Spring/Summer Gear Guide: Danner Mountain Pass Rio Boots

danner mountain pass rio

Your Danner Mountain Pass Rio boots won’t always look this new. Good news: They get better with wear. Photo: Courtesy of Brandon Scherzberg

The cover of Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling memoir, Wild, is instantly recognizable: A single worn-in hiking boot with red laces.

Since the Wild‘s release and Reese Witherspoon’s subsequent turn as Strayed in the big-screen film adaption by the same name, those leather boots have become iconic — and a permanent fixture on the wish lists of outdoorswomen everywhere.

But, let’s rewind for a second: Strayed knew almost nothing about hiking when she set out to solo hike the Pacific Crest Trail more than two decades ago. Are her sartorial choices, back in 1995, really the ones we should be taking cues from?  Enter the Danner Women’s Mountain Pass Rio boots ($350), which combine the classic look of the brand’s Wild-ly famous boot (sorry) with more modern, lightweight construction.

danner mountain pass rio

The Danner Mountain Pass Rio boot mimics the style made famous by “Wild,” but capitalizes on more lightweight and comfortable materials. Photo: Courtesy of Danner

At $350 a pair, these boots are investment pieces you should plan to wear for many years and over many miles. But consider what goes into the price tag: Danner boots are made in America (Portland, Oregon) from the highest quality materials, like full-grain leather and a Vibram outsole, meaning as the different parts of the boots wear out, they can be retooled and replaced to look like new. A special dying process allows the leather earn some “character” — scuffs and color variations are part of the appeal, so the more you wear them the better they look.

But style is the last thing you’ll be thinking about during a hike, so let’s talk comfort: These boots are surprisingly lightweight, given their hefty materials, supremely breathable and true-to-size. They do take some wearing in, but after a few treks the leather gets more supple and molds to fit your ankle posture while delivering support on rocky surfaces.

Some things are just as good now as they were in 1995 — Danner Mountain Pass Rio boots stand up to the test of time and are something you’ll hand down to your own kids when they’re ready to walk in your footsteps.

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