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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Danner 453 GTX Boots > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen

Danner® 453 GTX Hiking Boots

Test Series by Ryan Christensen
Last Update -- September 12, 2008

Danner 453 GTX
453 GTX on the rocks

ACCESS MAIN REPORT SECTIONS VIA THE LINKS BELOW:

INITIAL REPORT
August 29, 2007
FIELD REPORT
October 31, 2007
LONG-TERM REPORT
January 8, 2008
ADDENDUM
September 12, 2008

INITIAL REPORT
August 29, 2007

Reviewer Information:

Backpacking Background:

Name: Ryan L. Christensen

Age:  43

Gender:  Male

Height:  6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)

Weight:  235 lb (102 kg)

Email address:  bigdawgryan(at)yahoo(dot)com

City, State, Country:  Idaho Falls, Idaho, U.S.A

I began backpacking at twelve, continuing until 25. After an extended hiatus, due in part to a bad back, I resumed cycling, hiking, and backpacking several years ago and began snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I share my love for backpacking and these sports with my children. For several years, we have hiked or camped nearly every month, year-round. I am a lightweight backpacker, but carry a full array of necessary gear.

Product Information:

The information below comes from the Danner website and product tags.

453 GTX Hiking Boots

Manufacturer:

Danner®

Manufacturer website:

http://www.danner.com

Place of Manufacture:

China

Year Manufactured:

Assume 2007

Material:

Upper: 1.8 - 2.0 MM nubuck and 1000D Nylon
Toe Cap: Plastic
Outsole: Approach TFX
Shank: Thermo-Molded Plastic Urethane
Midsole: EVA
Lining: Cambrelle Nylon
Footbed: EVA
Waterproof Liner: GORE-TEX® XCR®
Insulation: None

Colors Available:

Women's: Blue/Grey, Grey/Blue
Men's: Tan/Grey, Dark Tan, Grey/Black

Size/Width Available:

Women's: 6.5 M - 11 M US
Men's: 7 D - 15 D and 8 EE - 13 EE

Warranty:

"For one year from date of purchase, Danner Sporting footwear (Hunting, Fishing, Hiking, and Outdoor Cross Training styles) is warranted to be free from defects in materials and workmanship. Waterproof Sporting footwear is also warranted waterproof for one year from date of purchase provided the failure or leak is not the results of cuts, abrasions or other wear-related damage caused by the user...

Danner will, at its option, either repair, replace, or pro-rate based on wear/tear that is evident, any defective footwear covered by this warranty..."

MSRP:

$143.00 - $139.00 USD

 

Product Specifications

Manufacturer’s Specifications

 

Listed Weight:

48 oz (1.36 kg)

Tester’s Actual Measurements

 

Weight:

Men's 10.5 US - 54.8 oz (1.55 kg)

Color Tested:

Grey/Black

Product Description:

The 453 GTX is a stylish, medium-weight, Gore-Tex lined hiking boot. On its website, Danner says people should consider this boot "a cross-trainer on steroids."

Both Boots

The uppers are a composite of nubuck leather, 1000D nylon fabric, and Gore-Tex. There is a small metal emblem with the Gore-Tex trademark stamped on it on the outer edge of the boots. All seams in the upper are double stitched except the single-stitching of the nubuck to the nylon fabric of the gusset (a tongue attached at the bottom and both sides to prevent slipping to one side and prevent water from entering from the top.) The gusset is padded and also has a Gore-Tex membrane. The inside of the gusset has a partial leather lining that extends approximately 2.25 in (5.7 cm) down from its top. The collar is also padded, and has both nubuck and nylon on the outside. Like the gusset, the collar has a partial leather lining along the inside that extends down approximately 1.25 in (3.2 cm) from the top at the back of the collar. There is a scuff-proof toe cap that covers the majority of the toe area. On the back of the boot, there is a black plastic piece, with four grey raised sections and the Danner name. There is also a nubuck pull near the top of the collar on the back. The lacing system consists of five pair of metal D-rings and a pair of metal cinch hooks at the top of the collar. The laces are 4mm diameter woven nylon. The uninsulated lining is Cambrelle, a moisture wicking nylon mesh.

