Verdict from 67 user reviews

8 reasons to buy

  • Numerous customers observed that the boot is comfortable and can be worn straight out of the box.
  • The Danner Instigator required minimal-to-no break-in time, as attested by the majority.
  • According to most buyers, the Instigator fitted them well.
  • A bulk of the reviewers agreed that it provided adequate support in outdoor conditions.
  • Quite a number of wearers appreciated the lightweight nature of the boot.
  • Most users were impressed with the waterproofness of these boots.
  • The overall quality of the Danner Instigator was top-notch, as highlighted by quite a few of the owners.
  • A small percentage of hikers said that this pair kept their feet warm at low temperatures, even without the presence of any insulating material.

7 reasons not to buy

  • This boot’s collar provided insufficient padding, causing discomfort to the ankles of quite a few purchasers.
  • A consumer pointed out that leather was used in the collar instead of the brand’s advertised Gore-Tex membrane.
  • One reviewer complained about the dye applied to the leather upper near the ankles. Even with the use of socks, the dye caused rashes to break out on the individual’s ankles.
  • The soles wore out quickly, as experienced by a few.
  • A small number of users stated that the outsole doesn't grip on wet surfaces well.
  • Some found loose linings and stitches straight out of the box.
  • A tiny fraction of the reviewing population found the Instigator’s stock insole insufficiently cushioned.

Bottom line

The Danner Instigator is a lightweight hiking boot that won the support of users with its straight-out-of-the-box comfort. Most buyers were impressed because they didn't spend too much time breaking it in. On the other end of the spectrum, the Instigator’s padded collar is a cause for concern for quite a number of owners for giving them ankle discomfort. All in all, the Danner Instigator still delivers remarkable comfort for people looking for a pair of lightweight hikers.

Tip: see the best hiking boots.

Good to know

  • The Danner Instigator is a day hiking boot that’s meant to handle challenging terrain in a lightweight package. The brand’s sleek, low-profile Terra Force X Platform is a support system built on an X-frame design. Its ground contact area is filled with aggressive, triangular treads and beveled lugs for granting traction.
  • Hiking bootmaker Danner constructed this product using the Opanka method. It involves double stitching to attach the sock lining, sole and upper together. This construction process is known to deliver comfort and flexibility to the footgear.
  • The EVA midsole supplies the boot with cushioning. The inclusion of a TPU shank yields arch support and reduces foot fatigue.
  • The upper is made from full-grain leather to deliver durability and strength. A toe cap is also included to serve as a shield for the user and the boot itself. It is lined with a Gore-Tex membrane for water protection and moisture expulsion.

The Danner Instigator comes in men's sizes. It is built on Danner’s 850 last which caters to users who are looking for high mileage performance footwear. It provides a fit that feels like an athletic shoe and is supportive. It also grants enough room for natural toe splaying. A quick lacing system with metal eyelets is found on its upper to hold the foot securely and prevent the heel from slipping. A padded collar is incorporated to provide plush comfort to the ankles.

The Approach TFX outsole has parts responsible for braking during descents, improving acceleration and side-hill traction.  The boot’s outsole incorporates beveled lugs to prevent debris from building up.

The Instigator uses Danner’s lightweight Terra Force X Platform as its sole unit. Its midfoot portion has an external molded shank for medial and lateral stability. This component also improves the user's maneuverability and serves as protection from overwork and fatigue of the arch.

This lightweight hiker uses a midsole made of EVA, or ethylene-vinyl acetate, to give cushioning and flexibility to the foot. EVA midsoles are known to be durable and lightweight, making them suitable for hikers.

An internal shank made of thermoplastic urethane, or TPU, is another component of the Instigator’s midsole. It is resilient and built to maintain torsional rigidity (meaning, it's hard to twist). With this TPU shank, sufficient arch support is supplied to the user to lessen foot fatigue. It also works with the X-frame to promote heel-to-toe energy transfer. An EVA footbed is included to supply additional cushioning.

The Danner Instigator’s upper is crafted from full-grain leather and nubuck. This combination is responsible for the upper’s durability. Its defense against water is made possible by Gore-Tex. This liner hinders water from entering the boot while allowing moisture from the inside to escape, so breathability is not compromised.

In its forefoot section, a scuff-proof toe cap can be found. This upper component is resistant against abrasions. It prevents rocks and other obstacles from damaging the boot. It also shields the hiker from stubbing his/her toes.

  • Danner has discontinued the production of the Instigator for women.
  • The Instigator also comes in a work boot variation that features a steel toe cap in its upper.
  • Looking for other day hiking options from Danner? Check out Danner Light or Danner 453.


How Danner Instigator ranks compared to all other shoes
Bottom 7% hiking boots
All hiking boots
Bottom 10% Danner hiking boots
All Danner hiking boots
Bottom 6% day hiking hiking boots
All day hiking hiking boots


The current trend of Danner Instigator.
Compare to another shoe:
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

Paul loves adventure. Over the past 20 years, he has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He’s summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races. He has worked in the outdoor industry as a whitewater and hunting guide, gear tester, copywriter, and outfitting specialist at places like The National Outdoor Leadership School, No Barriers USA, and Sierra Trading Post. He has been quoted in NYMag, NBCNews, and Business Insider to name a few.