Review: Danner Vicious

I promised this review a long time ago. My only excuse is that the delay has made it an even better review… (Teal Deer at the end of the post.)

This isn’t about books. It’s about boots. Specifically, the Danner Vicious I bought in March for work purposes. Before making this investment – I paid more for these boots than I have ever spent on any single item of garb including wedding dresses – I did a bit of research. One part of that was asking for recommendations on social media, and the comment thread on facebook was epic. Thanks, belated, to all who contributed there, I was able to get a feel (heh!) for what would work for me. See, different brands fit feet differently. I’m not a tall… ok. I’m a short woman, even relative to average female height. But I have what some would call a solid understanding – I have big feet, relative to either sex. I wear a size 11 woman’s shoe, and a 10.5 men’s, usually. Brands vary. My feet are not narrow, either. So!

What I needed for work was fairly specific. I work most of the time in a lab, with a fair amount of butt in chair in front of a computer. While closed toe shoes are absolutely the rule at work – no one likes acid drips on their skin – safety toes are not, necessarily. Except… my job also entails a bit of time in the plant collecting environmental samples. And in there, I have to have the whole shebang: safety shoes with non-static soles. Given I also enjoy hiking, and was wearing my beat-up hiking boots to work most of the time anyway, I wanted something along that line for work. There are safety shoes that look like sneakers, and some of my coworkers favor them, but I’ve worn boots most of my life and I’m comfortable with them.

I also didn’t want boots that needed a daily polish. When I’m sampling, I’m frequently in water, standing, crouching, and climbing ladders. When I wear them hiking I kick rocks, sticks, and try to avoid the poo. My boots needed to look decent without fuss and bother. Knowing all this going in, I knew more or less the style I wanted – an ankle-high hiking boot. I didn’t want a tall boot because most of the time I don’t need it, and it was a comfort issue. I didn’t want a low-quarter shoe because I do have a wonky ankle (don’t sprain it badly, then attempt to run competitively not once, but twice, within six weeks. Twenty odd years later and it still sounds like it has gravel in it when I rotate). In the epic comment thread, my concerns over steel toes were allayed by finding out that composite toes are perfectly acceptable, and much more comfortable especially in winter.

Danner Vicious, a leather hiking boot with composite toes, slip and oil-resistant vibram sole, and Gore-Tex lining.

So I bought the Danners. At slightly less than $200 they were expensive, but I figured that good boots, with moderate wear, would last me for years. I’m going to digress a little here. I’m talking more about work than I usually do, since it is the reason I got the boots. I really love my job, for many reasons. It’s mentally challenging, but physically? Not usually. I work M-F and get home at a reasonable hour. It had been that way for about a year when I ordered the boots. No sooner had I gotten them than April happened. April was a weird month. I worked all of April. And by all, I mean every single day that month, and every day was spent at least partly in the plant pulling samples. The boots got a trial by, um, water and chemicals. No fire involved, although there was steam. Lots of ladders.

Now? it’s been six months since I first put them on. I lace them up every weekday morning, and every evening, I remember to take them off shortly after I come home. Not because they are bothering me, but I prefer to be barefoot when I can. The boots are incredibly comfortable and supportive. The tops were very stiff when I first received them, and had I not plunged into April, I might have had trouble with them, as they were biting one of my Achilles’ tendons hard. But they broke in after about 10 days of constant wear and now fit perfectly. Some of the plastic decorative bits aren’t terribly secure – one of the lace protectors popped up within a couple of weeks – but I pressed that back into place and it stayed put. That didn’t affect the construction of the boot, though.

I’d buy them again, but you’ll note that they look almost new still, after half a year. I anticipate years of foot protection from them. And they look good with jeans. I’ve hiked in them, and the hiking sandals (my other great shoe purchase this year) and they promise to be great for that – it’s been too hot, and I’ve been too busy for much hiking. Anyway!