Insole

The 0.25 in (0.64 cm) thick footbeds are molded Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA). They are a two-part construction. The forefoot is black EVA, with raised dimples on the bottom. There is also a green molded insert of another material. The insert, labeled "Fatigue Fighter 24/7," comprises the arch and extends the balance the insole and forms the majority of the heel cup. In the heel area, there is a cutout in the bottom of the green insert where there is the same black EVA with raised dimples as in the forefoot. The topside of the footbed is covered with a micro-fiber like material.

The upper is single-stitched, with heavy thread, to the sole. Danner claims this results in a more secure and durable attachment to the sole. On its website, Danner claims "because the boot upper is flared out and then stitched to the insole board, your foot rests on a wider, and thus more stable, platform. The upper/insole unit is then cemented to the outsole, enabling the boots to be easily re-soled, adding years of life to them." The outsole is Danner's proprietary Approach TFX (Terra Force X) which is the latest evolution of its lightweight Terra Force support system. According to the Danner website, "Terra Force is based on a unique combination of internal and external nylon shanks, a super-soft polyurethane midsole and a supportive, full-length midsole plate.
1. The upper is stitched through the insole plate in the heel and forefoot areas to provide the added stability of a slightly wider platform.
2. The internal shank works in concert with the insole plate to create a firm foundation to protect your arch from overwork and fatigue.
3. The polyurethane midsole is a lightweight cushion for every step.
4. The visible external nylon shank provides exceptional lateral/medial stability.
5. Several different Terra Force outsoles have been engineered for maximum traction in a variety of conditions."

Outsoles

The Approach TFX is a molded outsole. Regarding its molded outsoles, the Danner website states: "While stichdown construction offers you increased durability and the re-soling options, molded outsoles provide you with a lightweight, athletic form of support. The ability for Danner to layer materials increases heel, arch, and forefoot support, reducing shock and improving comfort during the course of the day."

The Approach TFX has a unique tread pattern consisting of thirteen triangular lugs on the forefoot, seven triangular lugs on the heel, and outer lugs. Danner claims the Approach TFX's triangular lugs improve acceleration and downhill braking whereas the outer lugs enhance sidehill traction.

Danner claims the Terra Force is "the perfect balance of boot strength and sneaker weight." With its Terra Force X, Danner says it enhanced both performance and appearance. In terms of performance, Danner claims the TFX's enhancements provide "unrivaled heel-to-toe energy transfer." As far as appearance goes, not knowing what the Terra Force construction looked like, I will have to take Danner's word on the enhancement.

Initial Impression:

With the exception of when I prepared my test application, I did not spend any time on Danner's website prior to the boots arriving. However, in support of my test application, I went to a local outdoor retailer and tried a pair on for size. The pair I tried on were Tan/Grey, which I assumed to be the only available color. Therefore, I was a little surprised with the Grey/Black boots I received. Consequently, I checked the product tags to be certain that I had received the 453 GTX boots--which of course I did.

Right out of the box, I was impressed with the overall appearance of these boots. The Danner 453 GTX hiking boots appear to be well made. The materials seem to be of very high quality as does the workmanship. There were no loose threads, misplaced globs of glue, or other abnormalities.

The boots had three tags attached: one marketing the Danner company, one briefly describing Danner's Terra Force X, and the third one briefly described Gore-Tex and its guarantee to "keep you dry."

Initial Testing:

My initial testing consisted of trying on the 453 GTX boots with the Danner COOLMAX® Siskiyou sock (which Danner supplied) and a medium-weight merino wool hiking sock. I was able to slip the boots on easily and the gusset was easy to position. The lace slid effortlessly through the metal D-rings, and with only one cinch hook to deal with, lacing was a breeze. However, I believe I prefer a slightly larger diameter lace. The boots felt comfortable as I walked around my home. There seems to be adequate room in the toebox and the boots do not seem to slide on my heels. However, more thorough testing is required. I can hardly wait to get these boots on the trail. I will report on the fit, performance, and durability of these boots in my subsequent reports.

