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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Oboz Bridger Hiking Boots > Test Report by joe schaffer
Oboz Footwear Bridger Hiking BootsInitial Report: November 1, 2013
Field Report: January 27, 2014
Long Term Report: March 28, 2014
by Joe Schaffer
NAME: Joe Schaffer
HEIGHT: 5'9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79 kg)
HOME: Hayward, California USA
I frequent California's central Sierras, camping every month; up to 95 nights a year; about half the time solo; moving nearly every day. As a comfort camper I lug tent, mattress, chair, etc. Summer trips last typically a week to 10 days; 40 lb (18 kg,) about half food-related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day. I winter camp most often at 6,000' to 7,000' (1,800 to 2,100 m;) 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg;) 1 to 4 miles (1.5 to 6 km) on snowshoes.
Oboz Footwear Bridger Hiking Boots
Web site: www.obozfootwear.com
Received: Ocotber 30, 2013
My boots: M9
L: 1 lb 4.4 oz (578 g)
R: 1 lb 3.8 oz (559 g)
Pr: 2 lb 8 oz (1,137 g)
Factory specs: 1 lb 3 oz (539 g)
MSRP: USD $160
Product Description: (partially edited from a vendor website and a magazine blurb)
Waterproof nubuck leather uppers.
BDry™ waterproof, breathable membranes.
Nylon mesh linings.
BFit Deluxe quality footbeds.
Dual-density EVA midsoles.
Nylon shanks and thermoplastic urethane forefoot plates.
Rubber randing (glued-on outer layer) on toes and heels.
High-friction, nonmarking rubber outsoles.
Toothy side lugs and 1/6th" (4mm) directional lugs underfoot.
17 rows of stitching on each side of boot.
6 pair of eyes for lacing.
Observations: I've worn them in the house for a couple of hours; 3 mile (5 k) hike on the street; and will see how they feel all day at work for a couple days.
These boots look like they bridge the gap between hikers and traditional, heavier backpackers. The boots feel so incredibly light as to make me wonder if they can have the kind of lateral support and rubble isolation I prefer. If they prove so, they'll be a huge advantage over the clunkier models I've come to rely on.
There seems an awful lot of stitching in the leather, indicating a tremendous amount of confidence in the liner. My experience with waterproof breathable liners does not cause me to share that confidence.
The boots are the right length and width for me and feel good in those dimensions. I typically wear a 9W and these are 9. The toe box is tight across the top, particularly over the base knuckle of my big toe, which may be easing as the leather wears in to shape; or may have to be stretched. I started off with no blisters, notwithstanding the above, and oddly enough the outside corner of my right (shorter) foot initially reported a developing hot spot. Lacing differently and a sock change may have resolved this. I've probably had them on for a total of about 12 hours and the comfort level continues to increase.
The heel underbite makes for a perfect strike and wonderfully smooth stride. However, as a pronounced pronator I'd like to see a wider heel platform and stiffer sidewalls over the ankle.
The stock footbed may be the best I've seen. It seems the recent strategy in bootwear is to assume the customer will buy aftermarkets anyway. These have real structure to support the longitudinal arch; and the meaty part of my heel and keep it from squishing as much into the side of the shoe.
Suspension offers a slight bit of cushioning, nothing spongy. I've not yet put any weight on them as I can't bring myself to carry a loaded backpack in the house or on a city street.
Laces appear to be made to last the life of the boot; and fat enough for a firm grip. Two pairs of webbing eyes start off at the toe end, leading to two pair of metal eyes on rivets; then a pair of webbing eyes at about the crease of the ankle; and finally metal hooks at the top. The loops at the toe end are OK. The next two pair of metal eyes allow the laces to slip through without undue resistance, but I'd probably prefer open hooks for speed and ease of opening the boot enough to get feet out, and especially in. I'm thinking if I've been hiking in the snow, laces might be frozen along with fingers that won't work well to coax the laces through any kind of closed eye. The ankle loop seems interesting; set low enough to pull the heel toward the ankle crease, and I find the laces pull easily enough through these loops. With open hooks in this area I sometimes find that exhaustion occasionally leads to a collision between open hooks that have a time or two managed to connect and cause a very sudden trip toward earth. That can't happen with webbing loops. The top eyes must be open hooks to suit me, and the Bridgers accommodate that personal requirement.
