Danner Bull Run Review: Is It the Very Best Moc Toe?

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by  William Barton | Last Updated: 

Wondering if the Danner Bull Run should be your next big boot purchase? There are a ton of different work boots, so it’s not like you’re hurting for options.

In this Danner Bull Run review, we’re going to take a close look at this American made boot and compare it to some other popular moc toes so you can decide whether it’s worth buying.

The summer moc toe?
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Danner Bull Run

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Bottom line: The Danner Bull Run is a solid boot, but the stitchdown construction and relatively thin leather makes it a runner up to the Thorogood Moc Toe. That said, the thinner leather may actually be a bonus if you’re buying a summer work boot, but otherwise, we recommend Thorogood at this price point.

Ratings:

At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Design At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon
At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Quality of Materials At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon
At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Craftsmanship At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon
At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Fit & Sizing At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon
At a Glance Feature Image/Icon  Value for Money At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon At a Glance Feature Image/Icon

Pros:

  • The stitchdown construction is recraftable and leaves a decent amount of room in the toe box
  • It’s made in the USA (and has a tiny nylon flag to prove it)
  • The wedge sole is OSHA safety certified
  • The steel shank makes this a solid choice if you need to climb ladders or poles for work

Cons:

  • The leather is 1.5mm thick, which might actually be desirable as a summer work boot, but compared to Thorogood and Red Wing’s 2mm minimum leather, it’s not as robust
  • The midsole is entirely synthetic

My closet is currently filled with moc toe boots. 

It’s a problem (for my wife—not me).

My latest buy was the Danner Bull Run. It’s built totally differently than competitors like Thorogood and Red Wing, and in my quest to figure out which moc toe is the best, I couldn’t pass on Danner. 

I’ve broken in these boots and after hours of wear, I’ve reached a verdict on whether or not they’re worth it.

Read on to get my full thoughts, including how these stack up against the competition. 

Danner Bull Run Overview

model wearing danner bull run boots in construction

Danner was founded in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin (also where Chippewa Boots is based) back in 1932.

Shortly after, in 1936, Charles Danner packed up shop and hit the road for Portland, Oregon, where Danner boots are still made today.

There are several different “types” of Danner Bull Run boots, but the most popular is their moc toe. That’s what I’ll be covering in this review. 

Danner Bull Run on model

I picked up my pair in their brown leather, which is the most popular version. Danner also offers the same moc toe in a lighter Tobacco color and a matte black. 

Danners are still made in Portland, Oregon. 

Things to Consider Before Buying Danner Bull Run Boots

model sitting on brick wall wearing Danner Bull Run boots

The Danner Bull Run has relatively thin leather compared to other brands like Thorogood and Red Wing

Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing—in fact, it can be a positive if you’re looking for a summer work boot. 

But because the leather is less thick, the boot is less robust and won’t hold up as well over time if you’re working in particularly rough conditions like construction, roofing, plumbing, etc. 

Danner Bull Run boots closeup profile view

Also, these boots have a stitchdown construction, which offers more water resistance than a Goodyear welt, but if you damage the leather along the lip of the shoe by the sole, there’s a chance you won’t be able to recraft your boot and add a new sole when the time comes. 

On the plus side of the stitchdown build, your foot will have a more even footbed compared to a Goodyear welt, so guys with wider feet will likely find these a bit more comfortable than the competition. 

Danner Bull Run

The Danner Bull Run is a solid boot, but the stitchdown construction and relatively thin leather makes it a runner up to the Thorogood Moc Toe. That said, the thinner leather may actually be a bonus if you’re buying a summer work boot, but otherwise, we recommend Thorogood at this price point.

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Danner Bull Run Boots Review

First Impression

Danner Bull Run walking through rain

The Danner Bull Run is a good looking boot. It’s solid with a nice wide base, and the brown leather is handsome.

These boots feature stitchdown construction, which is a bit different than the work boot gold standard Goodyear welt. 

