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Oboz Yellowstone Boots
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan
 
Page Contents:



Initial Report:
Oboz Yellowstone Boots
March 30, 2008

Tester Information

Name:
Gail Staisil
Age: 55
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 138 lb (63 kg)
Normal Boot Size: 10.5 US (42.5 EU)
Oboz Boot Size: 11 US (also 42.5 EU)

Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman2001 AT yahoo DOT com

For the last 18 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan and Canada. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.


Product Information



Manufacturer
Oboz Footwear LLC.
Website http://www.obozfootwear.com
Contact
406.522.0319
Model Women's Yellowstone
Color
Tan, Red, Sage Green and Gray
Outsoles
 Z-GRIP Rubber
Midsoles
Propulsion Foam
Uppers
Waterproof Nubuck and Split Grain Leathers, Mesh Fabric
Tested Size
Women's 11 US (42.5 EU) Available in 6-10, 11
Manufacturer  Weight 
NA
Tested Weight 
37.6 oz/1066 g (Right boot: 19.2 oz/544 g, Left boot: 18.4 oz/522 g)
Model Year 2008
Country of Manufacturer
USA (footwear made in China)
MSRP NA

 
 


Initial Impressions and Product Description
 
Fit
Oboz Yellowstone Boots
Upon their arrival, I anxiously tried on the Oboz Yellowstone Boots. I had requested a half size larger than normal based on prior information that they ran on the small side. They fit perfectly with plenty of room in the toebox and the lace system worked well to conform each boot to my foot's shape. I normally wear size Women's 10.5 US (42.5 EU) boots and the ones I received are size 11 US. I did notice on their conversion information (that is located on their boot box/and inside the boot) that Oboz equated the size 11 US to 42.5 EU rather than 43 EU. This could explain the difference in the US size that I needed, as many conversion charts often equate it to the latter. I've experienced this difference before, as size conversions are not standardized. It pays to check the conversion table with each company before making a size choice.

The boots look exactly like they do on the website. In fact, the colors are very exact and there weren't any surprises there. I haven't found any noticeable defects so they appear to be in perfect condition. I did find that one boot weighed more than the other (see the chart above) but I guess that is minor.


Oboz - What does the name mean?

Oboz is a new footwear company and the Yellowstones are one of six inaugural shoes and boots available in both mens and womens sizes. I was curious what the name of the company represented and by checking the website (and tag on boot), I learned that Oboz refers to "Outside Bozeman". Bozeman, Montana is located in the northern section of the Rockies Mountains in the United States. Oboz's footwear is designed for performance in the outdoors.


Features 

Uppers

The Yellowstones are a waterproof mid-cut boot featuring B-DRY technology. This membrane that was created by the manufacturer is reportedly breathable as well. The uppers of the Yellowstone Boots are fabricated with a combination of waterproof nubuck, split-grain leather and mesh fabric. The sage green and tan-colored nubuck leather forms most of the exterior of each boot while the red split-grain leather is mostly used for an accent color. The lower sides of the uppers feature a row of radial  "V-shaped" stitching sewn through the all the colors of leather that make up that section.

The Radial Fit System is essentially a support system for the boots. According to the manufacturer, it integrates the uppers and bottoms of each boot to stabilize the mid-foot on uneven terrain.

Side viewPadded gray-color mesh forms the collar and this material extends into the area underneath the laces forming a bellows tongue. The tongue features a (partial) red leather overlay and it is stitched to feature a tunnel through which the cordage can be centered or kept in place. The bellows tongue presumably will deter dirt and water from entering the boot. The inside of each boot is lined with a soft fleece-type material. Besides the padded collar, the area surrounding the heels are also very cushioned on each boot.

The multi-color round cordage for the laces is fed through five sets of leather loops and there is one set of matching hooks at the top of each boot. The loops are formed by folded over and stitched pieces of leather.
The lacing system seems very easy to adjust. I just simply pulled on the laces to tighten, wrapped the cordage around the top hooks and made a simple bow.

The back of each heel edge features a charcoal-color ribbon loop to facilitate pulling on and removing each boot. A simple and small "Oboz" label is located a few inches beneath each loop. Another "Oboz" label is located on the top side of each boot, one on the tongue and one on the bottom of each outsole. There's also a "B-DRY" leather tag on each boot located on the side of the uppers (one on each boot).

Rubber material is wrapped around the front on the lower perimeter of each boot forming a nice toe rand.

 
Soles: Outsoles, Midsole and Insoles
Outsole
The outsoles of the Yellowstones feature Z-GRIP High Friction rubber. This non-marking rubber was engineered by Oboz. The outsoles also feature a multi-directional lug pattern to presumably increase traction in all directions. The lugs are supposed to be self-cleaning according to the manufacturer.

