User Review: Danner Mountain Light II
Materials: leather, Vibram outsole
Use: rugged day hikes, weekend backpacks
Break-in Period: 1 week
Weight: 3.6 lbs. for the pair
Price Paid: $175
I read a scathingly bad review of these boots on another site, which made me hesitate to buy them. But I'm glad I went ahead and got them anyway.
I have wide feet with pronounced bony areas at my fifth metatarsal joints (outsides of the balls of my feet), so most boots just don't fit me right, even some EE-width boots. The Mountain Light II's have been comfy right from the start, and with heavy wool socks and the Airthotic insoles, I've been able to get a great fit. (Note: These boots should be used with liner socks and heavy wool outer socks to provide cushioning and volume. Fans of a single-layer sock should probably look at more modern boot designs, unless you have very high-volume feet.) Break-in was quick and pretty much painless. I've even spent several long days in snowshoes with them, and haven't had so much as a hot spot...
I can see how some might complain that these boots don't provide enough ankle support, and it's true that good modern designs are more supportive, but the Mountain Light II's lateral support is excellent and the relatively stiff Vibram sole is great. While I quickly make mincemeat out of modern light hikers (most of which are really just "sneaker boots"), I expect these Mountain Light II's to hold up for a good long time.
The leather looks great, and the old-school stitchdown construction should make re-soling cheap and easy. I like the classic 'retro' styling (the Mtn Light II's are essentially unchanged from the original 1957 design), although I'm sure many would prefer the more high-tech looks of the modern designs.
The only reason I didn't give these boots a '5' is because of the lack of ankle support. But if you are looking for a better-made, more durable lightweight hiking boot than today's typical "trail sneakers" -- and you (like me) prefer old-school style -- I don't think you'll do any better than the Danner Mountain Light II. They're workin' out great for me.