You’d be forgiven for not knowing much about Danner if you live in the UK, but in the US they’re a pretty big deal. A company that was started in 1932, before becoming a prominent supplier for the US military. When JFK came to power the focus on exercise and health meant hiking suddenly became a thing, and Danner were the manufacturers that capitalised on that.
As you would probably hope from a product focussed on hikers, the main focus of the 650 is weight, with the shoe coming in at about a kilogram per pair. Something achieved by replacing leather sections of the upper shoe with nylon panels (the green bits). In addition it not only makes the whole shoe more breathable, but actually adds a nice touch to the rather pleasing aesthetics.
We’ve been testing the Danner 650s out for a few weeks now and we’ve been impressed throughout. As a general wear shoe (worn around London for a few days before a hike) they’re instantly comfortable, probably due to the removable ortholite footbed. Easy to slip on and off, but with a secure feeling when done up that doesn’t feel stiff. Not bad-looking with a pair of jeans either.
For real testing we headed over to the Lake District for three days of hiking. Considering it pretty much rained for the duration, and every step was hit and miss as to whether the ground underfoot was waterlogged or not, the 650s were spot on. By the end of the first couple of days the sock we were wearing were largely dry, save for some water that had come through the top after slipping into a foot deep puddle.
With about 50-miles covered over the trip, the shoes showed no sign of chafing or rubbing.The Vibram Escape outsoles soles are also pretty damn good at gripping, thank goodness as some of the declines in the rain weren’t particularly forgiving.
We’ve been using them for various hikes since, and they’re still looking and feeling great (not that aesthetics are a necessity when it comes to the outdoors). One other nice feature we found was that due to the nylon uppers, the 650s can be stored in a rucksack much more easily than a fully leather pair, they dry a bit quicker as well.
To find out more about Danner Explorer 650s, or to see the rest of the range, head over to the website here. Prices range from £136.74 to £152.83, with three different colour versions.