The Danner 453 GTX hiking
boots are noted by the manufacturer as being a sporty
looking boot that is built to handle anything thrown
in its way.
The support system of
these boots is referred to as Terra Force X. This is
Danner's patented lightweight support system that is
claimed to be an extremely rigid, stable platform that
is comfortable and supportive. The Terra Force X frame
design is intended by the manufacturer to promote unrivaled
heel-to-toe energy transfer along with traction while
reducing weight. The boot shank is thermo-molded plastic
The boot body is constructed
of nubuck and fabric. This construction consists of
1.8-2.0 mm (0.18-0.20 cm) nubuck leather and 1000 D
nylon. The boots are double stitched on the main body
and single stitched on the tongue. There is another
layer of leather applied around the back and ankle of
the boot. This appears to give it extra support.
The lining of the boots
is made of Cambrelle Nylon and is uninsulated. The Cambrelle
Nylon lining is an unwoven fabric that is intended to
promote excellent breathability, odor resistance, comfort,
quick drying, and durability. Cambrelle Nylon has the
capacity to absorb perspiration up to 350% of its own
dry weight. The boots also have a waterproof, breathable
The outsole is referred
to as Danner Approach TFX. The tread is very aggressive.
I was actually quite impressed. It has triangular lugs
which the manufacturer claims improves acceleration
and downhill braking. There are also exterior lugs to
enhance sidehill traction.
Bottom of the boots. Look at that
footbeds are a EVA type that measure 0.25 in (0.64 cm)
thick. They are constructed of black foam in the forefoot
area with a soft lining on the entire top of the footbed.
There is a green half-length, molded polyurethane instep
constructed in the footbed. This cups the heel and supports
the arch area of the foot. This is definitely more rigid
than the foam portion of the footbed.
There is a rubber scuff
proof toe cap on the toe area of the boots, along with
a piece of rubber on the rear heel of the boots with
the company name embossed in blue lettering on it. I
like the idea of the rubber part on the heel of the
boot. I am assuming it is to prevent scuffs. Some of
my old boots have scuffs in the leather on the outside
heel area of the boots.
Each boot laces with a total of ten
D-rings (five on each side of the boot body). These
are loose-hanging, D-shaped metal rings that are designed
to not put tension on the laces. The top of the boot
is laced with one cinch hook (lace lock) on each side.
I took a look at the
manufacturer's website before receiving the boots and
I found the site easy to navigate to the boots I was
looking for. When I received the boots they were much
more sturdy and rugged than I expected from my observation
of the website.
The boots are packaged
in a shoe box with warranty and care information, along
with hangtags describing the manufacturer's philosophy
and information on Gore-Tex and the Terra Force X support
system. I was very impressed with these boots right
when I opened the box. Initially I noticed the double
stitching on the nubuck leather of the boot body. Then
I noticed the toe cap and the rubber on the heel of
the boot. I looked at the tread pattern and I was very
impressed with the triangular lugs. The boots appeared
to be crafted with quality in mind.
I removed the footbed
of one boot and I was very impressed that it is not
a typical flimsy footbed. It actually has some rigidity,
the heel and arch area are contoured. I wanted to see
how rigid the footbed was so I gave it a twist in the
arch region and it did not collapse easily. This is
actually the nicest footbed I ever saw in a pair of
hiking boots in this price range. I usually wear an
after market footbed in my boots due to the premature
break down of the footbeds that accompanied my purchased
boots. I am looking forward to reporting on how these
footbeds feel and how durable they are.
I tried the boots on and they felt
comfortable. They were extremely easy to lace up and
tighten by pulling the lace taught through the D-rings.
The tongue was easily positioned and comfortable when
I fully tightened the laces through the cinch locks.
I found the boots to be comfortable
during my initial wear time of about an hour indoors.
But, there is testing to be done with these boots and
I will report on the fit, durability, miles traveled,
waterproofness, breathability, and anything else that
strikes my fancy in my field report.
October 30 , 2007
Whiting Ranch Regional Park, Southern California: This was my break in trip for the boots. I hiked 5.5 mi (9 km). The high temperature was 85 F (29 C). The trail was mostly packed dirt with some rocks. There was approximately 1,200 ft (366 m) of elevation gain and loss.
