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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Oboz Contour Trail Shoes > Test Report by Gail StaisilOboz
Contour Trail Shoes
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan
May 6, 2010
Name: Gail Staisil
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 145 lb (66 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com
Initial Impressions and Product Description
The Oboz Contour Shoes arrived with a small hangtag noting a few features of the shoes. The Contours are classified for Multi-Sport usage by the manufacturer. My first impression was that the shoes were very sturdy looking!
The size I requested was my normal size (10.5 US/42 EU) and the length and width seem perfect. The Contours that I received are the Women's model and come in sizes 6-11 US (36-43 EU). This version comes in one color option of Mint Green that is accented with both dark taupe and light tan Nubuck Leather. Company logos are notable on the outer sides and heels of the shoes. The overall colors/design are very attractive.
The shoes were in great condition except for some fraying on a short webbing piece that lies across the back of the heel area on one shoe. Both ends of the webbing on the left shoe have loose threads on the top side edges. This webbing piece is only stitched on the ends and the middle and just is placed across that area. I think that this would only be a cosmetic defect rather than a structural issue, so I am not really concerned about it.
The abrasion-resistant mesh inserts (sides and tops of each shoe uppers) are partially covered with overlays of Nubuck Leather that has a teardrop type cut-out pattern. The leather is wrapped around the front of each shoe and all leather parts are reinforced with a double layer of stitching. The leather overlay no doubt adds to the reinforcement or support of the shoes.
The lacing harness is made of leather lace loops and has two closed plastic eyelets on the top edge through which the laces are drawn before they are tied. The round heavy-duty laces are dark mint in color and are not excessively long.
Each shoe features a padded tongue that is integrated into the shoe to make a bootie-like unit. In other words, it's in one continuous piece with a small collar that wraps around the entire foot. The edge of the bootie-constructed uppers is encased in a stretch material so that I can stretch that area when I put the shoe on.
The bootie has a pull loop on the front side as well as a heel pull. I tried them on my feet by placing a finger in each pull loop to stretch the opening so that I could insert my foot. It takes more effort to put the shoe on with this type of construction but there are benefits. They will likely provide a closer fit as well as reduce the amount of debris that will filter into the shoe. Maybe I won't need to wear short gaiters. The bootie itself is padded, especially the sides and back of each shoe.
The interior uppers of the shoes are lined with a light tricot mesh material. The shoes are Strobel lasted. This means that the base of the upper of each shoe is soft and stitched to the sides of the upper. This type of last is used in lighter weight shoes. It is easy to see the stitching around the inside perimeter of the shoe. The last material has a light rubbery feel to it and is non slippery.
The B Fit Deluxe Insoles are much more sturdy than those that come with most shoes. The heel pocket and arch are well defined. The manufacturer suggests that the arch is "positioned to support the Transverse Arch" and that the heel pocket will keep the foot centered. The insole is made out of EVA resin to retain shape and there are two inserts under the heel and forefoot for more cushioning. There are a lot of perforations in the front of the insole for breathability.
The Midsoles have four parts to them. They include dual densities of EVA, Nylon midfoot shank, TPU (thermoplastic urethane) arch shank and full forefoot ESS Sheet. These reportedly offer both support and stability.
The outsoles are characterized by having proprietary high friction, non-marking carbon outsoles. According to Oboz, little rubber is used to maintain the overall lightness of the shoes.
The pattern on the outsoles is called Spanish Peaks, no doubt in reference to peaks in the area where the company is located (Bozeman, Montana USA). Maybe the topographical map pattern between the lugs on the outsoles is from that area.
The lug pattern with both propulsion and breaking lugs is very aggressive to reportedly provide great traction and durability. The outsole wraps around the edges of the shoe but just slightly bumps up in the front of each shoe.
The manufacture suggests using a warm damp washcloth with mild detergent to spot clean the shoes. Then they should be air dried.
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July 12, 2010
USA Locations and Conditions
During the field test period, I have wore the Oboz Contour Trail Shoes for day hiking purposes totaling approximately 86 mi (138 km). Locations included boreal and deciduous forest communities, back country trails, and more. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1400 ft (427 m).
