Despite our resilience, human beings seek comfort. If we find something that works for us, like dependable footwear, we tend to stick with it. After your favorite boots have contoured to the unique shape of your foot, they become an extension of yourself. Scuffs and creases etched over countless miles tell not only your boots’ story but also yours. Replacing them seems impossible.
Enter Danner’s solution, the Mountain 600 Leaf GTX. The brand’s fresh take on its bestselling boot (the Mountain 600), the Leaf GTX is recraftable. Unlike the original Mountain 600, the Leaf is eligible for Danner’s recrafting program, which repairs worn boots to reduce waste as well as help you get the most mileage out of one pair. (According to the brand, the original Mountain 600 will be eligible for this program in the future.)
GearJunkie had the opportunity to speak with Recrafting Supervisor Mark Tingley about the Mountain 600’s place in the Danner line and how, according to Tingley, the newest version is making strides in sustainability with the future in mind.
Origins of the Mountain 600
Before delving into the history of the Mountain 600, it’s necessary to mention its inspiration, the Mountain Light. First introduced in 1979, the Mountain Light is Danner’s most iconic boot. Known for its one-piece, full-grain leather upper and minimal seams, Danner builds each pair by hand at its headquarters in Portland, Ore. The brand views the Mountain Light as the summit of quality and durability.
Using the Mountain Light model as a blueprint, Danner released the Mountain 600 in 2017. The combination of timeless alpine heritage with modern materials made it an instant classic.
Like its inspiration, the Mountain 600 has minimal seams for fewer possible failure points and is lined with breathable Danner Dry waterproofing to weather the elements. To ensure the quality of the upper, Danner puts its leather through six different tests before making its final selection for production, according to the brand.
Trail-Ready, Right Out of the Box
Where the Mountain Light differs from its predecessor is the inclusion of a Vibram SPE midsole that promotes lightweight comfort and durability. According to the brand, the malleable SPE midsole and flex lines of the Vibram Fuga outsole allow your foot to expand to a larger surface, while the unique self-adaptive lug pattern grips at multiple angles. This technology provides ultimate stability, liberating you to traverse untapped terrain, Danner says.
When it comes to fit and sizing, Danner built the Mountain 600 using DPDX last. The brand designed this last with both trail and urban excursions in mind, aiming to offer enough room for comfort while maintaining a sleek profile. The blend of rich, pliable leather, coupled with sneaker-like comfort, ensures that these boots require a minimal to no break-in period and are ready for exploring when you are, according to Danner.
A Danner Classic, Elevated
In 2023, Danner aimed to improve its bestselling hiking boot, known for its balance of comfortable cushioning and rugged performance. The Mountain 600 Leaf GTX has all the sought-after qualities of the original — only now it’s recraftable. It also integrates a 100% recycled liner and collar while utilizing GORE-TEX technology that contains 45% post-consumer recycled materials.
Recrafting is the process of replacing worn materials with new components. By replacing the sole, Danner Recrafters return your boots “better than new” because they’re already molded to the anatomy of your foot and stride. When taken care of correctly, recraftable boots have the potential to last years longer than they would have otherwise — because parts can be replaced or restored again and again.
The logistics are simple: After using Danner’s online assessment tool, pack up your boots and send them in. Depending on the service needed, turnaround time during the summer season is typically two to three weeks, and slightly longer during the fall and winter months.
The Zen-Like Process of Recrafting
Recrafting requires a keen eye for detail, which is why highly trained technicians make up Danner’s recrafting department, the brand says. When a Danner Recrafter starts work on a particular pair, they see it through to completion to ensure quality.
The Mountain 600 Leaf GTX’s cement construction allows the boot to be rebuilt from the midsole down. Danner technicians separate the stitching and adhesive of worn outsoles and replace them with fresh ones.
Additionally, Recrafters can recondition the leather upper without compromising how the boot fits, says Danner. The process is methodical, and Tingley feels a personal connection with each boot he recrafts.
“For me, there is a great satisfaction that comes from starting and finishing a pair of boots. There is a lot of pressure at times, as you are responsible for someone else’s cherished belongings. I do find those zen moments during the stages in the work that require intense focus but are made easier by the intuition that comes with experience. I also really enjoy seeing all the finished boots at the day’s end before we turn the lights off,” Tingley said.
The Benefits of Recrafting
Recrafting provides two key benefits. First, you get to breathe new life into your cherished boot. Second, and just as important, the service that Danner provides leads to a reduction in the use of virgin materials and keeps an existing pair out of the landfill.
In implementing its recrafting program, Danner strives to create less waste and raise the bar of sustainability and circularity.
According to Tingley, Danner’s goal is to offer customers the highest-quality boots for any task at hand. To him, the recrafting program is part of Danner’s promise of value to its customers, a pledge he is happy to honor.
“If you take care of your boots, there is no reason you should have to throw them away. We get lots of repeat customers too. We love when they share their excitement and anticipation with us — just knowing that their boots are being repaired and shipped back to them, good as new,” Tingley said.
Sustainable Materials and Design
Danner positions the Mountain 600 Leaf GTX as a step forward in its mission to unite outdoor performance and environmental responsibility. The brand builds the boots with a GORE-TEX liner containing 45% post-consumer recycled materials. Additionally, recycled rubber and Bio-Oil make up the removable OrthoLite ECO footbed for better heat dissipation and air circulation, according to the brand.
Choosing products constructed with recycled materials is a simple step consumers can take to reduce the impact we are having on our environment. To Tingley, making sensible decisions when shopping is not just an asset to yourself, but to the planet as well.
“As individuals, I think we should look to break the cycle of making repeat purchases of things that don’t last and create unnecessary waste. My favorite motto: You never regret buying a good tool. And Danner boots are just that,” Tingley said.