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Danner Combat Hiker military boots

 
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Old 12-29-2011, 03:46 PM
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Danner Combat Hiker military boots

I have long used the insulated Danner Ft. Lewis boot as my cold weather hunting boot. Also makes a good cool weather motorcycle boot.

I recently snagged a pair of Danner 6" Combat Hiker "Afghanistan boots" at Shipton's Big R for $99.99. They are uninsulated Gore-Tex, high randed, toe capped, Vibram Bifida sole, snoeshoe compatible. These are surplus boots, never released to the general public, and sold to military for $310 per pair. The closest thing to them in the catalog is Improved Combat Hiker at $380, a taller 8" boot but otherwise the same.

They are patterned after the Danner Talus GTX but with military modification such as higher rand, D-ring loops instead of open hooks, etc. The insole is rather thick in mine, compared to my 6" Italian hiking boots made by AKU and sold by LL Bean as Cresta Hiker. Rand is bonded AND double stitched, which I don't remember seeing on any of the European import boots. The Vibram Bifida sole is durable AND climbs like a mountain goat. After 6 hikes through rough terrain, almost no visible wear on the soles. Seems noticeably better than the Kletterlift or Fouda PU style of Vibrams on my other boots.

After 6 afternoons of hiking in rough terrain, I have never had a bootlace come loose. I don't think I ever had that happen before. By double looping the high D-rings, 5th and 6th, it seems the bootlaces would stay tight even if the bootlaces came untied. Top lacing point is a small hole, which allows you to knot your bootlace end and never have it slip through. I just double loop the 5th D-ring now, as it is adequate as a stop for downhill hiking. The D-rings are bigger and the laces thicker than on my Danner Ft. Lewis boots.

The Iraq desert boots were blowing out in as little as 2 weeks in the mountains of Afghanistan, so Danner developed this boot to hold up in the roughest mountain environments. This is equal to the most expensive European Mountain hikers, but the D-rings are stronger than open hooks which most hikers come with, just slower to lace up. Since they are sized for thick wool socks, and I haven't gotten cold feet yet, I would say they are good down to zero F temp. One piece wraparound THICK nubuck construction means no boot seams to wear on sharp rocks and blow out.

You can find closeout prices on eBay still yet. I have my bid in on an extra pair, as I like this boot so much I decided to get an extra pair while the getting is good. The Wellco boot is rated almost as highly as the ICH by army troops, and sells for a bit less money at retail than Danner, around $100 less, and is still available. This is the only 6" Afghanistan boot I know of. All the current boots from Danner, Wellco and Belleville are 8", and you can't buy the Belleville 950 or 990 yet as they have the army contract and are filling army orders only. But the other two brands are better liked by the troops. You get what you pay for. Belleville is a cheaper boot, and that probably explains the army contract. Wellco goes for about $275 straight from Wellco.

If you need a "combat tough" hunting boot of mountain hiker one-piece leather construction that climbs like a mountain goat, all the above boots have the Vibram Bifida sole and should get the job done. I can give up the extra height as this is the stiffest 6" leather boot I have ever worn and supports my ankle better than most 8' or 10" boots. I have gaiters for deep snow.
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Old 01-03-2012, 03:17 PM
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Re: Danner Combat Hiker military boots

I have been researching hot weather boots without Gore-Tex with something like a Bifida sole. Military desert boots often end up looking like high tennis shoes with soft soles. The old Panama soled Jungle Boot was never a good sole for traction in the mountains. The lowest cost boot with a Vibram Bifida sole I could find is the Garmont T8 boot available for $120 from mailoprder retailers. This is a lower cost than a Danner Desert TFX with what looks to be a tougher sole. The T8 gets high ratings from military users. The T8 has a full length nylon shank, which should give some puncture and stone bruise protection. The reason for the cheap price is split leather rather than full grain leather and quite a bit of nylon cloth. It will last half as long as a full grain USA Danner at the most, but that may be long enough to wear out the sole. The price says probably made in China, like the Danner.

I have located better boots than either, at much higher prices. Typically in the $300 range retail.
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Old 01-03-2012, 04:15 PM
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Re: Danner Combat Hiker military boots

Interesting boot information. Thanks

What do you do for 'thick wool' socks.