Day hikes Wasatch Mountain Range in Utah: Multiple locations. The trail conditions varied during the day hikes. On some occasions there was mud, traces of snow, rock scrambling, stream crossings, wet leaves, and dry trail.
Two day backpacking trip in the Uinta Mountain Range in Utah: Starting elevation was around 9,700 ft. The temperatures during this trip were in the low 70 F (21 C) during the day and around 45 F (7 C) at night. The weather was partly sunny with some rain showers.
American Fork Canyon in Utah in the Wasatch Mountain Range: The starting elevation was 6,910 ft (2,106 m) for this trip. The temperatures were in the mid 80 F (27 C) with sunny skies.
American Fork Canyon in Utah in the Wasatch Mountain Range: This was an overnight trip the day after a snow storm. Starting elevation of 6,800 ft (2,073 m) up to about 8,400 ft (2,560 m) with temperatures 37 F (3 C) in the day and just below 32 F (0 C) at night. The terrain was snow covered dirt and rock. There was approximately 3 to 4 in (8 to 10 cm) of snow on the ground.
Hawaii (Big Island): Day hikes on the west and east side of the island. Daytime temperatures were in the low to mid 80 F (27 C) with rainy and dry conditions.
Performance in the Field
During the field testing phase I primarily wore a light backpacking sock with the boots. The socks that I wear are a mid-height. On one occasion I did wear a heavier sock because I was hiking a long distance.
These boots are very comfortable on uphill approaches and flat terrain. However, I am finding some mild discomfort on downhill approaches just below the medial and lateral aspect of the malleolus. Specifically I am experiencing some rubbing on the peroneal and flexor retinaculum. I am not experiencing any tarsal compression just a rubbing sensation. During the testing period I attempted to diminish this discomfort by modifying the way the boots are tied. I experimented with a surgeon knot and segmented lock lacing which did help minimally. There were no blisters in this area of my foot just some discomfort while descending slopes and trails.
The laces are very long for my liking. I have compensated by using a ladder lacing technique. However, when I tie the boots with a ladder lacing method I can not tighten them enough to help with the rubbing I experience. The D-rings of the boots do not seem to hold the tension of the lace very well. I need to modify the tightness of the laces many times while on the trail. The laces seem to creep loose.
The waterproofness of the nubuck is stellar. Water just beads right off. No water has seeped through the seams on the nubuck during this testing period. Water beads off the fabric with light contact with water, such as light precipitation or a quick stream crossing. However, in a soaking rain the fabric does hold water. There has not been any experience yet of the water completely seeping through the fabric. Some dirt has entered into the boots, but it is minimal. This will need to be further assessed in my long term report to determine if the dirt is entering from the top of the boot or through the fabric.
The protective toe caps protect my feet in an excellent manner. I tend to bump my toes frequently on the trail and trip over debris. With these boots I did not notice any impact or pain on my toes when bumping or tripping over objects. There are no signs of wear or scuffing on the toe cap. This may be due to the rough texture of the rubber. After a day of hiking there is still room in the toe box for my slightly swollen feet and toes.
I am quite surprised that included footbed is so comfortable. Usually I have to replace the footbed in my boots and shoes with an aftermarket type to decrease pain and discomfort. I have noticed that the footbed does become moist while hiking from perspiration. It has not become wet and there is no odor to speak of. My feet have been free of arch pain and discomfort while wearing these boots. I feel as though my feet are well supported in these boots. I have not experienced an ankle rolling during the test period.
Another excellent feature of these boots is the traction. They perform very well on descents. Even in thick mud. I will admit that I did slide some but not at all like I have in the past with other shoes. These boots definitely increased my foot placement confidence. They also perform well in light snow and wet rocks. I had a loss of traction on a few tree roots but they were wet and very slick. The good news is that I did not fall down like my hiking partner did. It seems as though the aggressive traction on these boots work very well on wet and dry surfaces.
