Danner Vital Boot Review
Editor: Johnny LeMaster
Just The Facts:
Facts concerning the Danner Vital Boot
Weight: 47oz per pair
Upper: Impregnated Split Leather with polyurethane and polyester
Footbed: Cushioning Molded Polyurethane, Open Cell
Liner: Danner Dry
Outsole: Danner Vital
Midsole: Danner Plyolite
Lacing System: Lock and Load
Boots have been a regular part of my life. I have worn them while hunting, serving in the military, and for work. Many hours and many miles have been spent wearing a variety of different boot with varying results. One thing that I have learned, it is important to have the correct boot for the situation to be able to continually perform at your peak. When you are half way through your work day, or miles away from your destination nothing will stop you quicker than sore feet, blisters, or poor support. Your feet are one of your most important tools, and should be taken care of accordingly.
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. When I told them that I would like to work with them to test out their product, they were very helpful in guiding me as to what boots would be the best for my planned usage. 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 in the traditional brown, 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.
When I received the boots, I took turns putting on both sets of boots and walking around a little just to get an initial impression of them. The Vitals were one of the most comfortable, out of the box, boots I have ever put on. It felt like I was wearing a tennis shoe. I started alternating which boots to wear each day for the week and a half that I had prior to the season opener. My goal was to wear them as much as possible in hopes of being able to break them in prior to being out in the woods miles from camp. It was clear after the first day that these boots would require almost no break in period. They were incredibly comfortable immediately. They provided me with great support without the typical new boot stiffness. This was very good news for me, as the other Danner boots I got, the Gila Subalpines needed the additional time to break in. Just to be sure that I was not being lulled into a false sense of confidence with these boots I wore them on a hilly hike, and put a few more miles on them. I was happy they were performing great, so I put them aside until deer season started.
Although deer season did not last long for me this year, luckily, I did have the opportunity to wear the Vitals, and see a little about how they would perform when I needed to depend on them. I spent my deer season hunting mostly flatter river bottom terrain. By flat I do not mean it was a smooth surface, but instead, lacked large hills. I hiked through plowed and unplowed farm fields, dried stream beds filled with cobble, thick riparian zone, and water crossing. The Danner developed their own breathable waterproof boot line called Danner Dry, similar to GORE-TEX. It performed excellent. It kept my feet dry and comfortable while hiking in the morning dew, and crossing streams. Water beaded on the boot, and rolled off, not soaking in at all. It also allowed my foot to breath, keeping my foot cool and comfortable while hunting in weather reaching the mid 90’s. The 8” tall polyester/ split leather upper offered great support and resistance to abrasion in the uneven river bottom terrain, and near vertical rocky ravines.
I have always been a fan of 8” tall boots. They typically provide better support and protection than their counterparts. I spend a lot of time deer hunting and elk hunting in higher, steeper mountainous terrain where the additional support can mean the difference between a good day and a bad one. During Elk season I hike many miles per day chasing after the harvest. Comfort and durability are a must for this. Danner recommended the Vital for hunting in the steeper terrain, and I was very pleased with how they performed. The 8” upper with the Lock and Load lacing system keep the boot tight and secure providing great ankle support and torsional resistance in all applications. The polyurethane open cell foot bed mixed with the Daner Plyolite midsole get the foot supported and comfortable during the long hikes. The Danner Vital outsole offered good traction in CRP, steep loose rock and dirt hillsides. The Nylon shank did its job keeping the foot supported while side hilling, but was flexible enough to allow the foot to move comfortably while climbing out of canyons. The only complaint that I have is the spacious toe box was a little too spacious. It was very comfortable for most hiking situations, allowing the foot to have room to breathe, but allowed for more movement than I like inside the boot while side hilling.
The Vital is a good boot for all types of hiking, especially in steep terrain. The Danner Dry liner and Vital sole are great additions to make this boot durable and comfortable when hiking in adverse weather, and varying terrains. You will be happy with these boots from when you first try them on right out of the box and continue to be pleased when you have miles to go until you get back to hunting camp.
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What Can Be Done Better:
I would like to see the toe box be a little more snug. While I was side hilling for long periods crossing spurs and draws, the ball of my foot and toes moved a little more than I would have liked. I do not like my foot to feel completely confined, but I also do not like a boot that allows my foot to move a lot. I never ended up with any blisters or hotspots from the foot movement luckily. The spacious toe box is great for most hiking applications. It keeps the foot from feeling confined, and allows for a little bit of room to breathe helping to keep the foot from sweating too much. I would give these boots 4.25 out of 5 stars. They are an overall good, sound boot that I will continue to use on a regularly.