Hiking boots are enjoying a small but noticeable boost in popularity this season, driven in part by the continuing extension of athleisure into all-seasons – as opposed to just summer. I, for one, am enjoying this outdoorsy-techwear moment, especially because it allows me to feel less shameful about my propensity to wear over-designed sweatpants. Not that hiking boots haven’t always had their fans, but over the last few seasons chunky, mountaineering-inspired silhouettes have picked up a noticeable amount of steam. Some of the Italian giants have been playing with the winter-luxury thing more or less since they’ve been around, but the trickle-down into high street and fast fashion has turned what used to be a largely granola-exclusive product into a common sight.
Danner deserves the credit for a lot of that popularity in America (as does Diemme, internationally), and they’ve been churning out the same shape since before most of us were alive. Their classic hiking boots have also seen something of a resurgence in recent years, the work-boot obsession of bearded hipsters countrywide having translated into the adoption of any “working man’s” footwear, and being something of an extension of our former obsession with deck boots.
And why not? Hiking boots usually offer comfort that leather-soled boots don’t, and for American consumers that’s a big deal. The growth of casual, outdoor wear-inspired brands hasn’t hurt the popularity, either, as Timberland’s enduring popularity can attest to. Add in the cachet of American manufacturing and a handful of well-publicized collaborations – like this years Danner x New Balance project – and you’ve got a winning recipe.
Thing is, I want some too. I spend a lot of time on my feet, and live in a state where we have seasons. That means that I often don’t want to wear leather-soled boots in the winter, when the ground is either wet or, y’know, covered in snow. And as tempting as it is to tell myself that a pair of fashionable boots is going to hold up to all of my winter shenanigans, the truth is that at some point I’m going to have to buckle down and get something that’s functional.
I’m going to throw my cards in with the Danner Light, which is Danner’s suede-and-nylon lightweight hiker. I know, I know – the shape takes some getting used to. But the more I look at them, the more I think they’re kind of charming. I’d wear them either with rolled denim, or with a tapered tech pant like these from Outlier. In the case of the former, a bomber jacket, indigo coat, or interesting vest (like so, perhaps, for maximum throwback style) over a thermal sounds like just the ticket. With the latter, any kind of nylon or insulated active outerwear would do well (think Battenwear, and Wander, or Snow Peak) if you’re going super casual, as would something like Isaora’s tech shell for an outfit that looks less like straight mountaineering wear. Finally, Danner Lights aren’t all that expensive (relatively), which means that picking up a pair for those days when you really just want your feet to be dry and comfortable isn’t an economic disaster.
You can grab this pair straight from the Danner webshop.
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