fully attached tongue

Danner Mountain Light review

Who should NOT buy

Despite its many advantages, we aren't convinced that this Danner boot is worth such an eye-moistering price tag. Aesthetics aside, we believe that you can find an equally trail-ready leather boot at a much lower cost.

Say, the Scarpa Terra GTX ($249). It even has a more comfortable in-boot feel and a less arduous break-in. Another sturdy and time-tested backpacking boot is the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid ($255).

Both options are also 7-8 oz (200-230g) lighter than the Danner Mountain Light!

Danner Mountain Light lab test

Breathability

The Danner Mountain Light is available in two options:

  • non-waterproof with a breathable Dri-Lex lining ($430)
  • waterproof with a Gore-Tex (GTX) lining ($440)

But even the Dri-Lex version has some waterproofing capacity given the boot's one-piece leather upper design. In this review, we are testing the waterproof GTX version of the boot.

Putting the Mountain Light on for the first time, we immediately knew that it was going to be a fall/winter boot. Our feet felt toasty a mere 10 minutes into the hike in mildly warm weather. So, we weren't at all surprised when no smoke passed through its sturdy upper in our lab test.

Rating the boot's breathability on a 1-5 scale, it obviously got the lowest score of 1.

Test results
Mountain Light 1
Average 1.6
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Waterproofing

Testing the Mountain Light in creeks and heavy rain, we were amazed by its ability to keep water at bay. Even when we got caught in a sudden thunderstorm, this Danner boot kept our feet nice and dry.

We can also recommend this boot for very wet and snowy climates.

WARNING: Avoid stepping into ankle-deep puddles in this boot! As you can see from the video above, its tongue is not attached to the entire length of the collar. The gap starts right over the last D-ring eyelet so that's where the water will start seeping inside the boot.

And trust us, once the water is inside, you won't have fun wearing the boot anymore.

Durability

Toebox durability

Every pair of the Danner Mountain Light is proudly made by hand in Portland, Oregon (USA). This is a huge part of the brand's marketing campaign for the quality of its footwear.

Having tested the boot in our lab, we can subscribe to the claims.

We are obsessed with the fine craftsmanship of the Danner Mountain Light. Its upper construction and leather quality are nothing short of flawless.

Danner Mountain Light microscope check

Just look at that beautiful full-grain leather through the lens of our microscope!

Danner Mountain Light leather upper

To mimic the wear and tear of hiking, we drilled the boot's toebox with high-grit sandpaper. For consistency, the speed of the Dremel was set to 5K RPM and the pressure was at 3.2N. After 12 seconds of applying the tool to the leather, it left nothing more than a scuff!

Compared to other hiking boots in our lab, the damage on the Danner Mountain Light was minuscule!

Danner Mountain Light Toebox durability test

Danner Mountain Light vs. Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX

In the comparison photo above, it is easy to Its toebox durability deserves the highest durability score - 5 out of 5!

It makes us believe that Danner actually puts leather through six different tests before approving it for production.

Test results
Mountain Light 5
Average 4.4
Compared to 22 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

The Danner boot proved its quality once again in our heel padding durability test. The topmost layer of its collar is lined with softer yet durable leather too.

We subjected this part of the boot to the familiar Dremel test and found that undercuts many other boots in our roster. With barely visible signs of wear, the Mountain Light gets a well-deserved 5 out of 5 for heel padding durability.

Danner Mountain Light Heel padding durability test
Test results
Mountain Light 5
Average 4
Compared to 22 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Another outstanding characteristic of the Danner Mountain Light is, of course, its outsole durability. Choosing Vibram rubber for its outsole, the boot showed higher-than-average results in all three of our measurements.

First of all, it is harder than most hiking boot rubbers. With a durometer measurement of 91.6 HC, it beats 85% of our lab-tested boots.

Danner Mountain Light Outsole hardness
Test results
Mountain Light 91.6 HC
Average 87.6 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
81.0 HC
Outsole hardness
92.1 HC

Outsole durability

The boot's Vibram outsole continued to show amazing results in our vigorous Dremel test. This time, our tool was set to 10K RPM speed and drilled the rubber for 22 seconds.

Once done, we measured the newly formed dent with a tread gauge and saw only 0.7 mm of depth! Less than a millimeter of damage is a fantastic result for a hiking boot.

Danner Mountain Light Outsole durability test
Test results
Mountain Light 0.7 mm
Average 0.8 mm
Compared to 19 hiking boots
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

On top of it all, the Mountain Light's outsole showed a massive thickness of 4.8 mm! This is one of the thickest we've seen in hiking boots.

We are convinced that the outsole of this Danner boot will take longer to wear out, even if it's regularly used on rocky terrain.

Danner Mountain Light Outsole thickness
Test results
Mountain Light 4.8 mm
Average 3.1 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1.8 mm
Outsole thickness
5.6 mm

Recrafting

The Mountain Light uses Danner's signature stitch-down construction which makes it easier to resole and recraft.

