When I ordered the Danner Trail 2650 Campo, I was pretty confident they would be my favorite summer season hiker. What I found after walking in them for two months was unexpected.
The Danner Trail 2650 Campo was designed with an overt appreciation for hiking and specifically thru-hiking. Campo refers to the town in southern California where the Pacific Crest Trail originates. 2650, on the other hand, is the length in miles of this famous thru-hike.
The features, craftsmanship, and quality of the Danner Trail 2650 Campo really stand out. In my experience, though, while testing these shoes against four other popular hikers, Danner missed the mark on some fundamentals while showing some moments of brilliance in some aspects.
Are the Danner Trail 2650 Campo Good for Hiking?
I have clocked about 40+ miles on trails so far with the Danner Trail 2650 Campo and have quite a bit to say about their performance as a low hiker.
The Danner Trails 2650 Campo are good for hiking, designed specifically for hiking in hot weather conditions. The shoes could be used all year for hiking in moderate climates. They outperformed similar shoes in grip and foot protection in testing and were only adequate in comfort and fit.
These shoes are very light for hiking shoes and provide the minimum necessary for hiking long distances if you are not carrying much weight. If you plan to carry a heavy pack and put on some series miles, I would suggest a beefier platform with more support and stability.
On the hiking shoe spectrum between sturdy, heavy boot-like hikers and trail runners, the Danner Trail 2650 Campo definitely leans toward the trail runner. I go jogging in my pair of the Trail 2650 Campo all the time, and they perform quite well. Danner Men’s 68941 Trail 2650 Campo 3" Outdoor Shoe, Slate/Red – 10 D” target=”_blank”>You can check the price of the Danner Trail 2650 Campo and purchase a pair here.
The Trail 2650 Campo is ideal for hiking with a light backpack or for day hikes. Serious thru-hikers with conditioned bodies could definitely use these for putting in lots of mileage day in and day out.
When I tested the Trail 2650 Campo against four other shoes, I found the Merrell MQM Flex 2 to be better for my overall performance and fit; check out my full review here. The Trail 2650 Campo runs very narrow, but I found the fit to be awkward in the toe box after going up to a wide. They do fit true to size in length.
Danner Trail 2650 Campo Strong Points
The Danner Trail 2650 Campo performed better than four similar hiking shoes on grip/traction and time-to-dry. They also performed well on foot protection.
I tested the Danner Men’s 68941 Trail 2650 Campo 3" Outdoor Shoe, Slate/Red – 11 D” target=”_blank”>Trail 2650 Campo against the Merrell mens Mqm Flex 2 Hiking Shoe, Lichen, 10.5 US” target=”_blank”>Merrell MQM Flex 2, Salomon Men’s OUTline GTX Hiking Shoes, Black/Phantom/Magnet, 11” target=”_blank”>Salomon OUTline GTX, KEEN Men’s Targhee Vent Hiking Shoe, Cuban/Antique Bronze, 11 M US” target=”_blank”>Keen Targhee Vent, and the Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoe – Men’s Pewter 10.5” target=”_blank”>Oboz Sawtooth 2. I provided links here if you are interested in checking out any of these shoes. If you are interested, you can also check out my review on YouTube of all five of these shoes head-to-head.
I tested the Trail 2650 Campo for grip or traction, and not surprisingly, they outperformed all the other shoes. I walked in all five of the shoes for one month and at least 20 miles in each pair, and the Trail 2650 Campo were a standout in terms of grip. They have the Vibram 460 outsole with the Megagrip compound also from Vibram, perhaps the best compound on the market.
I performed a test in my garage for grip. I held a suspension strap trainer attached to the roof of my garage, and I slowly inched my feet forward until they started to slip. The Quantum Grip compound from Merrell only challenged the Megagrip compound, but Megagrip was clearly better on polished concrete. This is not a real-world test for hikers, but it shows that the Trail 2650 Campo soles are very sticky on even smooth surfaces.