Location: Noquemanon Trails, Harlow Lake Trails (Marquette County, Michigan)
Distance: Usually 4 to 6 mi (6.5 to 10 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Rain, clouds, sun (mid range humidity (50 to 80 percent)
Temperatures Range: 42 F (6 C) to 85 F (29 C)
Performance in the Field
Trail Usage Observations
I live in an area that has a significant amount of rocky trails. Between smooth rock outcroppings and just plain sharp rocks sticking out everywhere, I must carefully watch the surfaces when I hike and run the trails. Comfortable shoes are paramount to the experience here as shoes without enough lateral support or cushion are felt with every step. The Contour Trail Shoes have performed admirably so far on day trips sometimes carrying a lightly-loaded day pack. There is plenty of structure or lateral support as I don't feel like my feet are slipping sideways over uneven surfaces.
There is a good amount of cushioning in each shoe including the padded bootie and the cushioned insole. Cruising over the rocks actually feels good as I don't feel the sharpness and hardness like I do in a lot of shoes.
I really like the cushioned insoles as they are a lot more beefy than a lot of stock insoles. When I take the cushioned insoles in and out of the shoes for drying purposes, I notice that they have a tendency to double fold upon insertion. I often have to take them back out an additional time or two before I get it right. This may be both that the opening at the top of each shoe is smaller and that the insoles are very flexible.
I have also worn them some with an after market pair of insoles that I am testing just to get a different experience. Those insoles are easy to insert and make the shoes even more comfortable.
I have found that I do not need to wear a cushioned sock with the Contour Trail Shoes as they are comfortable without additional padding. I have been wearing thin synthetic or thin wool socks. I haven't experienced any pressure spots or blisters. The toe box area on each shoe is nice and roomy so my toes love it as they are not constricted.
I have had a slight problem with the laces as they seem to untie themselves during activity unless I remember to double tie them. However, there is plenty of cordage to accomplish this.
The shoes still take a bit of extra time to put on and remove due to the integrated bootie but that is not a problem for day trips. I will evaluate in the long term period how I like dealing with that on backpacking trips where I usually remove my footwear several times in a day to wade through water.
During seasonal rains the shoes have become quite wet at times. They are still comfortable but after removal of the shoes I find that they take quite a bit of time to dry between the Nubuck leather and the thick padding that lines the shoes. This padding is covered by the mesh material that is apparent on the outside surfaces of the shoes.
The outsoles have held firmly on the variety of rock surfaces that I have encountered both wet and dry. The carbon-based outsoles have provided grip on all kinds of surfaces (rock, sand, mud). The lugs hold some dirt during wet or sloppy conditions but nothing abnormal.
Durability So Far
The shoes have been holding up very well. I do have some scuffing on the Nubuck surface but that is to be expected with the type of terrain I encounter and perhaps my clumsiness.
Overall, I would characterize the Contour Shoes as being very sturdy and comfortable. I have been pleased with their performance and fit. During the long term period, I hope to wear the Contours on some of my shorter backpacking trips of two or three days.
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Long Term Report:
September 7, 2010
USA Locations and Conditions
During the long term test period, I have worn the Oboz Contour Shoes extensively for trail running, day hiking and backpacking. Locations included those in Michigan and Colorado, USA. Hiking elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to 13,000 ft (3962 mi). Terrain included a sandy island at sea level to mountainous rocky terrain.
Early August Backpacking Trip:
Location: Grand Island National Recreation Area - Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Lake Superior
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 12 mi (19 km)
Length of Trip: 3 days/2 nights
Pack Weight: 24 lb (10.89 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sun, clouds and rain
Precipitation: 0.32 in (0.81 cm)
Temperature Range: 82 F (28 C) to 64 F (18 C)
Late August/Early September Backpacking and Day Hiking Trip:
Location: Colorado, USA. (Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Aspen, CO; Glacier Gorge and Bear Lake Trails, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO)
Type of Trip: Backpacking, Day Hiking
Length of Trip: 8 days
Pack Weight: 28 lb (12.7 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sun, clouds and rain
Precipitation: 0.11 in (0.28 cm) rain
Temperature Range: 86 F (30 C) to 36 F (2 C)
Trail Running and Day Hiking:
Location: Local Trails including Noquemanon, Mt Marquette, Marquette Mt, Hogback Mt, Presque Isle, and Harlow Lake
Distance: Normally 4 to 6 miles (6.4 to 9.7 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Wind, clouds, rain and sun
Temperature Range: 90 F (32 C) to 42 F (6 C)
As soon as the field test period was over, I decided that I would wear the Oboz Contour Trail Shoes for short backpacking trips and trail running (versus just day hiking). I normally trail run at least 4 to 6 miles (6.4 to 9.7 km) and I was immediately amazed that the Contour Trail Shoes worked so well for that purpose. Albeit they are heavier and more bulky (soles are wider and thicker, interior padding is more bulky) than my typical running shoes but I really didn't notice that to be a major factor.