I've had no luck finding what I "think" I would like.

So....I'm in the beginning stages of knitting my own. I bought a pair of Alpaca knee highs that are quite nice but not exactly what I 'think' I want.

From the ankle up my DIY jobs are nearly exactly what I want. But the winter isn't long enough to make a pair without losing a ton of predator hunting time.
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:20 PM
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Re: Danner Combat Hiker military boots

I have been using the best LL Bean wool socks made by Smartwool, I believe. If you want to buy locally, then Smartwool is probably easy to find. You can wash Smartwool in the washing machine. I like the heavy elastic band in the LL Bean socks as it keeps the sock up. The LL Bean socks are sold in light, medium and heavy weights. I own all three weights. Lighter socks in the summer with a thicker insole.

You could go to a ski boot shop or cobbler shop and get some cork footbeds cut for your boots to add volume to your boots when you wear thin socks. I have them in my ski boots because in ski boots you do NOT want thick socks as you lose ski control that way. The opposite of hiking.

You can go to Hobby Lobby and buy a roll of thin cork for well under $10 and cut yourself several pairs of cork footbeds, even cut out sections and contact cement them together to vary the thickness. It also adds insulation to the sole. Also makes a good insulation wrap for an aluminum AR-15 or AR-10 handguard in the winter, or anything like winter tools with metal handles.
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:44 PM
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Re: Danner Combat Hiker military boots

An update on Combat Hiker boots. I just snagged my second pair of new Danner Combat Hikers on eBay for $98.50 delivered. As usual, this was an extra pair of boots that a serviceman brought back from Afghanistan. Special Forces troops were issued two pair on deployment, at $310 cost to the government per pair. Many servicemen never wore out their first pair, and are selling them on eBay now, often through an eBay reseller at the military base. This is not a jacked up price. Bates currently gets $350 for nearly the same type boot.

I have treated my boots with Obenauf's Heavy Duty Leather Preservative, and they are extremely soft and comfortable, with about a dozen hiking trips on them.

You will find about two pages of Danner Combat Hikers on eBay, and some guy with a good stock has a buy-it-now price of $150. Still an outstanding buy at that price. Wellco has recently dropped their version of the boot that looked like the Danner ICH, and have redesigned it with kevlar cloth to resist tearing and burning. Those boots retail for under $300, and look to be a bit lower than the ICH, but the waterproof membrane is not stated as being Gore-Tex. Thus, they are inferior in that regard. Kevlar cloth is better around fires and explosions, if you feel that might be in your future.

Thus, Danner, Bates, and Wellco all have something slightly different from each other in an "Afghjanistan boot"and also different from the Belleville that is now standard issue for general troops. Bates also makes the Tora Bora boot for nearly $500 that can be used with Alpine Touring ski bindings and automatic crampons. A true mountaineering boot for the military, probably used by 10th Mountain Division, Marine Force Recon, etc. Probably stiff as a board in the sole.

One of the surplus Danner old style Combat Hikers is by far the best deal going right now. I am seeing slightly used ones in excellent condition going for far less than $100.

In the future, other brands will become available as the troops rotate back from Afghanistan. Since the Afghan conditions are so tough on boots, I would expect any of them would be a good pair of boots. You just have to find a pair that fits right.

The last that the Danner Combat Hikers are built on is the 850 last, the same as the very popular Danner Pronghorn boots and Acadia boots. If those boots fit you, then the Combat Hikers will get you the same fit. The Danner website tells you what last your Danner boots are made on, so if you have Danner boots look up that info, because I know of at least 4 lasts that Danner boots are made on. The Danner website is very informative, with lots of customer reviews. Danner publishes the negative reviews as well, because if you are not satisfied they bend over backwards to make things right for you. Danner warranties their boots for a full year even to military users in the toughest conditions. If they fail, they fix or give you a new pair. This is where Danner can beat the Italian boots, because some of the Italian boots have poor importer support and no ironclad one-year warranty. Nobody is perfect, but Danner will set things right for you if you have a problem.
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