Anyone can pick up a pair of hiking boots, but a quality pair of hiking boots is an investment and can be difficult to find if you don’t know where to look.
While they may look like exact replicas, these two pairs of boots do have some differences- which we’ll discuss further below. Which pair of boots will come out on top?
Keep reading to find out.
|#1. Danner Mountain Light|
Our Best Pick
|#2. Merrell Wilderness|
|Hiking, Light trail use, Everyday wear.|
Quality of Construction
When comparing both boot’s construction, it’s hard to really nitpick about anything.
Both are sturdy in design and we have no reason to believe that these boots will fall apart after exploring a few trails. As far as materials go, both boots have full grain leather uppers which are great for withstanding years of use and abuse, but it comes at a cost: longer and sometimes very sore break in periods.
Both uppers on the boots will mold to your feet with continuous use.
And being that they’re constructed from leather, you’re guaranteed that each boot will mold to your two individual feet like a glove.
It’s not until you look inside each boot that you notice one key difference: the inner linings.
The Danner boot uses the popular Gore-Tex lining that is notorious for its waterproof abilities while still allowing the foot to breathe. Merrell opted for a unique knit type lining for their boot.
What this lining does is help wick away any excess moisture away from your feet to help keep them dry. And while it does an exceedingly good job at that, it will leave you disappointed when it comes to crossing any water that is more than an inch or two deep.
Construction of The Boots
Next, let’s talk about how the boots are made.
The manufacturers of the Wilderness boot preferred to place the leather upper so that it rests on the sole itself.
This leaves the stitching exposed and offers a great rugged look.
The Mountain Light boot has a completely different construction with stitching that passes through both the upper leather and the outer sole. The Mountain Light boot also has some exposed stitching which also gives it that sturdy and rugged look.
Easy to Repair
A common complaint about boots is how expensive they can be to replace.
For this reason, you’ll want to find a pair of boots that are easy and affordable to repair.
The Danner boot company offers a simple repair service that makes it easy to send in your pair of boots, so they can be repaired or modified.
Unfortunately, Merrell isn’t so straightforward with their repair processes, so you’ll need to hire a professional Cobbler if your Merrell boots need fixed.
How Waterproof is “Waterproof”?
Nearly any and every hiking boot claims to be waterproof, but what does that really mean?
The Merrell boot seems to give the illusion that it’s waterproof and we can see why others would think so too, but it’s not completely waterproof.
The interior liner, while comfortable, is only built to help wick moderate moisture away from the foot. Moderate might mean some light sprinkling from a rain or the normal sweat that occurs after some time walking around in boots.
You can help “improve” the waterproof abilities of any boot by applying a waterproof coating, but even this won’t guarantee that your feet will remain dry after a walk through a creek.
The Danner boot is somewhat better in terms of waterproof-ness.
The Gore-Tex liner helps keep your foot dry and comfortable through long stretches of time, but only if the water is below the leather tongue and eyelets.
The Danner Mountain boot uses an outer sole that is made from tough rubber that offers a superior grip on slippery wet surfaces as well as dry surfaces.
The Merrell boot has a decent grip, but the primary focus of these boots is to offer comfort over anything else.
So, while you’ll be comfortable on your favorite hiking trails, these probably wouldn’t be the right boots to wear if you’re looking for something that has a grip on say something like a slippery log.
So don’t go blazing any new trails while you’re in these boots…
True to Size
Another factor that makes buying boots difficult is how well they fit.
Some boots can be ordered in the same size you’d normally wear in a regular shoe size (True to Fit), but others require you to pick several sizes up to ensure proper fit.
The Merrell boots make sizing simple with M width sizes and our research has indicated that they are true to fit for most people. The most common complaints seem to come from those who have either wider or narrower feet.
In that case, you may need to go up or down a size depending on your own feet.
The Danner boots on the other hand come in two sizing options with both regular and EE sizes. If you choose to order your boots using the EE sizing, be prepared to go down a size or two for your boots to fit properly.
Customization can help make your boots feel truly you and make you stand out from the rest of the crowd with different colors.
The Danner boots will accommodate nearly everyone with their various leather and suede materials. Merrell limits the buyer to just three color choices: Black, Brown, and a Suede Gray.
Which One Is Worth Buying?
If you want a boot that can handle all the various terrains you can throw at it without breaking down and will keep your feet dry below 3 inches of water, go with the Danner Mountain Light boot.
If you occasionally explore trails and those trails seem pretty tame, then the Merrell Wilderness boot will work just fine, just be aware of the waterproofing issues that exist in this particular boot.