What was immediately apparent was that my feet were much more comfortable than they were in my usual running shoes (which I replace often). The trails I run on are very rocky and rooty and are basically hard on my feet. My feet loved having the Contour Trail Shoes on instead. I would have never even considered using the Oboz Shoes for that purpose if I wasn't testing them (it's always amazing the great stuff I learn by testing).
Long Term Period Mileage Breakdown -167 miles (269 kilometers)
Trail Running Mileage: 81 mi (130 km)
Day Hiking Mileage: 52 miles (84 km)
Backpacking Mileage: 31 miles (50 km)
Ski Training: class plus intervals within running sessions: 3 mi (5 km)
I soon wore them on a short backpacking trip of three days to a nearby island. Although the trip was not miles intensive it did give me a feel for how well they performed with additional weight on my back (24 lb/10.89 kg). The trails were mostly sandy or hard packed earth but I also did a bit of bushwhacking as well as walking on solid rock outcroppings.
I next wore the shoes during an 8 day vacation (doesn't include air travel days) in Colorado. This vacation involved both day hiking trips and a short backpacking trip of two days covering nearly twenty miles (32 km).
The trail surfaces were very rocky and uneven. I wore the Contour shoes for all my Colorado outings and found them to continue to be comfortable. Since the rocks were often very large and sharp, I did "feel" them more than usual but my feet had no problems the entire trip.
Many of the trails involved several thousand feet of elevation change (3000 ft/914 m) per day and I had no trouble with descending or ascending the terrain (no pressure points on toes or heels) even with 28 lb (12.7 kg) of gear on my back (carrying all common gear for two people).
I also wore the Oboz Contour Trail Shoes during an intensive 2.5 hr dryland training class (given by nearby college coaches). The Contours were used for jumping short hurdles, agility drills, running, ski walking and ski bounding. I have continued to use them for shorter sessions of bounding intervals in my own running workouts.
During the entire long term test period I wore the Contour Trail Shoes with the stock insoles that were provided. I wanted to see if trail running with them needed more cushion but I was mostly satisfied with the stock insoles for comfort. Although I didn't experience any major discomfort during the backpacking trips an aftermarket insole may have provided more cushion over the rocky trails as I could feel the rocks somewhat. I have noticed that the insoles aren't as comfortable as they were at the start of the field test period. However, I have worn them for 253 mi (407 km) total and in my opinion that is to be expected.
The shoes have continued to grip well on all surfaces both wet and dry including sand, scree, talus fields, rocky trails and more.
I mostly have worn the same type of socks for all my trail endeavors. They are ultra lightweight wool socks. I am not a fan of bulky or thick socks so this works well for me and I didn't have any trouble with slipping my foot in or out of the Contours. I would simply pull the heel tabs back and without much ado I was able to place or remove the shoes. Because of the integrated booties it does take a bit longer than normal, but the payback is greater (I didn't have to wear gaiters to keep debris out of my shoes -yeah!!)
Durability and Care
With all the rough trail usage, the Oboz Contour Trail Shoes still look and perform well enough. They are of course scuffed, somewhat dirty and don't exactly look new but I didn't expect them to look perfect. The only noticeable defects at this point are that the rubber tip of one shoe has slightly become unglued and there is more unraveling on the ribbon trim than was evident from the start. However neither of these has altered the performance of the shoes.
The Oboz Contour trail Shoes have proven to be a winner for me. Not only have I worn them for a variety of activities, they have also held up extremely well considering the rough conditions they have encountered. Total trail mileage for both testing periods was approximately 253 miles (407 kilometers). They have exclusively been worn on trails where rocks, mud, roots and debris were always factors. They have not been worn for casual wear although they are decent enough looking for that purpose if desired.
Thanks to Oboz and BackpackGearTest.org for this opportunity to test the Contour Trail Shoes. This concludes my Long Term Report and the test series.
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