Danner trail shoes might just be the perfect footwear for the apocalypse. Editor Vince Hempsall explains why.

When you’re making footwear for loggers, there’s no room for muck ups. It’s the most dangerous profession in North America, according to recent data released by insurance research company AdvisorSmith, so the last thing practitioners need is to worry about is their toes. Charles Danner knew all this when he started hand-crafting boots for those who toppled giant trees in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States in 1932. The Portland, Oregon-based company has since expanded into the hiking, hunting and lifestyle categories of footwear but the whole PNW vibe is still central to its vision. At least, it seems that way given Danner’s marketing. But lusciously bearded models aside, does the company’s quality still stand up to the rigours of the mountains, moraines, rivers and rock that the PNW is famous for? I was sent a pair of Danner Trail 2650 GTX hikers to take ’em through their paces just as authorities announced a global pandemic. And I soon learned the shoes would definitely stand on their own during the apocalypse.

2021 update: It’s been a year since I’ve been wearing the Danner Trail 2650 GTX shoes and they’re still in amazing shape. The Vibram soles only have one small worn spot under the balls of both feet but otherwise the tread looks like the day I received them. And that’s after a lot of mileage on trails, roads, beaches, streams, and in the mountains. In fact, were I to pressure wash off the dirt and buff out the scuffs, I could put them back in the box and resell them. But I wouldn’t because these shoes are so damn good, I’m expecting them to last me at least another few years.  

Snapshot: Danner Trail 2650 GTX

    1. Pros: These shoes are absolutely, positively, and categorically bomb proof.
    2. Cons: They ain’t cheap.
    3. Price: Cdn$219
    4. Who Should Buy: Those who prefer having one pair of shoes to do all things, like outrun Zombies while scrounging wild edibles.
    5. Who Shouldn’t Buy: Zombies.
    6. Helpful Hack: Because the upper is leather, I treated mine with a wax protectant being careful not to clog the pores. They still look like new.
    7. Author’s overall rating: 9/10

The Test

The Danner Trail 2650 GTX shoes arrived on my doorstep the same month news dropped about the Covid-19 global pandemic. Offices shut, daycares closed down, and I found myself with a lot of free time to spend running after my toddler. That included trips into the forests and mountains with him in a backpack, splashing through streams to find him rocks to throw, and chasing after him down empty streets while he learned to ride a Strider bike. When I wasn’t child-minding, I was bush-bashing to suss out new rock climbing areas and generally avoiding other, potentially infected, human beings.

The Verdict

The first thing I noticed about the Danner Trail 2650 GTX shoes was the bulge on the upper heel made of hard, moulded foam. It’s a weird placement because I typically don’t hit that part of my heel when scrambling in the mountains so I can only assume it’s there to better showcase the company’s logo. Others noticed it as well and asked me about the heel bulges on the shoes. I told them they were there to help open my beer bottles, which is a total fabrication as I actually tried to use them to pop caps off some brews but had zero success. What I can say with absolute certainty is the Danner Trail 2650 GTX shoes are bombproof and are the only footwear you’ll ever need during the apocalypse.

As I write this, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to warrant a global shut down and, given the empty streets and masked beings hiding behind fences, it doesn’t feel that far off from a cataclysm. Thankfully I have a two-year-old to keep me entertained and so he and I avoided people by wandering the forests, beaches, mountains, and empty streets around our mountain town. Much of the time I had him in a backpack or was chasing after him on the asphalt while he learned to ride a Strider bike.  I wore the Danner Trail 2650 shoes the entire time and was impressed by their durability. Running and skidding on pavement after a toddler or hiking over rocks with 30 extra pounds on your back is hard on any shoe but the Vibram 460 outsoles showed no signs of wear. None! Yet the rubber was supple and sticky enough to get me over the wettest of rocks. On one memorable occasion, I had my son in a backpack and was hiking a soggy, faint trail, which crossed a creek full of freshet a number of times and ended at a geocache cave – the shoes were so solid I had no problem navigating the wet roots, mossy rocks, and the creek bed itself. Part of that could be attributed to the thermoplastic polyurethane shank, which offers excellent stability, or it could have been the fear of what my wife would do to me if I dunked our kid in a freezing creek. I never got a booter during the expedition, either. The Gore-tex lining (thus the “GTX” classification in the name) saved me from a soaking multiple times.

It got to the point that I became so comfortable in the shoes, I wore them everywhere for everything. At 27 ounces per pair, I barely noticed them on my feet and they were stylish enough to wear into town on my twice-monthly grocery runs. (That said, my wife would balk if I wore them out to a nice dinner.) They’ve been submerged in water, scraped across parking lots, baked in the sun, buried in sand, dragged over scree slopes, pinched and poked on various bush-bash expeditions and spit-up on by babies. But, barring some scratches on the toe cap, they still look as good as the day I first got them. The name of the Trail 265s comes from the 2,650-mile long Pacific Crest Trail and it’s obvious these shoes would easily withstand every punishing mile of that hike. Likewise, if the zombie apocalypse ever does happen, these shoes should be the first thing you reach for. And a crossbow.

Danner Trail 2650 GTX Shoes – The Deets

  • Cost: $219 Cdn
  • Weight: 27 oz per pair
  • Height: 3″
  • Lining: Waterproof
  • Liner: GORE-TEX
  • Outsole: Vibram 460
  • Upper: Leather and textile
  • Available Colours: Dark Grey or Brick Red
  • Footbed: OrthoLite
  • Shank: Thermoplastic Polyurethane
  • More info: danner.com