I like the aggressive look of the tread and look forward to discovering if the composition and deep design will leave me hanging on the granite or sliding down the slippery slope. I would design the tread a bit differently at the outside of the heel where there is a groove large enough to lose my little finger. The void exacerbates my earlier noted concern regarding pronation resistance. If I turn an ankle around the house or at work, I'll put a dollop of shoe goo in there to see if that helps.
They smell good. I say this because I had occasion to test a pair of boots from a big name manufacturer that immediately wafted of cat box.
Bridger really quick shots:
b) Slow lacing
FIELD REPORTJanuary 27, 2014
I've logged 55 miles (89 km) in these boots since new; 22 (36 km) hiking and 33 (53 km) backpacking. I started off wearing the boots in the house for a couple hours; at work for a weekend; a 3 mile (5 km) sidewalk hike; and then hikes of 3-6 miles (5-10 k) in the East Bay Hills around the San Francisco Bay Area (California, USA.) I've done no defensive taping and I've had no blister issues--fairly remarkable as I've always gotten at least one blister on the warp-speed 7.5 mile (12 km) hike to Wildcat Beach in Pt. Reyes National Seashore (California USA.) This most recent backpacking trip was last week, 15 miles (24 km) in 3 days; 6 hours walking gravelly trail & road, occasional mud and dirt with a 40 lb (18 kg) start load. Two other trips started with 30 lb (14 kg;) and one other with 40 lb (18 kg.) I always wear a light liner and a medium hiker sock combination. Since it doesn't precipitate in California anymore, I have not put the boots to pace in snow or rain.
An initial bit of tightness over the metatarsal arch eased quickly. I usually wear a wider size, but I've had no irresolvable fit issues on these regular 9's. I found little break-in necessary. They started off more comfortable than I would expect in a backpacking boot. The only fit nit I have is that the left tongue breaks right at the inside front of my ankle bone. I must either layer a sock over the spot or fold that edge of the tongue to the outside.
Oboz positions these boots as hikers. The boots are so incredibly light I had reservations whether they could deliver the lateral support and rubble isolation I prefer. So far I've put lateral support to the test twice and walked away without sprains. The shoe provides much more stability than I thought it would. Rubble isolation seems at the margin of my preferences for backpacking. As long as the total load gravitates below 210 lb (95 kg) my arthritic feet appreciate the lightweight comfort and I would choose these boots over any others I've tried. Above that threshold the sole isn't stiff enough to keep from yielding to the contours of the rubble and I get footsore. For hiking and for lightweight backpacking I am thrilled with these boots.
The heel under bite eliminates the slap I'm used to which so aggravates foot and shin issues, especially on downhill strides.
I'm always amused at folks who praise something for being light, then offer their wish list of add-ons. I miss having a boot strap to help pull the boots on, particularly since the laces don't like slipping through the fabric loops. I could spend a second loosening the laces, but I'd rather not fiddle to adjust my shoestrings any more than my Type A behavior. I'm also habituated to tying a surgeon knot between the second and third eyes; and though I still could, getting the boots on and off would be complicated a bit when laces don't slip easily. Of course since they don't slip easily, a surgeon knot seems unnecessary. Lastly on laces, the top hooks seem a little too far apart and the lace tends to squeeze over the top of the tongue when tightened.
The aggressive tread grabs a lot of dirt for great traction. I've not yet tested them for granite grip.
Durability ranks high on my list when buying premium product. A thread at the top side of the tongue has come loose. I don't know whether this will ever matter. The little bitty nubbins on the lugs have worn appreciably (as I can't imagine they wouldn't.) No other signs of degradation have become noticeable and I look forward to putting about 800 miles (1,300 km) more on these boots over the next several years to have a final opinion on how well they endure.
They could stink now, but they don't. I've asked for corroborating opinion; perhaps for a subsequent report I may find someone to oblige the request.