The stitching connects the boot's leather upper to the sole externally which makes it easier to unpick and re-sew to a new sole.

Danner Mountain Light stitch-down design

The brand makes it clear on its official website that recrafting services are available for its boots.

Weight

Don't be misled by the word "Light" in its name. This Danner boot has nothing to do with being light!

Danner Mountain Light heel brake

It is a MASSIVE boot weighing 28.3 oz (802g) in a men's US size 9! That's a mind-blowing 10 oz (283g) heavier than average and is the heaviest hiking boot we've ever tested. 

If you are packing a heavy backpack, keep in mind that you will need to drag these monsters around as well.

Danner Mountain Light Weight
Test results
Mountain Light 28.29 oz (802g)
Average 18.45 oz (523g)
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
11.71 oz (332g)
Weight
28.29 oz (802g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

We also found that the Mountain Light kept us high off the ground with its above-average 41.2 mm heel stack.

This Danner boot kept us very surefooted on technical terrain and rocky paths. Stepping on sticks and stones will not be breaking your bones any time soon!

Danner Mountain Light Heel stack
Test results
Mountain Light 41.2 mm
Average 36.3 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
26.2 mm
Heel stack
46.9 mm

Forefoot stack

In the forefoot, the balls of our feet were separated from the ground by a thick 26-mm platform.

A few millimeters higher than average, it made the boot much stiffer but also more immune to stepping on sharp rocks and other debris.

Danner Mountain Light Forefoot stack
Test results
Mountain Light 26.0 mm
Average 22.5 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
17.0 mm
Forefoot stack
30.7 mm

Drop

The difference in stack heights gave us a 15.2 mm drop in the Danner Mountain Light.

We could feel that our heels were slightly more elevated inside the boot but it never caused any discomfort or toe jamming. On the contrary, having that much more substance under our heels made us feel more supported and confident.

Danner Mountain Light Drop
Test results
Mountain Light 15.2 mm
Average 13.8 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
2.6 mm
Drop
20.9 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

The Mountain Light offers a very traditional firm experience underfoot. There is no plush foam to provide a squish like in the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX.

Pressing a durometer against the boot's midsole returned a reading of 36.6 HA. It's not the firmest we've measured but it is a good 40% harder than average.

On the other hand, it is 40% softer than the Danner Jag which is one of the firmest boots by far at 51.6 HA!

Danner Mountain Light Midsole softness
Test results
Mountain Light 36.6 HA
Average 27.3 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
15.4 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
53.3 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

We can confidently recommend the Danner Mountain Light for the cold season. This is not only because of its warm upper but also because its cushioning barely changes in low temperatures.

After keeping the boot in the freezer for 20 minutes, we measured its foam softness once again. At 39.9 HA, it only firmed up by 8.9%! For reference, boots with cushier foams normally get 20% harder.

Danner Mountain Light Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
Mountain Light 8.9%
Average 19.1%
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Insole thickness

The hardness of the boot's platform wasn't so apparent to us thanks to the well-padded insole on top of it. Measuring its thickness with a caliper, we got 8.0 mm.

Thicker than average, the insole proved to be enough of a buffer to keep our feet comfy inside the Mountain Light.

Danner Mountain Light Insole thickness
Test results
Mountain Light 8.0 mm
Average 6.1 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
3.7 mm
Insole thickness
10.7 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

The Danner Mountain Light feels incredibly supportive and stable.

Walking on uneven terrain and oddly shaped boulders, we never lost our footing or felt off-balance. The side-to-side containment and lockdown are truly off the charts in this Danner boot.

Torsional rigidity

The boot's thick and sturdy sole, stiff leather upper, and Fiberglass midfoot shank all work together to create a highly stable platform.

Our attempt to twist the Mountain Light with our bare hands was unsuccessful, to say the least. On a 1-5 stiffness scale, we rated its torsional rigidity with the highest possible score of 5.

Ankle twists are simply not part of this boot's vocabulary.

Test results
Mountain Light 5
Average 4.3
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The boot's solid heel counter further locked our feet down by locking our heels and ankles in place.

Testing the boot's hee stiffness in our manual test, we felt a bit of squeeze on the sides but there was not a hint of bending at the back of the boot.

Even though we rated the boot's heel counter stiffness with a moderate 3 out of 5, it never gave us a sense of undue ankle shifting.

Test results
Mountain Light 3
Average 3.5
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Danner went for a moderately wide platform in the Mountain Light.

Measuring the widest part of its forefoot, we got 110.6 mm which is very close to the average. We never felt as though the platform was lacking in width though.

Danner Mountain Light Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Mountain Light 110.6 mm
Average 111.6 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
96.3 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
124.6 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The situation is similar in the heel. Our caliper showed 86.7 mm in the widest part of the platform which is a mere 1-2 mm narrower than average.

If you want a wider Danner boot, try the Mountain 600. It measured 91.2 mm in the widest part of the heel.

