Photo Credit: Steve Coulston
High Speed, Low Drag is a catchy phrase that is thrown about within military circles (and with keyboard commandos). It designates the object or the person as cutting edge, best of the best, forget the rest or whatever tacti-cool description you can think of. Bottom line, it is overused often in my opinion. That being said, some things warrant being called High Speed, Low Drag and the Danner 8 inch Tachyon boot is one of them.
Danner knows a thing or two about making boots. They have only been making them for going on 85 years. No biggie. Since 1932 Charles Danner was focused on craftsmanship and making the best boot for the job using the best quality. They pride themselves on being a boot company first, not a shoe company. Many athletic shoe companies have evolved lines of shoes into boots or adopted shoe technology for boot use. Not necessarily a bad thing as many of those companies make great footwear including boots. Danner however, makes it known they are boot folk. So when it came time to create a lightweight boot, they don’t beat around the bush.
"We didn’t get our chops building athletic shoes. We make boots. So when we decided to create a lightweight trainer, we took our 80-plus years of experience and created a boot that acts like a shoe, not a shoe that acts like a boot."
The Danner Ultra Lightweight Tachyon is an 8 inch boot designed for the Airforce as a trainer. Danner pits their 26 oz trainer against any the competition has to offer. Yes you read that right, the Tachyon is a 26 oz boot that Danner states, "[offers] boot performance first, and sneaker performance second."
At first glance, the Tachyon doesn’t look much different from any other trainer/field boot out there. In fact, it is almost boring looking. Simple, minimalist (obviously) with a unique cut here and there that adds some personality, but for the most part, it would be an easy boot to gloss over and forget about. I wouldn’t say it is an ugly boot, but she isn’t neck snapping attractive either. Upon closer examination, the Tachyon appears to be a little short in stature. The boot is still a typical 8 inch boot, however the sole appears much flatter than others on the market. In order to get a trainer with "sneaker-like" performance, Danner stripped away all the extras and used select light-weight materials to construct the Tachyon. The deep and aggressive treads found on other field boots, while providing benefits, add weight. So Danner thinned up the true rubber outsole leaving a shallow pentagonal shaped interior lug pattern with a faceted saw tooth perimeter.
Other ways Danner trimmed the fat was to use a completely synthetic upper that utilizes a GORE-TEX waterproof liner. The calf collar of the boot lacks a pull tab but features a slightly padded, moisture wicking interior collar at the top for comfort and breathability. The stitching around the boot is even, typically in double rows, marching smartly side by side. Instead of a thicker layer of rubber around the toe for protection, the Tachyon sports an abrasion resistant toe cap that looks like a thin, fine grit sandpaper. They left off any additional rubber protection running high on the heel and leave that job up to the outsole. Danner even reduced the laces on these boots, meaning by the time they are all the way laced to the top, there is between two and three inches of lace remaining. Lucky for me I refuse to bow tie my boots. Square knot all the way. Always have, always will. With the amount of lace Danner leaves on the Tachyon, a square knot is all you can manage anyway.
When it comes to wear-ability, the Danner Tachyon is a comfortable boot, primarily in part due to its minimalist weight. It doesn’t feel like a boot and even though it is a boot, the fitment is more like a shoe. For example, I barely noticed the 8 inch upper. On a lot of boots, it is very apparent the upper is present. Either by the way it digs into the calf or the way the material flexes (or not). With the Tachyon, it practically disappears. Even though the outsole is thin, there is still adequate cushion in the midsole to help absorb shock even when walking on uneven surfaces such as rugged terrain. The insole is removable and can be replaced with a more padded variant or one that provides higher arch support. The boot is pleasant to wear. It hugs the curves of the foot without being too overbearing. The heel stays locked in place and Danner boasts that it has a more generous toe box. It also features an open cell polyurethane foot bed for increased airflow and comfort. The light weight construction, synthetic upper and ventilation screens all assist to quickly dry out should the boot become wet. Thanks to the flexibility of the materials, no break in period required.
Because the Tachyon looks a bit more unassuming pairing the boot with civilian clothes isn’t that big of a deal if you want to roll that way. Wearing the boot out and about for daily activities around the home or workplace felt no different than wearing a typical shoe. I would say there is noticeably less padding than, say, the athletic running shoe, however there is still enough to provide comfort. Walking and running are an easy day. The boot fits snug to the foot and doesn’t slip during high energy movements, or during assents or descents. Often I will have issues with heel slippage while climbing hills. Not so with the Tachyon. The heel stays were it should.
Thanks to the lower profile tread and additional contact surface area, pavement and hard pack performance were very good, especially on the trail. It was actually nice to feel the trail under the foot. It almost reminded me of wearing the minimalist shoes designed to mimic barefoot running. While not quite that extreme, the minimalist nature of the boot was definitely noticeable, but not in an annoying way. Of course it is easy to fill up the lugs and get lost in the muck should one venture into thick mud and mire, but that would be expected with the shallow lugs. Regardless, the material will wash out pretty easily.
There is very little (literally) not to like about the boot. My biggest gripe are the laces. Danner calls them speed laces but they appear to be standard 550 para cord which I like as I replace a lot of boot laces with 550. The laces also slide nicely through the all metal eyelets. The gripe? The laces are way too short. In order to remove the boot you need to completely unlace the boot three or so eyelets. I have not found a way to do it any other way. Of course that means they need to be re-laced, not just re-cinched, when donning the boot. The ends of the 550 cord are melted then wrapped with what appears to be a stiff tape, which promptly fell off the first time I laced up the boot. As the boot is laced higher, the amount of lace available for purchase rapidly diminishes until you are left with nothing more than a couple of inches at the top. Maybe a I got an odd duck, but I don’t think a few extra inches of lace would have killed the weight requirement. Danner says the laces assist for easy on and off. I would say "negative" on that claim. I will be swapping them out for longer length 550 very soon. Another issue I have is that the boot is made in Vietnam. Maybe it’s a romanticized idea locked in my little brain, but I have always thought of Danner as a made in the good ol’ U.S. of A type of company. I’d be willing to pay a little more to buy a home grown boot. Ok, off my soap box. Other than that, the boot has been well received thus far. Only time will tell how well it will hold up to extensive abuse.
The Tachyon comes in Sage Green and is offered in both medium and wide widths. It meets US Air Force AFI 36-2903 standards which regulates Dress and Personal Appearance for the Air Force. It can be had for around $140.
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