TL:DR I’m happy. I highly recommend them. I used a lot of words to say that, but seriously, these are boots to wax lyrical over.



13 responses to “Review: Danner Vicious”

  1. That sounds like a great set of boots! It is SO important to wear good shoes when you have to be in them all day long like that — I’ve spent way too many years with my feet hurting most of the time because I didn’t have good shoes. I finally found SAS shoes, which are in the same price range (our slip-on shoes were in the $150-160 range; their brand of boots would cost as much as your Danners or more) and I can wear them all day without my feet hurting. And they last forever — I bought two pair used before spending money on new ones. I’ve had the first used pair for at least four or five years and while they aren’t pretty any more because I abuse them, they are still holding together just fine. There is a lot to be said for getting good-quality American-made shoes!

    1. I think I looked at the SAS boots and flinched at the price – Originally my work was supposed to reimburse up to $200, that didn’t happen but I don’t mind, the boots were worth it.

  2. Hmmm, I’ll have to look at them closer, maybe see if I can find a retailer with them locally for me to try on. My feet and ankles are screwed, and I finally gave in to the need for actual quality shoes a couple years ago. On the other hand, I’m short with tiny, but wide, feet. And at work I’m on my feet for 8hrs on solid concrete, but I don’t hike. So our needs may not mesh, but I’m always on the lookout for something to look closer at.

    I’m currently wearing Ahnu’s Montaras. Hightops, and a higher hightop at that, but not so tall as to quite be a boot, at least as I define things. Very light weight, which is nice, surprisingly breath-able while still keeping my feet dry in the rain. I like them quite a bit.

    1. Trying on is a good thing. I got mine from Amazon, paying attention to the ‘free returns’ in case they were a problem (and I did debate it with the stiff ankle). When I’m working at the bench I’m standing on concrete (for that matter, the plant floor is concrete too), and they provide excellent support. I’m happier than I am with the no-name ‘nursing’ shoes I bought for the Micro lab job where I was on my feet all day long.

  3. I’m currently using Wrangler branded slip-ons i got at Wal-Mart. Maybe i should spend more.

    1. We went through this with the First Reader – when I came to live with him he was going through shoes every 4-6 months, buying really cheap. We spent about twice what he’d been spending (roughly $90) for Maelstrom boots, and not only did they help a lot (8″ boots) with his ankle issues, they lasted close to 4 years. So it really does matter. Have you ever read Vimes’ rant in one of Pratchett’s books, about boots?

      1. I will echo that. If you’re on your feet, for either work or play, for an extended period, decent shoes are worth it.

        I was buying cheap shoes every 3 months for work. Stepping up to a slightly nicer shoe (aka I went to the shoe store instead of walmart) only netted me an extra couple months. Stepping up to just over the $100 mark (the on sale price for my current work shoes) netted me well over a year of wear (pushing two years now actually). Plus much happier feet and ankles. And the difference between $20-30 3 or 4 times a year and $100 once every 2 years is noticeable.

  4. A good pair of boots is one of the greatest, and most under rated joys in life.

  5. jon spencer Avatar
    jon spencer

    For the next time you buy boots, the Made in USA Danners are rebuildable.
    My Mountain Light II’s are over ten years old and have been completely rebuilt by Danner.
    They do charge for the rebuilding though.
    And if you sign up for their emails, about once a quarter they have overstocks and discontinued on sale. Quite a bit off too.
    Also, if you have a “not so common” size there is a good chance that your size has a even greater discount.

    1. jon spencer Avatar
      jon spencer

      Forgot to add, don’t be surprised at the sticker price for Danners Made in USA boots.
      Usually $300 +or- some, you do get what you pay for though.

      1. Just took mine off and looked – they are made in Vietnam. Heh – but thank you, I will definitely keep that in mind, I really like these.

  6. jon spencer Avatar
    jon spencer

    Danner is having one of those sales right now (aug. 30), here is the link to Danner,
    Nothing that fits me, again.