Today, we are looking at two popular moc toe style work boots: the Danner Bull Run in brown, and Thorogood’s American Heritage 6” Moc Toe in black.
Danner started in 1932 making logger boots and now makes a variety of shoes from military footwear to leisure footwear using high quality materials, and finds its home in the Pacific Northwest.
Thorogood has been around since 1892 making everything from fire fighting boots to modern style work boots in Wisconsin.
With that, let’s get right into it.
Danner vs Thorogood Overview
- Danner’s 6” boot is shorter and has more subtle stitching
- The stitchdown construction is more flexible and water resistant
- This boot is a little harder to resole
- Thorogood has a top eyelet after the speed hooks for extra security
- Thorogood has more visible stitching and more of it
- Thorogood has a pull tab at the heel
I think both boots look great, but speaking aesthetically, I prefer the look of the Danners. They are just simpler looking, with less stitching that’s colored more subtly.
Despite both being called 6-inch boots, the Thorogoods are taller boots, with a top eyelet after the speed hooks to give you more support and prevent the laces from falling out of the speed hooks. (I don’t use the eyelet and just lace up to the top speed hook.)
One thing the Thorogoods have is a pull tab at the heel, which makes it much easier to pull on the boots. I did change the laces on both boots, as I find the laces that both pairs of boots came with to be a pain, since they don’t really give. I like my laces to have more stretch so they expand with my foot instead of keeping it tightly bound. All of this is to say: don’t be put off by the laces in the photos, they aren’t the ones the boots come with.
Danner vs Thorogood Leather and Construction
- Both boots use full grain leather, though Danner’s is oilier
- Both have very shock absorbent insoles
- Both boots are about as water resistant as each other
- Danner’s Stitchdown construction is more flexible
- Thorogood’s Goodyear storm welt is easier to resole
There’s a big difference in the way the Danner’s oiled leather feels versus the Thorogoods.
It has a nice, soft, almost suede-like feel while the Thorogoods feel a bit like a baseball mitt. Danner is softer; while the Thorogoods are pretty soft up around the ankles, the forefoot is pretty stiff. The Thorogoods’ stiffer leather is great for support, but not for breaking in.
The biggest issue I have with the Danners is the tongue. It uses the same oiled leather as the rest of the upper and if I lace them up too tight, I get lace bite: the front of my ankle gets irritated from the pressure because the tongue isn’t very padded or substantial. (I am planning on changing out the laces to help with that.)
The companies use different materials for their shanks but I didn’t feel much difference in either one.
I have worn both boots in wet weather with no issues, although I have not had the boots submerged in water for extended periods of time. When comparing the two kinds of construction, stitchdown is considered more water resistant than a storm welt, but the difference isn’t very significant and neither boot is waterproof. The more important note is that the stitchdown is more flexible, but it’s a tad harder to find a cobbler to resole it and it can’t be resoled as many times.
The Thorogoods much stiffer boots: if you go from standing to squatting a lot throughout your day, you will feel how stiff the boot is. Danner’s stitchdown construction flexes much more easily at the forefoot.
[Further Reading: Danner vs Red Wing; Comparing American Moc Toes]
Danner vs Thorogood Sizing and Comfort
- Both are pretty true to size
- Danners are a little wider than most
- Thorogoods run a bit narrow
- Both are available in wide widths
- Danner’s leather is much easier to break in
Both boots I bought are size 8 D. I measure between 8.0 and 8.5 D/E on a Brannock device. With something like a Nike or Adidas running shoe, I wear a size 8.5 but in something like an Air Force 1, I wear an 8.0. Knowing that boots will stretch over time I went with an 8 D.
When I first slipped on the Danners, I knew I would have to spend about a week to break them in. The boots had the same hot spots on my foot as hockey skates do so I was ready for the pain. The forefoot was fine for me, but the heel was where I had some discomfort. There was some pain, but no blisters. I’d say I put in about 40 hours to break the Danners in, now I can wear them all day.
The Thorogoods are a different story. The boot felt similar to the Danners when I first put them on, albeit a little narrower. I went with the D width anyway, knowing that leather stretches. After the first couple of 8 hour shifts, I realized this would not go as smoothly as the Danners. The forefoot has stretched, but not enough on my right foot. However, the biggest problem I’m facing is heel slippage. I’ve added some foam around the heels to help keep my heel down.
I feel like Danner’s oiled leather breaks in much quicker because it is a softer leather than the Thorogood.
[Read our full Danner Bull Run review]
[Read out full Thorogood Moc Toe review]
Danner vs Thorogood Soles
- Danner uses an Ortholite footbed
- Thorogood uses an Ultimate Shock Absorption footbed on Poron®
- Danner uses their own wedge outsole
- Thorogood uses a MAXWear wedge
Booth boots have very nice feeling soles. Thorogood seems to have a bit more bounce to them, and you also feel a little taller in them. The Thorogood footbed is also slightly thicker. Both wedge soles have good grip even after being in the rain. They grip the smooth concrete floor I work on well enough that I can push a stove without slipping. Both boots carry an ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) F2892-18 rating which is good for electrical hazards.
In short, while Thorogood has a bit more bounce, there’s not a huge difference in how the soles feel or the shock absorption, which is excellent in both boots.
Thorogood vs Danner Price
- Danner Bull Run: ~$250
- Thorogood American Heritage 6” workboot: ~$250
When shopping on Amazon (where they’re cheapest), the price of a boot will fluctuate a little based on what size you order and even when you order, but on average, both boots are about the same price. Given they’re made in America (albeit with imported materials), the fact that they’re both under $300 is very impressive.
- Danners are more flexible and break in more easily
- Thorogoods are easier to resole
- Both are water resistant, electrical shock resistant, and similarly suitable for work
There’s a lot to like with both boots. There are cheaper work boots out there, but I wanted something that is well constructed and made in the USA. I also knew I would be buying at least two pairs so rather than wear one boot everyday, I wear the same boot every other day so the leather doesn’t stay damp from moisture.
I don’t feel a difference in the shanks but I do feel a difference in the construction and how it makes Thorogood’s so much stiffer at the forefoot. If I had to pick one of the two, I’d buy the Danner Bull Runs again. The soft leather and the stitchdown build make for an easier break in. The one thing I really don’t like is Danner’s tongue. I wish it was a bit longer and made of a thicker leather.
The Thorogoods are still nice and the footbed to the sole are very comfortable. Either way, you can’t go wrong with either one.