Another test I conducted was Time-to-Dry. Since I was looking for a low hiker without a waterproof membrane, I felt like a time-to-dry test was important for understanding how quickly the shoe would dry out if it did get wet. The Trail 2650 Campo design is minimalist, and so they dried out much more quickly than the other shoes tested.
I took the dry weight for each shoe, dunked them in water for 5 seconds, and shook off any excess water before weighing them again. I weighed each shoe at specific intervals until the first shoe returned to its original, dry weight.
Perhaps the main reason why the Trail 2650 Campo dried faster than the other shoes is because it took on less water than any of the other shoes. It only gained about 20% in water weight, and this quickly dropped as I weighed the shoes every 60 minutes. Most of the other shoes took on 30% to 40%+ in water weight. Not surprisingly, the Trail 2650 Campo has much less padding in the uppers than the other shoes tested. More on that below.
Another test I ran on all five of the shoes was for protection. When you move from a hiking boot to a trail runner like the Trail 2650 Campo, foot protection on the trail is a major consideration. Hiking shoes are a trade-off over boots with more mobility and less weight, but you also have less stability and less protection.
Hiking shoes and trail runners have thinner rubber outsoles, and so they often include a rock plate. The Danner Trail 2650 Campo solution is Trail Guard, a hard plastic plate inserted between the outsole and the midsole. It protects your feet from sharp, pointy rocks or debris on the trail. I found out that they also protect you from nails and the pyramid-shaped D4 dice from Dungeons and Dragons.
The Danner Trail 2650 Campo performed worse than the Keen Targhee Vent and the Oboz Sawtooth 2 for protection while stepping on nails, a series of rocks and the D4 die. In my opinion, the Trail Guard system performed better than the Merrell MQM Flex 2 and the Salomon OUTline GTX. Check out my full review of the Salomon OUTline GTX.
The Keen and the Oboz have more boot DNA, and therefore they have thicker rubber soles and more padding. I felt the rocks less and the beefier hiking shoes and felt more of the shoe touching the ground as they absorbed the shape of the items.
The one issue I found with the Trail Guard system is that it is so rigid that you feel like you are teetering on the rock when you step on it. There is little give and flex in the sole, so you feel a little unstable compared to the Keen, and the Oboz tested.
Overall, the Trail Guard system does work, and I feel confident running on trails, knowing that a sharp rock will not injure the bottom of my foot.
Is the Danner Trail 2650 Campo Comfortable?
A hiking shoe, or any shoe for that matter, can look cool, have great performance, and have excellent materials, but if it ain’t comfortable, then none of that matters.
This was the main issue I had with the Danner Trail 2650 Campo. The normal width version of the size 12 I purchased was so uncomfortable that I had to go up to the wide. The issues I had with fit disappeared, but then the wide version felt sloppy across the top of my foot and especially in the toe box.
The Formula 1 styling of the Danner Trail 2650 Campo is so athletic and so sleek that it just won’t work for everyone. The outside of the shoe curves inward, similar to the inside of the shoe, and this area impinged on the outside of my foot, thus prompting the move to a wider, sloppier version.
The EVA insoles are very squishy and provide plenty of bounce, but it feels as if my heel is sinking into the heel of the shoe, almost as if the shoes were worn out. I agree that much of this is personal preference, but I just felt that these shoes should be more comfortable for the price tag.
Some have complained about the mesh uppers that impinge on the upper ankle of your foot, but I did not experience any problems with that. Again, these are minimalist shoes concerning padding in the uppers, as we saw in the time-to-dry testing.
If you want a similar hiking shoe that is much more comfortable and performs nearly as well, I suggest the Merrell MQM Flex 2. They were my standout favorite against all the shoes I tested. Merrell mens Mqm Flex 2 Hiking Shoe, Lichen, 10.5 US” target=”_blank”>You can check the styling and pricing at Amazon.