Best Trekking Gear: 2017 Digital Trends Outdoor Awards

2017 Digital Trends outdoor awards trekking

All season long, we camped, backpacked, paddle boarded, and hiked our way through the Pacific Northwest to find the best new outdoor gear for the first annual Digital Trends Outdoor Awards. After pushing each contender to the limit, we crowned our favorite products for Cooking, Sleeping, Trekking, Recreation, Unwinding, and a special award for Innovation. And we’re giving away one of every winning product, so enter our contest!

Twenty years ago, boots were leather, canvas, and rubber, tooled in the same factory that produced your father’s boots. Modern trekking gear is engineered, improved through science, and transformed by today’s understanding of physiology. But it still aims to solve the same problem: Whether you’re hitting the trail for a day hike or a week-long adventure, bringing along the right gear makes racking up the miles more of a joy and less of a chore. From boots to backpacks, keeping gear lightweight, comfortable, and functional is key — no one wants to cut their day short due to shoddy kit.

So as we field tested a variety of trekking equipment this summer, we kept those requirements in mind. And nothing complimented our adventures as the perfect trekking companion quite like Danner’s Mountain 600 hiking boots.


Danner Mountain 600s

Danner has been crafting leather boots in Portland, Oregon since 1932, but the new Mountain 600s prove you can still improve on a time-tested formula. Rugged yet wildly comfortable, our test boots, cloaked in classy Saddle Tan, delivered a level of quality obvious from the moment you pick them up.

Before we continue gushing about our new favorite hiking boot, it’s worth pointing out that Danner had some impressive competitors working to make your hike easier on the trail. From an Android Wear-powered adventure watch from Nixon to a mid-sized travel pack from Osprey — as well as some unique Insect Shield-treated clothing from Toad & Company — settling on this specific pair of boots took a bit of deliberation.

The Tech: In developing its new line of Mountain 600s, Danner combined its own classic styles with modern manufacturing and materials science smarts. For its Performance Heritage line, Danner teamed up with Italian rubber manufacturer Vibram to create a technical boot perfect for any season. A technically designed midsole gives wearers ultimate flexibility, while Vibram’s Megagrip rubber outsole and self-adapting lugs keep you planted when the going gets slick. Vibram’s engineers built pliable “flex lines” into the rubber to let the footprint expand over a larger surface, and Danner Dry waterproofing keeps you comfortable when things get wet, without weighing you down.

So why the Danner Mountain 600s? Beyond the smart engineering, they’re just damn comfortable. From the moment we strapped them on to when we peeled them off after a day on the trail, they reliably provided ample ankle support, impressive grip and stability, and much-appreciated comfort, even fresh out of the box.

Danner Mountain 600s Best Trekking Outdoor Awards

Vibram’s patented Performance Elastomer (a unique new blend of rubber and EVA, a stretchy blend of ethylene and vinyl acetate) keeps the boot lightweight while still providing sufficient cushion. Danner Dry waterproofing also kept our feet from getting wet, whether dipped in puddles or drenched in streams.

A premium-priced boot, to be sure, Danner’s Mountain 600s are still worth every penny of their $200 price tag. They’re functional, versatile, and aesthetically pleasing, without sacrificing one quality for another. Whether we were setting up a few tents around a campsite or trudging through a backwoods trail, these boots were the perfect adventure partner.

Runners up

Sure, it tracks steps like any other fitness band and delivers tweets like any other Android Wear watch, but Nixon’s Mission Watch also gave us the ability to easily track snow, surf, and weather conditions, along with everything else you need to know outside. Having quick wrist access to activity-tracking apps worked wonders for pushing us further, faster, and higher. The extensive features come with a touch of a learning curve on this $400 watch — but hardcore athletes will dig in and revel in the data.

Nixon Mission Watch

Not all backpacks are created equal. Osprey — which has won accolades for its sweat-fighting Anti-Gravity suspension design — went back to the drawing board for its upgraded Talon 22 daypack. Designed to be “lighter, nimbler, and more comfortable than ever,” the finished product achieves a level of versatility not typically seen in a pack this size. With ample storage space, an external hydration pouch, Osprey’s patented AirSpace backpanel, and an innovative suspension system which deftly distributes weight, the $110 Talon is the daypack you won’t want to take off at the end of the day.

Osprey Talon 22

Make sure to check out all the winning products for Cooking, Sleeping, Trekking, Recreation, Unwinding, and a special award for Innovation. And we’re giving away one of every winning product, so enter our contest!

Videos and photography by Dan Baker/Digitaltrends