Danner Vital PlyoLite Hunting Boot Review

In this Danner Vital PlyoLite Boot Review

The Ultimate Hunting Boot Test on the Manitou Incline

As you likely do, I rely heavily on my gear to provide me with the comfort, durability, and support necessary to perform in the wilderness. Recently, I had the opportunity to test out the Danner 41550 Vital Plyolite Midsole Boots, which I am planning to wear on an upcoming archery Elk hunt. In this Danner Vital PlyoLite Hunting Boot Review, I will share my first-hand experience with these boots, highlighting their features, performance, and overall suitability.

To put these boots to the ultimate test, I opted to try them out on the Manitou Incline and Barr Trail here in Colorado. I figured this would be a great test for how the boots perform and provide a frame of reference for my conditioning for my upcoming hunt.

The Incline- Ultimate Proving Ground

I believe in pushing my gear to the limits. To thoroughly assess the performance of the Danner 41550 Vital Plyolite Midsole Boots, as I mentioned, I decided to tackle one of the most challenging hiking trails in Colorado—the Manitou Incline. It had been years since I had taken the hike, and my short memory did provide for some miscalculations, among them forgetting to bring my Trekking Poles, but it did prove to be an excellent test for me and the boot. Let’s dig in.

About the Manitou Incline and Barr Trail

Manitou Incline trail information

The Manitou Incline is a renowned and demanding hiking trail located in Colorado. It presents a formidable challenge, consisting of over 2,700 steps that ascend more than 2,000 feet in elevation in less than a mile. Altitude is a factor in breathing because the hike starts at 6,000 feet and ends at 8,550 feet. The steep gradient, loose rocks, and uneven surfaces require stamina and sure-footedness. The trail is well maintained, but Hikers must navigate the uneven railroad ties, rock, and gravel paths cautiously, relying on their footwear for traction and support. The trail has a step marker every hundred steps, but you lose interest in those rather quickly.

There are 3 turn out points for those that decide not to go to the peak, but for this review, the plan was to hit the peak and hike down Barr trail for the final leg of the review

Descending the 3.2-mile Barr Trail provides a different set of challenges. This trail is known for its rugged and varied terrain, featuring stretches of uneven surfaces, rocky patches, and occasional obstacles such as fallen trees, washouts from the rain, and tree roots. It requires a balance of agility and durability to tackle the downward journey effectively, especially after completing the Incline. Proper footwear is essential to maintain stability and prevent slips or injuries on challenging terrain. Remember that Danner’s standard use is not typically these two terrains; most hikers wear tennis shoes or ankle-high sporting boots.

The Manitou Incline and Barr Trail put hikers to the test, pushing their limits physically and mentally. The choice of footwear becomes almost as critical as water in ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience, as the right shoes must be light and provide excellent traction, durability, and comfort to withstand demanding conditions and inconsistent terrain.

So How Did The Danner Vital Hunting Boot Perfrom

Comfort and Fit

Danner Vital Hunting Boot

Hunting requires long hours on your feet, traversing rugged terrains, and enduring varying weather conditions. The Danner 41550 Vital Plyolite Midsole Boots provided excellent comfort and fit. The boot weighs 47 oz., substantially less than the primary boot I have been hunting in. The lock and load lacing system is a plus; the boot comes on and off easily while lacing up quickly.

I was pleased with the comfort and feel but knew the Incline would test everything I liked about the boot after lacing them up.

I had thought the incline would be a big part of this test, but the Danner performed better than I did. It’s a brutal hike, and I had zero issues with the boot. It remained comfortable and in no way hindered my ascent up the peak.

Comfort on the Descend

After conquering the Manitou Incline, I continued my adventure down the Barr Trail. This descent posed a different challenge: long stretches of downhill uneven terrain and occasional rocky patches. It was the first time I had put on these boots, and they did feel slightly stiffer than I’d liked, but it was to be expected and didn’t present an issue. Because of the downhill slope and position of my feet on the sloped switchbacks, I did get to feel every nook and cranny of this boot. It was also after 11:00 a.m. when I started my descent, and the heat and sun at that altitude were playing a factor. The boots stayed breathable and adjusted with my foot excellently.

Throughout the descent, the comfort of the Danner 41550 Vital Plyolite Midsole Boots never wavered. The lightweight design and Plyolite midsole technology minimized fatigue, allowing me to focus on the trail ahead. The boots provided the right amount of cushioning and support, ensuring my feet remained comfortable even during extended periods of walking. I did take a bit of scathing on one of my baby toes, but my poor choice of sock was the primary culprit there.

Plyolite Midsole Technology

Danner Vital PlyoLite Hunting Boot Review on the incline
A little more than halfway up the Incline

I always like the great names of manufacturers used to describe aspects of their products. I often read the fancy name and thought I didn’t feel or see any difference. it reminds me of when I was a kid and a buddy of mine was working at a gas station pumping gas. Yes, people used to pump your gas for you. One night we were out and ran into some girls, one asked if we worked, and my friend replied, yes, I’m a petroleum transfer engineer. So when I see a description like “Plyolite Midsole Technology,” I think it sounds cool but doesn’t amount to much different from any other shoe sole.

