There's one piece of equipment that can make or break a walking expedition: your shoes. Wear something too flimsy and you risk getting stung by nettles or twisting an ankle. Wear something too clunky, and you can feel like your feet are dragging you down and getting overheated.
In my opinion, the Danner Trail 2650 hits the sweet spot for a hiking shoe. It's super-light weight but still has the sturdy, robust construction you expect from Danner.
The exact model I wore during a recent trip to the French Alps is currently discounted by 25% on Backcountry.com for Cyber Monday, bringing its price down to $127.46.
Danner Trail 2650 hiking shoe: was
$169.95, now $127.46 on Backcountry.com
Save $42.49 Named after the Pacific Crest trail, this sturdy shoe is rugged but astonishingly light, at just 1lb 2oz. That light weight will allow you to move quickly on your feet, nimbly navigating rocks and roots, plus its breathable construction will keep you feeling cool. It's one of the best shoes for walking that I've tested.
Why I love the Danner Trail 2650 shoes
I don't like hiking boots. They make me feel heavy-footed and clumsy and they often cause overheating. Plus, I hate the fiddly speed hook system you find on most hiking boots; I've seen plenty of other hikers take a tumble because they've caught the lace of one shoe on the speed hook of the other.
Hiking shoes don't have these problems, but they often don't feel as sturdy or rugged. That's not the case with the Trail 2650. I visited the French Alps in October this year and did several hikes along rugged, mountainous trails and they were the ideal companion.
Wet weather meant that the terrain was very damp, but the shoes kept my feet bone-dry, despite only being billed as "water resistant". The construction of the shoe also kept my foot from overheating, thanks to ventilating materials in the upper and the insole.
I found that the Vibram® 460 Outsole was brilliant for grip, helping me feel sure of my footing even on scree-covered trails. This is down to the clever, multi-directional lugs (bits of rubber on the shoe's underside) which found traction on slippery surfaces. I was so confident in my footing, that I strapped my 8-month old son onto my back without worrying about trips and falls.
The shoe also has a TPU shank, which keeps it rigid. This an important feature in a good hiking shoe; it means that your foot has a solid platform that protects it from sharp objects and uneven ground. It should also provide some longevity for the shoe, helping it to keep its original shape.
This is coupled with an external heel counter, which conserves the shape and rigidity of the back of the shoe, without causing any heel rubbing.
The above model is only available in women's sizing, but you can get men's versions too (see below).
If you're looking for an everyday walking shoe, I'd recommend this Skecher's model instead. It's a pillow-soft shoe, which is great for urban, city environments.
Skechers Go Walk Arch Fit Motion Breeze: was
$85, now $45.99 at Amazon
Save $39.01 These are the most comfortable shoes I've ever tested, if you want something for everyday wear and city walks. I've seen them retail for as much as $85 previously (although they usually cost around $60) but I think $45.99 is their lowest-ever price.
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Ruth Gaukrodger is the fitness editor for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, responsible for editing articles on everything from fitness trackers to walking shoes. A lot of her time is spent setting up testing protocols for our in-depth buying guides and making sure everything is reviewed to a set standard, so you can be confident we only recommend the best products on the market.
When she's not wrestling with equipment in our dedicated testing centre, you can find her pursuing running PBs around the streets of London or improving her yoga skills from the comfort of her living room. She’s a keen believer in working out for enjoyment first and is always open to hearing about new, fun ways to exercise.
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