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DANNER: TRAVELLING LIGHT

First things first, I recently got sent my own site as part of a press pack on the assumption that something I’d written was some kind of advertorial for a brand. Fuck that. What’s the point of that stuff? This isn’t “placement.” I don’t play that PR mouthpiece fuckery on this site. If it’s here, it’s because I’m a fan rather than an request to cover something, so please, please stop sending me releases for product placement here on your music, terrible “street art” prints or brand that makes wacky tees to match your hype shoe colourway and make you look like a sex offender. The internet is awash with insincerity. I’d sooner be somebody who (cue Just Blaze beat) really means it. Shouts to Tyler at WorkinNights for getting in touch though — the Jes Aurilius ‘All Skrewed Up’ mix is soundtracking this blog entry’s creation.

Alas, the time has come to get all heritage again, because I don’t think there’s a better pair of boots in my wardrobe than the Danner Mountain Lights. I’ll be damned if I ever wear them to go off road in, and with their flashy Vibram Cristy soles that are devoid of lugs and intended for military, service or work, I’d almost certainly slip and fall to my doom in them. I did a warehouse stock take in them a few years back under the misapprehension that they were steel-toed though, but thankfully I’m not walking with a limp right now. Looking at these boots, in a world of synthesised histories, I think the Mountain Light deserves a little more historical context as a design classic and a breakthrough piece of hiking functionality. That’s a good enough excuse to cobble together an attempt at a narrative here. Gotta love those ‘Backpacker’ archives.

I love GORE-TEX lined gear and if you’ve spotted the gratuitous uploading of early 1990’s winter boot round ups from ‘The Source’ that you can see in this post and this post, it always seems that Danner slipped beneath the radar at street level, despite being a particularly legitimate item. Vasque Hikers and Merrell Wilderness got some shine, and there was a lot of Havana Joe. And with Danner being a Portland-based brand, I even found myself scrutinising Sir Mixalot LP sleeves to spot a pair, given his Seattle proximity to the brand’s headquarters and factory, to no avail. To sate my own personal curiosity I’d also like to know who set off the red lace craze on hiking boots — Pivetta, Lowa, Limmer and Browning all seemed to have them as a focal point all those years ago, but I’ve seen it on ski boots from the 1940’s and 1950’s too, so who started it?

The Danner Mountain Light commenced life as the Danner 6490 (the hardier older brethren of the 7509 Climbing Boot) model back in the early 1970’s. While it didn’t carry the Light name then, it was a shoe famed for its lightweight feel. If you’ve held a pair, you’ll note that they feel pretty weighty, but the 6490’s 3 pound and 14 oz on the scales was low in 1973, when a fair amount of hiking boots clocked in at 5 pounds. The 6490’s supple leather on the one—piece upper and minimal seams to rub on inside made it a boot without a break-in period, the Vibram sole maintained traction, a padded tongue ensured extra comfort while that ski-boot style wrapped tongue cover and bellow detailing made them waterproof too. Leather lined and built to last, Danner’s 6490, advertised in the mid 1970’s as the 6490 Mountain Trail Boot and boasting a glowing ‘Backpacker’ magazine review became a bestseller that, “Needs little or no breaking in.”
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