The outdoor and tactical cultures rarely overlap, even though many well-known outdoor brands cater deeply to both. One of those brands is Danner, which makes footwear highly prized by the military. For many years, I’ve wondered, what do they know that we don’t? Tactical packs and molle attachment systems are too heavy for my taste, but what about boots? As a chronic ankle turner, I’ve long thought a high shank might help. Are these things overbuilt for consumer use? Or do they hit a Goldilocks sweet spot between light weight and support?

It’s the latter. I spent months torn between Danner’s Tachyon and Tanicus styles. Both have leather uppers, eight-inch shanks, and are non-waterproof, but the Tachyon is significantly lighter—about 13 ounces per boot compared to 20. In the end, supply chain issues kept the Tachyon out of stock, so I opted for the Tanicus. My 9.5s weigh 22 ounces each, and while they definitely feel boot-like, that weight is well-distributed. Slipping into them is a lot easier than I expected, and they’re way cozier, too, thanks to cushioning all the way up the shank. The lowers are double-stitched leather, the shank is 2,000-denier nylon, and there are two webbing reinforcements, including one that wraps the ankle for stability.

Break-in period was exactly 0.0 seconds. Seriously. I laced the boots up and banged out a five-mile hike through the coastal chaparral without a single hot spot or issue, and what struck me immediately was how well protected my feet and lower legs were. Normally, a thrash through overgrown scrub has me thinking about ticks and ankle-pricking spines and sock-filling sand and snakes, but with the Danners I strode through it all with confidence. The difference was not subtle: I felt like I was wearing seven-league boots, with each stride longer and more confident. Flexion from the heel to the toe is smooth and predictable, and there’s no binding or pinching in the shank, even when your foot is bent at acute angles. Vent holes at the arch help reduce heat, as do perforations in the padding around the shin—it’s warmer than a low shoe, but a lot cooler than a waterproof one.

In short, I love wearing the Tanicus and they’re now my go-to for all lengthy hikes. Do note that their last rewards a wider foot—to keep my skinny feet in place, I have to crank on the laces and then everything’s fine. It does leave me curious about the lighter Tachyon, which Danner calls “boot first, sneaker second.” I do like to run when I hike, and the Tanicus is a little bulky for that. If I check out the lighter model, I’ll let you know how it goes.

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