Long Term Report
March 28, 2014
a) Starting with 46 lb (21kg) this February hike was about 1/2 mile (0.8 k) on dirt road; 1/2 mile (0.8 k) XC on drifts, through brush and very steep terrain (No, of course we weren't lost--we were giving the Oboz's a specialty workout;) followed by 3 miles (5 k) on punchy snow for Day 1. Day 2 added a mile (1.6 k) on punchy snow. Day 3 was 2.5 miles (4 k) starting off with a foot (30 cm) of gloppy new snow over punchy snow at 7,800' (2,400 m) down to 3" (8 cm) over dirt at 7,000' (2,100 m.) Hiking temperatures ranged from about 55-35 degrees F (13-2 C.) Snow hiking totaled about 7 miles (11 k.)
b) This March sequel began at 7,000' (2,100 m) with 44 lb (20 kg) for a walk of about 1 mile (1.6 k) on dirt road to icy drifts followed by 1.5 miles (2.4 k) on snow shoes over rotten snow. Day 2's day hike was about 4 miles (6 k) over rotten snow on snow shoes, from about 7,800' (2,400 m) to 8,200' (2,500 m) up and back. Rotten snow started off day 3 for 1.5 miles (2.4 k) on snow shoes; and then a mile (1.6 k) without snow shoes over icy drifts to dirt. Hiking temperatures ranged from about 60-45 F (16-7 C.) Snow shoe hiking totaled about 8 miles (13 k.)
This series of 6 short hikes adds 17 miles (27 k) for a total now of 26 miles (42 k) day hiking and 46 miles (74 k) backpacking; grand total of 72 miles (116 k) including 15 miles (24 k) in nasty-wet snow.
On Day 1 of the first hike my heels got wet and some moisture apparently migrated to the bunion box of one shoe. I attribute this to waiting too long to deploy gaiters. Thereafter the longest hike was about two hours on wet snow and the feet stayed completely dry. I would have expected more moisture, which may have developed had the hikes lasted longer. The second trip with snow shoes brought up three hikes of 60-90 minutes each on slushy snow. Bindings kept the shoes wet at the point of contact, but no moisture penetrated and little to none developed internally. Feet stayed comfortably dry and warm without overheating. (Synthetic liner sock under wool mid-weight hiker outer sock.) The outer leather appears to be rather hydrophobic; and where wet did develop, the leather was dry again in the morning. I've done no treatments to prepare the boots for wet hiking.
With the Oboz's overloaded for both trips I've nothing to add on the rubble isolation issue. Once I got to snow, of course, that issue wasn't.
My concerns of potentially disabling pronation appear to be unfounded as the Bridgers have not let me down. The post holing and the snow shoe hiking over such terrible snow provided ample and persistent opportunity for a sprain, but none happened. Terrific traction kept me upright when post holing or plowing without snow shoes. I slipped a few times on ice, but I doubt any design of backpacking boot mitigates this circumstance.
Laces never got enough snow stuck in them to test my hypothesis about difficulty in iced conditions. After getting a bit wet without gaiters on the first leg of the first hike, I never developed the compulsion to test the theory by removing the gaiters to get the laces slush-buggered.
The tongue nit remains a niggling issue, evidently not so much that I can every time remember to fold the top of the tongue to the outside of the boot. When I forget, that spot at the inside front of my left ankle bone becomes uncomfortable. With the tongue folded out, the fit stays great.
The loose thread on the top of the tongue continues to have its way. I'll dab a bit of shoe goo on the spot as soon as that thought and the goo location converge.
I didn't add much mileage (nor corroborating opinion,) but they still don't stink.
I find the Bridgers wonderfully light; adequately supportive and my clear favorite for gross loads under 210 lb (95 kg.) Over that load I begin to feel too much rubble through the sole. Break-in was minimal for me and overall the boots are very comfortable with the exception of one isolated trouble spot at the tongue edge of one shoe. I've had no blisters or defensive taping. Traction's great. Lacing is quite effective, though I find it a bit slow. Lateral support has been satisfactory for me. On short hikes in wet snow I've had no hint of water intrusion and the boots breathed well. One thread has worked loose on a tongue; sole seems to be wearing as I'd expect; and at 72 miles (116 k) the general condition of the boots remains excellent.
An April 15 (LTR deadline) trip at 7,500' (2,300 m) isn't looking like snow; and I wouldn't expect any new observations from dirt. Perhaps at the end of the season there will be enough miles on the boots to merit a follow-up for granite grip and perhaps any additional observations.
This concludes my Long Term Report and Combined Report. Thank you OBOZ and BGT for the opportunity to test this product!
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