My boots — from a different, Portland-based shoe company — were not up to the task. They too filled with puddles. The next day, I headed into Big R Ranch and Home. I walked out with my first pair of 400g insulated Danner Pronghorns.
The Pronghorns kept me warm and dry for two solid seasons hunting in Wyoming, as well as a winter guiding wildlife and snowshoe tours in Grand Teton and Yellowstone. With the old pair (and version) now worn out and in retirement, I’ve been looking forward to giving the new version a try.
Do they hold up to the original? I bow hunted hard in the new Pronghorn this fall. Here’s what I found out.
With nearly 20 years of ongoing updates, the folks at Danner have put time into designing the Pronghorns — and it shows. The boot is sleek, not too heavy, and has a grippy tread for variable conditions. This version returns to the 851 Last, which makes the boots fit more true to size in my experience. I was using a size smaller in the previous version.
This fall, I’ve been running the uninsulated Pronghorn on both single-day and multiday backcountry hunts. Right out of the box, the boots immediately performed, with no blisters in over 50 miles of on- and off-trail travel. The 8-inch-tall boot laces up nicely to form to your foot and provides great support for heavy multiday packs on uneven terrain.
With a roomy toe box, my feet stayed comfortable even while descending steep terrain or side-hilling through thick mountain ash, no toe bang!
The GORE-TEX membrane kept the boots dry through shallow creek crossings and deep mud. However, a full day of walking through wet vegetation that soaked my hunting pants did end with soggy boots. I attribute this to a combination of water running down the pants and saturating the boots, the leather of which I have not yet treated.
Price. With top-of-the-line hunting boots running over $500, the $230-310 Danner Pronghorn offers a reasonable middle-ground price for a boot that will perform when you need it.
Comfort. Because Pronghorns are on the softer and lighter side of hunting boots, they offered me out-of-the-box comfort. Showing up to hunting camp with a brand-new pair of unused boots is a major no-no in most circles, but this one might let you get away with it.
Soft and light. The softer sole and lighter-weight boot isn’t as durable as other boots, but it’s quiet, which helps close the gap when you’re trying to get into archery range for that bugling bull or bedded buck.
Waterproof. Add some good gaiters (like the First Lite Bramblers) to the GORE-TEX-lined, 8-inch-tall Pronghorn, and you get a bomber waterproof boot. Happy, dry feet equal a happy hunt.
All-around boot. The Pronghorn isn’t the best at anything, but it’s really good for everything, from long, flat trail walking to steep, rocky slopes.
Durability. With less weight and softer materials, I doubt the Pronghorn will last as long as a $500 Kenetrek or Crispi boot. My previous version lasted two seasons before the sole wore out. The GORE-TEX stopped functioning, and tears developed in the ankles.
Then again, I asked a lot of the boots over two seasons, hauling multiple elk out of the woods while logging hundreds of miles.
Lacing system. More inconvenient than anything, the upper lacing hooks on the Pronghorn seem a bit small for the size of laces included with the boot. Mine slipped out a few times during my last hunt but held better once I tightened the boots.
Leather. Where’s the full-leather version? I want something I can grease up and keep waterproof the old-fashioned way.
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With so many different options on the market these days, the quest for the perfect boot can be overwhelming. I’ve found that though there isn’t one boot to rule them all, the Danner Pronghorn comes close. This boot won’t break the bank, but it also won’t likely last as long as one that costs twice as much.
If you’re looking for a light yet waterproof, stable yet soft, reasonably priced boot to take you through a few seasons of hunting, the Pronghorn might be for you.
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