Gear Review: Danner Crater Rim 6" Waterproof Hiking Boot
Overview: I'm fussy about all of my gear, but I am particularly fussy about footwear. My hiking boots tend to see a lot of use and abuse - from long backpacking trips to everyday wear in the fall and winter, around the cabin and even early-season hunting. For me a few factors are really important: comfort/fit, durability, and being waterproof. When I find a model that works I tend to stick with it. For me that model has been the Asolo Power Matic 200 GV Evo for the last dozen or so years. But recently I have been more intrigued by the products that Danner has been putting out. I like the fact that they are made in the U.S. and appreciate the support they provide to various organizations that are important to me. So, I decided to take a leap of faith and made the switch to the Danner Crater Rim's. These boots boasted many of the same features as the Asolo but in a lighter more breathable package.
The Crater Rims were the winner of Outside Magazine's 2012 Gear of the Year Trail Shoe category. They are handcrafted in Portland, Oregon, and feature a waterproof nubuck leather upper, a 360-degree abrasion-resistant Vibram rubber rand, a lace-to-toe design, a waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX liner and a Vibram Bifida outsole. They retail for $330.
I got these boots in advance of a Wyoming backpacking trip I would be making with my son and spent about 6 weeks "wearing them in" three times a week on my four-mile training hikes. In Wyoming they were subjected to 45 up-and-down miles while carrying a 50 pound pack on rocky trails and off-trail scrambling. Here's what I found.
What I like: For my three main criteria here is how the Crater Rim stacked up.
There were a couple of things that I noticed right away about these boots.
The first was how "light" they were, especially in comparison to the Asolos.
The second was the softness of the leather. The Danner website says this:"the top-grain leather is sanded on the outside to give it a slight nap with a velvet-like feel." I would say this is very accurate, the leather is very soft and the boots feel "broke in" right out of the box.
In terms of fit, everybody's foot is very different (which is why I ALWAYS recommend trying on multiple pairs of boots before selecting yours) but the Crater Rim was built with a very universal fit, relatively snug through the heel while providing a little more room in the toe. The boots fit true to size and became more shaped to my feet with break in.
The Danner's feature an extra thick and tall rubber rand around the entire boot for added abrasion resistance and durability and held up extremely well through both the break-in period and the intense backpacking in which we had a number of ascents and descents and covered a lot of sharp, rocky terrain.
The GORE-TEX liners make these boots 100 percent waterproof while still allowing sweat and moisture to get out (much more than the Asolo's). I was able to cross creeks, tromp through puddles and, in some cases stand in shallow water with zero failure.
Beyond that there are a couple of other things that stood out.
The Vibram Bifida sole provided great traction on the trails, scrambling over rocks and even on slippery surfaces.
Warranty/Made in USA:
Danner offers a 365-day warranty across their entire footwear line. This is a huge statement toward their quality and customer-focused stance as a brand. Furthermore, this product was built from top to bottom in Portland, Oregon something that is a rarity these days.
What I don’t like:
While these boots fit well, a few things stood out, especially compared to the Asolos.
First, these boots are significantly lighter then the Asolos. If the Asolos are Sherman Tanks, the Crater Rims feel more like Light Armored Vehicles. While that did not seem to affect durability, these boots were less padded (especially on the tongue and collar) which, over time, could be felt.
It also made these boots feel slightly less stable side-to-side than the Asolo's. It could also be noticed while traversing trails with lots of sharp rocks - comparatively, the Danner's had more "ground feel".
On my backpacking trip these boots didn't really have any major hot spots and my feet did not blister. That being said my little and big toes did take a bit of a beating over the 45 miles of up and downs, which could potentially be attributed to sock choice, a little bit of pinching or improper fit in the toe box or just the extreme nature of the hike.
Last, and very minor, Danner calls the color of these boots brown. In my opinion they would be better described as tan. Obviously not a deciding factor in any way, but the web images tend to make this boot look darker than what it is in-person.
Perfect for: For me, the Danner Crater Rim's are sturdy enough for heavy backpacking, and hiking but comfortable and light enough for every day or even work boot use (assuming you don't need toe protection). They fit true to size, feel soft and broke-in right out of the box, are completely waterproof, provide great traction even in slippery conditions, offer a full year warranty and are made in the U.S.A. Hard to beat that combination.
Stars: 4.5 out of 5
Learn more: https://www.danner.com/crater-rim-6-brown.html