OBOZ CONTOUR TRAIL SHOES
TEST SERIES BY MIKE WILLIAMS
INITIAL REPORT - May 06, 2010
FIELD REPORT - July 12, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - September 13, 2010
Milliken, Colorado, United States
5' 9" (1.75 m)
225 lb (102.00 kg)
I was introduced to backpacking as a teenager through scouts in Colorado Springs, Colorado and fell in love with it. I continued to actively backpack through college and took a break to start a career and family. A few years ago we decided as a family to become very active in hiking, backpacking and camping. Currently my wife, son (8 yrs) and I hike and backpack extensively in Colorado and South Dakota as a family. We continually look for the right balance of lightweight, durable, comfortable and safe gear for our family to enhance our outdoor experiences.
|Oboz Contour Trail Shoes|
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.obozfootwear.com
MSRP: US $110.00
Listed Weight: 14.6 oz (414 g) - per shoe for a Mens Size 9 US
Measured Weight: 15.25 oz (432 g) left shoe 15.6 oz (442 g) right shoe
Size Tested: Men's 10.5 US
Available Sizes: Men's US 8-12, 13, 14
Color Tested: Cayenne (only available color)
The Oboz Contour trail shoes are a multi-sport shoe designed for any terrain in dry conditions. They consist of a two-toned nubuck leather upper with mesh ventilation panels that are constructed of a high abrasion resistant fabric. The shoes do not have a traditional tongue but are rather designed with a dynamic bootie which offers a more secure fit and provides protection from debris. The bootie is constructed of the same high abrasion resistant fabric found in the ventilation panels with the addition of thick foam padding for ankle and heel support. The bootie also includes some red (cayenne) colored highlights that include thumb and finger loops to assist in putting the shoe on.
|One More Tree - it's a good thing!|
The foot beds of the shoe include Oboz's BFit Deluxe Insoles that are constructed with a firm EVA resin that will maintain shape and stability over time. This firm (hard) portion of the insole is primarily the heel cup as well as the arch that is designed to aid in maintaining proper foot placement in the shoe. The forefoot of the insole is constructed of a more flexible material that also has perforations to aid in breathability. On the bottom of the insole are two softer EVA foam pad for added comfort and cushioning.
|BFit Deluxe Insoles - Note the rigid heel cup|
The four part midsole is constructed of dual density EVA cushioning as well as a mid-foot and arch shank that combined with the other features offer stability, support and lateral as well as torsional flex control. The outsole of the shoe is constructed of a proprietary high friction carbon rubber compound that is non-marking and formed in Oboz Spanish Peaks lug pattern. The Spanish Peaks lug pattern is the tread design that is incorporated into the shoe and includes flex groves for added comfort and performance.
|Spanish Peaks Outsole|
When the shoes arrived I found them to be attractive, good looking shoes that appeared to be made with an attention to detail. However, I was a little apprehensive about how well they would fit with the bootie construction. My foot is a high volume, wider foot and it is often difficult to find shoes that fit well and are comfortable on the trail. When I put the shoes on, my apprehension grew, the bootie was fairly stiff and getting the shoe on was a bit awkward given the use of the finger loops and my large foot. In addition I had a fairly bad heel blister (from other boots) when I first put the shoes on; and putting the shoes on was a very unpleasant experience.
|Bootie with Thumb and Finger Loops|
I was wearing mid weight wool socks and the bootie fit very snugly, almost like it was hugging my ankle. Through continued, but very limited use the bootie is becoming more flexible and getting the shoes on are becoming easier. The first few times I put the shoes on I was using my fingers to straighten out the bootie so it fit on my foot; and I have to admit I started to use a shoe horn. I have never used a shoe horn for anything other than a dress shoe and I felt stupid for having to use it on a trail hiker but it works very well. I hope that with future use my need for a shoe horn will decrease.
