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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Oboz Contour Trail Shoes > Test Report by Jennifer Koles

Oboz Contour Trail Shoes

Test Report by Jennifer Koles

September 14, 2010

Skip to my Initial Report- May 3, 2010
Skip to my Field Report- July 13, 2010
Skip to my Long Term Report- September 14, 2010

Personal Information

Name:  Jennifer Koles
Age:  35
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)
Email address: jennksnowy at yahoo dot com
City, State, and Country: Orange County, California, United States

Backpacking Background

After getting into the outdoors scene camping while 4-wheeling and day-hiking, I switched to backpacking in the early 2000's. I have backpacked extensively in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho along with California, Pennsylvania and Nevada. I have slowly been cutting my base weight to be able to go longer in duration and distance. I have done so mainly by using better gear and dumping heavy luxuries. I backpack year round in all weather, and usually take a free standing tent and a gas stove on all my trips. I love trying out new gear.

The author

The author in the Narrows at Zion National Park, Utah.

Initial Report

May 3, 2010


Product Information and Description

Product: Women's Contour (20802)
Manufacturer: Oboz
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer Website:

Listed Weight on Website: 12.2 oz (346 g)
Actual Weight: 13.10 oz (371 g) per shoe
Sizes Available: Women's 6-11 (half sizes and a men's model available)
Size Tested: Women's 9

Available Colors: Mint
Color Tested: Mint

MSRP: $110.00 US
Warranty: One year

When these shoes are purchased, Oboz plants a tree in a partnership with Trees for the Future.

Oboz Contour

The Women's Contours are a multisport shoe manufactured by Oboz, a company based in Bozeman Montana U.S.A. The Contour model is available in both a men's and women's version. At a first glance I found that the Contours are unique since they have a bootie type of construction with no shoe tongue, but they have some other unique qualities.

The uppers of the Contours are made of two color tones of Nubuck leather (tan and brown) and abrasion-resistant mint green mesh panels for breathability. There is no rubber toe cap on the Contours and that makes me wonder how the toe area will look after a few uses. I generally kick a bunch of rocks and logs while hiking, mostly because I am a klutz. There is a small portion of rubber on the center of the toe area, but it does not protect the entire toe box. The uppers also have a Nubuck strip with a nylon pull tab. This is located in the center of the laces and has a vertical orientation to the shoe. The nylon pull tap is large enough for me to fit my finger through with some extra room. There are eight Nubuck lace loops and two plastic lace loops on each shoe. The plastic lace loops are secured by grommets. There is also a nylon pull tab on the heel of the shoe. This one is large enough for me to get two fingers through. I think that is great, because many times the pull tabs are too small and I end up injuring my fingers trying to get my shoes on. The inside of the Contours have a nylon mesh lining designed to wick away moisture and dry quickly.

The mid-sole of the Contours have four parts. They have dual densities of EVA to provide cushioning and forefoot plates to protect from stone bruising. The Contours have (TPU) thermoplastic urethane arch shanks and nylon mid-foot shanks to offer torsional stability and support. The shoe also has a full forefoot ESS sheet.

The soles of the shoes are a high friction carbon rubber compound, which is proprietary to Oboz. The Oboz shoes are made with as little rubber as possible to cut down on the weight of the shoes. The soles of the Contours are made of non-marking black rubber, with some green rubber accents. There are beefy lugs on the soles which are for both braking and propulsional purposes. Something really neat about the soles of the Contours; on the base rubber (where the lugs are not placed) is a pattern in the rubber of a topographic map. I think that is a cool idea. Even though people will not be able to see this detail in the rubber, I like the idea of the extra craftsmanship that went into creating this added detail.

The Contours also have a Strobel last. This is a form of slip lasting where the upper is stitched around the perimeter of the foot but no board is inserted. This type of last is designed to provide good stability.

Oboz sole


The Contours are designed with what Oboz terms BFit Deluxe Insoles. The manufacturer states the following on their website. "The BFit Deluxe insole has a well defined arch that is positioned to support and relax the Transverse Arch. It also has a shaped heel pocket to keep the foot centered properly inside the shoe. The BFit Deluxe is composed of an EVA resin that will maintain shape over time. There are two pockets of softer EVA under the heel and forefoot for cushioning, and perforations that open into channels on the underside of the insole that allow for breathability and air flow."

Insert top
Insert bottom

Initial Impressions

At a first look at the Contours they are beautifully crafted and do not have any manufacturing defects. The color combination looks great in my opinion.

I was skeptical of the bootie construction, with no tongue in the shoe to allow for more room when putting on the shoes. However, using the pull tab I get enough stretch in the bootie to slide the shoe on my foot. The shoes fit like a glove and thus far the top of the bootie is not constricting my foot at rest. But, I have four months of testing ahead of me with the Contours.

Field Report

July 13, 2010

Testing Locations

During the past two months the Contours have been worn for 63 mi (101 km). They have been nothing but comfortable on the trail. They basically fit like a glove and are my new favorite hiking shoes. They needed no break in time at all!

Mill Creek Canyon

Mill Creek Canyon, Utah

Southern California: Day/evening hikes and fitness hikes in Fremont, Limestone, and Orchard Hills Canyons. These hikes ranged from 3 mi (5 km) to 7 mi (11 km).

Cleveland National Forest, California: This was a one night backpacking trip with a first-timer friend of mine. The low temperatures were around 40 F (4 C) and the elevation at camp was 1,600 ft (488 m). This was an 8 mi (13 km) hiking trip.

Near Red Rocks, Nevada: This was a one night camping trip. It was very warm at night with the temperatures in the upper 70's F (24 C) and the elevation was around 4,500 ft (1,400 m). I wore the Contours around camp.

