Danner Mountain Light II review: a sturdy classic for modern hikers

Danner’s legendary hiking boot offers stability and Gore-Tex waterproofing in a rugged package

Danner Mountain Light II review
(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
T3 Verdict

The Danner Mountain Light II impresses with its legendary durability and waterproofing, providing stability on uneven terrain and the ability to be resoled for extended use, although it is heavy and requires more care than synthetic boots, making it an ideal choice for rugged outdoor adventures.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Absolutely indestructible

  • +

    Gore-Tex waterproofing

  • +

    Offers stability on uneven terrain

  • +

    Can be resoled to extend lifespan

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Heavy and bulky

  • -

    Does require more care than synthetic boots

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You might think that someone who tests performance footwear for a living, like me, can rise above marketing campaigns, but that’s clearly not the case here. You see, when I was looking at Danner boots to test and review for T3, I chose the Mountain Light II because Daniel Craig wore them in Spectre, the 2015 James Bond movie.

Always a sucker for James Bond swag!

Not that I regretted my decision. We’ve recently reviewed the excellent Danner Mountain 600, which received 5-star treatment from T3, and I knew that Danner is one of the best hiking boot brands out there, so there was no way the Mountain Light II to be bad. Not to mention, the Mountain Light is such an iconic footwear, renowned for its durability and waterproof protection.

After testing it for over a month on various terrains, I’m ready to share my thoughts on the Danner Mountain Light II. Buckle up, kids; it’s going to be a wild ride!

Danner Mountain Light II review

Price and availability

Danner Mountain Light II review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

The Danner Mountain Light II is available in both women’s and men’s versions for a recommended retail price of $440/£430 directly from Danner or third-party retailers.

The women’s version is available in medium (M) width, while the men’s can be bought in medium (D) and wide (EE) widths. Danner’s website says the boots are made using the brand’s 650 last, which offers a “sleek, slender profile” with a more narrow fit. I have wide feet, so I opted for the wider EE version in my normal UK size (10).

Design and construction

Danner Mountain Light II review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

The Danner Mountain Light II strikes a delicate balance between retro-cool looks and orthopaedic boots. It’s a bit of an acquired taste, and it took me some time to get used to it.

Made from a one-piece leather design that eliminates openings in the tongue area, the boots feature a lace-to-toe system and are also Gore-Tex-lined, so they should stay dry no matter how muddy the terrain you traverse.

The Mountain Light II utilises Danner’s stitchdown construction, which means the upper leather and textile are pulled down around the last, flared out, cemented to the midsole, and stitched to the outsole.

This not only makes the boots almost impenetrable but also enables the company to recraft them. Danner offers recrafting, a service in which they remove the upper from the boot and replace the outsole in the factory. This can significantly extend the lifespan of the boots.

A slight downside to recrafting is that it takes place in Portland, Oregon, which means proud owners of Danner boots outside the US will have to pay an additional $150 for return shipping on top of the price of the recrafting service itself, which costs between $100 and $280. Ouch.

Performance and comfort

Danner Mountain Light II review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Reading about the Mountain Light II and looking at the pictures of it online made me wonder whether the boots would be too stiff and heavy. After all, there is a lot of rubber and leather in play here; plus, even the website says the boots weigh nearly a kilo each (my UK size 10 wide weighs 878g per boot).

As expected, the flexibility of the Mountain Light II is far from the malleability of modern synthetic hiking boots, but it’s actually quite comfortable to wear. The boots are easy to put on and take off, thanks to the lace-to-toe system – reminiscent of climbing boots – and the padded insides almost caress the feet as you walk.

As mentioned above, I ordered the wide (EE) version of the boot to allow some toe spread, and to my surprise, there is almost too much room in the toe box for my feet. Nothing a quality pair of cushioned walking socks can’t solve! It’s certainly not an issue, and I’d rather have more room in my hiking boots than too little.

During my walks around Wells and the Mendip Hills, the Danner Mountain Light II provided support and traction. I appreciated the ankle support the most, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the stability the boots provided.

Danner says the Vibram Kletterlift outsole offers superb shock absorption, excellent traction, and stability, and I can confirm this is very much the case.

The waterproofing is spot on, too. Thanks to the combination of the stichdown construction, the one-piece leather upper, and the Gore-Tex membrane, moisture and debris have no chance of entering the shoes. The upper feels solid and somewhat stiff, especially around the edge of the tongue, and doesn’t quite fold under the rest of the upper when you tighten the laces.


Danner Mountain Light II review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

The Danner Mountain Light II is a different kind of hiking boot. It’s both modern and very old-school, as well as being sustainable and ungreen.

The boots might look like a blast from the past, but they are very much designed for the modern customer. Although the leather and rubber construction is far from vegan and green, the durability of the boots makes them as environmentally friendly as hiking boots can get. You’ll be able to use them for decades before having to buy another pair.

There are many lighter, faster, and more agile boots available for outdoor enthusiasts, but if it’s longevity you’re after when buying a new pair of hiking footwear, you need the Danner Mountain Light II.

Also consider

The modern equivalent of the Danner Mountain Light II would be the latest version of the inov-8 Roclite Pro G400 GTX hiking boot. It showcases significant upgrades, including strengthened materials in the upper, an improved heel-lock system, and an enhanced midsole. It stands as an exceptional choice for three-season trekking and backpacking. Read Pat's excellent Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 GTX V2 review.

Although it has a few drawbacks, the Arc’teryx Acrux LT remains an impressive choice for technical terrains. It offers precise handling for excellent climbing performance, whether with or without crampons. Remarkably lightweight yet technically capable, the boot's limited cushioning and narrow fit may make long walk-ins less forgiving. Read Matthew's full Arc’teryx Acrux LT GTX hiking boot review.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for T3.com and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.