Danner Trail 2650 GTX Hiking Shoes Review

Danner Trail 2650 GTX Hiking Shoe Review


Danner Trail 2650 GTX Hiking Shoes are lightweight leather and textile hiking shoes lined with waterproof/breathable Gore-Tex. They’re a good shoulder season (late fall, early spring) alternative to mesh trail runners when you want footwear that’s warmer than trail runners and provides more moisture protection. They run narrow but they’re also available in wide sizes. This same model is also available in all mesh, partial mesh/leather, and nonwaterproof leather shoes as well as mid-height hiking boots so you could use the different models in different seasons if you wish.

Specs at a Glance

  • Upper: Leather
  • Waterproof/Breathable: Yes, Gore-Tex membrane
  • Height: 3″
  • Drop: 8mm
  • Sole: Vibram Megagrip
The Danner Trail 2650 GTX has a burly front toe kick and good forefoot protection
The Danner Trail 2650 GTX has a burly front toe kick and good forefoot protection.

In addition to added warmth, I decided to try these Danner hiking shoes because I’ve finally gotten sick of replacing my mesh trail runners when the toe box gets ripped up from hiking the rocky and mountainous trails in New Hampshire and Southern Maine. I love the breathability, grippy soles, and drainage provided by mesh trail runners, but I’m tired of replacing them after only 200-250 miles because they get so badly holed, well before the soles get close to wearing down. I’ve put up with these durability issues for over 10 years with La Sportiva Ultra Raptors and now with Saucony Peregrines, but I’ve been on the hunt for trail runners or hiking shoes that last longer. I can’t afford to spend $800 every year on new trail runners. There has to be a better way.

The Danner Trail 2650 GTX has leather uppers that are perforated along the sides to enhance ventilation. They have a burly toe kick up front and a toe cap that extends down the sides of the toe box for increased abrasion resistance. The Vibram Megagrip soles are flat without an arch but have a slight front and heel rocker that makes them easier to walk with. The lugs are moderate in length with grooves cut into the soles to help shed water. The sole has a TPU shank for support and EVA foam for cushioning. The heel is well protected and the tongue is attached to the mesh-lined inner shoe, with the sock-like fit you find in many trail runners.

The side vents provide surprisingly good breathability.
The side vents provide surprisingly good breathability.

I’ve found the Trail 2650 to be a very stable shoe that sits low and flat on the ground without a tendency to roll. It’s warmer than my mesh trail runners on cold mornings when there is frost on the ground, but comfortably so without feeling too warm. They repel water nicely when we have to plow through wet leaves and mud. I have to say I’m very impressed with the Gore-Tex lining since the shoes dry quickly, even after a complete soaking if you have to continue hiking in them. I never thought I’d say that about any Gore-Tex-lined shoe.

Despite their suede leather uppers, these Danner Trail 2650 hiking shoes need virtually no breaking in. You can wear them out of the box for hiking, but the uppers take about 10 miles to soften up completely, allowing the forefoot to flex more when scrambling up rock. Similarly, the grip of the soles improves once you’ve roughened the lugs up naturally.

The mid-foot is narrow but the toebox is roomier. The 2650 GTX is also available in wide sizes.
The mid-foot is narrow but the toebox is reasonably roomy. The 2650 GTX is also available in wide sizes.

When I got these Danner 2650’s, the first thing I did was modify them by sticking a big piece of velcro on the heel so I could wear dirty girl gaiters with these shoes. There’s not a super flat place on the back of the shoe to do this, but my velcro strips are still holding on pretty well despite this. The warmer-weather Danner Trail 2650 Campo and Danner Trail 2650 Campo GTX models come with factory heel gaiter attachments.

The next thing I did was to remove the cheapo factory foam insoles and replace them with Superfeet insoles that have a higher arch to prevent Plantar Fasciitis. The shoes themselves do not have an internal arch at all.  I’m susceptible to Plantar Fasciitis and will do just about anything to avoid it. It can occur when your arch doesn’t have enough support or your heel moves around too much. A good insole prevents both of those triggers.

The shoes have Vibram Megagrip soles with widely spaced lugs for rapid drainage in wet conditions.
The shoes have Vibram Megagrip soles with widely spaced lugs for rapid drainage in wet conditions.

The laces on the Trail 2650 GTX are standard flat textile laces, but there isn’t an elastic strip or pocket to tuck them into to keep them out of the way. I just triple-knot them and cover them with my gaiters to prevent them from coming unraveled. That works well enough.

The fit is decidedly narrow in the mid-foot, but the toe box provides enough room for your toes to splay out and relax. Wide sizes are available, however, in the Trail 2650 GTX as well as the other non-waterproof, mesh, and warmer weather variants of this shoe that Danner offers.

The Danner Trail 2650 GTX requires very little break-in is wearable out of the box.

Recommendation

The Danner Trail 2650 GTX is a lightweight waterproof/breathable hiking shoe that’s one step up from mesh trail runners in protection and durability, but less rigid and “blocky” than other hiking shoes including the Merrill Moab 2 or Moab 3. If you’re looking for a hiking shoe that’s not as cold as a mesh trail runner for shoulder season hiking and provides better moisture protection, the Danner Trail 2650 is a slam dunk. It’s very comfortable, agile, and requires very little break-in time. It even looks good off-trail too!

Disclosure: The author purchased this product.

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