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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
by Joe Schaffer
NAME: Joe Schaffer
HEIGHT: 5'9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.4 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; 55 lb (25 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
Weight: Bridger pair
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)
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.
Bridger side view 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 Bridger treadarch; 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 km) 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 lbs (18 kg) start load. Two other trips started with 30 lbs (14 kg); and one other with 40 lbs (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 lbs (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 underbite 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.
This concludes my Field Report, the Long Term Report will be posted in two months.
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