Good Gear: Danner Is Recrafting the Future of Boots

When you find the right gear, you want it to last a lifetime. Danner has known that since day one, crafting built-to-move boots that are durable, breathable and sturdy—first for loggers in the Pacific Northwest, and now for anyone who hears the trails calling. 

The Danner legacy of premium materials and legendary craftsmanship is apparent in every detail of the new Mountain 600 Leaf GORE-TEX Hiking Boots, available at REI Co-op exclusively for members through 2023. And while even the best boots will show wear and tear after use, Danner is committed to helping you get the most out of them with its Recrafting program, designed to extend the life of your boots and your lifetime of adventure.

Two pairs of Danner Mountain 600 Leaf GORE-TEX Hiking Boots, in men's and women's styles.
Danner Mountain 600 Leaf GORE-TEX Hiking Boots, available in men’s and women’s, $219.95. Photo credit: Taylor Feist

REI is committed to ensuring the gear you buy at the co-op gets you outside and let’s you adventure for a good, long time—not only by selling high-quality products, but also providing the tools and resources to help you maintain them in great shape. Articles like How to Choose Hiking Boots to How to Care for Leather Hiking Boots, as well as a variety of boot-care and boot-cleaning products, can help you find the perfect pair and keep them trekking along with you for years. We know that buying durable, dependable gear and taking good care of it can also help reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing new items.

Those elements combine to make the co-op’s partnership—which has been trekking since the 1960s—with Danner an obvious fit: The brand’s boots are durable, made with responsibly sourced materials and designed to last longer through care and repair.

“We love Danner because [it is] an authentic outdoor footwear brand, with a long history of making great footwear for active outdoors people,” says Tad Summerset, a footwear category merchandising manager at REI.

Let’s introduce you to the newest Recraftable boot and take a closer look at Danner Recrafting.

Built for Exploring

Charles Danner started crafting work boots for loggers in the 1930s, eventually settling in Portland, Oregon, where his eponymous company is still based. Danner deeply appreciated the region’s natural terrain and aimed to make products that honor all it had to offer. That’s why Danner boots are made for exploring the outdoors, whether the wearer is hiking trails or cutting them. 

The new Mountain 600 Leaf GORE-TEX Hiking Boots are no exception. The full-grain leather uppers are thoroughly tested to ensure they’re the strongest and most durable available, and the Vibram® SPE midsoles are made from rubberized EVA, longer-lasting than traditional EVA. Vibram also contributes to the super-sticky Fuga outsole with Megagrip, which grips both wet and dry surfaces for superior traction. Waterproof GORE-TEX liners—made from 45% recycled materials—keep rain and water out without uncomfortably trapping sweat. Comfort is key, and the Mountain 600 Leaf GTX features open-cell polyurethane OrthoLite® Eco footbeds to create a glove-like fit for your foot. The footbeds comprise 12% bio-oil derived from castor beans rather than petroleum. 

“I’ve been searching for a boot that feels like a sneaker but has the structure of a boot, and this boot checks both boxes,” says one member who wore his pair hiking in the Scottish Highlands. “My feet were comfortable, dry and well insulated from the rocks I hiked over. The outsole is very grippy (used on snow/ice, rain, and gravel) and gave me confidence hiking.”

Another member-reviewer calls the boots “the perfect all-rounder” for their waterproofing, ankle support and solid grip on mud or uneven ground. “I’ve worn them through puddles, in rain, during river cleanups and through water crossings—my feet have stayed dry and comfortable every time,” the reviewer says.

Both men’s and women’s versions of the Mountain 600 Leaf GTX come in extended wide sizes. While Danner recommends sizing down a half-size, several member-reviewers report different fits. (It’s always best to try on hiking boots in person to ensure the best fit. You can learn more about hiking boot fit in How to Choose Hiking Boots.)

A person wearing hiking boots stands on a rock next to water.

Concerned about environmental longevity as well as its products’ lasting power, Danner has long utilized responsibly sourced, recycled and bio-based materials whenever possible. The bootmaker has developed long-standing collaborations with brands that share its values around environmental concerns and conservation. For example, sole maker Vibram has committed to transitioning to clean energy; nearly 90% of its total electricity comes from renewable sources.

Danner sustainability efforts extend all the way to its shoeboxes, which were redesigned in 2020 with a smaller footprint and without any glues. This makes the boxes easier to recycle and has made shipping them more efficient, lowering the carbon emissions caused by shipping.

“Smaller shoeboxes mean more can fit into one container, and therefore we’re shipping fewer containers—via air, road or sea—total with this redesigned, smaller size,” says Danner representative Erin Braun.

And of course, the Danner Recrafting program is at the heart (and sole) of the company’s efforts to not only keep you on the trails but also reduce the brand’s carbon footprint—and yours—by helping your shoes last longer.

Danner Recrafting includes services like replacing soles, cleaning and polishing leather, replacing hardware and more. Photo courtesy of Danner.

Recrafting for Life

Even quality boots can sustain wear and tear after years of heavy use. But why get rid of something that can be fixed and used again? 

That is the motivation behind the Danner Recrafting program, which allows customers to send in their boots for a variety of services depending on their shoe’s make and model. Eligible services may include outsole replacement, leather care and reworking, restitching, parts replacement, even major rebuilds like swapping in fresh insulation—and more. (Visit danner.com/boot-recrafting to see if your Danner boots can be Recrafted.)

Recrafting your well-loved boots offers you the chance to retain the perfect fit with a refreshed stride and brand-new components. And by utilizing less energy and creating less waste than manufacturing new boots would, it is a more sustainable option than simply replacing your pair every couple of years.

“We see our boots as part of a larger cycle, of which Recrafting is an incredibly important step,” says Braun. “Keeping products out of landfills, using sustainable materials, and continually improving our manufacturing methods all contribute to reducing our impact and supporting the health of our ecosystems.” 

“Like REI, Danner is on a journey to have a lighter impact on the planet, and the Mountain 600 Leaf helps with that, in that it’s the first hiking boot with a modern design and construction from Danner that is resoleable,” Summersett says. “They have ambitions to have their entire line be resoleable, and REI is privileged to help partner on this journey. Explore. Restore. Repeat!”

The bottom of a pair of Danner hiking boots from below.

Danner Recrafting is managed by a dedicated team in Portland, Oregon. Owners of select Danner models—including several sold at REI—can fill in an online questionnaire to help select the right Recrafting package for the shoes’ needs. “Resole” includes midsole and outsole replacement, new insoles and Airthotic insteps, new laces, reconditioning, damaged stitching repair, hardware repair and leather cleaning and polishing. The “Rebuild” service includes all of the above plus liner and shank replacement (if applicable) and a new heel counter. Both are eligible for free return shipping. Recraft pricing is determined by the shoes’ needs, and turnaround time is typically between four and five weeks.

“After years of use, we can replace a worn-down outsole from your beloved boots with a new sole for a fresh start underfoot,” says Braun. “For example, the new Mountain 600 Leaf GORE-TEX can be sent back to Danner when the time comes for resoleing. Some would even say that Recrafted boots are sometimes better than a new pair of boots because they’re uniquely yours.”

Other Recrafting eligible Danner boots available at REI are the Mountain Light and Mountain Light GTX; Mountain Pass; Bull Run Moc Toe, Chelsea and Lux; Westslope and Pine Grove Chukka. The company plans to roll out even more Recraftable models soon.

Recrafting is a great way to extend the lifespan of your footwear with new components while keeping their character—and perfectly worn-in feel—intact.

A person wearing boots steps on rocks covered by water.

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