Wasatch-Cache Mountain National Forest, Utah: I wore the Contours in Mill Creek Canyon on day-hikes.

Performance in the Field

So far I am very happy with the Oboz Contours. After using them for 63 mi (101 km) I have to say they still fit like new. I have not noticed any stretching in the shoes, even after becoming slightly wet. Basically they feel and fit like a slipper on my foot. And I think this is because of the bootie construction.

The insole is also very comfortable. Even with my flat feet, they offer enough support that my feet are not aching after hiking. There has been no need for me to try an aftermarket insole in these shoes.

I have noticed that dirt enters in side the shoes through the abundance of mesh on the outside of the Contours. These are not large dirt particles, they are more like dust. I can not feel the dirt inside the shoes, it is just that the top of my socks and my skin on my feet (especially my toes and between them) gets dirty after wearing the Contours on dusty trails. Also the mesh fabric seems to collect Foxtails (grass-like weed), thorns, and cactus needles. They become imbedded in the mesh and at times are difficult to pick out. So far none of the thorns or needles have penetrated completely through the fabric.

The Contours have become damp from hiking in misty fog and through small puddles or areas of water. The mesh fabric dries more quickly than the leather portion of the Contours.

The Nubuck leather is scuffed up in the toe area, but this has not hindered the performance of the shoes in any way. I have cleaned the leather and the mesh material using a damp cloth and by slapping the shoes against each other to get rid of the excess dirt in the mesh outer material.

I find that the Contours take a little bit more work to put on my feet than traditional shoes. This is due to the bootie type of construction (with no tongue for additional clearance). It is not like I am jamming my foot in the shoe to get it on. It just takes a little bit more effort to push my foot into the opening of the Contours. The pull tabs help a great deal when I am pulling on the shoes. When I am taking off the shoes the process is very easy with little effort, so I do not believe the bootie construction makes much of a difference when removing the shoes.

My feet swell when hiking, especially my right ankle due to a past surgery. At first I was concerned that the bootie construction of the shoes would cause fluid to build up more around the opening of the Contours. I am happy to report that this has not been the case. I like the bootie construction over traditional tongued shoes. It eliminates additional pressure points and there is no moving tongue in the shoe. My feet feel very comfortable and snug in these shoes with no unnecessary side to side movement.

The traction of the Contours has been good on dusty dirt, packed down trails, and rocks. I am finding while hiking in mud the lugs do not shed the mud very well. I can clear the mud off the bottom of the shoes by kicking something or by stomping. However, they offer enough traction in mud that I have not fallen, even on my night hikes where we just use natural light. The soles are thick enough that I do not feel rocks or sticks when I am hiking over them.

During my night hikes my footing is important. This is because we only use natural light. The Contours give me enough foot support when I am uncertain of my footing, hiking on ground I can not see well, and on unknown objects. I have not rolled my ankles while hiking at night and I believe this is due to the last of the shoe along with the properties of the insoles.

Long Term Report

September 14, 2010

Testing Locations

Since the start of this test I have worn the Contours hiking and backpacking just over 100 mi (161 km).

Southern California: Day/evening hikes and fitness hikes in El Moro, Limestone, and Orchard Hills Canyons. These hikes ranged from 3 mi (5 km) to 10 mi (16 km). Mostly the trails were dry with some spots mud.

Mt. San Jacinto State Park, California: I took two one night backpacking trips here. We went for a day hike to the summit on both trips. We camped at an elevation around 9,000 ft (2,750 m). The low temperature was in the mid 40's F (5 C).

Performance in the Field

I must say that I am still very happy with the Contours. They are now my favorite pair of hiking shoes. They have not caused my feet any excessive pain, nor did I get any blisters while wearing these. They are also so comfortable and they make my feet feel very secure. The traction on these shoes is also great. I have not encountered any excessive sliding when hiking on packed wet dirt, dusty trails, or on rocks.

There are only a few things I do not like about these shoes and I consider them to be minor. For instance dirt enters in the mesh material of the shoes and thus my socks and feet get pretty dirty. This is noticeable mostly on dusty trails. Also little thorns and cactus needles become stuck in the mesh material. I just pick them out; at times with tweezers. On a night hike I had many Foxtails stuck in the material and I had to pick them out after I was done hiking.

On my fitness hikes I like to wear a light weight shoe that gives me adequate support. These shoes fit the bill. They are not super heavy (but more so than my trail runners) and I like the feeling of the bootie construction; especially when I have to keep a fast pace on the trail. Earlier this year I wore my trail runners on these hikes. But, I have really enjoyed wearing the Contours; I think mostly because of the fit and the traction.

Even with my backpack fully loaded for an over night backpacking trip the Contours offer me enough stability that I do not end up turning my ankles or end up with super sore feet.

One thing I really like about these shoes is that there has been no need for me to use after market food beds in them. I pretty much have such out all of the foot beds in my other trail shoes to an after market brand. These foot beds offer great support for my fallen arches, don't give me heel pain or slip, and are very comfortable.

To clean the Contours I just wiped them clean with slightly soapy water or plain water and a cloth. This approach has worked well for me. They look worn and have wear marks on the leather, but that is it. The mesh lining, pull tabs, laces, leather, and the soles are holding up great with no wear issues other than from normal use.

Things That Rock:

  • Initial fit is good
  • Easy to slip on
  • Good stability

Things That Are So-So:

  • Thorns and vegetation get stuck in the fabric
  • Dirt enters through the mesh fabric


This concludes my reporting on the Oboz Contour Multisport Shoes. Thank you Oboz and for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.

Oboz Contour front


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