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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Oboz Sawtooth II Mid Waterproof Boots > Owner Review by Richard Lyon
OBOZ SAWTOOTH II MID WATERPROOF BOOTS
Owner Review by Richard Lyon
December 16, 2020
PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND
Male, 74 years old
Height: 6' 3" [1.91 m]
Weight: 205 lb [91 kg]
Shoe size: Men's 13 US; EUR 47
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Outside Bozeman, Montana USA, in the Bridger Mountains
I've been backpacking for half a century, most often in the Rockies. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp. Though always looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences. I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Backcountry trips are often planned around skiing or ski touring in the winter or fishing opportunities in warmer weather.
Manufacturer: Oboz Footwear, LLC, obozfootwear.com
Weight: Listed, 19 oz/539 g [size 9]; measured, 23.4 oz/663 g [size 13], per boot
Height, outsole to cuff, measured: 6.5 in/16.5 cm
Size: Men's 13 US; European equivalent is 47. Available in half sizes 8 through 12, whole sizes 13, 14
Color: Dark Shadow/Woodbine Green [grey with green trim]
MSRP: $150 US
Warranty: One year against manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship.
The Vents have six loops [five fabric, the sixth metal] for threading laces and a metal hook for cinching the laces at the top. Each boot has a rubber toe cap and heel counter. Affixed to the top of the heel is a fabric loop to assist in pulling on the boot.
I purchased the Sawtooths at the beginning of this past summer, in anticipation of a couple of Wyoming backpack trips, both along Slough Creek in Yellowstone National Park. The first, over Independence Day weekend, was a solo hike, three days and two nights, from the trailhead campground in the Park to a campsite about six miles [10 km] up the trail, with day hikes to various fishing spots along the Creek. A gorgeous summer weekend, highs about 80 F [26 C], nighttime low in the 40s F [4-6 C], with no precipitation. The Slough Creek Trail in the Park is an old wagon road, though I did do some bushwhacking to reach various angling venues. Pack weight for the hikes in and out was about 35 lb [16 kg], much less when fishing. I followed my usual custom of a single pair of heavy wool socks.
The second backpacking trip began in late August, six days and five nights, from the Box Canyon trailhead in Big Timber, Montana, to the trailhead at the campground in the Park. The trail, designated as Slough Creek Divide in several guidebooks, follows the East Fork of the Boulder River upstream about ten miles [16 km] and 2000 feet [650 m] of elevation gain to the Divide, in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area. After the Divide the trail descends, roughly following Slough Creek and crossing the Park's Northern boundary where it picks up the wagon road. About 39 miles [63 km] altogether, all on established trail. A few stream crossings are required. I carried a slightly larger pack weight than the shorter trip. We experienced thunderstorms the first two evenings, some scattered showers on two mornings, and a brief hailstorm late in the afternoon of day 3. Otherwise the weather was near-perfect, no hotter than 80 F [26 C] during the day, though down to or slightly below freezing on a couple of nights.
Before my overnight trips I wore the Sawtooths on a number of day hikes, to see if any break-in period was needed and to see if any personal tweaks were necessary. Perhaps three or four hikes, twenty miles [32 km] total, mostly in fair weather, mid-70s F [23-25 C], on established trails, usually with my overnight pack and about 20 pounds' [9 kg] weight. Lately I've worn them on a few day hikes on snowy trails at temperatures near freezing.
In a word, outstanding.
Fit. As with every one of the many pairs of Oboz boots and trail runners that I have owned since my introduction to the company in a test, a dozen years ago, of one of its introductory products, no breaking in was needed. [Test Report still available on this site.] This company makes boots that suit my feet - skinny ankles, medium to high arch - as well as any of the custom-made street shoes I've owned. Nor was it necessary to substitute custom insoles for the standard Oboz insoles. I mentioned in my 2008 Test Report that the Yellowstone boots were the first pair from any manufacturer for which I didn't need special arch arrangements. That remains true. I like the Oboz insoles so much that when Oboz began to sell them as a separate product I bought a set for a pair of trail runners made by a different bootmaker, as noted in a separate Owner Review on this site.