The outsoles wrap upwards over the back of each boot for over 2 in (5 cm). Starting underneath and to the sides of this wrap and extending above it are the external heel counters.
One of the neat features of the boot is that these counters are gender specific. The 3D injection-molded counters allow for the differences in women's and men's feet. Reportedly they provide for more support and motion control over the long haul.

The midsoles consist of different densities of EVA compounds called Propulsion Foam. This reportedly offers cushion with great impact resilience and maximum energy return.

The insoles feature B-Fit technology incorporating three densities of foam forming an arch and heel support in each insole. The tops of them are covered in a soft micro-fleece type fabric.

 

Care

I didn't find any accompanying care instructions for the boots and I couldn't locate any on Oboz's website. However, taking care of footwear is usually intuitive so I'm not sure if any are really necessary. 

So far, I'm very impressed with the Oboz Yellowstone Boots. They not only fit great and feel comfortable, but they are also waterproof. I can hardly
wait to start wearing them for many planned trips and dayhikes in a variety of rugged terrain.  

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Field Report:
Oboz Yellowstone Boots
June 5, 2008

Locations and Conditions

During the field test period, I have worn the Oboz Yellowstone Boots during several extended trips. They included three four-day backpacking trips for a total of twelve days. In addition, the boots have been worn for snowshoeing, and other short hikes approximately 2 times a week (a dozen times total). I have also worn them for spring clean up duties totaling 12 hours of raking, etc at two residences. Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities with many rock outcroppings to lakeshores and hiking trails
. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1200 ft (366 m).


April Backpacking Trip:

Location: Mackinac State Forest - Lower Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Bushwhack, partly snow-covered forest and swamps
Distance: 13 mi (21 km)
Length of Trip:
4 days
Backpack Weight (included transport of snowshoes, traction devices, etc): 42 lb (19 kg) 
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny, partly cloudy
Precipitation:
None
Temperature Range: 23 F (-5 C) to 63 F (17 C)


Early May Backpacking Trip:

Location: North Country Trail - Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Maintained trail
Distance: 41.3 m (66.5 km)
Length of Trip:
4 days
Backpack Weight: 30 lb (13.6 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, partly sunny, rain
Precipitation:
0.15 in (0.38 cm)
Temperature Range: 34 F (1 C) to 62 F (17 C)

Late May Backpacking Trip:

Location: Fox River Pathway and Lakeshore Trail
Type of Trip: Maintained trail
Distance: 58.25 mi (94 km)
Length of Trip:
4 days
Backpack Weight: 28 lb (12.7 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, rain, snow
Precipitation:
0.50 in (1.27 cm)
Temperature Range: 37 F to 54 F (3 C to 12 C) (mostly 40 F to 45 F/ 4 C to 7 C)
 

Performance in the Field

During the last two months, the conditions and temps have been like winter outside although the calendar said it is spring. During that time I wore them for 12 days of backpacking as well as additional outings as noted above. In my best estimation they have been worn for about 175 mi (282 km) of trekking so far.


Usage and Comfort

As reported above, I have worn the Oboz Yellowstone Boots extensively. They have experienced everything that snow and rain produces as well as dry conditions on rocky and sandy trails. They have also been used for several days of bushwhacking through mostly forested areas.

The comfort level overall has been superior. The toe box areas are nice and roomy and the lacing system is flexible so that I can adjust the laces quickly across the insteps and not have to stop and re-adjust again along the way. My usual habit is to tie the laces and secure with a double knot.

The stock insoles are typical of many boots although they are designed to be gender specific. They have been very comfortable to wear while carrying a loaded pack for distances of 6 mi to 7 mi (9.7 km to 11 km) at a time and then my feet feel like they need more cushion. I wore the stock insoles on all outings except for the last backpacking trip where I was averaging 15 mi (24 km) per day. I replaced them with a more cushioned pair of insoles for that trip only.


The overall fit around the heels, and ankles has been great. I have worn both cushioned socks and lightweight thin socks and the boots have accommodated both choices without any loss of comfort. I especially like the fit at the top edges of the boots. Although I ordinarily wear short gaiters, I have worn them on short treks without them and the close fit hasn't allowed any debris from entering the tops of the boots. Since I tend to shuffle sometimes when I walk that speaks volumes. 

I have worn the boots with traction devices and snowshoes as well as by themselves. They have adapted well with all modes of travel with both the traction devices and the snowshoe harnesses accommodating them perfectly.

Even though the boots have been wet often (see below), I mostly had a good experience wearing the boots. The exception would be during my last backpacking trip when the boots became thoroughly wet on the second day of the trip. With temps mostly from 30 F to  40 F (-1 C to 4 C) and gray skies, the boots didn't have a chance to dry out at camp. I wore them the rest of the trip with wet socks. That was uncomfortable resulting in a blister (that I ordinarily never get). To alleviate my chill, I wore dry socks, silynylon socks and plastic bags inside the boots at camp to keep my feet warm.


