Introduction to Danner Boots – A Quality History

Portland, Oregon is a hub for all that is cool. As Fred Armisen would say, “The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland.” People wear flannel shirts, tights jeans, big glasses, gauges, the lot. It is a timeless casually classy look. Leather is everywhere you look — Leather wallets, leather pants, leather jackets, leather iPhone cases, leather bags, leather, leather, leather, leather, and, finally, more leather. One of the most prominent of all of these trades are boots — Portland is a leather boot city. And that’s where Danner comes in.

Danner Boots Piedmont Forest Boot Review09

Danner Boots

In 1932, Charles Danner realized a dream. Amidst the throes of the Great Depression, he realized that quality was fading in the American boot trade. Thus, fueled by his passion for quality and craftsmanship, he began building American sourced and American made leather boots out of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Danner Boots was born.

Photo courtesy of Danner Boots.

Photo courtesy of Danner Boots.

Four years later, with the growing need for highly durable boots in the Pacific Northwest due to the growing logging industry, Danner uprooted himself and moved west — To Portland, Oregon. In Portland, he was building and selling the best, most durable leather boots available to loggers, who needed them most. A pair of well worn Shipyard boots in the 1940s was the mark of a man’s man. They were said to be virtually indestructible and were thus the chosen boot of men who labored long and hard in the woods, at the docks, or really wherever there was excessive mud, rain, snow, or any other extreme elements.

In the mid-20th century, mass production was rising in popularity and quality, handcrafted goods were falling by the wayside. Danner frowned at this and insisted that Danner Boots be handbuilt with the highest standards of craftsmanship and quality — no matter the cost or increased production time. And they’re still committed to craftsmanship and quality today. I like that quite a bit.

Handcrafted from quality materials. Courtesy of Danner Boots.

Handcrafted from quality materials. Courtesy of Danner Boots.

The Stumptown line from Danner are constructed entirely in Danner’s Portland, Oregon factory. www.danner.com/boots/stumptown

Danner’s impact on leather culture

Danner is a prime example of the fact that companies can continue the pursuit of quality and craftsmanship even through growth and expansion. It is all too easy for a company to fall into a trap: “Because we’re putting out so many products, we need to sacrifice quality”. Charles Danner had the right idea back in the 30s and that philosophy continues through to this day at Danner: quality is of the utmost importance. And you, the consumer, will pay for that quality. But, Danner will deliver and it will be well worth it.

Real people with real hands constructing boots by hand. That is what I like to see. Courtesy of Danner Boots.

Real people with real hands constructing boots by hand. That is what I like to see. Courtesy of Danner Boots.

What do you think of the philosophy behind Danner and their impact on the leather culture? Do you have a pair of Danner boots? If so, share their story!

4 Comments

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  1. I found this site from a friend who posted about your review of Gfeller Caseworks. As a younger man I owned and loved a pair of Danner 6490s. They were a rugged, durable pair of hiking boots that saw use in the Sierras, on the John Muir Trail, in the Trinity Alps and the Oregon Cascades. I had them resoled twice, and eventually had to discard them, as the uppers were worn out. Might I recommend another American bootmaker? Limmer Boots, out of Intervale, NH is likely the premier maker of boots in America. A family owned business since 1919, Limmer makes boots with a single piece of high quality leather sewn together with a single seam. A single pair has been known to last over 50 years, passed down to a next generation of hikers. Certainly now, in a time where mass production often entails a loss in quality, Limmer is a contrarian company, offering custom, handmade boots that can, with proper care, last a lifetime. And yes, I own a pair.

    • Hi Sterling!

      I am glad you mentioned Limmer. We haven’t heard of them before. We will reach out and mention they were recommended. Which pair do you have?

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