Well, in this case, I was wrong. I have an issue with the soles of my feet; after a respectable amount of hiking, they tend to get tender; the next day typically starts with Ibuprofen on a jaunt like this in my


other boots would have resulted in that tenderness. I can’t say for certain it was the “Plyolite Midsole Technology,” but I had zero tenderness in my soles after this extreme hike.

The boot is lightweight yet durable and offers solid shock absorption. It did limit strain on my feet and minimized fatigue even after over 4 hours of rigorous conditions. The midsoles provided excellent cushioning and responsiveness, resulting in stability and agility in uneven and inconsistent terrains.

Waterproof and Breathable Protection

When venturing into the wild, encountering wet and muddy conditions is inevitable. I hit water build-up in about 3 spots on the way down Barr Trail, but not for extended stretches. My feet stayed dry, but it would be hard to call that a test. The Danner 41550 Vital Plyolite Midsole Boots boasts a waterproof membrane that I am confident I will get to test; I just didn’t hit those conditions.


The incline didn’t present a great test for ruggedness, although I did catch a rock or railroad tie wrong a few times and felt no consequence to my foot or the boot. As I maneuvered through the terrain of Barr Trail, which presented a better test, the boots showed no signs of weakness. The abrasion-resistant leather and reinforced toe cap protected my feet against rocks and roots. On this test, like the waterproofing, I didn’t get to push the envelope on durability, but I can say, from everything I saw, they will hold up and only get even more comfortable when I get them worn in.

Manitou Incline

To me, the biggest test of durability is over time. I will get plenty of scouting time on these boots before my archery elk hunt in about 2 and half months and will update this and the waterproof sections after the hunt.

Versatility and Traction

Whether stalking prey through dense forests, backpacking challenging trails, or hiking treacherous mountainsides, having boots that offer reliable traction is vital. The Danner 41550 Vital Plyolite Midsole Boots delivered excellent grip on various surfaces, thanks to the multi-directional lug pattern on their outsoles. From rocks, downhill slopes, gravel, and other traction challenges, I felt confident in each step.

The loose gravel and uneven railroad ties of the Manitou Incline demanded reliable traction, and the Danner 41550 Vital Plyolite Midsole Boots delivered without fail. They dug deep into the ground, providing excellent grip and preventing slippage. Even on sections with loose rocks and gravel, I felt confident in each step, allowing me to focus on the arduous hike.

Lightweight Design

One of the significant advantages of the Danner 41550 Vital Plyolite Midsole Boots is their lightweight design. Compared to other boots I’ve used in the past, at 47oz. these boots felt noticeably lighter, greatly contributing to my mobility and agility during the hike. The reduced weight also meant less fatigue, allowing me to focus on my pursuits without heavy footwear burdening me. Granted, this hike is designed for Ultralight sporting footwear; the Danner held its own! This did tell me, in its element, a hunting situation; it should over-deliver.

Danner Vital PlyoLite Hunting Boot Review Sitting at the top of the incline

Scent Control Technology

As any seasoned hunter knows, minimizing scent is crucial for success in the field. The Danner 41550 Vital Plyolite Midsole Boots incorporate scent control technology, effectively reducing odors that could alert the game to my presence. This is another obvious area I haven’t had an opportunity to test, and although scent issues are something we all have ways of dealing with, every bit helps.

Danner Vital PlyoLite Hunting Boot Review Conclusion

In conclusion, the Danner 41550 Vital Plyolite Midsole Boots made a hell of a debut! After conquering the Manitou Incline and descending Barr Trail, I can confidently say that the Danner 41550 Vital Plyolite Midsole Boots exceeded my expectations. They demonstrated exceptional traction, breathability, and comfort, handling the steep inclines, rocky surfaces, and varied terrains with ease

The lightweight design, excellent traction, and scent control technology further contribute to their suitability for hunting and outdoor activities. For a sub $200 boot, these are the real deal! When you slip on these boots, you can trust they will carry the load.

Danner Vital PlyoLite Hunting Boot Review FAQs

Are the Danner 41550 Vital Plyolite Midsole Boots suitable for different weather conditions?

Yes, these boots are designed to withstand various weather conditions. The waterproof membrane and breathable lining keep your feet dry and comfortable whether it’s raining, snowing, or sunny.

Can I use these boots for activities other than hunting?

Absolutely! The Danner 41550 Vital Plyolite Midsole Boots are versatile and can be used for hiking, camping, or any outdoor activities that require durable, comfortable footwear.

How do the Danner 41550 Vital Plyolite Midsole Boots perform in terms of sizing?

Danner offers a wide range of sizes, and the boots generally fit true to size. However, it’s recommended to refer to the size chart provided by the manufacturer to ensure the perfect fit for your feet.

How do I maintain and care for these boots?

To prolong the lifespan of your Danner 41550 Vital Plyolite Midsole Boots, it’s essential to clean them regularly. Use a soft brush or cloth to remove dirt and debris, and apply a leather conditioner to keep the leather supple. Additionally, air dry the boots after each use and avoid exposure to direct heat sources.

Can I resole these boots if needed?

Yes, Danner offers resoling services for their boots. Contact their customer service or visit their authorized resoling centers to inquire about resoling options and procedures.


  • Michael Hodgdon

    A firearm, shooting, outdoor, and hunting enthusiast for over 35 years. Thank you all for the suggestions on topics you would like to see; we'll keep posting as you keep sending them in. Please comment; we will try to answer all comments quickly.

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