The tight but not constricting fit is especially noticeable on steeper descents. I've had very little toe-banging and no black toes even after some [albeit cautious] hikes down 30-degree slopes.
The only necessary tweak amounts to nothing more than care to ensure that the tongue of each boot is centered exactly and lying flat across the top of my foot before lacing up. A tiny fold or slightly off-center tongue caused minor discomfort on the top of my foot. Not a design flaw, easily fixed, and now I'm warned.
Breathability. I selected the Sawtooths for several reasons. First, I like Nubuck. It's supple, durable, and easy to clean with a brush. Second, and most importantly, breathability is particularly important to me because when hiking I wear mid- or heavyweight socks year-round for blister protection and the proper heel fit. On trips with particularly rigorous terrain I may add a liner sock. That means extra perspiration, especially in warmer weather, and my feet appreciate all the wicking help they can get. Third, I decided to depart from my standard practice of not purchasing boots advertised as waterproof. I have never found a breathable hiking boot that was truly waterproof and besides even waterproof materials cannot keep water from coming in above the cuff. I pack separate footwear for stream crossings and camp but accidents, especially when fishing, do happen, and it's all too easy to underestimate stream depth. But the Sawtooths have those vents and weighed less than an ounce [28 g] more than a non-waterproof model I also considered, and I've found Oboz's B-Dry to be less sweat-generating than other waterproofing membranes. Many of the hiking trails in Montana, and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness particularly, have heavy brush that's wet in the morning from dew or nighttime rain. I thought WBP footwear was worth another try.
The Sawtooths breathe very well, thank you. That's not to say my feet are always dry or never overheated. But thanks to the vents on the Sawtooths they're as comfortable as conditions allow. I have experienced no swelling in my feet and haven't yet had to wring out my socks even after a couple days' hard hiking in warm weather.
Water Resistance. My feet didn't get wet from the morning showers or consequent wet underbrush on the Divide hike, or from morning dew anytime. After losing a water shoe I had to cross a couple of creeks, and some water did get in - from the top, not through the Nubuck. After those crossings the boots dried quickly while hiking. On a backpack trip I keep my boots in my tent, with insoles removed. On both trips boots and insoles were completely dry each morning.
Comfort. Oboz uses a proprietary mid-sole and outsole, also branded Sawtooth, on these boots. These are, as advertised, "versatile, flexible, and supportive." The boots are still fairly new, of course, and the perfect fit surely helps, but I'd rate this design feature as highly as I rate the fit.
Lately I've been wearing the Sawtooths for day hiking. Temperatures have been seasonal - 10 to 30 F/-13 to -1 C - and many of the trails are covered with hardpacked snow. With my heavy socks my feet have stayed warm while hiking, but at a recent holiday party [outdoors, masked up, socially distanced], standing around at 20 F/-7 C on the snow, my feet started to chill. For extended outdoor wear I'll stick to my insulated Oboz Bridgers, the subject of a Test Report on this site.
Grip. Surprisingly Oboz doesn't include any promotional words on the grip of the outsoles. But - as with the many other Oboz products I've worn - grip is solid even when things get slippery. I did slip down a couple of times on the Slough Creek Divide hike, on muddy sidehills. That I attribute as much to careless foot placement as to any product shortcoming. A fall day hike descending the front of the College M, a steep section on a local hike, I kept my feet with confidence despite some muddy patches, loose gravel, and a negligent lack of trekking poles. For few other boots can I make that statement.
Durability and care. Normally I clean the boots after returning home from a day hike or backpacking trip by wiping the uppers with a damp cloth and using a wire brush to remove as much dirt and debris as I can from the treads. I also remove the insoles to air-dry each night on the trail and after returning home. The boots do show a scratch or two but nothing abnormal after seventy or so miles [110 km].
WHAT I LIKE
WHAT I'D CHANGE
My skinny feet mean that the stock laces are a bit too long, always requiring a double loop. I'd like to shorten each lace by three inches/7.5 cm. Obviously not something I'm going to suggest to Oboz.
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