Other Features and Perks

One of my favorite design features of the boots is the lace system. The boots are so easy to put on and remove without a struggle. The only difficulty I had occurred during the first night of my early April backpack when the boots and laces became soaked and then the night was well below freezing. The leather tunnels through which the laces are threaded were frozen solid in the morning so it was hard to get any tension on the laces. I simply put them on as they were for the morning hours at camp and soon the leather was pliable enough to work with. However, this is not a negative but rather reality for most footwear that becomes wet and then frozen. During the other two nights, I buried the boots in my pack for the night so that they wouldn't freeze again.

The rubber toe rands have been valuable for protecting my feet from rocky trails and forest debris. I like the fact that they aren't overly bulky and don't catch on obstructions. 

My feet have always felt very centered or stable in the Yellowstones while I frequently hiked over very uneven surfaces. More than several times I had to cross beaver dams or scale logs across rivers to get to the other side. I have experienced excellent footing and my feet stayed firmly where I placed them on each step. I attribute this to the stability provided by the Radial Fit System (integrates the uppers and bottoms) and the external heel counters. The multi-directional lugs on the bottoms of the boots have provided good grip on all surfaces that I've encountered and much of my travel has been on wet surfaces. I have also traveled a fair amount of descents and ascents on slippery surfaces with great traction.


Water Resistance
Areas of wetness after gaiter was removed
My first extended trip with the Yellowstone Boots was to the Lower Peninsula of Michigan where there was less snow cover than here. Typically in April there is little-to-no cover in that region. This year was certainly different. Upon arrival, a quick investigation made the carrying and partial usage of snowshoes and traction devices necessary. On this trip I wore the Yellowstones in three different ways. Sometimes I wore traction devices with them, sometimes snowshoes and sometimes just used them by themselves.

The snow was very wet and areas that didn't have snow were also wet. I wore gaiters to fend off some of the water but during two of the days the boots nubuck outers became very wet outside and eventually I had wet socks inside. The moisture seemed to penetrate through the mesh inserts in the tops of the boots. There seemed to be no way of escaping it as I had the boots on during 6 or 7 hours of travel each day (including breaks and lunch).

Each evening I hung the boots to dry from a tree branch into the wind and made some progress in drying them before the sunset. I had previously taken out the inserts which dried quite quickly in the sun. On the final day, conditions were kinder and my feet didn't get wet.

 
My second backpacking trip was at the end of the spring melt. The first several miles of the trip were in flooded areas. Even though we made significant bushwhacks to avoid the heavily flooded areas along the swollen raging river, I still walked through wet areas much of the day.

The outside of my boots wet out very quickly but my feet remained dry for several hours. I then felt wetness on the top surface of my socks inside my boots. Other days of the trip also had water issues and the boots hiked through many bog areas. Rainfall also occurred on the second night making wet conditions in the morning. I wore fresh dry socks those days but the same situation repeated itself.

During my third backpacking trip, I experienced two days of rain. During the first day the outside of the boots wet out fast in the light rain. My feet stayed mostly dry. The second day produced more rain and my feet soon became wet. I have noticed that the boots usually stay dry inside for a several hours of walking through wet areas or in rain but then the mesh areas seems to be a port for the wetness to seep inside. The top of my gaiters and the boots have remained dry so I can only speculate that is the scenario.
Rain pants over gaiters over boots
In addition to backpacking, I have worn the Yellowstones on many dayhikes. Conditions varied widely and I again wore them with traction devices, snowshoes or by themselves. In my experience with dayhikes, the insides of the Yellowstones have not leaked in wet conditions when I am out for only a few hours at a time.

Some of the day hikes where I experienced very wet conditions were a trek along Lake Superior shoreline and Presque Isle in 15 in (38 cm) of new wet snow (32 F/0 C temps) hikes to a series of falls on the Dead River in deep snow, treks around Mt Marquette, Sugarloaf and Hogback Mts, and a trek to Canyon Falls in early April in melting snow conditions. 

Most of these treks covered about 3 mi to 5 mi (5 km to 8 km) in distance. Even though the outside nubuck areas became visibly wet on all these treks, my feet stayed dry inside. So far, my experiences have been consistent. When the Yellowstones are exposed to wet conditions for more than several hours, they start leaking inside the boots. When they only experience a few hours of wet conditions, they stay dry. It's a mystery for sure.


Due to the variable experiences I was having with the boots, I contacted the manufacturer's customer service about my concerns. I was given a variety of choices to send the boots back and they sent me their account number to facilitate the return. It was handled very quickly and new boots are in the process of being sent.

