Danner is a staple of the American footwear industry, making rugged boots and shoes since 1932. Based in Portland, Oregon, the brand is known for its hefty leather work boots and chunky hikers, but in recent years, it's expanded into lightweight hiking options. For outdoor enthusiasts who don't need the support of a more substantial boot — or want something with far less weight — options like the Mountain 600, Jag, Skyridge and Trail 2650 are available.
The Trail 2650 (named after the distance of the famed Pacific Crest Trail) is the most low-profile style — a hiking shoe as opposed to a boot — that remains capable in a range of conditions. It's available in three upper configurations: the original leather (with optional Gore-Tex lining), the Campo (a lightweight mesh upper for hot weather) and mesh (a breathable textile that's more substantial than the Campo).
To test the versatility of the Trail 2650, I wore the mesh option on hikes in redwood valleys, steep coastal trails and on rocky mountain routes in Northern California. This $170 hiker is a solid option for day hikes for a number of reasons, but there are a couple of drawbacks, too. Here's what I found out.
What's Good About the Danner Trail 2650
Suited for a Variety of Terrain
The Trail 2650 performs well on a range of trails from packed dirt to rocky paths to smooth boulders. While the Vibram 460 outsole may not have lugs best suited for muddy conditions, they are durable and grippy in a majority of trail conditions. A Trailguard TPU shank offers more protection than super-lightweight trail runners and a rubber toe bumper shields from stray rock and roots. While uninsulated and non-waterproof, the Trail 2650 Mesh is appropriate for varying weather conditions — it's thicker (and warmer) than the Campo, but more breathable than the leather-clad style.
At just 13 ounces per shoe, the Trail 2650 Mesh is easy to wear for long periods. If you're hyper-focused on weight, the leather style comes in at 12 ounces and the Campo weighs 11 ounces. These are lighter than many other hiking shoes, though not as light as trail runners. For hiking footwear, the interplay of durability, protection and weight are crucial, and Danner found a solid balance of the three with this model.
A Gateway Hiker
For a wide variety of day hikes, the Trail 2650 is all you need. It has the right balance of weight, traction and protection so you can enjoy the experience without worrying about the performance of your shoes. If you're looking for a solid all-around hiker, this is worth checking out. It's appropriate for established trails with varying terrain.
What's Not Ideal About the Danner Trail 2650
Stability and Fit
A number of reviews of the Trail 2650 point out that the fit is a little narrow in the forefoot. On the first wear, it's certainly a bit snugger than some other options on the market, but it does stretch with wear. That said, the laces and heel counter don't necessarily lock your foot into the shoe, so if you're used to a lightweight hiker or trail runner that grips through the midfoot, this isn't it.
I found that on steep descents, while the grip of the shoe was fine, there was a tiny bit of play inside the shoe that made it feel less stable. Also, the external heel counter has a decidedly different feel than other traditional designs. While the rubber cup does provide some needed stiffness, it doesn't provide complete peace of mind on highly technical trails.
The Trail 2650 shoes are good for light day hikes, but if you're carrying heavy loads and need more stability for long backpacking trips, you may want to consider a more substantial style.
At $170, the Trail 2650 certainly isn't the most affordable option available. In fact, it's in the upper price range of hiking shoes we recommend. So, if you're interested in them, it's worth trying a pair on at your local outdoor store — or wearing them inside if you buy online — to see if the fit and feel are what you're looking for.
Danner Trail 2650: The Verdict
If you need a hiking shoe for light day hikes on pre-established trails, the Danner Trail 2650 is a great all-around option. It offers solid traction, appropriate protection and a weight that's hard to fault. That said, if you're less of a generalist and are looking for a shoe that caters to more niche hiking styles — backpacking, trail running, etc — it's worth looking for a style that skews the proportions of durability, protection and weight to better suit those pursuits.