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FIELD REPORT
October 31, 2007

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

For the first couple of weeks in September, I wore the Danner 453 GTX boots every day to break them in. I wore them to work and kicking about. Temperatures ranged from the 80s to 40s F (32 - 10 C). There were a few rainy days during this time.

In mid-September, I wore these boots while helping build a church girls' camp near Bone, Idaho. Bone is nearly 23 mi (37 km) southeast of Idaho Falls and is approximately 6,060 ft (1,847 m) above sea level. The temperature was in the mid 50s F (12 - 13 C) and the skies were overcast. In fact, it began to rain shortly before we finished for the night. We were building tent pads, terraced in the hillside.

On October 6, we received our first snow fall of the year. It dumped approximately 5 in (13 cm) of very wet snow. The temperature was about 34 F (1 C). I wore the 453 GTX boots, with medium weight merino wool hiking socks, while clearing the snow from the drive and walks. The water content and relatively warm temperature made for a sloppy mess.

In mid-October, I wore the boots, with a lightweight and a medium weight merino wool sock, on two day hikes in Hell's Half Acre National Landmark. The elevation is approximately 5,300 ft (1,615 m) above sea level. The temperature was in the 50s F (10 - 15 C), winds were calm, the sky was overcast and there was a slight rain on one of the hikes. Hell's Half Acre is a 66,000 acres (267 km2) lava field and is the youngest of the eastern basaltic lava fields of the Snake River Plain of southeastern Idaho. The photo to the right is typical of Hell's Half Acre. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website says "... the lava in Hell's Half Acre erupted about 4,100 years ago... was probably about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the consistency of molasses, and traveled at speeds up to 30 mph.... Lava rock is extremely sharp, glassy and fragmented, with open cracks, lava tubes and caves. The most prevalent landscape consists of A'a (ah-ah) and Pahoehoe (pa-hoy-hoy) lava flows.... A variety of plants and wildflowers contrast the black and gray lava flows... such as Evening Primrose, Indian Paintbrush, wild onions, penstemon, geraniums, and Prickly Pear Cactus... ferns growing in deep cracks and a variety of desert vegetation... from tiny mosses and lichens to juniper trees hundreds of years old. Other native species include sagebrush, rabbitbrush, bitterbrush, blue bunch wheatgrass, and needle-and-thread grass.... Wildlife roaming the lava flows includes mule deer, antelope, sage grouse, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, and occasional snakes. Soaring above the flows are red-tailed hawks, prairie falcons, and golden eagles." Hiking in Hell's Half Acre is a unique and somewhat surreal experience. It is quite possibly unlike any other place on earth.

There are no developed trails in the area I hiked. There are however, two unimproved trails marked by wooden poles. One trail is a 0.5 mi (0.8 km) educational loop which provides a good sampling of the lava flow. The other marked trail is a 4.5 mi (7.2 km) trek to the main vent, or source, of the lava.

Observations:

453 GTX - Hell's Half Acre

Wearing the boots to my office job for nearly two weeks allowed me to break them in, and learn a few things in the process. Initially, I wore a medium weight merino wool hiking sock. After a few wearings, I dropped to either a light weight merino wool sock or the COOLMAX® Siskiyou sock Danner provided. Eventually, I wore plain cotton socks on occasion. Regardless of which socks I wore, the boots fit my feet very well and I was impressed with the support and comfort they provide. I also learned that the molded Approach TFX outsoles did not provide very good traction/grip on smooth wet pavement, concrete, or tile. Although not completely slick, after a rainstorm, I found that I needed to be careful while walking on these surfaces. This, however, is not unlike other hiking boots I have worn. Another thing I noticed during the break-in period was that after walking briefly, the gusset would stick out from the top of the collar. Occasionally my pant leg would get caught between the gusset and my leg. This was more of an annoyance than a concern; I did not want to look like a geek. So, I would stop and reposition my pant legs. I believe either an additional cinch hook on the collar, or a cloth loop near the top of the gusset to thread the laces through would alleviate this issue.