 

Care and Durability

I have done little to care for the boots other than to brush off mud and other debris that has clung to the leather surfaces. The light green nubuck uppers have been stained by mud but that is not unusual for any light colored boot in my estimation. More importantly the nubuck uppers have held up to a high degree of off-trail travel and there aren't any cuts or injury to the leather.

The lugs have not collected an unusual amount of mud even though they have tramped through many muddy surfaces. There may be something to be said about self-cleaning lugs! I haven't had to pry out dried pieces of mud off of the soles like I've had to on some other boots.
 

Overall, I really like most qualities of the Yellowstone Boots so I hope that the wet issues can be solved. In the long term period, I will evaluate the waterproofness and the durability of the replacement boots. I will be taking several long backpacks and doing extensive dayhiking as well. I will report on the functionality of the boots for both types of trekking. 

 
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Long Term Report:
Oboz Yellowstone Boots
August 12, 2008

Locations and Conditions

During the long term period, I have worn the Yellowstone Boots during two different trips. They included a two-day backpacking trip, and an eleven-day backpacking/plus base camp trip for a total of thirteen additional days. Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities with many rock outcroppings to lakeshores and mountainous terrain
. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to over 10,700 ft (3260 m). 

 
July Backpacking Trip:

Location: Grand Island National Recreation Area, Michigan, USA
Type of Trip: Maintained trail
Distance: 22 mi (35.5 km)
Length of Trip:
2 days
Backpack Weight: 22.5 lb (10.2 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, Partly Sunny, High Humidity, Windy, Extreme Flying Bugs
Precipitation:
None 
Temperature Range: 64 F to 78 F (18 C to 26 C)   

Late July - August Backpacking Trip and Base Camp Trip:

Location: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA
Type of Trip: Maintained trail backpacking trip (6 days) plus base camp trip (5 days)
Distance: 72.5 mi (117 km) trip total (46.9 mi/76 km) backpacking, (25.6 mi/41 km) dayhiking
Length of Trip:
11 days total
Backpack Weight: Approx 32 lb/14.5 kg (included bear canister, two-person tent)
Sky and Air Conditions: Mostly Sunny, Partly Cloudy, Low Humidity
Precipitation:
0.03 in (0.08 cm) Rain
Temperature Range: 36 F to 85 F (2 C to 29 C) 


Performance in the Field

Summary

Overall, the Oboz Yellowstone Boots have been comfortable to wear and have provided excellent traction on rock, sand and wet areas during a total of 290 mi (467 km) of hiking during the entire testing period. I have found them to be exceptionally stable and supportive.
I'm still not sure where I stand on the waterproofness of the Oboz boots. Although I had significant problems during the field test period, the water seepage always occurred after many hours of trekking in very wet conditions. I feel that the boots would be adequate for most users that don't encounter the extremely wet conditions that I often face.


Boot Update and Usage
Crossing Paintbrush Divide wearing the Yellowstone Boots
During the long term period, I received a replacement pair of boots. After the replacement pair of boots arrived, I was able to wear them on a short 22 mi (35.5 km) overnight backpacking trip to a nearby island. It assured me that the boots were just as comfortable as the first pair that I received.

The boots were then worn on a longer trip of 11 days to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
This trip consisted of 6 days of backpacking and five days of dayhiking (one of those was spent trekking in Yellowstone National Park, the boots namesake!!). Between the two trips they were worn for 95 mi (153 km) of travel. In addition another 20 mi (32 km) of travel was incurred on local rocky trails.
 
Dry conditions prevailed during the long term period. I did have to cross numerous wet or soggy spots (Grand Island), areas of snow travel (Tetons) and flowing creek beds that weren't bridged during both trips. I didn't have any issues with water seeping into the boots on those short intervals.

Hot weather prevailed during my Wyoming trip with the temps being mostly above 80 F (27 C). Although my feet felt hot while hiking, it was not unusual as my whole body was overheated not being used to a hot and dry environment (low humidity). I wore a variety of socks with the boots including both thin and cushioned varieties. The thinner socks worked best (Darn Tough Vermont Merino Wool Mesh Quarter Socks) to keep my feet comfortable.

The routes during the mountain travel had a significant amount of elevation gain and loss. My toes never jammed into the front of the boots on the down hills and I came away from the long trip with no discomfort of any sort on my feet. The boots provided excellent traction especially in transition areas from snow to mud to rock.



Durability

In the long term period the replacement boots have held up mostly well. There are slight separations (two) of the rand in the toe area on one of the boots but the rest of the rand is still glued securely in place. However, this is only a cosmetic defect. The stitching remains intact.

I will continue to wear the extremely comfortable boots for many of my backpacking trips but probably will relegate their use to dayhikes once the late fall wet and cold conditions prevail.


Tester Remarks 

Thanks to Oboz and BackpackGearTest for making possible the great opportunity to test the Yellowstone Boots. This report concludes the test series.  

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