May 26, 2024

I’ve Taken These Waterproof Hiking Boots to the Edges of the Earth, and They’ve Stood Up to Every Element

As a nomad of three years, I live nearly full-time out of a carry-on suitcase and backpack. I don’t always have hiking boots with me — they’re not necessary during stretches in urban, beachy, or tropical destinations — but when I’m mountain-bound, they’re the first things in my suitcase. Some may think that a pair of trail running sneakers might be lighter and more compact to travel with, but to me, that laced-up, locked-and-loaded feeling that hiking boots offer is like no other (not to mention, I have flimsy ankles).

Though I’m a former fitness editor with about 20 pairs of hiking shoes to choose from, I keep packing the same pair: the Danner Mountain 600s. They’re waterproof, comfortable, and versatile, which is of the utmost importance when you’re living out of a small suitcase for months on end. I’ve worn them from the top to bottom of the Earth — starting with the Lofoten Islands in Norway down to the Arctic Circle and Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. And though I’ve had them for more than four years now, these hiking boots still have plenty of more trips in them; I doubt I’ll be packing another hiking boot anytime soon.

Zappos Danner Mountain 600 4.5"
ZAPPOS

Buy on Zappos$190

The magic of these Danner hiking boots is that they fuse performance and function with a timeless leather look — so they’re equally appropriate with a full-on trekking getup as they are with jeans and a sweater for dinner or sightseeing. Leather may seem high-maintenance for a pair of hiking boots, but that’s not the case.

Depending on the colorway (I have the boots in rich brown), they’re made with special leather or suede that’s lightweight, waterproof, and abrasion-resistant. As for those colors: they come in seven classic, neutral options (including some with Danner’s signature red laces, a là Reese Witherspoon’s iconic “Wild” look) that don’t scream “I’m technical outdoor gear.”

Danner Hiking Boot Review Writer Images
TRAVEL + LEISURE / LAUREN MAZZO

They’re supremely comfortable, too. In the many miles that I’ve put these boots through, they’ve never given me a blister, and my feet have never hurt beyond the unavoidable fatigue that happens after a really long hike (let’s be real: No boots can save you from that). The Mountain 600s have Vibram SPE midsoles made with natural rubber and EVA, designed to be both lightweight, comfortable, and resilient.

Zappos Danner Mountain 600 4.5"
ZAPPOS

Buy on Zappos$210
Buy on Amazon$210
Buy on REI$220

What’s more, they’re layered with Vibram Fuga outsoles and enhanced with the brand’s Megagrip and multi-directional lugs, so you can stay grounded on wet, dry, and slippery terrain. I’ve worn them while scooting across mud-covered logs, down rain-slicked boulders, and on snow and ice without worrying about my grip.

And while it might be impossible to believe that a pair of suede boots is waterproof, I can confirm that these certainly are. I dragged them through the muddiest hike of my life in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, and then, days later, through feet of fresh snow. My feet didn’t get cold, wet, or dirty in either instance — and I really put them through their paces. How? Danner added minimal seams and lined it with its signature Danner Dry waterproof material, which keeps moisture out, but still allows your feet to breathe.

Danner Hiking Boot Review Writer Images
TRAVEL + LEISURE / LAUREN MAZZO

However, most Mountain 600 Boots are not insulated (Danner offers one specific pair that is), but they feel as if they are. They’ll keep your feet toasty even in chilly weather (especially when worn with a good pair of wool hiking socks) and don’t overheat your feet in hotter temperatures. I wore them to tour the Salinas Grandes salt flats and hike in the arid, burning-hot Quebrada de Humahuaca mountain valley in the northernmost part of Argentina without egregiously sweaty or stinky feet. Even better, because they’re so impermeable, they didn’t let any of the brick-red dust in.

Danner Hiking Boot Review Writer Images
TRAVEL + LEISURE / LAUREN MAZZO

Don’t just take it from me, but rather the hundreds of five-star reviews that the boots have received from Danner, Amazon, and Zappos shoppers. One Zappos reviewer agrees that they’re a “great boot for going out in-town to hitting the hiking trail,” adding that they offer solid support and comfort, and are “easy to put on and take off, [and] easy to lace up.” But according to the shopper, they really shine “for travel where you need a pair of boots to serve multiple needs.”

Danner Hiking Boot Review Writer Images
TRAVEL + LEISURE / LAUREN MAZZO

Another Zappos customer, who wore them on a winter trip to Banff, Canada, was happy to report how well they did in the snow and very cold weather: “We took [a] gondola to the top of the mountain in Banff and I decided to hike down 2,300 feet (3.5 miles), and they were champs.” The shopper noted that the boots “kept me warm with [a] wool liner sock and the tread was excellent down the snow-packed switchbacks,” and that they performed just as well when they “used them tubing — again in single-digit weather.” Vouching for their waterproofness, they continued, “[They’re] on my feet now in rainy cool Los Angeles.”

Zappos Danner Mountain 600 4.5"
ZAPPOS

Buy on Zappos$210
Buy on Amazon$210

Hiking boots are essential for some trips. But if you’re trying to travel with just a few pairs of shoes, it can feel impractical to pack footwear that serves a single purpose. To make packing a pair of boots worthwhile, you need one that can (nearly) do it all. It’s a tall order, but the Danner Mountain 600 Hiking Boots are up to the task. They can support you on long treks or walking tours, keep your feet dry and warm in snow, and even dress up nicely enough for dinner. I’ve even worn them for a couple of mountain bike rides in Switzerland and Germany in a pinch; they didn’t weigh me down or cramp my pedal strokes in the slightest.

Danner Hiking Boot Review Writer Images
TRAVEL + LEISURE / LAUREN MAZZO

If you’re looking for hiking boots with a more athletic look, or perhaps a lower-cut style that leaves your ankles free to breathe, browse the other top-rated hiking shoe options below. But if you want multipurpose hiking boots for travel, especially in wet or cool weather, take it from me, and all of those five-star reviews: the Danner Mountain 600s should be your top contender.

Shop More Hiking Boots at Zappos and Amazon:

Zappos Danner Mountain Light Cascade Clovis
ZAPPOS

Buy on Zappos$440
Zappos adidas Outdoor Terrex Free Hiker 2 GTX
ZAPPOS

Buy on Zappos$230$167
Zappos Vasque Torre AT GTX
ZAPPOS

Buy on Zappos$220
Amazon Merrell Women's Speed Eco Hiking Shoe
AMAZON

Buy on Amazon$100$67
Amazon Prime Day Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boot
AMAZON

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