Danner Mountain Light II or Danner ZigZag Trail low(now called the Cloud Cap).

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I have had the Mountain Light II’s for over 25 years now with a recent resole done in Melbourne.  Awesome pair of boots with one piece leather outer and GoreTex liner.  Just be aware that the Kiwi tradition seems to be to walk through rivers and a waterproof GoreTex liner won’t let the water in or OUT !

Recently for something a bit more lightweight I ordered a pair of Danner Zigzag 3″ boots.  As usual they met all my expectations in terms of outstanding Danner quality at a price better than almost all the cheaper options from elsewhere.  I got the sizing wrong by ordering the narrow width boot rather than the wider one.  Anyway I send this pair off to my brother who is a farmer and wears them daily.  He has been amazed at the performance of this pair of boots as he lives in them.

October 2014:

Recently went for a hike around Wilson Promontory (Australia) and found my trust 30 year old pair of Danner’s chewed up my feet rather badly, perhaps something to do with the fact that a local shoemaker had resoled them, or just because they were too tired to continue…

I ended up doing half the walk in a pair of runners and on return set about hunting for a new pair of boots.  Initially I thought I would go for a lightweight pair of Vasque Taku GTXs but ended up making the same mistake I made with the Danner ZigZag’s – I got a pair that was too narrow around the front of the shoe.  Sadly I only really noticed this after taking the boots on their first outdoor trip !  Despite getting them stretched by a shoemaker they always felt like they were crushing my toes.

After trying on every make of hiking boot I finally found a pair of Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX that felt like a perfect fit from the start.

Unfortunately the first pair I tried seemed to have a hard knob under the right heel which seemed to get worse the more I wore them (2 weeks).  Fortunately the retailer was happy to swap them for another pair – we had to check a few pairs before we found one that have very little bumpiness under the heel area.  In any event so far these have been fine despite being able to feel a slight unevenness under the right heel.  I placed a small sliver of wood in a strategic position which seems to have almost completely reduce any unevenness.

A bit surprising that I could even feel this unevenness through the liner which does not have a lot of support.  The liner in the Vasque boots seemed to provide considerably more support.

2 Years Later…

Sadly the Zamberlan 996 Vioz turned out to also be a slightly narrow fit and results in some pressure on my right foot small toe. However these are awesome quality boots, very light at around 720gm per boot and lots of support and very comfortable with a nice snug fit all round.  The more I used them the more it felt like they were tightening up across the instep so I contacted Zamberlan who told me the boots come in standard and EE widths. After more walking in these boots they almost fit but my right foot still comes out feeling a bit cramped and sore after a 1 hour walk even with no pack on. A 20kg pack seems to make very little difference. I am not getting blisters but don’t think I should have any discomfort in the right foot given there is no discomfort in the left one. I can’t seem to measure any difference in width of my feet.

In any event I decided to order a pair in the Wide fit – I could only get them from the Zamberlan US store. More on these later when they arrive. In the meantime I will continue walking in the standard width 996 Vioz.

As an aside the unevenness in the sole seems to have gone now. I tried a pair of Green sole inserts and these were great but eventually removed them and reverted to the original Zamberlan sole inserts which are just fine.

I have also tried a pair of Salomon Men’s X Ultra Mid 2 GTX

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but they ended up giving me a corn on the outside of my right foot small toe!! Needless to say none of my shoes fitted then! – anyway have got rid of that corn now. I really like these boots but think I really need a wide fit which apparently is available overseas.

So still on the hunt for a pair of boots that fit well I was back on the Danner site and then discovered they can be ordered from Amazon – and surprise surprise they were on special with free shipping.  So I ordered a pair of Mountain 600 size US9.5EE and a couple of weeks later they turned up – and sure enough the same familiar comfortable fit around the toes…

Needless to say a short while later I ordered a pair of Mountain Light IIs in the same size.

So far the Mountain 600s have been great, with some breaking in required.  I found the tongue on the left foot a bit uncomfortable because of the relatively hard and thick seam.

As it turned out the Mountain Light IIs were just too small and narrow – and felt that way from the start. I could wear them with thin socks but they just never seemed to feel right. So believe it or not I then ordered another pair a half size bigger US10/EE width – these finally appear to be an OK fit but I do need a thick pair of socks – which is fine because I usually do wear very thick socks for hiking. I say OK fit because now my heel feels like it is not seated well and tends to move about – probably going to become a source of blisters on long trips with heavy packs.

Wow this is turning out to be much harder than anticipated…

1 Year On…

and preparing for a 5 day hike in Tasmania (probably wet and uneven terrain underfoot)

I am still struggling with my right foot and continual corns on the outside of the right foot small toe. Currently only the Danner Mountain 600 is really comfortable on the right foot with no feeling of pressure across the instep/toe area.

I am continuing walking in the Zamberlan 996 Vioz in an attempt to wear then in and hoping the right foot will eventually fit but the slight pressure is still there – I am waiting for the wide fit 996 Vioz to arrive to see if they are a better fit. I am a bit concerned the heel fit may be different and end up being too loose in that area !

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