I’ve had my eye on Danner’s popular Mountain Light boot for a few years now, and this Winter I decided to give them a try. For the past two seasons, I’ve been wearing L.L. Bean boots and was growing tired of their clunky feel.
I immediately liked the new Danner boots. They are fairly light, as the name suggests. Wearing the Mountain Light is like wearing a chunky high-top sneaker. With adequate socks, they’re warm enough for a Minnesota Winter (at least for my lifestyle, which is mostly urban).
On the second day wearing the boots, we got hit with a big snowstorm. I spent the night shoveling heavy snow and walking through knee-deep drifts, and at the time I thought the boots performed well.
In the weeks the followed the snowstorm, our urban terrain transformed into a slushy, icy mix. That’s when I began to notice issues with this particular pair of Mountain Light boots.
Traction Problems During the Break-In Period (and later)
I actually fell on the sidewalk twice within a week of that big snowfall. In the following weeks, I caught myself numerous times, narrowly avoiding embarrassment or injury.
The boots are equipped with relatively hard Vibram “1276 Sierra Olive” lug sole. While it’s a high quality sole and durable, it seems better suited for Autumn conditions. On snow-covered ice, the sole almost feels like walking around in plastic ski boots.
The reason I keep falling on ice is the same reason you see the the Audi sports car buried in the ditch. It’s all about the tires. Snow tires are soft and provide better grip in the snow, while hard racing tires are a disaster.
Fortunately, after one season, the sole on these Danner Mountain Lights has become softer and far less prone to slipping. However, I still have the occasional near-slip, which is never a problem in my old Danner Hunting Boots.
If you’re living in a snowy urban area, and considering the Danner Mountain Light – ask your sales associate if they’re available with a soft rubber sole.
I chose the dark brown Mojave Brawler model because I like the style. The brown / olive combo has a clean monochromatic look. I also found them at a great price.
Other models feature the Vibram Kletterlift, Cristy, and Gumlite soles. Reading Danner’s website, it’s not clear which of these soles is best for Winter.
Most retailers selling the Mountain Light stock only the EE width, and that’s what I found shopping locally at Askov Finlayson in Minneapolis. I wear a 10.5 D in most shoes and found the 10.0 EE to fit nicely with a Winter weight sock.
To sum up the review – at temperatures 32º F and above, I would definitely recommend the Danner Mountain Light mojave brawler. For anything colder, wear something else.