Once the shoes were on they felt good and they are very comfortable to walk in, however they were a bit snug. Due to my large foot and the snug fit of the shoe, I felt that the shoe was a little warm and muggy and that will be something for me to watch. The foot beds felt like they were custom made to my foot, specifically the heel cup and the arch. Both appear to be very robust and offer great support. The forefoot initially felt a little tight, but not uncomfortable or too narrow which is a symptom of my high volume wider foot. After a few uses the tightness has started to disappear and the shoe feels great. One thing to note is that due to the snug fit that I have, the shoes feel a little warm and sock choice may be an important aspect for me and these shoes.
The midsole and outsole are both rugged and flexible but they appear to offer good stability, support and cushioning. I'm very pleased to have a well fitting trail shoe that has an integrated arch and mid-foot shank and I feel like they will really help with impact fatigue due to rough terrain. The tread pattern looks like it will offer decent traction and the carbon rubber outsoles were not slippery after a brief encounter with water.
Things I Like...
- So far so good on the fit.
- The foot bed of the BFit Deluxe Insole may be the most comfortable foot bed I have ever used.
- The midsole and outsole are well made and offer great support.
Things I Will Be Watching...
- Putting the shoe on is as awkward as putting on a snorkeling flipper, I hope it gets easier.
- Breathability of these shoes may be an issue.
I'm very excited to be testing these shoes, it has been a real challenge for me to find shoes that fit well, are comfortable and perform in the backcountry. So far the Oboz Contour trail shoes have satisfied 2 of my 3 requirements; they fit well and they are relatively comfortable given the limited use I have had with them. I look forward to testing their use in the backcountry and to find out if they perform and remain comfortable.
This concludes my Initial Report on the Oboz Contour trail shoes. The Field Report, which will detail my experiences with these shoes for the first two months of use can be found below.
Field Conditions and Performance
I have used the Oboz Contour Trail Shoes extensively in the last two months and I have logged over 100 miles (160 km) with the shoes. The trail miles that I have logged were a combination of multi-day trips that included a fully loaded backpack with an average weight of 35 lb (16 kg) and day trips. These trips occurred in a very broad range of terrain and conditions which included post holing through 3 ft (1 m) of snow. Most of the trails that I encountered spanned an elevation of 5,000 ft (1,525 m) to 12,500 ft (3,810 m) and were rough Rocky Mountain trails with sharp stones, slick boulders and talus fields.
The spring season in Northern Colorado was quite wet due to a strong winter run off and an unusual abundance of heavy spring rainfall. This left many of the trails muddy or washed out and was challenging for any shoe. In addition to hiking and backpacking with the Oboz, I was able to use them as bouldering shoes on multiple occasions.
|Muddy Trail - very wet shoes|
As mentioned I was able to use the shoes in a variety of conditions that included very wet trails. In the wet conditions I noticed that the shoes absorbed and soaked up quite a bit of water which made them feel heavy. This was very evident when we ran into a patch of snow that was melting and very slushy. The shoes absorbed the very cold water and that made for a very wet trip. I did have on some light wool socks and I was forced to stop every hour or so and wring out or change them. Once out of the snow, it seemed like the shoes took a very long time to dry out, nearly two days to feel completely dry which meant that good socks were a must. It became clearly evident that these shoes were not designed for wet conditions. However wet the shoes became, at no point did they feel uncomfortable due to fit or lose any functionality with traction, they only felt heavy and cold.
Luckily the wet conditions were early in the testing phase and I was able to use the shoes in the conditions they were designed for, warm weather on rugged and rough trails. Under these conditions I feel the Contours shine and perform very well. They are extremely comfortable and I believe this is due to the BFit Deluxe Insoles as well as the EVA Cushioning. During the test I did not experience foot fatigue or soreness at all in these shoes which is a first for me. Typically when I am on a rough trail I will feel tired, sore feet about 1 mile (1.6 km) before my knees start to ache. During the test I was very surprised that I felt discomfort in my knees without even noticing any pain or issues with my feet, typically these two ailments are one and the same for me.