The leather flanges out toward the sole and is stitched directly to the midsole. This creates an even footbed and offers excellent water resistance (though it’s not waterproof). 

Danner Bull Run boots on model sitting on wall

The moc toe portion of the upper is hand stitched, which is a really nice touch, especially for a boot at this price. The rest of the upper is double stitched and there’s an added layer of leather along the ball of the foot for added durability. 

The Bull Run is unlined and has a classic wedge sole like many other moc toe boots. From a style perspective, it’s somewhere between the Red Wing Classic Moc and the Thorogood Moc Toe

It has the height of the Red Wing and the width of the Thorogood Moc, though the stitching is much less pronounced on the Danner compared to these other two brands. 

Leather Quality and Care

Danner Bull Run boots while walking

The Danner Bull Run is made with an oil tanned full grain pull up leather. It’s solid quality, though there’s no mention where the leather is from.

It’s quite thin at 1.5mm. For comparison’s sake, Thorogood’s leather is 2mm thick, Red Wing’s is 2.2mm, and the Thursday Diplomat measures in at a whopping 3mm (though it’s lined, so that adds some width). 

Thinner leather on a work boot poses some obvious downsides—it’s not going to last as long as the other boots mentioned if you’re putting it through rough conditions. If you’re working in a warehouse with handcarts, doing wood or metal work, or working in a garage where all sorts of knicks and scratches happen, the thinner leather is a liability.

Danner Bull Run boots on brick

But there’s also an upside, too. Thinner unlined leather also makes for more breathability. I can see these being a good choice for summer work boots as they still offer a decent amount of protection and stability. 

The leather is good quality—at least as good as Thorogood (but not on par with Red Wing). It’s just a bit thin is all. 

Danner Bull Run on model 1 1

As for care, if you want to keep the color the same, I’d treat them with Bick 4. If you’re not worried about making the leather darker, I’d condition them with Sof Sole Mink Oil to add an additional layer of water resistance. 

Bickmore Bick 4 Leather Conditioner

Bick 4 is an outstanding addition to your leather conditioner collection. It’s inexpensive and perfect for giving your boots a pick-me-up without changing the color at all. It doesn’t penetrate deep into the leather, so you should use a liberal amount, and you may want to do several layers, but the price is right.

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I typically don’t care what color my work boots are, so I’ll be reaching for the mink oil when it’s time to spruce my Bull Runs up. 

Sole

Danner Bull Run wedge sole detail

Danner uses a custom wedge outsole that’s similar to the Vibram Cristy and nearly identical to the Thorogood Moc Toe outsole.

Most moc toes have a super similar sole and I haven’t noticed a significant difference between any of them. 

Danner Bull Run wedge sole while walking

I do like that the Bull Run features a steel shank. This helps with arch support, and can be a real bonus if you ride motorcycles, climb poles, or stand on ladders for portions of your day. Many boots with a wedge sole will skip the shank because the middle of your foot is already getting a decent amount of support.

So while the shank isn’t necessary, it’s nice to have and offers a lot of benefits in certain situations. Of course, it also adds some weight to each boot, but the Bull Run still weighs less than both the Red Wing and Thorogood at just under 700g per boot. 

Danner Bull Run ortholite insole detail

The midsole is entirely synthetic—it’s a piece of rubber cemented to the fiber board footbed. Resting on top of the footbed is a removable Ortholite insole.

The midsole doesn’t scream durability—I doubt these boots will hold up to more than two years of tough wearing. Fiberboard tends to wear out quickly, and with nothing but the rubber midsole below that, there isn’t much keeping your foot from the outsole. 

Danner Bull Run ortholite insole profile detail

Again, this at first glance seems like a negative, but the flip side of the coin is that these materials allow for a lot more breathability. Plus you can remove the Ortholite insole and pop in your own custom insole. 

So both the leather and sole aren’t the most durable, but the Danner Bull Run is noticeably more comfortable if you have sweaty feet and work outside a lot in hot weather. 

