I purchased a pair of Danner Crag Rats to replace my aging Belleville combat boots. I had a couple requirements that needed to be met for my light weight hiking boots, they should be flexible, lightweight, durable, and made in the US. I’ve long worn combat boots as a lightweight hiking option. Being around military folks day in and day out allowed me to know when there were smoking deals online to be had, but what I was finding is that the boots would not hold up to my daily wear and weekend warrior activities. I needed something a little higher quality, allowing my other boots to become my daily footwear.
Initial Fitment Impression
Out of the box my size 11R boots felt a little snug. Even with dress socks on vice my hiking socks. Specifically in the area around the middle of my foot. Consider trying your size, and checking to see if you need a wide. I was borderline but kept the regular width. Ultimately during long trekking trips this meant that the Crag Rats wore some pretty tender spots, Danner is usually spot on for my sizing but these seemed more snug.
I began breaking in the Crag Rats by taking a 3 mile hike around my subdivision. Overall they were a little stiff with limited flex on the front of the toe. Sidewalk doesn’t provide much in the line of varied terrain though. After about a mile and a half there were a few spots that began rubbing. All of the spots were usual suspects when breaking in a pair of boots. The areas of interest here were the back of the top of the boot rubbing against the rear of your shins, and the first set of speed laces where the bootlaces go from horizontal to diagonal and finally vertical along your ankle up your leg.
On the second hike they immediately felt better using thicker hiking socks. I would suggest a thorough break in though despite what some other reviewers have said. You don’t want to unbox these and go straight back into the backcountry for an elk hunt or you’ll have a bad time.
The speed laces were tight enough as to cause some issues when lacing them up the first several times, but those should open up with either time or force. Too loose and they risk bending out further making the speed laces slip, too tight and you merely set the lace in a channel — upon flexing the boot you’d have a sudden loss of binding. Unfortunately these speed laces are cast, and castings don’t bend. More on that later.
- Manufacture: Made in the USA with Imported Components
- Weight: 59 oz per pair
- Height: 7″
- Waterproof: Yes, GORE-TEX Liner
- Outsole: Vibram Tsavo
- Removable Footbed: Yes
- Recraftable: No (What is recrafting?)
- Made in the USA
- Fantastic ankle support
- Double hook speed lace for lacing flexibility.
- Comfortable when broken in.
- Price point is around $300, making it difficult for casual hikers to get into it.
- Boots run a smidge on the narrow side.
- Not recraftable.
- Uses imported parts.
Not So Fast
During one of my outings I noticed that my left boot kept coming undone. The knot was still tied but midway down the boot the lace had appeared to slip the speed lace. Unfortunately the speed laces on the Crag Rats are cast instead of just bent sheet metal. One of the castings — the lower of the double speed lace sheared off and was somewhere miles behind me.
Since the cast speed laces are tight, and the laces are thick, I noticed two points where my laces began to wear almost to breaking in the short six months I had the boot. These would be fantastic if they just used the bent sheet metal speed laces on most other boots I’ve worn from Danner.
A Note on Customer Service
The boot failure occurred during my month long trip to Pennsylvania. Once my life finally settled down, and after the accident I was able to contact Danner about the boots. To my surprise I got an email back on a Saturday. LaCrosse Boots handle Danner’s customer service inquiries, and replied despite them being closed. A couple of photos of the boots later and they gave me a support ticket number and instructions where to mail the boots under warranty.
For these boots, not being recraftable meant that they were unlikely going to spend the time in their shop. They said they would take a look and see if they could fix them. If not they’d give me a credit to my account. Two days later I had a credit to the account for the price of the boots and the cost of shipping.
After doing some more research it’s unlikely that I’ll end up with the Crag Rats again, or their sister shoe, the Crater Rim. I’m going to pivot to the Elk Hunter for next season. The benefits will be a sole source USA made shoe from Danner that’s fully recraftable. I’ll also be opting for insulation since my feet have been getting cold in the Colorado winter. Additionally the Elk Hunter does not used cast speed laces that I can see.
This boot was not for me, but does make an excellent day hiking shoe and it tackled two 14,000ft peaks. They’re light and have a rugged outsole that does not scuff badly while hopping around in the rocks above treeline.