Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX review (100 miles later): reliable on-trail traction

Danner's Trail 2650 hiking shoe is an excellent choice for fast and light hill days or tackling a multitude of marked trails

Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX review
(Image credit: Matt Jones)
T3 Verdict

The Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX isn’t just one shoe – it’s a whole family of walking shoes, which means there’s pretty much something for everyone. As you might expect, different models prioritise different qualities, from durability to waterproof protection, but the hallmarks of the entire line are low weight, instant out-of-the-box comfort, stylish looks and good traction underfoot.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Lightweight and breathable upper

  • +

    Superb traction

  • +

    Stylish and streamlined design

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Offers only a moderate amount of protection and support

  • -

    Better for marked trails than serious mud

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In this Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX review, we’ll look at this popular lightweight trail shoe from the renowned US footwear brand, reviewing its overall design, features, performance and comfort.  

Named after the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, this versatile trail shoe from US brand Danner is proving to be very popular. Danner is seemingly a winner with this model, and it knows it. As a result, it’s released a whole family of Trail 2650 footwear. There are now multiple variants in the range, in dozens of colourways.

These include low and mid-cut models, leather and fabric mesh models, waterproof or non-waterproof versions and almost any combination thereof. All come in both men’s and women’s fits, too. There are even a few collaboration editions in exclusive colours produced with fellow US outdoor brand Mystery Ranch.

The Trail 2650 Mesh GTX that we tested is an excellent all-round choice. It’s a lightweight fabric hiker with a waterproof Gore-Tex liner. This keeps the overall weight down whilst giving you a little extra protection on wetter, muddier trails.

Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX review

Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX review: price and availability

Depending on which model you go for, prices range from £170 for the non-waterproof, low-cut 2650 Campo model to £210 for the Trail 2650 Mid GTX, a mid-cut boot with leather uppers and a waterproof Gore-Tex liner. 

Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX review: specification

Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX review

(Image credit: Matt Jones)
  • Sizes: US 7-14(men’s); US 5-11 (women’s)
  • Weight (test pair): 737g (men’s UK 9) 
  • Lugs: 4mm
  • Heel-to-toe drop: 8mm
  • Materials
  • Upper: Textile mesh
  • Membrane: Gore-Tex 
  • Midsole: EVA with TPU shank
  • Outsole: Vibram 460 Megagrip

Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX review: design and features

Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX review

(Image credit: Matt Jones)

Just like the rest of the Trail 2650 range, this model offers low weight and excellent out-of-the-box comfort, which makes these well-suited to long days in the hills or on the trail. 

In terms of construction, the shoe features uppers made from lightweight mesh and textile, with a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex liner. The toebox and midfoot feature super-light laminated overlays to add durability and protection, while the heel section includes Danner’s lightweight EXO external heel counter. The tongue is nicely padded and partly gusseted, while the contoured ankle cuff provides great freedom of movement for the ankle joint. The lacing system consists of simple eyelets, with the lower sets reinforced with metal rings to prevent wear and tear.

Unlike the Campo versions of the 2650 shoe, the standard version has a more conventional upper and tongue design. It lacks the integrated, stretchy neoprene tongue and, therefore, the closer, sock-like fit of the Campo. Having said that, they’re still very comfortable, and unlike the Campo, they’re a little easier to get on and off. 

Underfoot cushioning comes from an EVA midsole augmented with a simple foam footbed. The midsole also features a plastic shank to add a little stiffness and prevent too much torsional flex. This shank also offers some underfoot protection on rough, uneven terrain. Meanwhile, traction comes with a Vibram Megagrip outsole with aggressively angled 4mm lugs.

The overall fit takes inspiration from dedicated trail running shoes, with an 8mm drop from heel to toe. There’s slightly more width in the forefoot for stability, leaving plenty of room for toes to splay.

Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX review: performance and comfort

Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX review

(Image credit: Matt Jones)

On test, these shoes delivered a good balance of underfoot cushioning, overall foot protection and support whilst still feeling lightweight and nimble. The spongy EVA foam rubber midsole, which is stiffened with a plastic ‘Trailguard’ shank, does a good job of absorbing ground shocks whilst simultaneously soaking up impact from sharp stones, tree roots and the like. The well-proven Vibram outsole provides reliable all-around traction, too – only on the sloppiest ground do the 4mm lugs start to reach their limits. However, on harder-packed trails, they felt great, offering plenty of agility plus exceptional all-day comfort. 

The disadvantage of many Gore-Tex lined trail shoes is that they can feel hot and sweaty, especially on warmer days. Then again, a waterproof trail shoe can be worn across a wider range of conditions, which makes more sense in predominantly wetter climates like the UK. And with the 2650 Mesh GTX, that lightweight textile upper does a good job of keeping your feet reasonably cool in most conditions while saving maximum weight. It’s an excellent compromise.

As such, this model would certainly be our choice for UK use over the non-waterproof 2650 or 2650 Campo versions, which are better suited to dry, arid climates. However, there’s a good argument to be made that the leather Trail 2650 GTX – in either low-cut hiking shoes or mid-cut boot guises – would bring useful added protection and durability to the mix.

The obvious downside compared to the mesh GTX shoe is that these models are heavier and less breathable. For that reason, we still think the Trail 2650 Mesh GTX is probably the best all-rounder for spring through autumn use here in Britain. 

Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX review: verdict

Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX review

(Image credit: Matt Jones)

Having walked nearly a hundred miles all over North Wales with the Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX, we’re not surprised that Danner’s Trail 2650 family of trail hiking shoes has proved so popular. It’s a versatile design that makes for a great all-round walking shoe. And the addition of various new models to the line-up over the past few seasons has meant that, although it’s a cliché, there really is something for everyone.

Of course, you do need to understand which shoes are best suited to which terrain. Basically, if you tend to hike a lot of dry and dusty trails, go for the non-waterproof models – either the straight-up 2650 or the 2650 Campo model. The major difference between the standard 2650 and the 2650 Campo is that the latter has an integrated, stretchy tongue that gives a closer, sock-like fit. It’s great for keeping trail grit and debris out of the shoe, but it does make the shoe feel a bit warmer, as well as making it a bit trickier to get on and off. That aside, both variants come in leather or mesh styles, which essentially give you the added durability of leather uppers at the cost of a little extra weight and reduced breathability.

On the other hand, if you hike in places where the ground underfoot is likely to be wet or you’re going to need to splash through the odd puddle, it’s worth going for a waterproof GTX model of the 2650. Again, you can pick from the standard model or the closer-fitting Campo, with the additional options of fabric or leather uppers.

In all cases, those are all low-cut shoes. But it’s worth noting that Danner also makes a mid-cut boot version of the Trail 2650. We’d recommend that model for anybody who needs additional ankle protection or support or who wants increased flood height for the wettest terrain. 

The bottom line is, whichever version of this shoe you go for, you can still expect competitively low weight, good out-of-the-box comfort, stylish looks and reliable traction underfoot. And that’s really where the Trail 2650 excels. Yes, there are more protective and technically capable shoes out there, but there are few that seem to strike such a good balance between stability, low weight and outright comfort.

Danner Trail 2650 Mesh GTX review: also consider

For more options, take a look at T3's best walking shoes for men and the best walking shoes for women guides. 

If you’re after a similarly lightweight trail hiking shoe, then the Salomon Outpulse GTX is another great contender, as is the X Ultra 4. You could also look at various offerings from Adidas Terrex and Inov-8.

If you want an even more forgiving general walking shoe, then other US brands like Merrell and KEEN are worth considering, while if you want more technical performance, then perhaps look at Scarpa, Mammut and La Sportiva.

Finally, if you want similar characteristics to the Trail 2650 but are prepared to sacrifice a little extra weight for the sake of even plusher cushioning, then you could consider the Hoka Anacapa Low GTX, with its trademark oversized midsole.  

Matthew Jones

An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700ft (that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest). Follow Matt on Insta and Twitter at @mattymountains