We study dry, dense active nematics at both particle and continuous levels. Specifically, extending the Boltzmann-Ginzburg-Landau approach, we derive well-behaved hydrodynamic equations from a Vicsek-style model with nematic alignment and pairwise repulsion. An extensive study of the phase diagram shows qualitative agreement between the two levels of description. We find in particular that the dynamics of topological defects strongly depends on parameters and can lead to "arch" solutions forming a globally polar, smecticlike arrangement of Néel walls. We show how these configurations are at the origin of the defect ordered states reported previously. This work offers a detailed understanding of the theoretical description of dense active nematics directly rooted in their microscopic dynamics.