My feet were quite comfortable as I wore the boots while working on the girls' camp. The boots provided great stability as well. Much of our work involved leveling dirt, setting logs, and spreading gravel for tent pads. This involved walking up and down the slope of the hill as well as moving about in loose, uneven soil. The wide platform worked great. Not once did I have an issue with stability. The boots become quite dirty from this, however cleanup was a breeze--a wipe with a wet cloth and set them aside to dry. They dried without any noticeable discoloration. One thing that really impressed me was that I have very little dirt inside the boots. Obviously the collar was snug enough to keep most of the dirt outside.

Clearing the snow/slush from the drive and walks provided an opportunity to test the waterproofness of these boots. In the apron of my drive, there was a puddle of standing water and I waded in such that the water was approximately 4 in (10 cm) up on the boots. I stood there in excess of five minutes to "really" test their waterproofness. One of my sons asked if my feet were getting wet. The answer was "NO," my feet were perfectly dry. The seams, gusset, etc. were completely waterproof--I expected as much with the Gore-Tex lining. The boots dried overnight, and there was barely any noticeable discoloration along the outsole.

My first hike in Hell's Half Acre was the 0.5 mi (0.8 km) educational loop. One can complete this loop in approximately 0.5 hr. However, I took quite a bit more time, as I ventured out to examine several cracks, depressions, caves, etc. I carried a daypack which weighed approximately 10 lb (4.5 kg). The second hike here was on the 4.5 mi (7.2 km) trail to the main vent, or source, of the lava. I carried about the same amount of gear as on the first hike. However, due to time constraints, I had to turn around about three miles into the hike. The lava is rough, very uneven, and difficult to navigate because of its fissures, holes, and crags. The Danner 453 GTX boots provided great stability and support on this irregular terrain. There were a couple of times where my footing was unsure, but I did not roll an ankle thanks to the stable platform and support throughout these boots. The Approach TFX outsoles provided excellent traction and I had no problem scrambling up the lava crags. However, the sharp and abrasive lava rock was a quite harsh on the outsoles. From the photos below, you will notice the scuffs and tears along the edges and the arch area of the Approach TFX soles. There were a couple of minor abrasions to the toe caps, but nothing severe.

453 GTX - Scuffed Right Sole 453 GTX - Scuffed Left Sole 453 GTX - Scuffed Arch

Thus far, I am extremely pleased with the fit and comfort of these boots. They provide excellent arch support, the insoles provide adequate cushion, and the collar snugs up around my ankles. I have not experienced any heel slip or my foot sliding forward. I am also very pleased with the waterproofness of these boots. There are a couple of things that I will be paying extra attention to through the balance of the test. First, the triangular lugs on the soles are wearing a bit more than I anticipated. This probably resulted from my hikes on the lava. Nevertheless, I will watch to see if the soles wear faster than what I would deem normal as I hike different terrains. The second thing I have noticed is the laces are beginning to fray near the third, fourth, and fifth pair of metal D-rings on both boots. This is a bit diconcerting, since I have only worn the boots for approximately two months. I will continue to watch this as well.

Likes:

Dislikes:

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LONG-TERM REPORT
January 8, 2008

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

Gusset

In November, I wore the 453 GTX Hiking Boots on an overnight backpacking trip to the Catamount Yurt in the Portneuf Range southeast of Pocatello Idaho. The trip into the Catamount Yurt is 2.25 mi (3.6 km) one way with a vertical gain of 816 ft (249 m) across mainly open and rolling terrain. We began this hike at approximately 8:00 p.m. MST with temperatures in the low 40's F (4+ C). The sky was partially overcast, but no precipitation; winds were calm.

I also wore them the day after Thanksgiving, hiking and cutting down a Christmas tree, in Kelly Canyon located approximately 26 miles (42 km) northeast of Idaho Falls, Idaho. Kelly Canyon is in the Targhee National Forest near the South Fork of the Snake River. The skies were clear, winds calm, and temperatures were in the low 30's F (-1+ C). There was about 4 in (10 cm) of light, granular snow on the ground.

