Gear Review: Danner Roughhouse Mountain Boot

A Gore-Tex-lined boot that handles big loads and deep snow.

[big loads, deep snow]
Wearing this Gore-Tex-lined boot felt like an unfair advantage over the elements, say testers. Danner added 400 grams of Thinsulate insulation to its proven backpacking boot, the Mt. Defiance GTX (reviewed in April 2012), and gave it a higher-cut ankle (seven inches). The result? A cold-weather stomper that can support heavy loads (up to 50 pounds) over diverse terrain while hiking or snowshoeing, and also stay warm and dry in some of the worst winter conditions our testers faced.

Temperatures in the low teens didn’t faze the Roughhouse, even when one tester repeatedly plowed through streams up to six inches deep and stood in snowdrifts to filter water. The sole employs a unique hybrid construction: It’s sewn to the leather and suede upper in front (called “stitchdown” technique) to provide a stable platform, and glued in the heel area for a more flexible stride. Testers reported superior ankle support from the stiff, molded rubber heel counter. Underfoot, a full polypropylene shank adds protection and stiffness to the PU midsole (enough to pair with strap-on crampons). And despite relatively shallow lugs (about 5 mm), the soft rubber delivered superior traction on slimy rocks during creek crossings in Oregon’s frozen Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness. Fit is generous in the toebox, allowing for an extra pair of socks. Bonus: A D-ring at the toes accepts gaiter hooks. Bummer: Protruding ankle lace hooks occasionally snag one another. $180 (tan and brown), $200 (black); 3 lbs. 8 oz.; m’s 7-14, w’s 5-11;