By using a cloth and some water I was able to clean the boots to remove dirt and mud on the fabric and the nubuck. Trapped mud on the bottom of the boots is also easily washed away. There has not been any rusting of the lacing hardware or frays in the stitching.
The boots do feel a little bit on the heavy side. But, I believe that can be expected from a rugged hiking boot. I got so used to wearing trail runners earlier this year that I forgot what it was like to wear a real pair of boots.
Long Term Report
January 8, 2008
Day hikes and snowshoeing Wasatch Mountain Range in Utah: Multiple locations. The trail conditions varied from mud, snow, ice, and stream crossings. On day hikes Yaktraxs (shoe traction aides) were used occasionally.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah: This was a one night trip with the camp elevation at 8,000 ft (2,438 m). The daytime temperatures were from 36 F (2 C) and a nighttime temperature of 5 F (-15 C). There was snow on the ground from a trace amount to almost 3 ft (1 m) drifts. Hikes were from 3.5 mi to 6.5 mi in length.
Canyonlands National Park, Utah: This was a three day trip with the elevation averaging around 3,900 ft (1,189 m) at both camp locations. The daytime temperatures were between 55 F (13 C) to 60 F (16 C). The nighttime lows reached 27 F (-3 C). The weather was sunny and clear skies.
Performance in the Field
I must say that these boots are very durable and are constructed very well. After four months of testing there are no signs of abnormal wear. All the stitching is intact and the rubber has not started to peel away from the boot body. They have been worn in snow, mud, dry dirt, on rocks, and in streams during the past four months. They have seen just about every type of weather condition (snow, rain, and sunny skies) and temperatures above and below freezing.
I had the opportunity to test the boots in the snow and in temperatures below freezing. These boots are not insulated and therefore I did not find them optimal to be used in temperatures below freezing. Even with a heavier winter sock my feet were cold. However, they did hold up to their waterproof claims in the snow. I used the boots in conjunction with my Yaktraxs and my MSR snowshoes. At no time did water seep through the boot material. Some snow entered through the top of the boot. This is because I forgot my snow gaiters. But, the boot insides were not overly saturated with water.
My favorite features of these boots are the excellent traction and waterproofness. They grip very well and water does not seem to permeate through the boot body. I can scramble up wet rocks and mud with only minimal sliding. It seems like the aggressive treads on the sole do their job very well.
I am still having a few issues with the boots. It seems that I am constantly tightening the laces. I did try to use a surgeon knot to help with the discomfort I felt on the descents. But, I still have to tighten the laces above the knot multiple times while hiking. I do get a nice break when I am fiddling with the laces, but it also puts me behind the rest of the group.
I am still experiencing discomfort around my ankle on the descents. I have tried several different lacing techniques and I am experiencing the same discomfort. The boots are very comfortable on ascents and on flat terrain; I just seem to have a problem on the descents.
Other than the laces becoming loose and the ankle discomfort I experience on the downhill descents these are very comfortable boots. The footbed is very comfortable and supports my fallen arch so well that I do not have to wear orthotics with these boots. I love the toe cap. It covers a large area of the boot toe. When I stub my toes or trip over something I do not feel a thing.
I find these boots to be on the heavy side. They are heavier than another pair of Gore-Tex boots that I own. But, these also have a more aggressive sole and toe cap. I guess I need to think about what is important to me in a pair of boots. The height of the boots are perfect to prevent my ankle from twisting and rolling, especially when I am carrying some pack weight. At no time did I experience any ankle twisting, even on my weaker ankle that I had surgery on.
During the field reporting stage of this test I experienced some dirt inside of the boots. I was unable to pinpoint where the dirt was coming from. However, I am able to confirm that during the long term test period this dirt is entering through the top of the boots and not though the fabric.
All in all these are a good pair of boots. I just need to figure out how to make them more comfortable on descents.
Things I Like:
- The traction on wet and dry surfaces
- The comfort on flat terrain and ascents
- The waterproofness
- The toecap
Things I Do Not Like:
- The foot discomfort I feel on descents
- The laces are very long
concludes my reporting on the Danner 453 GTX boots. Thank you Danner and backpackgeartest.org
for providing me with the opportunity to test the 453 GTX