The evolution of a classic. Built for life outside.
The Explorer 650 is our answer to the question: What if we designed the Danner Light today? As one of our oldest and dearest boots, the Danner Light led the outdoor industry in innovation in 1979, as the first piece of footwear to feature a GORE-TEX® liner. Decades later, we're taking that same drive for technical innovation and starting fresh, applying all we’ve learned since then. Integrating new technology from top to bottom, the Explorer 650 is a multi-use, seven-day-a-week hiker that exudes our performance heritage aesthetic in paying homage to the Danner Light. It’s the perfect evolution of a timeless hiking boot.
A Danner Classic Re-imagined
When it comes to making durable boots that you can rely on, we’ve been leading the pack since 1932. We set the standard for waterproof hiking boots in the '70s with the launch of our Danner Light. And in the years since, we’ve learned lessons with each boot we built. The Explorer 650 is an expression of our always testing tradition. Today, the Explorer 650 uses our Danner Dry liner to be waterproof just like its game changing predecessor. Materials advance and evolve but we’re always dedicated to building high-quality, reliable boots, whether in the '70s with the Danner Light or today with the Explorer 650.
The new Explorer 650 boots look and feel great - Weighing in at 900grams a pair they are lighter than most leather boots; in comparison my Berghaus Hillmaster II GTX weigh nearly double this. For shorter walks and trips the Explorer 650 boots were fantastic as they were lighter and in the warmer conditions we had August/September were good for this hotter condition. Coupled with a good pair of hiking socks I had no issues with blisters, rubbing or smelly feet.
The fitting and feel felt great as well (size 12) was a comfortable and fitted. The main construction of the boot is leather which feels solid and very tough, the side material is soft and yes wraps your ankle but it didn't feel the strongest or most supportive of material. I have weak ankles and do opt for the thicker padding in this area so personally I wished for more padding for added support. The rubber tread is good with plenty of grip and on wet rocks or undergrowth and mud I still had good balance and didn't feel like I was going to fall over.
Danner claim the boot is good for 7 days wear and I can confirm they are comfy on day one and through to-day seven. As a boot for general walking and leisure they are great and are more stylish, making them perfect for everyday life, as well as the outdoors. They're as at home walking around cities as they are walking around forests or up mountains. Overall they have been very practical and tough.
Beyond countryside and forest walks these boots started off well until they met Wales and the long drive over to the Brecon Beacons. For the 3 day expedition I opted to use my waterproof socks having seen the weather it was looking very wet! Currently the Explorer 650 boots had held up in the wet conditions but this was going to be on a different level.
On day 1 of expedition, climbing Sugarloaf and touring Crickhowell. General comfort and structure of the boots was holding and I was very happy to continue to wear them, this was the longest day from 4am to 11pm on our feet and as I mentioned comfort was still good, no issues and although a bit wet under foot we were very lucky with the weather with the sun making several appearances.
Day 2 was met with a bright start but again quickly changed. Throughout the day the boots were pushed through the wet undergrowth, for the better part of the day they remained dry and I experienced no problems remaining comfortable but by the end of the day I could feel the damp beginning to break through.
Day 3 began dry but overcast but the rain quickly came in and stayed in for the day. Covering just 4-5km the boots and socks were soaked through.
A classic re-imagined or just
a gimmicky throw back to the past?
Such a catastrophic failure was certainly not what I expected at identifying the cause of the failure was essential. Was it a one off, which can happen, or a design issue? Danner naturally felt it to be a one off and to be fair there I've not seen any other reports of similar failures despite the brand's boots being extensively reviewed.
The plan was to get a replacement pair of Explorer 650s from Danner but for various reasons this has been delayed, so in the meantime I've reproofed the boots and in doing so have solved the problem. They've now gone from an expensive pair of good weather boots to something I feel confident in whatever the weather. While it was disappointing to have the initial failure these things can happen and I'm happy that it was a one-off rather than a design flaw.
With the waterproofing issue sorted I feel the boots are particularly good for multi-day hikes. The fact they are very comfy and great for everyday use is largely down to the reduced weight and construction making them light on the feet. In the warmer weather the boots were great and as a result your feet didn’t smell or feel sticky. I must add a good pair of socks will help in this situation as well.