Fit and Sizing

Danner Bull Run boots on model with yellow jacket

Fit and sizing is pretty straight forward with Danner. Start by ordering a half-size smaller than you normally would with sneakers. 

Danner’s boots fit similar to many other bootmakers like Red Wing, Wolverine, etc. So I’m normally a 10.5 in sneakers and opted for the 10 with these boots. 

model sitting on wall Danner Bull Run

They felt a bit snug at first, but after breaking them in, I’m glad I picked up the 10. 

The Bull Run has a lot of ankle support, which I love, and one of the benefits of stitchdown construction is that the footbed is more flat compared to Goodyear welted boots. It’s a subtle difference, but I think it allows for a more uniform fit when you lace your boots up.

Break-in Period

model wearing yellow jacket and Danner Bull Run boots

Of all the moc toes I’ve tried, the Danner Bull Run has the worst break in period. The leather is quite rigid at first and I experienced a lot of rubbing in the instep for the first several wears. 

Luckily my heel didn’t develop any blisters, but the instep took a while to become more comfortable. 

I’d wear a thick pair of wool socks the first five or six times you strap these boots on for the day. Just note, if you’re wearing them in summer, your feet will be soaking and stinking. 

The Bull Run wasn’t the worst break in I’ve had, but I’d say it’s in the top five. That said, unless a boot mangles my foot, I don’t really mind a break in. 

What do Other Reviewers Say?

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A lot of the reviews online also mention a tough break in period. As someone who essentially breaks in boots for a living, I wouldn’t let that stop you from buying these. 

Otherwise, these get positive reviews from folks buying for work and for style.

The truth is, while my review has been relatively negative, they’re still good boots and they’re priced fairly. That shows in the reviews: they’re mostly positive, and some people swear by Danner. 

Danner Bull Run Alternatives

Thorogood Moc Toe

Danner Bull Run vs thorogood moc toe

To me, the Thorogood Moc Toe is a better pick than the Danner Bull Run as a work boot for a few reasons.

First, the leather on the Thorogood Moc Toe is thicker by a half centimeter, which adds significantly to the durability. 

And the midsole of the Thorogood Moc has some natural materials that’ll also last longer than the Danner.

I also like that the Thorogood has a pull tab in the back and three speed hooks to Danner’s two. Those features make Thorogood much easier to put on and take off, which is a huge help if you have back problems. 

All that said, I’d pick the Danner Bull Run for a hard-working summer. Because the leather is thinner and the entire sole is synthetic, the Bull Run is more breathable (it’s also about 100 grams lighter per boot). 

Thorogood Moc Toe

The Thorogood Moc Toe is an excellent value buy work boot. While I don’t think it’s as stylish as other alternatives, lightweight features like a fiberglass shank and Poron insole boost the rugged durability while cutting cost and weight. If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive moc toe work boot, the Thorogood Moc Toe is my top choice.

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Red Wing Classic Moc

Danner Bull Run vs red wing classic moc toe 1

The Red Wing Classic Moc is a big step up in quality and price. Made entirely with natural materials, including leather and cork midsole, a leather footbed, and a crepe rubber sole, the Red Wing Classic Moc has the best chance of lasting 10+ years of any boot mentioned in this article. 

The leather is superb and makes for a really distinctive boot. It has a smaller footprint than the Danner Bull Run by a full centimeter (might not seem like a lot, but visually it makes a big difference). 

Overall, the design is a little more fashionable, though no one would mistake the Red Wing Classic Moc for anything other than a tough looking work boot. 

I’d pick the Red Wing Classic Moc for an everyday boot that I planned on wearing for years and years, but I’d rather go to work in the Danners because I’m less worried about beating them up. 

