Danner Cascade Crest boots. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

Danner Cascade Crest boots. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

Price: £340
Weight: 1,724g/pair
Country of manufacture: USA
Sizes: men’s 6-14; women’s 3-9
Uppers: full-grain leather
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
Sole stiffness: 6/10

These boots from the Oregon-based brand have a decidedly retro look and design.

The uppers are made from full-grain leather, with contrasting leather overlays, and are medium height. Danner also offer a version with nylon panels at the vamp and sides of the boot.

One notable aspect of the Cascade Crest design is the welt, where the uppers are attached to the sole, which Danner calls stitchdown, a construction more commonly seen in work boots.

In fact the whole design is very different from what I’d term a conventional European walking boot. The look of the Cascade Crest means it doesn’t feel out of place in urban use, while maintaining the technical performance for use in the hills and countryside.

The boots carry a little USA label. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

The boots carry a little USA label. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

This Danner model comes in either medium or wide versions. I have a fairly wide forefoot but the medium width boot had plenty of room for my feet. The last on which the boot is based is fairly low volume, which again fits my foot. There was no pinching at the edges of the foot.

The toe box is stiffened to protect against knocks, and the heel counter protects similarly. Lacing is via five pairs of metal d-rings, with a single pair of locking hooks at the top of the boot. The leather ankle cuff has good padding and the tongue gusset comes up to the level of the top d-rings, which helped keep rain out. There’s a little padding on the top, leather section of the tongue. Gaiter wearers will be pleased to see there’s a metal loop for their hook at the toe end of the laces.

The boots also come with a spare pair of laces.

There’s a medium amount of underfoot cushioning from the midsole and the OrthoLite Eco footbed, which has good foam padding at the heel section. The outsole is a Vibram Traction Cascade, incorporating microlugs in its pattern, for improved traction. These are tiny bobbles that protrude from the inner surfaces of the lugs. They’re on the vertical surfaces so won’t affect grip on rock, but are likely to have a bearing on traction and braking on mud and gravel. The sole unit has a definite double strike when walking, and the forefoot section is very slightly concave. These are not stealth boots, and on hard surfaces there’s a pronounced clomp audible.

But traction and braking were good and the Bi Fit Board shank provided reasonable torsional stability.

The boot has a Gore-Tex membrane liner containing 45 per cent post-consumer recycled materials. Over my extended testing in a wide variety of weather, including snow, heavy rain and wet underfoot conditions, the Cascade Crest boots kept my feet dry.

The welt is 'stitchdown'. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

The welt is 'stitchdown'. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

These days it’s rare to need to break in boots, but I actually found these Danner boots did need some bedding in, specifically around the tongue and ankle cuff area. There was initial marked discomfort where the top of the tongue met the cuff. Tying the laces tightly forced the cuff and the inner rivets securing the top lace hook into my foot. Slackening the lacing a little helped, and judicious placing of the tongue over time got rid of the problem, and on later outings, after a good amount of use, I found the Cascade Crest boots comfortable. There were no problems elsewhere that needed breaking in, but if you’re considering buying, be aware that, unlike my previous experiences with Danner boots, they were not perfectly comfortable out of the box and will need some walking in to reach optimum comfort.

Quality of the boots was very good, which is only to be expected given the price tag. Danner does have a good reputation for quality, and the fact the Cascade Crest is manufactured in its Portland factory rather than East Asia will have a bearing on the cost.

These boots are not lightweights, the sturdy construction tipping the scales at more than 1,700g a pair, so they’re not the nimblest of footwear. But what you do get is a very solid, protective boot that should give good service. This model is part of the brand’s ‘recraftable’ range, which means they can be resoled and restored to give longer life, particularly useful if you’ve been hoofing across many miles over the years, wearing down the sole unit and uppers. Unfortunately, for those outside the USA, there’s a return shipping charge of $150 in addition to the repair cost, so not so financially attractive for UK buyers.

The boot was pretty roomy, but with the lacing cinched in properly there was no sliding forward of the foot into the toe box, nor any heel lift when heading uphill.

Danner said it used insights from Oregon State Park Rangers in the design and manufacture of the Cascade Crest, and it’s hard to relate that terrain to typical UK countryside, but I’d rate these boots good for walking on our muddy footpaths and trails, ventures into woodland and hillwalking on defined routes. As I said previously, they don’t look out of place on urban streets, and were my choice for the walk to the shops when recent snowfalls covered the pavements.

The best sustainability for outdoor gear is longevity, and the quality of materials and construction suggest the Danner boots should have a long life. Although the waterproofing uses fluoride compounds in the Gore-Tex PTFE membrane, there is a 45 per cent recycled content in the liners.

The outsole features 'microlugs'. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

The outsole features 'microlugs'. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

The footbed is made using recycled rubber and bio-oil.

The Cascade Crest boots are very good quality, but that comes at a price. Having said that, they should provide a good length of service. Just be aware you may need to break them in a little before pulling them on for your longest walks. Traction and braking on rock from the Vibram sole was good, and they coped well with mud, gravel and the generally sodden ground I encountered during testing over the winter period. My feet were always dry at the end of my walks too.

Best uses: trail walking; hillwalking; forest walking; countryside walking; urban use.

Performance 36/40
Comfort 21/30
Quality 8/10
Value for money 6/10
Sustainability 7/10
Total score: 78/100

  • The boots were supplied to grough by Danner.

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. On test: insulated jackets reviewed
  2. On test: Norrøna Falketind PrimaLoft 100 Vest reviewed
  3. On test: Kärcher OC3 Portable Cleaner reviewed