Although they’re billed as winter boots, the Danner Arctic 600 Side-Zips are ideal for any cold or wet conditions. I live in Scotland and the weather can be nasty enough to warrant an insulated waterproof boot for three seasons of the year. I’ve worn my Danners throughout the winter and spring. They’re shortly going to be packed away for the summer but will definitely be back in use when fall rolls around.
Superb build quality
Side zip a bit unnecessary
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Danner Arctic 600 Side-Zip: first impressions
Danner Arctic 600 Side-Zips feel like serious winter boots made with great care and attention to detail. But then, you’d expect no less from a brand like Oregon-based Danner, which has nearly 100 year of bootmaking experience.
• List price: $240 (US) / £240 (UK)
• Weight (per boot): 638g / 22oz
• Insulation: 200g PrimaLoft
• Colors: Brown / Red
• Compatibility: Low-level trails in cold and snowy conditions
They’re extremely comfortable straight out of the box. The suede upper is soft and molds to your feet, yet feels tough enough to withstand the rigors of the trail.
As you’d expect they’re completely waterproof. They’re also packed with 200g of PrimaLoft insulation to keep your feet warm in sub-zero conditions. And Danner have teamed up with Vibram to create a sole designed specifically to cope with snow and ice.
But, although they excel as winter boots, the Arctic 600s are more than that. Depending where you are, these boots offer great performance and protection throughout a large part of the year.
Danner Arctic 600 Side-Zip: on the trails
Synthetic fabrics have come a long way in the last 30 years but there’s still nothing that beats a well-made suede boot (see also: Leather vs synthetic hiking boots: which is better?).
The Danner Arctic 600 Side-Zip’s soft suede makes them as comfortable as your favorite pair of slippers. Don’t let that softness fool you, though. After six months of tramping the mountains, forests and trails of Scotland my pair remain in as good condition as when they were new. Water still beads off them, there’s plenty of grip left on the soles, and not a single stitch has come unpicked.
I wore my Danners for winter dog walks in the Sidlaws around my home city of Dundee and for more extended hikes in Highland Perthshire and the Cairngorms. Tramping the local hills with my golden retriever Bracken after a winter snowstorm, the boots kept my feet warm and dry on an eight-mile afternoon excursion.
The soles are designed for snow and ice and offer excellent grip in slippery conditions. Along with their warmth and comfort that makes them a perfect footwear choice for ski holidays.
But, although they’re geared for providing good grip in snow and ice, I found myself reaching for my Danners whenever it was cold or wet outside. They did me proud during a spring ascent of Beinn a' Ghlò near Blair Atholl, on Birnam and Deuchary Hill around Dunkeld, along a section of the Speyside Way near Aviemore, and on numerous forays into the Sidlaws.
On extremely muddy paths the lack of depth in the lugs mean they eventually run out of grip. For hiking in marshy or boggy areas you’ll want a pair of boots with a more aggressive tread. But for the vast majority of conditions the Danner Arctic 600s are great all-rounders.
Complementing the soft suede is a removable OrthoLite footbed made of a breathable polyurethane that helps aid air circulation inside the boot. I found them extremely comfortable during long days on the trail and wasn’t in any rush to take them off when I reached my destination. Indeed, they quite often adorned my feet when grabbing a couple of beers in the pub at the end of a good day’s hiking.
The side zips are a feature that means you can leave the boots laced up and slide them on and off using the zip. In day-to-day use I didn’t find this a necessary feature – I like to lace my boots up nice and tight every time I put them on. However, on cold weather camping trips they come in very handy indeed. You can easily slip them on and zip them up if you need to leave the tent for a call of nature in the middle of the night.
The 200g of PrimaLoft insulation keeps your feet cozy in all but the very coldest conditions. If you’re tramping around Greenland or Svalbard in the depths of winter you might want a specialist boot, but for the vast majority of European and North American winters these boots are all you’ll need.
Jack McKeown is a Scottish journalist, hiker, skier, runner and beach volleyball player. Having walked many of Scotland’s long distance trails, last year saw him tackle his first ultramarathon. He lives in Dundee and in his spare time Jack and his golden retriever Bracken are often to be found exploring the mountains, forests, lochs and rivers of Highland Perthshire.