In addition to feeling good, I have a lot of confidence in the traction the soles have provided. The lug pattern has done great in a wide variety of conditions and I have used them for rock scrambling and bouldering. There was one instance where I slipped while wearing the shoes, on a very wet and steep granite slab with my fully loaded pack on. In this case I cannot fault the shoes, I should not have been on the rock and I should have used better judgment.
Breathability of the shoes has not been an issue. First and foremost, they do not stink yet, which is a great indicator for me that they are breathing well when in use. Due to the fit of the shoe I am using a very thin wool sock which is helping, but so far I have not had any issues with the shoe feeling muggy or sweaty when in use. As long as I am active the shoes breathe well; I did wear the shoes to work one day and by noon I slipped them off under my desk because they felt too hot.
So, to say that the shoes fit well, feel good and provide excellent traction is an understatement for me; they fit great, feel wonderful and are as solid footed as any trail shoe I have ever used. During the Initial Reporting phase of the test I did note that the shoes fit snugly and getting the shoes on was a challenge without the aid of a shoehorn. My hope with these shoes was that the bootie would stretch out a little bit to allow the shoes to slip on easier, that hope has not been realized yet. I still require the use of a shoehorn to put the Contours on my feet especially after some long trail days when my feet had swelled just a bit. Instead of bringing a dedicated shoehorn on a backpacking trip I have found a great multitasker in my Montbell Handy Scoop potty trowel (I keep mine very clean). The trowel has been a life saver getting the shoes on and I would not enjoy these shoes nearly as much without using trowel.
|Love the Handy Scoop.|
From a durability perspective and given the use I have put the shoes through I feel that they are holding up well. The insoles and cushioning have held their shape and continue to offer great support. The outsoles and lug pattern have proven to be very durable and show little signs of wear and they look like they have a lot of miles left in them. The leather and mesh uppers have been scrapped, raked, snagged, rubbed and caught on boulders, rocks, branches and shrubs and are holding up very well. The only issue I have with the durability of the shoes is in the stitching. There are a few places where the stitching has or is coming undone. The areas where the stitching is unraveling is not in a sensitive area and it will have no impact to the performance of the shoe, but it is something that I will continue to watch.
The only other performance issue that I have encountered is that the shoe laces come undone fairly easily. For me this is not an uncommon occurrence to deal with, however due to the bootie construction and tight fit of the shoe I have a difficult time telling when the shoes are tied or untied. This has created a slight tripping hazard and I need to be cautious of the shoelaces when they are not double knotted.
I have to admit that after the first 5 miles of use in these shoes I knew it would be hard for me to be objective during the test phase, I fell in love with the shoes right from the beginning. I have never had a pair of shoes that felt so good on the trail right out of the box. I honestly feel like these shoes were made for my feet, break in time was zero.
|Longs Peak Sunset|
What I love so far about the shoes is the feel, fit and performance on rocky terrain which is everything I would want in a trail shoe. If Oboz made this same shoe in a waterproof version, I would buy them without even looking at the price tag. However, I would hate these shoes without the use of the (very clean) Handy Scoop because it is a pain in the rear, while getting smashed fingers, to get them on without it. That issue would be compounded for me when I would need to take the shoes off frequently for steam crossings, given the shoes ability to absorb and retain water. I'm also a little concerned about the stitching; right now the issue is isolated to areas that are irrelevant to the performance of the shoe, but what if that changes?
That being said, I still love these shoes so far. During the first two months of use I feel they are better than anything I have ever used before and I am very excited to see if the shoes hold up during the next two months of the test. This concludes my Field Report on the Oboz Contour trail shoes. My Long Term Report has been amended below and details further experiences with the shoes.
Field Conditions and Performance
Since the Field Report, I have used the Oboz Contour Trail Shoes for an additional 75 miles (120 km) in the mountains of Northern Colorado. These miles included multiple day hikes and a weekend backpacking trip. The terrain of these trips was considered alpine with an elevation range of 8,000 ft (2.4 km) to 13,000 ft (4 km). Additionally, the alpine terrain included very rocky trails, boulder fields and a light scramble up a waterfall. The weather on these trips was very dry and the only time I experienced wet conditions were at creek crossings.
