REVIEW: Danner Stronghold boots may be the best I’ve found yet

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If you’re looking for a boot to buy yourself this winter, or to buy for your favorite construction worker for Christmas, check out the new Danner Stronghold line.

I’ve been wearing a pair now for about two months and so far they’ve more than exceeded my expectations.

The first thing you notice about the Stronghold boots is that they’re lightweight. I used to not care much about the weight of my boots, but in all-day use a few fewer ounces does make a difference, especially when that day involves a bit of mileage.

The Strongholds also solve a problem I’ve had with just about every pair of boots I’ve owned since the army gave me a pair for free, and that is the tongue on most boots tends to slide over to one side or the other. When this happens the fit feels wrong and the rivets that hold the speed laces on dig into my shin. It’s a bit like having a pebble in your shoe except the pebble is up around the top of the ankle. On the Danner Stronghold, the tongue stays dead center every time which greatly improves comfort and fit.

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The second thing I’ve noticed is that these boots are very comfortable straight out of the box. No heal rub, no pinch points, nada. Few boots today need breaking in, including the Stronghold boots, but these feel as nice on your feet as a pair of running shoes—and yet they provide all the support and protection of a good work boot.

The sensation is that your feet, in particular your toes have plenty of room, but there’s none of the wiggle or squishiness that’s normally associated with athletic or running shoes.

As for the technical specs, the boots are made from waterproof full grain leather with a Vibram SPE midsole, which is a new rubber-EVA compound that gives maximum rebound and support. A nylon shank gives the boots stiffness in the arch area, and the Vibram outsole offers traction in wet and dry surfaces. The tread is fairly shallow which really helps keep the bottoms of these boots clean. The boots meet or exceed non-metallic toe standards ASTM F2413-11 I/75 C/75 EH [16713, 16719] and electrical hazard protection ASTM F2892-11 EH [16711, 16718].

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I don’t think there’s a single critical point to make as far as these boots go.

The ankle collar isn’t padded, which in some boots helps to keep debris and pebbles out. That may be a problem if you’re wearing shorts and hiking in deep scree fields, but otherwise it’s a non-issue. And while there are protective toe, heel and side caps, I wouldn’t call these the most torture resistant boots I own. But again, unless you’re working in really destructive environments where cuts and scrapes send most boots to an early demise, it’s a non-issue.

I prefer the light weight over getting a few extra months out of my boots. So for carpenters, plumbers, electricians, drywallers, equipment operators and anybody but perhaps asphalt paving crews, these boots will do just fine.

The Danner Stronghold boots come in brown or black and retail for around $190 to $200.

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