I wore the boots snowshoeing near my home a couple of times. The snow was about 12 in (30 cm) deep and was quite powdery the first time and a little more solid the second time. Temperatures were in the teens F (-11+ C).In Snowshoes

Observations:

Overall, the boots continue to perform very well. I have worn them nearly every day since submitting my Field Report. They remain very comfortable. I generally use third-party insoles, but I not done so with these boots. Thus far, I have been pleased with the comfort of the "Fatigue Fighter 24/7" footbeds. The gusset and collar are also quite comfortable.

They leather uppers have been great in the rain and the snow. Even after wading in puddled water, and hiking in the snow, the resulting discoloration has been minimal. The seams remain tight, with no loose or fraying threads.

My earlier concerns about tread life seem to have been unnecessary, as they have held up well since hiking the lava that is Hell's Half Acre. I have been impressed with the traction of the Approach TFX (Terra Force X) soles except on wet smooth concrete or asphalt. Out in the field, the traction has been great, and I like the slightly wider platform. I feel the wider platform does indeed give me more stability.

When snowshoeing, the boots fit quite nicely in the bindings. The boots remain completely waterproof. The Gore-Tex kept my feet nice and dry wading in puddled water, hiking and snowshoeing in the snow. Wearing one pair of medium-weight merino wool socks, my feet were plenty warm. The gaiters I wore kept the snow from getting inside the boots, especially where the gusset sticks out.

However, there a couple of issues mentioned in my Field Report that need additional follow-up. The first concern is the fraying laces. This fraying has worsened with use. I am uncertain of the fraying's genesis. It may have resulted from scraping against the rough lava in Hell's Half Acre. It is also possible that the fraying resulted from something within the lacing system itself. However, I highly doubt the probability of the latter. The second concern that I have with these boots is how the gusset protrudes from the top of the boot after walking in them. This is annoying as the gusset catches my pant leg. It also allows weeds, etc. to collect between the gusset and my sock. When hiking in Kelly Canyon, I got snow between the gusset and my sock, which resulted in a cold, wet ankle. I wish I had been wearing gaiters. I believe if it were slightly wider, the collar would hold the gusset in better.

Likes:

Dislikes:

The comfort and overall performance of the Danner 453 GTX boots outweigh the issue with the gusset. Therefore, I will wear these boots into the ground. I really like how these boots feel on my feet. I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a moderately priced Gore-Tex hiking boot.


This concludes my Test Series. Thanks to Danner and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test the 453 GTX Hiking Boots.


ADDENDUM
September 12, 2008

After submitting my Long-Term Report in January of 2008, I continued to wear the Danner 453 GTX boots. In May 2008, nine months after receiving the boots to test, I broke a cinch hook while lacing the boots one morning. Because it was still within Danner's warranty period, I contacted them about repairing the boot. At their discretion, Danner sent me a brand new pair of Dark Tan 453 GTX Hiking Boots. Danner customer service was as good as any that I have ever experienced. They were extremely courteous, understanding, and easy to work with. Equally impressive was their willingness to live up to their warranty.

Nevertheless, I felt bad about throwing away the Grey/Black boots I tested as they were still in great shape. So, I asked if Danner could repair the broken cinch hook, and they agreed to do so. Because of the hectic schedule I have had the past several months, I did not get around to sending the boots to Danner Recrafting until the end of August. I sent the boots back at my expense to Danner recrafting danner.com/category/recraft.do. Danner acknowledged receipt of the boots and informed me that because of the Labor Day holiday, they would ship them back the following week. Today, September 12, I received the repaired boots at no cost to me for either the repair or return shipping. In addition to the quality of the 453 GTX boots, Danner truely impressed me as a company with such professional customer service. Personally, I will therefore consider Danner in all future boot purchases and highly recommend them to all.

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Thanks to Danner for such great customer service.




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