At the 2017 ATA show I stopped by the Danner Boots display to see what they had in the works. One of the boots I was drawn to was the Gila. I don’t know if it was because the boot simply looked solid, appeared as a lightweight hiking boot allowing for excellent mobility, or the recent addition of the Sitka Subalpine camo pattern. Either way, I wanted a pair. Unfortunately they weren’t available at the time but finally this past fall I was able to get my hands on a pair and boy was I glad I did! Let me first start off by saying I have been happily wearing Danner boots for many, many years. My first pair being the Elk Hunter, next the Mountain Light II, and most recently my daily work boots the Quarry. The Elk Hunter’s and Mountain Light’s were with me when I killed my first two elk so needless to say I always keep an eye on what Danner has up their sleeve.
With the introduction of the Gila, I feel Danner is really pushing to cater to the active hunter who wants to move all day and cover many miles. When I opened the box after they showed up I remembered that they aren’t the traditional all leather hunting boot I’m accustomed to. That’s not a bad thing. The 6″ boot height coupled with a leather and canvas Subalpine upper gave me more of the impression of a sportscar if I was to make an analogy to automobiles. The tread pattern and mesh interior appear more like your favorite trail runners than your average hunting boot.
I remained a size 10 in the Gila’s as I have in all my other Danner’s and regular running shoes. So I would have to say they fit true to size. One thing I did note was the roomy toebox. When I say roomy I don’t mean big and sloppy but rather my toes were not cramped and adding a thick sock did feel restrictive. Even with the apparent extra space for my forefoot, the sole and lower portions of the upper kept my foot in place and steady during activity.
For a 6″ boot the Gila’s held their own in the support category. I wore them in multiple scenarios and landscapes and was never disappointed or felt I was at a disadvantage due to weak and or sub-par boots. The ankle support was good and the sole was stiff enough to give some added stability to my step.
I combined durability and comfort because essentially the same testing went into trialing both. This included wearing them with a 40 lb pack during training sessions, 5 days of hog hunting and river fishing, and of course a week in a Rocky Mountain drop camp. I climbed mountains in them and sandy river banks and never experienced any discomfort. I drug them along rocks and snagged them on barbed wire and they held up with no issues. I have not had the opportunity to put years of service on the boots but for what I did put them through they have come out unscathed. One thing to mention is be sure you give yourself ample time to break these boots in. I logged approx 20 miles in them prior to taking to Colorado and could have put a few more to have them properly broke in.
The Gila’s are Goretex lined and remained waterproof throughout the duration of my review. This included many a wet and dewy morning training sessions, being submerged multiple times in the Guadalupe River, and in mountain snow and mud.
Danner also put a rubber rand around the toe of the boot for added protection and durability. As you know, the toe area of your boots take the brunt of the abuse over the course of a hunt so the rand is a key addition to extending the life of the boots.
The Gila’s are non-insulated and weigh 56 ounces per pair. In active hunting situations (i.e. not sitting in a deer stand) I prefer to wear non-insulated boots and use wool socks for added warmth. Otherwise, the insulation will absorb sweat and in the backcountry it’s nearly impossible to dry them out each night. So these are perfect from that perspective. Also, I checked some other high quality 6″ hunting boot weights and they came in at 59.2 and 60.8 ounces per pair. This makes the Gilas on par or slightly lighter than similar boots.
The Gila’s proved to be an overall solid boot. They met all my expectations and did not lack performance in any areas. The Gila’s are not a hard core mountain boot for extreme hunting situations. What they are is fantastic boot for an active hunter in most of the terrain we’ll face. I found them great to wear year round for many different hunts from elk, to whitetail, to hogs. If you like to move then then be sure to give the Gila’s a look.
Disclaimer: I received these boots at no cost in exchange for a fair and reasonable assesment of their performance and quality. I have delivered that to the best of my abilities and look forward to the next hunt I get to wear them on. I receive no additional compensation whether you choose to purchase a pair or not.