Danner Mountain Light vs Mountain Light II - What's the Difference?

Upon first glance there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between the Danner Mountain Light and Mountain Light II. Here we go over some of the subtle changes Danner has made to the Mountain Light II so you can make the best choice when picking out your new hiking boots. 

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Danner Mountain Light vs Mountain Light II

The basic difference between the Mountain Light and Mountain Light II is that the Mountain Light is built upon the original boot specs from 1979 while the Mountain Light II features only slight changes in sizing. leather and footbed options.. With the Mountain Light, Danner prides itself in keeping it’s heritage boot as close to the original design as possible. 

Quality, Materials and Construction

When it comes to materials and construction there are really no major differences. Both boots offer a robust stitchdown construction that allows them to be repaired over time. They also feature the same lugged Vibram Kletterlift outsole that provides amazing traction in both wet and dry ground. 

 Showcasing the Mountain Light and Mountain Light II's one-piece leather uppers.

Showcasing the Mountain Light and Mountain Light II's one-piece leather uppers.

What we love most about Danner’s Mountain Light lines is their retro one-piece leather uppers. This design allows for a more resilient boot as the a single piece of leather wraps around the upper instead of the paneled leather uppers found in most modern boots. Not only does this design look clean and minimalist, but it also helps repel water and debris from sneaking into your boots during a hike. 

Where you’ll start to see a difference between the Danner Mountain Light and Mountain Light 2 is in the leather quality of the full-grain leather uppers. The original Danner Mountain Light uses a richer and stiffer leather while the Danner Mountain Light 2 uses a slightly more supple leather. When it comes to hitting the trail, the Mountain Light’s leather will be more resilient and protective as a result.

 Danner uses different leathers for their "brown" Mountain Light and Mountain Light II boots

Danner uses different leathers for their "brown" Mountain Light and Mountain Light II boots

Fit and Sizing Comparison

Where the Mountain Light and Mountain Light II differ the most is in their fit and sizing. The original Mountain Light is built upon a 650 EE last. This allows for a wider fit and more room around the toe box. Danner recommends going a half size down for the Mountain Light. Unlike the Mountain Light II, which is available in both D and EE widths, the Mountain Light is only available in this standard EE fit. 

The Mountain Light II is built upon a 650 last which fits narrower throughout the foot. Their reason for going with a more slender last is to provide added stability when on the trail. A common complaint about the Mountain Light II is that the toe box can be too narrow. For those who need a wider fit, Danner suggests going with an EE size to add more width. 

It’s worth noting that like most other boots, complaints about fit actually come from wearing the wrong size. It’s recommended you try these boots on in person so you know you are getting the correct fit. If finding a retail location is not an option, than make sure you purchases these boots online from a retailer that offers hassle free returns and exchanges. 

Break-In and Comfort Comparison

The original Mountain Light hiking boots are notorious for their long and intense break-in periods. It’s use of tough leather and lack of footbed cushioning takes time to break-in and conform to your feet. This is common with many heritage style boots that put quality craftsmanship over modern comforts like cushioned footbeds and padded collars that tend wear out over time. You can expect a break in-period with both the Mountain Light and Mountain Light II. 

The Mountain Light II attempts to ease the break in process by including Danner Airthotic inserts. These removable inserts are polyurethane heel cups that supports your heel and foot. Keep in mind however that because they are only half-length, the rest of your foot will rest bare on the footbed without any additional support. If your pair of Mountain Light boots do not include Danner Airthotic inserts out of the box, you can still purchase them separately either on the Danner website or on Amazon here.

Color and Style Options

When it comes to color options, the Danner Mountain Light is the clear winner. The Mountain Light II is available in basic brown and black while the original Mountain Light is available in multiple leather and suede options. 

 Color options: Danner Mountain Light vs Mountain Light II

Color options: Danner Mountain Light vs Mountain Light II

One difference to note about Danner Mountain Light boots is that some of their special edition colors do come with different soles and upper materials. For example, the Mojave Brawler Mountain Light replaces the standard Gore-Tex lining for Dri-Lex which is better suited for warm environments and helps with ventilation. Another major style difference lies with many of the Mountain Light suede options who opt in for a Vibram Christy sole instead the standard lugged Vibram Kletterlift.

 Examples of the Vibram Christy sole available only in the Mountain Light suede models.

Examples of the Vibram Christy sole available only in the Mountain Light suede models.

Danner Mountain Light vs Mountain Pass: Which is better?

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Choose Danner Mountain Light… you want a pair of classic heritage boots built on the original 1979 specs. Danner Mountain Light hiking boots are the embodiment of the saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Those who don't need a slimmer fit will do well with the Mountain Light's standard 650 EE last.

Choose Danner Mountain Light II… you prefer a narrower fit and a little extra footbed support out of the box. The 650 last will benefit those with narrow feet or people who prefer a snugger fit. Plus, the extra comfort and support with the included Danner Airthotic insert will help with the initial break-in period.