Red Wing 8863 Classic Moc

The Red Wing Classic Moc Toe boot has quite a large toe box, which can be off-putting for some, though it’s an ideal match for American Heritage workwear aesthetic. The Puritan Triple stitching, 360-degree Goodyear welt, and thick full grain leather footbed all make for a beast of a boot that will easily last years. The 8863 is made from Slate Muleskinner leather---a roughout suede that I think looks super cool.

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Thursday Boots Diplomat

Danner Bull Run vs thursday diplomat 2

The Thursday Diplomat is the most fashion-forward boot on this list. It’s the same price as the Danner Bull Run, features a 360-degree Goodyear welt, a Vibram Christy outsole and has a leather and cork midsole. 

The biggest difference is that there isn’t nearly as much room in the toe on the Thursday Diplomat compared to the Danner Bull Run. 

I probably wouldn’t hit a construction site in the Thursday Diplomat. But if you’re looking to add a boot to your fall and winter wardrobe, I would pick the Thursday Diplomat all day. 

Thursday Diplomat

The Thursday Boots Diplomat is a one-of-a-kind moc toe. Most comparable boots have a huge toe box that doesn’t work well with a pair of fitted jeans or chinos. Combine a slim design with high quality materials like a Vibram Christy wedge sole, steel shank, and Thursday’s excellent oil-tanned Rugged & Resilient leather, and you’ve got a winner here.

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My Thoughts Overall On the Danner Bull Run

What I Like

  • The stitchdown construction has a lot of water resistance and makes for a comfortable footbed.

  • It’s made in the USA in Portland, Oregon.

  • The Danner Wedge sole is OSHA certified and offers electrical protection. 

  • The steel shank helps if you climb ladders, ride motorcycles, or climb poles for work. 

What I Don’t Like

  • With 1.5mm thick leather, the Danner Bull Run doesn’t offer as much protection or durability compared to Thorogood and Red Wing.

  • The synthetic midsole poses some durability risks.

Who is the Danner Bull Run for?

The Bull Run is a great boot if you’re looking for a lightweight summer work boot. The leather is thinner than competitors and the entire sole is synthetic, which is a sacrifice in durability, but it’s a big win for temperature regulation.

The Verdict

I like the Danner Bull Run. I really do. It’s a well-made work boot for a very reasonable price. 

But there are three other alternatives that edge out the Bull Run in just about any category.

For pure work, I’d choose the Thorogood Moc Toe for its thicker leather and sturdier midsole. 

For a long-lasting heritage boot that will age like wine, I’d pick the Red Wing Classic Moc (though the Red Wing is significantly more expensive than all the other boots mentioned).

And for style-only purposes, I’d pick the Thursday Diplomat—to me it’s easily the best looking boot of the four.

The only reason I’d choose Danner over these is if I worked in the heat a lot. 

In that scenario, the thinner leather and synthetic midsole materials actually become good things rather than liabilities. They add a ton more breathability that can be a relief in the summer heat. 

Otherwise, I’d pick a different boot.

Danner Bull Run

The Danner Bull Run is a solid boot, but the stitchdown construction and relatively thin leather makes it a runner up to the Thorogood Moc Toe. That said, the thinner leather may actually be a bonus if you’re buying a summer work boot, but otherwise, we recommend Thorogood at this price point.

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FAQs

How does the Danner Bull Run fit?

The Danner Bull Run should be purchased a half size smaller than your usual sneaker size. At first, it fits a little snug in the instep, but becomes more comfortable there as you break it in. Otherwise, it’s a bit wider than most boots due to the stitchdown construction and leaves plenty of room in the toes.

Where are Danner Bull Runs made?

Danner finishes their boots in Portland, Oregon, and have materials important. The hand-stitched moc toe leads me to believe the upper is sewn abroad and then attached to the sole in the USA.

Can Danner Bull Runs be resoled?

Technically, yes. Danner charges $130 for the service, though you can find a local cobbler who can likely do the job for cheaper. However, because it’s stitchdown, if you wear out the flanged leather, you won’t be able to resole the boot.

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