Gila Optifade Subalpine by Danner

Editor: Johnny LeMaster

Just The Facts:

Danner Optifade Subalpine Hunting Boot Review, Hiking and hunting boot review by top rated hunting Facts

Weight: 56oz per pair

Height: 6”

Upper:Nubuck Leather and Nylon

Insulated: No

Camo Pattern: GORE OPTIFADE Subalpine.

Footbed: Cushioning Molded Polyurethane, Open Cell

Shank: Integrated PolyPropylene

WaterProof: Yes


Outsole: Danner Garve

Midsole: Polypropylene

Lacing System: Speed Hook

Rand: Rubber halfway around toe of boot


Danner Optifade Boot Review

My Story:

I have spent a lot of time wearing boots in my life.  Whether hunting, serving in the military, or working in the construction trades.  One thing is for sure, having the right boot for the job is essential to being able to perform the task at hand.  Nothing will stop you faster than blisters, sore feet, and poor support when you are planning to be on your feet for a large quantity of time.  With such a large variety of boots on the market it can be a little overwhelming finding the right boot for the situation. 

Danner has long been a trusted name in boots.  They have a history of being a reliable boot for the outdoorsmen, and a choice that many members of the military have made to upgrade their footwear.  Danner has an excellent support staff that helped guide me as to which boots would be best for my planned usage.   They asked me a few questions regarding what my preferences were, and what I intended to used the boots for.  In the end they recommended I try two different boots.   I had the pleasure of trying out the Gila Subalpine in the GORE Optifade camouflage pattern, and the Vitals, during the Washington archery deer, and elk seasons.  I put both sets of boots to the test and was very happy with how they performed for me. 

Danner Optifade Boot Review

I got home from work a week and a half before deer season opened, and was excited to see a package on my porch from Danner containing my new boots.  I was running late to meet with a friend, so I threw the package in my rig and took off to her house.  As someone who knows a thing or two about boots, I figured she would be able to appreciate these.  When I got there I immediately tore open the box and tried on my new Danner Gila Subalpines.  The boot fit great!  It was snug, but not too tight.  Fresh out of the box, like most boots, they were a bit stiff and would need broken in.  I went about wearing the boots to work, around the house, on short hikes to check my game cameras, and anywhere else I could to break them in to my foot. 

I have typically been a fan of 8” tall boots for the overall support they provide, but I wanted to tryout a smaller, lightweight boot for more of the flat land and river bottom areas I tend to deer and bird hunt. The 6” tall make up took a little getting used to at first, as it put more pressure on my shin than I was used to, and the toe box pinched my toes in a couple places.  Once the boots were broken in I found them to be very comfortable.   The Danner put a good insole in these boots, supportive, yet soft enough to provide comfort over extended use.  The toe box fit my foot perfectly.  It was snug on the foot keeping my toes from rubbing, but not being too tight as to cause any discomfort.  The heal catch kept my heel exactly where it needed to stay helping to keep blisters away.  The integrated polypropylene shank on the boot combined with the Gavre outsole were great for side hilling and walking on uneven terrain keeping my foot well supported, eliminating any undue fatigue, and limiting slipping hazards.

The season started out in the mid to upper 90’s °F for temperature.  The breathable GORE-TEX let the moisture built up from sweating during these hot hikes escape; keeping my foot from overheating or becoming soft and prone to blisters.  It also did an excellent job keeping the water out while crossing creeks in pursuit of the big one.  I was able to wade up to the top of the boot without any water penetrating the boot.  Not only did it keep the water out, but the water actually beaded up on the boot and ran off, not penetrating the material at all.

The Gila Subalpine came with the GORE Optifade Subalpine camouflage pattern which was specifically designed for blending in when you are up close and personal with the animals.  The tree stand I was sitting in would put this to the test.  To get to my stand you had to walk through plowed fields, a thick wooded buffer between the field edge and the river bottom, and finally through the river bottom filled with cobble where the old river channel had been years ago.  The location of the stand, itself for reasons I do not understand, left you visible to animals unlike any I have ever sat in.  Any movement no matter how slight drew the attention of the critters.  I sat for hours with animals mere yards below me, at times, dangling my feet below the stand and shaking them out to wake up a limb that had fallen asleep.  During all of this the Optifade camouflage blended in great with the surroundings, not warranting more than a quick glance in my direction from the wildlife nearby.

Danner Optifade Boot Review

After the initial use in the lowlands during deer season I took the Gilas up to the higher country for elk camp.  I did not use these boots as my main boots for elk season, but I did want to see how they would perform on steeper hillsides climbing in and out of the canyons, so I wore them on a few hunts.  They performed better than I was expecting.  I had some concerns about having enough support from a 6” tall boot in this terrain.  The speed hook lace system enabled me to cinch the boot very tight, which was vital to keeping my foot from rubbing while hiking on the steep trails.  The polypropylene shank kept my foot supported and lessened fatigue during side hilling, and hiking up the canyons.  I was able to put on many miles at a time with the polyurethane insoles keeping my foot comfortable. The Gavre outsole provided great traction.  I only ended up slipping a few times in the CRP areas, which is expected.  The nubuck leather and nylon upper with the extra protection from the rubber toe rand held up to the punishment inflicted upon it by all the windblown downed trees crisscrossing the hill side and rocky slopes.

Danner Optifade Boot Review

This boot is built to last.  They are constructed with a nubuck leather and nylon upper for durability.  There is a rubber rand covering the front half of the toe of the boot providing extra protection from scuff and protrusions.  The liner is GORE-TEX allowing the foot to breathe while keeping water out.  The speed hook lacing system allows you to be able to cinch the boot tight to the foot and ankle providing great support.  The polypropylene shank and Gavre outsole provided excellent traction and support in uneven and slick terrain.  I am pretty impressed with this boot.  It held up to the rigors of some tough hunts.  I look forward to using them further for hiking and hunting. 

Find It Here:

What Could Be Done Better:

The speed hook lace system could use a little tweaking.  I did have issues at times while tying the boots of the laces popping out of the top speed hooks.  Once the knot was tightened the hooks held great.  Danner designed a quality boot that can be used in a multitude of different terrains with confidence.  For the price these are a great boot.


I would give these boots a 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

  • Functionality
  • Value
  • Ergonomics
  • Durability