Danner Mountain Light Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Mountain Light 86.7 mm
Average 87.9 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
71.7 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.1 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

There is something you MUST know before you buy the Danner Mountain Light - this boot is unbendable! Especially in the first weeks of wearing it.

The stiffness was so extreme that we could hardly bend our feet when hiking. 

Using a force gauge, we measured how many newtons (N) it would take to bend the boot to a 90-degree angle.

As you can see, it took a whopping 80.3N to do that! That's 45% more than it takes a hiking boot on average.

Test results
Mountain Light 80.3N
Average 44.3N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
16.6N
Stiffness
84.7N

Difference in stiffness in cold

At least this Danner boot doesn't get stiffer in the cold!

We measured a tiny 3.6% difference in flexibility after 20 minutes of keeping the boot in the freezer.

Danner Mountain Light flexibility

Test results
Mountain Light 3.6%
Average 25.4%
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
100%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

If you frequently hike in boggy and muddy areas or come across wet logs or slippery and moss-covered rocks, the Danner Mountain Light will be your best friend.

Danner Mountain Light outsole

The gripping capacity of its Vibram Kletterlift outsole is exceptional! Measuring the boot's lug depth at 5.8 mm, we found them 1.5 mm toothier than average.

Paired with the boot's pronounced heel brake, we felt very secure going down steep slopes.

Danner Mountain Light Lug depth
Test results
Mountain Light 5.8 mm
Average 4.2 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
3.0 mm
Lug depth
5.8 mm

Size and fit

Internal length

Danner recommends going down a half size in the Danner Mountain Light because this silhouette runs a little long.

We purchased the boot in our regular US size 9 and indeed found that it runs a tad bit long. According to Danner's shoe size chart, men's US size 9 should correspond to a foot length of 270 mm. However, when we measured the inner length of the boot, our tool returned 281.4 mm, proving the boot's longer profile.

But here is the thing: when you size down, you also risk getting an even narrower fit. And the Mountain Light is definitely on the narrow side.

Danner Mountain Light Internal length
Test results
Mountain Light 281.4 mm
Average 271.1 mm
Compared to 18 hiking boots
Number of shoes
259.9 mm
Internal length
281.4 mm

Toebox width at the widest part

Actually, we found this Danner boot extremely narrow! It is quite surprising given we got the EE width which is supposed to be wider than the standard width.

Danner Mountain Light fit

It is certainly NOT the "relaxed fit for casual, everyday wear" that Danner promises. Measuring the boot's toebox in the widest part, our caliper showed 95.9 mm. That's about 6 mm narrower than the average hiking boot!

Danner Mountain Light Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Mountain Light 95.9 mm
Average 101.8 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
95.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
110.2 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The boot's profile narrows even more drastically towards the toes. Measuring its width where the big toe ends, we got 69.0 mm which is almost 10 mm narrower than average!

All in all, it was a very tight one-to-one fit for our medium-width feet. Definitely not recommended for wide footers. Consider the Danner Jag or the Danner Mountain 600 if you want a more spacious fit.

Danner Mountain Light Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Mountain Light 69.0 mm
Average 78.4 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
67.6 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
91.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

What makes the Danner Mountain Light feel so secure around the foot is the old-fashioned one-piece leather upper.

It has a fully-intergrated tongue that folds in a practical way to prevent debris and water from getting inside the boot.

Danner Mountain Light Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Mountain Light Both sides (full)

Lockdown

loosen up

surgeon's knot recommended

Comfort

Tongue padding

The topmost part of the tongue is generously padded to prevent lace bites and pressure. Our caliper showed that it is 9.9 mm thick which is standard for a hiking boot.

Danner Mountain Light Tongue padding
Test results
Mountain Light 9.0 mm
Average 11.2 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
5.9 mm
Tongue padding
22.3 mm

Heel tab

This Danner boot comes with a tiny pull tab at the back of the collar. Because it is so small, we didn't find it very helpful. However, it wasn't a problem as the boot is quite easy to slide into anyways.

Danner Mountain Light Heel tab
Test results
Mountain Light Pull tab

Removable insole

The insole is NOT removable in the Danner Mountain Light. And we wouldn't recommend adding in orthotic on top of it because the boot's fit is rather narrow already.

Test results
Mountain Light No

Break-in period

Do expect a hard and lengthy break-in period in the Mountain Light. DO NOT wear this Danner boot from the box to the trail!

Start by wearing it around the house with a pair (or two) of thick socks for a couple of days first. We also recommend having some band-aids close by as there is a high chance of developing blisters, particularly in the Achilles.

Danner Mountain Light style

Misc

Reflective elements

With its one-piece leather upper, the Mountain Light has no reflective elements.

Danner Mountain Light Reflective elements
Test results
Mountain Light No

Extra laces

This Danner boot comes with two pairs of laces - the round type and the flat type.

Danner Mountain Light boot parts