The Trail 2650 is a stylish, yet surprisingly capable hiking shoe from Danner. Inspired by the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, this shoe features a stable multi-purpose midsole, a durable leather upper, and a sticky Vibram outsole.
Danner has been an icon of a brand in the hiking boot world since 1932. Although their heritage is rooted in products for loggers and backpackers, most people now see Danner as a brand for hipsters and Instagram hikers. This brand image kicked off when Cheryl Strayed featured her red-laced Danner boots on the cover of her best selling book, Wild, and has only grown since then. I always loved the simple styling of Danner boots, but never purchased a pair because I much prefer trail shoes. Last year, Danner launched a trail shoe lineup including the release of the Trail 2650. I initially picked up a pair for travel and to wear around town, but over the past few months, I’ve been using them more and more for serious hiking. I’ve been thoroughly impressed by their performance, and will share my experience in this review.
Sizing and Weight
I normally wear a size 11.5 US shoe, and the 11.5 Trail 2650 fits true-to-size in length, but is tight in the toebox. The tight toebox is created by the last of the shoe and also by the firm leather upper. The leather broke in and relaxed over time, but not enough for my feet to ever feel truly relaxed up front.
My size 11.5 Trail 2650 weighs in at 12.76oz, which is a little heavy for a trail shoe, but is understandable given the leather upper, durable outsole, and rock plate.
Fit and Build
The upper on the Trail 2650 uses an open mesh base in the heel and tongue with a leather overlay in the midfoot and toebox. As I mentioned above, the leather in the forefoot leads to a cramped feeling that doesn’t fully open up when broken in. The leather liner also runs very hot, and struggles to breathe on warm days. This isn’t very noticeable when traveling or walking around town, but when used for serious hiking, my feet get pretty damp. There are some ventilation holes in the midfoot, but they should have been added to the toe area as well. This shoe also holds on to water when wet, and is not able to drain and dry the way a full mesh trail runner can.
The midfoot fit of of the Danner Trail 2650 is very comfortable while providing a secure and locked down fit. Behind the leather toe panel of the upper sits a laminate overlay that helps wrap the midfoot and keep my heel in place on technical trails. The vented mesh tongue and perforations through the midfoot help the shoe breathe a little better here than it does in the toebox.
The heel on the Danner Trail 2650 is made with an open mesh and has a friction free liner. Danner uses a very interesting external heel counter that provides lateral stability without having an impact on comfort. At first I thought the counter was a stylistic design choice, but after a few months of use, I’m finding it to be pretty practical. Overall, the heel section of the Trail 2650 is very well designed and has provided many miles of trouble free hiking and walking.
The Danner Trail 2650 has a well padded and fully gusseted tongue under thick high quality laces. I don’t want to beat a dead horse on the toebox fit, but do want to mention the solid laminate overlay toe guard, which has provided great protection up front.
The midsole on the Trail 2650 is built on a single density EVA with an 8mm heel-to-toe-drop. The midsole is very stable and supportive underfoot, yet plush enough for all day comfort. Danner really nailed it with this midsole for multi-use hiking and travel applications. I’m able to wear this shoe on a technical trail and then around town without ever feeling like I need to switch footwear.
Sandwiched between the midsole and outsole, the Trail 2650 packs a rugged TPU shank that runs from the arch to the toebox. This is one of the most structured shanks I’ve had in a trail shoe, and it’s really grown on me. At first, it felt a little to stiff and rigid, but it has broken in nicely with wear. The shank keeps my feet protected from sharp rocks and trail obstacles, and also provides incredible stability and torsional rigidity. I would love to see Danner pair this midsole with a breathable mesh upper for a new hiking shoe. That would be a killer combo.
The outsole of the Trail 2650 uses Vibram’s 460 lug pattern paired with Megagrip. The 460 outsole pattern has flex grooves in the forefoot for a smooth transition at toe off, and is decoupled in the heel to allow the midsole to adjust to the initial foot strike. The varied lug pattern has provided great grip on sand, mud, and rocky desert trails. So far, the outsole has proven to be very durable with a 50/50 mix of use on trails and asphalt.
The Danner 2650 is a very capable trail shoe that is a few design changes away from being the perfect travel and hiking shoe. The midsole is the star of the review, with a plush yet supportive ride. The Trail 2650 is a very stable shoe that remains comfortable and plush for long days. The Megagrip outsole provides great grip and traction on a variety of surfaces without issue. The upper works well in the heel and midfoot, but the toebox just doesn’t work for me. It’s not a complete deal-breaker, as I still love the shoe for light hiking and travel, but the cramped forefoot and complete lack of ventilation up-front keep me from considering this shoe for any long or all day hikes. If you live in a cold climate and/or have narrow feet, your mileage may vary. Given everything else the Trail 2650 has to offer, they’re definitely worth a try-on.