Footwear Review: Danner Desert Acadia
I work outdoors under various weather conditions and I need durable footwear that can provide support and comfort. My work conditions range from office to field and back to office again, so whatever I am wearing must be able to transition between field and office without tracking mud and dirt.
Most of my fieldwork centers around farm operations and soil investigations for household septic systems. When outdoors, I am always walking on bare soil or cropland. Also, most of my outdoor work occurs April through October so I don’t need insulated boots. In fact, the opposite is true. I need boots that are uninsulated so my feet don’t bake in the summer heat. Last, I do not prefer wearing steel-toe boots, as they are not necessary or required for my line of work.
I’ve worn several brands of boots over the years, many with mixed results. I couldn’t find a boot that afforded me what I was looking for in field boots. In early 2006 I purchased a pair of Danner Desert Acadia (click here for company detail on this field boot). After wearing the boots for three seasons, I find I am quite happy with the performance and am sharing my thoughts here.
First, the boot that you see in the stock Danner photo (click here for photo) isn’t exactly what I wear. You’ll note the outsole in the stock image is very aggressive, which is great if you are working outside in dry conditions. In muddy conditions, these outsoles can catch mud. Remember, I float back and forth between the field and office so catching mud on my boots is not an option. I contacted Danner and had the craftsmen recraft my boot with a shallow lug, wedge Vibram outsole.
Fast forward to 2009. My boots as they are today can be seen in the photo below. The boots have held up remarkably well, and are ready for a fourth season of wear. Prior to this pair of Danner field boots, most of my field boots were ‘one-and-done’. That is, I’d get one good year out of the boots and they usually started to show excessive wear after the first year.
My Danner Desert Acadia boots, 2009. These boots were purchased in early 2006.
The rough-out and nylon construction of these boots is very tough and hides normal wear and tear much better, in my opinion, than leather. The Vibram wedge outsole doesn’t have any lugs for mud to collect, so cleanup is very easy. I usually carry a 1″ paint scraper in my truck, and use it to simply scrape off whatever mud is sticking on the outsole. And when the boots do get dried-on mud, I take a wire brush to these boots (even the upper part of the boot!) for cleanup.
I really like the lace-to-toe feature of these boots. This is the first pair of field boots I have owned that are lace-to-toe, and the support provided is extremely solid. Between the lace-to-toe feature and the thick footbed, walking over rough surfaces is bearable with these boots. This support is sorely missed on other brands I have owned.
Not all that glitters is gold, however. As much as I like these boots there are some downsides. First, the cost is at the top of the list. Danner Desert Acadia list north of $200, unless you find a closeout price. Second, to get the boot that I wear with the wedge sole you’ll need to shell out another $100 or so.
Another drawback is the Vibram outsoles that are on my boots tend to wear down over the course of about 18 months. In fact, I have had my outsoles replaced by Danner once already.
In summary, these boots are reliable if you work outdoors. I’ll end this article with a bullet list summarizing the pros and cons:
- lace-to-toe provides excellent support
- nylon, rought out upper is extremely durable and hides wear and tear
- boots keep my feet cool during summer
- my version was recrafted with a non-tracking wedge sole
- excellent traction
- fully recraftable
- cost, >$200 (>$300 with the wedge sole conversion)
- Vibram outsole wears faster than other outsoles I have worn
Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation from Danner for writing this review. I reserve the right to modify this review at any time. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of The Ohio State University, Ohio State University Extension or of any other individual university employee. This review is provided for educational purposes only and not an endorsement of any product mentioned.