From stalking pheasants across the Kansas plains to hunting chukars along Utah slick rock, our contributor put a pair of Danner Sharptails to the test through a year of real-world abuse.
Late last year found me searching for a pair of do-everything boots that could keep up with my life on the farm. They also had to endure hunting and fishing in the wilds. I chose the waterproof leather Danner Sharptail.
Over the past year I’ve put my Sharptails to the test. They’ve been through four full seasons of mud, rain, snow, and tall grass. I wore them on hunting and fishing trips and through a wide variety of farm chores.
Read on to see how these boots held up to this outdoorsman’s tests.
In short: The $190 Danner Sharptail boots offer solid waterproofing and warmth for those who spend a lot of time in the elements hunting. The break-in time is brief—less than a month—and with some basic care they seem to last a long time. The tread isn’t aggressive and has worn low with a year’s use. But for non-technical terrain, these are among the most comfortable boots I’ve owned.
Danner Sharptail Boot Review
Danner launched the Sharptail boots in 2016 in its hunting line specifically for upland bird hunters. Full-grain leather and 900-denier nylon grace the upper, with a Gore-Tex liner supplying waterproofing. The brand’s own outsole pattern adds grip and gives the Sharptail its name.
Thanks to the leather upper and folding points around the ankle, the break-in time for these boots took less than a month. Plus, a little conditioner helped expedite the process.
The day after I bought them, I took the Sharptails on a spur-of-the-moment fishing trip along the banks of Oregon’s Sandy River. I swung flies while standing in the water. The Gore-Tex liner kept my feet warm and dry.
I have average-width feet, and the boots have a great feel. The boots feel secure around the midsection of my feet, with room in the toe box to spread them out to keep from crowding. If your feet require the extra width, the Sharptails are available in EE width.
Waterproof Submersion Test
I was super interested to see how long the Gore-Tex liner remains waterproof.
To see how they held up one year later, I gave them the “kitchen-sink
submersion test.” With my hands in the boots, I pushed them down and felt for moisture passing through the Gore-Tex layer.
- 15 seconds: left boot dry, right boot dry
- 30 seconds: left boot dry, right boot dry
- 45 seconds: left boot dry, right boot damp
- 1 minute: left boot damp, right boot small amount of water in boot
- 1:30: left boot damp, right boot has teaspoon of water
Did the Gore-Tex hold up 100 percent after a year in use? Crude testing shows it did not.
It begs the question: Do you see yourself over your ankles for a minute or two in water? I’ve personally never been in the situation while bird hunting. The Sharptails did hold up for about 45 seconds, which seems exceptional for what they were built for.
During hotter weather, I’ve gone with lighter wool socks to keep my feet in a comfortable temperature range. The Gore-Tex breathes well to ensure a variety of temperature ranges.
This light-duty boot is not very insulated. As such, I’m happy with these as an everyday wear, bird hunting, and lifestyle selection. For those sitting in late-season tree stands or traversing snowy western mountainsides, they are not the boots for the job.
For these colder hunting ventures, you’ll want to look at Danner’s insulated offerings in the Powderhorn or Elk Hunter selections.
Danner Sharptail: Traction
The sole tread seemed to be the weakest link in the Sharptail’s construction. The tread wasn’t the most aggressive to begin with, but it isn’t necessary for upland hunting.
The Sharptails have worked great through bluestem grass on dry or muddy paths chasing birds on my family’s farm in northeast Kansas.
A chukar hunt in Utah proved to be the biggest test they’ve been up against. I post-holed through 8–10 inches of crust-layered snow up and down steep valleys. I trudged thought exposed patches with puddles of snowmelt water and cheatgrass to find chukars. The Sharptails passed flawlessly through the rocky, snowy, and steep terrain.
With a year’s worth of miles covered in the boots, the tread on my Sharptails is getting low in spots. This is a characteristic to note, as the boots are not available to be re-crafted by the in-house team. I see another year, two years max, of tread grip left in the original pair.
Longevity: Danner Sharptail Boot Maintenance
Upkeep on the Sharptail boots has been simple. I picked up the Danner Boot Dressing in the 4-ounce brown option. It was helpful in the break-in process and has been essential in keeping the leather conditioned. A simple rinse, wipe down, and then a light application of conditioner keeps the leather supple and protected.
I spend most of my time in the heartland, so for western hunting ventures, again, you’d want to look at something in Danner’s Powderhorn or Elk Hunter offerings to handle steep, rocky terrain.
But if you find yourself needing a great all-around boot, or if your adventures include a hunting dog zigzagging through bluestem grass, then the Sharptail is a great choice.