By Kristi Waterworth
As a retired contractor, I’ve been asked to write a fair number of reviews on equipment and gear over the years, but I’ve never encountered any sort of item that I was so moved by as to want my name attached to my words so you, the reader, could see that I am a real human being and I am having real human being experiences.
Then I got this boot from Danner….
It’s the Danner Women’s Bull Run Moc Toe with the steel toe option. A few disclosures before we get started..
First, I hate steel toed boots. I mean, they’re useful, for sure, but they never seem to fit me right and I’m always fighting with them. So, I’ve spent years simply avoiding steel toes out of a deep loathing of their kind in general.
Secondly, I have ideas about what a boot should look like and it’s not something that’s vaguely similar to the Easton’s I had in the 1990s. That being said, a boot is usually a lot more than how it looks, so for the sake of this review, I let that go from the beginning.
The Run Down
You can check out the Danner website for the deep down dirty specs, but here are the highlights, in short.
Leather all over. A lot of shoes today are made with partial leather uppers, but the Bull Run Moc Toes are all leather, from tip to sole. It’s not bonded leather like your couch, it’s the full grain, oiled stuff that withstands all kinds of abuse for decades. This is the kind of thing your hamburgers are proud they died for.
Ortholite footbed. I’m of an age where I still resist the idea that I need any sort of foot support, but where I also really actually probably need some kind of foot support. The ortholite footbed is a keeper – I’ve never owned a pair of boots that felt so much like walking on a cloud.
Slip resistant sole. I’ve never been a fan of white soles – they show dirt horribly. But on the flip side, they won’t mark on floors, which is nice if you happen to be working in a building with floors that scuff easily. They look a little bit odd on these deep brown boots, but honestly, it’s not that noticeable and not that big of a deal.
The Pressure Test
Danner delivered the boots to me just before I was about to start working on Thanksgiving dinner, ahead enough of this review to really get a chance to beat them into the ground. I happen to live in Texas, where slab construction is the norm, and my kitchen is ceramic tile on concrete, so you can imagine what a day cooking or just walking around is like. In tennies, it’s complete torture and I find myself sitting a lot wondering why I moved here and what kind of cruel joke this is.
So, self, I said to myself when they arrived so fortuitously, why not put these things through the worst torture they could possibly experience? It’s wet, there are sometimes slippery spots and oily spills, I’ll be on my feet all day and, frankly, it’s exhausting, so if there’s a flaw in these boots, I’m likely to find it and complain about it loudly.
I slipped them on without breaking them in and set to the task that was Thanksgiving Dinner (which is really a week in my house, I milk those leftovers until no one can stand to look at them anymore)
I marched back and forth, I let dogs in and out, I spilled things, I cleaned things up, I baked, I roasted, I chopped, I carried trash, I broiled. I did all the things that you do when it’s a big feast week and you’re the designated chef in the house (this is not a gender thing, my husband is just content to get tacos around the corner and I grew up in the Missouri Ozarks, a place that’s part midwest and part southern… we cook for holidays, it’s what we do).
And, after more hours than I want to admit, spread over two days, Thanksgiving was finished.
Much to my surprise, I wasn’t.
Keep in mind that I work out almost daily on this same tile floor (in a different room), in cross trainers that are supposed to actually be… you know, awesome for support. I pound this floor into the ground, that’s my point, and after a while it really starts to hurt. That’s concrete for you. Anyone who has worked in an industrial setting can back me up on this.
After the two-day turkey torture testing, my new Danner boots were really… magnificent. They were supportive, they were comfortable, they were slip resistant, just like the manufacturer claimed. I even shampooed the floor with the hard floor cleaning thing I own to make double sure that I was basically prepared for anything.
The boots were unphased. I was uninjured. It was really quite something, as most of the time new shoes will leave me with some kind of serious damage under these kinds of conditions. A bad blister usually, even a bad bruise across the bridge of my foot once when I couldn’t get the heel to fit properly and so ratcheted the laces in those shoes down until they couldn’t go down any further.
But nothing. No rubs, no blisters, no heels sliding out of place and screwing up my ankles and knees. Just support for miles and miles.
Oh, and that steel toe? I almost forgot to mention it because it’s literally like not having one. Until I accidentally kicked my desk with said boot, I had forgotten it even had steel toes. How’s that for a glowing endorsement for steel-toed boots from a lifelong steel-toed boot hater?
Would I wear them on a jobsite? Absolutely. I don’t care how much they remind me of the 1990s (not my finest decade). Would I wear them out shopping? Also, absolutely. In fact, I did that when we went to Costco the other day. Would I wear them wherever? Yes. And they go with pretty much every kind of outfit because they don’t look like actual work boots.
Oh, But There Are One or Two Things….
Before I leave you thinking that these boots are too good to be true, there are a few things that I didn’t love about them that I thought you should be aware of. These are not things that are major enough for me to burn them or shun them. I’d still recommend them to anyone who asked. But, beware:
They can be very stiff at first, especially in the ankles. They’re still a bit stiff two weeks on, which makes it a little trickier for me to hurt myself in some of the more creative ways I’ve done in the past. Back then Red Wings and injuries were my constant companions, it wasn’t exactly a cause and effect situation, though. Besides, leather is notoriously stiff.
The connected tongue is ok, but it’s a bit too wide. For me, anyway, the way the tongue fits together under the laces makes it just a little bit too wide. This ends in either my leaving the laces a bit too loose to keep it from sort of crinkling up sideways or allowing it to crinkle and then digging it out later when I’m tired of it looking weird. No matter what I do, I can’t get that wrinkle worked out. This might be something that’ll go away in time, though, since it doesn’t seem to affect the boot’s actual functionality in any way.
It’s easy to over tighten the laces. Like any boot or shoe, how you lace them is as important as anything. With these, it can be easy to over-tighten them because the foot box is actually wide enough and it always feels a bit like they’re going to fall off. They’re not going to – the ankle support is snug and the foot box is only very slightly oversized. Like I said, no shifting, no blisters. But that hasn’t stopped me from having to stop myself and re-lace more than once in a day.
I think possibly that as women, we’ve been taught to accept shoes that don’t quite fit and that’s just how it is, so having a shoe that actually fits right is kind of a weird feeling overall. This is the same reason I wear Chucks pretty much everywhere. Humans don’t walk on the sides of our feet, we walk on the bottoms, and the more room for that, the better, especially if you can remember boots you owned in the 1990s…
I know the $190 price tag can be hard to swallow when there are so many other options in the marketplace, but I can assure you that they’re worth every single penny. Even if I hadn’t been comped a pair for this review, I’d definitely have bought a pair after having spent a couple of weeks living in them.
Danner’s Women’s Bull Run Moc Toe are the kind of work boots you can wear everywhere, including work, and not need to make excuses for. I’m wearing them as I write this review, even, along with a cardigan, white camisole, and a silk skirt.
This is Texas, after all….