Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Made in the USA" Gear Review: Danner Raptor GTX Gore-tex Thinsulate Boots


"Take care of your feet son!" an old-timer once told me when I visited the Colorado mountains as a young and naive 17-year old eastern boy. "If you don't take care of your feet ya ain't gonna get very far in these mountains." He said though there are some cheap pieces of gear you can get away with, boots weren't one of them. That old-timer just happened to be wearing an old, well-worn pair of Danner boots.

This left a big impression on me. Once I started spending lots of time hiking, backpacking and walking to remote fishing spots, his advice proved to be quite useful. I disregarded his council once and went the cheap boot route. I ended up with lots of blisters and really sore feet. That old-timer was right-- don't skimp on your feet!

In the process of doing research for our upcoming "Made in the USA" outdoor gear article, I rediscovered Danner boots and was thrilled when they accepted our request to participate.

 
The SPECS
  • Made in the USA
  • 100% waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX liner
  • 400 grams of Thinsulate Ultra Insulation offer lightweight warmth for those needing protection in cold climates
  • Full-grain leather upper
  • 1000 Denier nylon upper material is resistant to abrasions, tears, and scuffs, improves breathability, and dries quickly
  • Stitchdown construction provides a wider platform for increased stability underfoot
  • Patented Danner Bob outsole tracks steadily in snow and mud and continuously self-cleans. The outer lugs add extra stability.
  • Fiberglass shank
  • 8" height
  • Men’s-71 oz and Women’s-62 oz
  • Recraftable

Danner has been making quality boots in Portland, Oregon since 1932. Check out this video of their employees making boots in their Portland facility. Still hand-made after all these years!

video

Features

Danner's Raptor GTX Boots feature a waterproof Gore-tex lining, 400 Grams of Thinsulate insulation, a full-grain leather/1000 Denier nylon upper, and a Danner "Bob" outsole. The lacing system is an easy-to-use, combination hook and eyelet system which proved reliable and easy to use when tightening the boots. According to Danner, the "Bob" outsole tracks steadily in snow and mud and continuously self-cleans.

(click to enlarge)

Field Test

I really put the Raptor's through some harsh testing in the mountains over the last 5 weeks. This included a weekend backpacking trip to the top of a local 10,000 foot mountain, snowshoe testing on Longs Peak Trail, and two submersion tests.

(click to enlarge)

My feet stayed warm and comfortable in them the whole time. The "Bob" soles performed as advertised too. They worked especially well on snowpack while carrying heavy loads and gripped uneven terrain with confidence.

Break-in time was also minimal. One thing to note is that Danners tend to be cut a little narrower than some boots. Dave, who's feet are average width, felt totally comfortable in a standard size Raptor. My feet are slightly wider than average. I can wear some normal width boots, but with the Raptors I had to get them in a wide size EE to feel comfortable. Once I got the right size though, I loved the fit and amount of support they provided.

Submersion Test


For our main submersion test, we took the Raptor's to our favorite waterproof testing location, which is a mountain lake with shallow water close to the shore (shown above).

The air temperature over the lake was a frigid 7 degrees F (with the windchill factor) as measured by our US made Kestrel 3500 Weather Meter.


The water temperature as measured by the Kestrel was a chilly 34 degrees (shown below). With Dave holding the camera, I had the task of submerging the Raptor's for 20 mins straight in the lake. Happily, my feet stayed warm and the Raptors didn't leak.


Later, while we were testing US made water purifiers, we submerged the boots in a river that runs out of Rocky Mountain National Park. I spent about an hour walking in and out of the river and my feet still stayed dry.


Conclusion

I've always had a hard time finding boots that are comfortable for trekking the mountains, but the Raptors fit perfectly and made walking on rocky, snow-covered terrain confidence-inspiring. I honestly loved these boots. "Armor for my feet" is how I felt when wearing them.

They also exemplify quality and fine workmanship and should provide years of service. Danner's recrafting program is also an excellent way to keep your favorite boots going and going.


Now if you're smart, you'll take the same advice I did from that old-timer-- take care of your feet! So next time you're in the market for a new pair of trekking boots, definitely consider picking up a pair of Danner's.

*Readers of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft get 5% off of ANY pair of Danner Boots (including the Raptors) at US Elite Gear by entering promo code "ROCKY5" at checkout.


8 comments:

  1. Hey, Jason, Dave & Leah-

    Great article on Danner boots. I love my Danner's too. They're tough, comfortable, and Made in the USA. Now you have me wanting a pair of the Raptors.

    I, too, wrote about how I came into a pair of Danners. You can check out this veteran's story here: http://sustainingliberty.com/2011/02/27/soul-of-my-boots/

    Keep up the good work. I'm enjoying your site.

    Living Free,
    SB
    Admin/Editor
    SustainingLiberty.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SB- thanks for the comment, really appreciate that. I stopped by and checked out your site- great content! I'll definitely get over and do some more reading soon. We appreciate you stopping by and please don't be a stranger.

      Cheers,

      Jason

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  2. Im curious what if anything was applied to the boots during the test? Waterproofing spray or oil of any kind?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ryan,

      No treatment of any kind was used. Any high quality Gore-tex boot should easily pass this test.

      Cheers, Jason

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  3. Hey Jason,
    Thanks good to know! Im looking at buying these for hunting here soon. I really enjoyed reading your article and it gives me even more confidence in my future purchase. Im wondering how those soles would hold up if i wore them to work during the winter? I work on barges that are covered in non skid.. Thanks for the info!

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome and glad you enjoyed it. I can't say exactly how long they'd hold up, but I would think they would last for quite a while before needing replacement. As for working on barges, I'd suggest something like a Danner workboot, for instance. The tread on the Raptors is definitely geared towards snow, mud, rocks and dirt as opposed to a flat, slippery surface like a barge.

      Best of luck and please sign up on our email list to keep informed of our future reviews!

      Cheers, Jason

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  4. Thanks for such a good review.

    I plan to buy now boots.I can not decide which one is better:
    Danner Raptor GTX or http://www.corcoranandmatterhorn.com/ItemDisplay.asp?Style=8602494&CategoryID=34

    Are you familiar with matterhorn boots?Can this model perform as danner?

    Would be grateful for your reply thanks in advance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi aca, thanks for the comment. I don't have any experience with the Matterhorn boots, sorry. If you can find a local Danner dealer where you can try on both the Raptors and Matterhorns that might be your best bet.

      Cheers, Jason

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