With a moniker deriving from the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, I was equally stoked and skeptical to test the Danner Trail 2650s. These low-cut trail trainers target light and fast hikers, yet still offer stability to tackle the rugged and drastically changing terrain of the iconic trek.
I would normally stay away from anything beefier than a trail runner, unless I’m wearing a 40-pound pack. However, as I hiked around Indiana’s Brown County State Park, I appreciated the boot features of this trail shoe. Had I been in my usual trail runners, I would have slipped more and sunk into the mud.
One of the greatest benefits (and selling points) of these shoes is the external heel counter—the EXO Heel System. This rigid component is normally located inside the heel to prevent slippage and blisters. Moving it outside isn't most visually appealing, but it adds comfort while also stabilizing your foot.
The 2650s are a spring and summer shoe, which meant testing them in February in southern Indiana proved for some interesting conditions. The geology in this part of the state is consistently muddy from December through May. I was really, really wishing the 2650s were waterproof, especially on the occasional snowy day. It was definitely a great opportunity to test how quickly the mesh liner dried out. These shoes will be an excellent summer/fall option in the Midwest, and could easily extend to a spring/summer/fall shoe in drier areas.
A few features that set the 2650s apart from the rest of the low hiking shoes are the lightweight stability, plentiful color options, and external heel counter. Weighing in at 24 ounces per pair, these kicks truly feel like a pair of trail runners, which is a major perk for both seasoned hikers, as well as those looking to get started in supportive footwear.
How well will the Danner Trail 2650s sell in stores?
I'm a manager for the rental and retail shop at Indiana University Outdoor Adventures, so I work with students to find them the right gear. When working with a customer to compare and contrast footwear, the secure heel cup is an easy selling point. As I mentioned earlier, having it on the outside is not the most aesthetically pleasing, but it’s a visibly functional representation of what sets this shoe apart from others. The lightweight EVA midsole coupled with the durable Vibram outsole add to the sure-footedness that folks can actually feel when taking these on the trail. The women’s color options—Hot Sauce and Atlantic Bl offer attractive and fun alternatives, but will not easily convert the brown boot crowd.
I see the price as the downfall. At $150, these shoes are on the upper end of the spectrum, especially for a non-waterproof trail runner. That being said, once a customer experiences the support-to-weight ratio and recognizes the need for little to no break-in time, I predict they will be a sure buy.