My favorite trip during this testing period was a summit of Mt. Audubon in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. This trip really challenged the design and performance of the shoes as most of the hike was above tree line and it included a decently challenging boulder field. This was the first time that I used the Oboz and noticed that my feet were sore. The trail and approach to the summit is incredibly rocky and on the descent my feet were screaming. Also on the way down I twisted an ankle twice; I was tired and wasn't watching my foot placement and my ankle rolled. I believe the twisted ankle could have been avoided with a more reasonable shoe selection that offered ankle support. However, given the rolled ankle and the tired feet the shoes did well. Traction was not an issue and with a temperature of 90 F (32 C) I thought the shoes breathed well and my feet were not overly hot.
|Mt. Audubon Ascent|
My other notable trip during this phase was another day hike to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park. Again this trip included some very compact and rocky trails with a little section of bouldering. For the most part the shoes performed very well on this trip which included a 1 mile (1.6 km) section of bushwhacking through dense forest at the beginning of the trail. The only issue that I had on this trip was while scrambling up the Timberline Falls section. I have noticed that if the soles of the shoes get slightly wet they are quite slippery on boulders, especially boulders and rock faces that are dry. At this portion of the trail it is almost impossible to keep shoes from getting wet and there were a few times that I felt my feet slipping. As with the Mt. Audubon trip, I also felt that my feet were sore on the descent from Sky Pond; however, they were not as sore as the Mt. Audubon trip which was a much more demanding trail.
The interesting thing to note on the Sky Pond trip is that I took advantage of the shuttle bus system in the National Park. This was the first trip that I took with these shoes that I did not park directly at the trailhead. Out of habit I always put my hiking shoes on and take them off at my car so I never get an opportunity to drive or ride in a car while wearing my shoes. On this trip, since I was not able to park at the trail head I was forced to ride the shuttle back to my car. Five minutes into the shuttle ride my feet were sweltering and I really wanted to take my shoes off. I continued this experiment in my own car and I discovered that if I'm not outside and moving these shoes can get very warm. During the Initial Report I noted that the shoes felt warm but I didn't experience hot feet until the shuttle ride.
As I mentioned in the Field Report, I really like these shoes. I think the insoles and foot beds are far superior to anything that I have used in the past. The comfort that these shoes have given me allow me to go farther and faster because me feet have not gotten fatigued. I do think that the two trips that I experienced sore feet was a result of very rocky terrain and I feel that if I had my old hikers on my feet would have felt even worse.
|Mt. Audubon Descent|
The soles are holding up relatively well. There are areas of excessive wear but given the fact that I have put nearly 200 miles (320 km) on them in some fairly rocky terrain I am very pleased with the durability of the soles. I very much like the traction of these shoes on dry terrain; they handle rocks, sand, shale and talus very well. I have found out that I need to be very careful in these shoes when the soles get wet and bouldering is required.
The leather uppers have taken quite a beating and they are scratched and scarred but they are thick and they have a lot of life left in them. The mesh uppers have actually held together very well and I'm a bit surprised by this. I had expectations that the mesh would get snagged or caught on something while bushwhacking, but that never happened.
After 4 months of use these shoes still fit snuggly, they never stretched out which is an indicator of their craftsmanship. I still need the use of a shoehorn to put the shoes on, but I have a wide foot and I can live with that. I think that the combination of the bootie construction and my wide foot contribute to the tight fit which is also an explanation for my hot foot experience.
While the bootie is a great feature and helps with the fit of the shoe, I really have two issues with it. First, the marketing material indicated that it would help keep debris out of the shoe; I found that the bootie really didn't help in that area. Second, the bootie helps the shoe fit tightly against my foot and as a consequence I don't always notice when my shoelaces come untied. Neither of these items are very significant findings for me and they haven't influenced my opinion of the shoes, but they are worth mentioning. Speaking of shoelaces, these are some of the best shoelaces that I have ever had. They are thick, very stout, and similar to para-cord. They show very little wear and I think they will last longer than the shoes themselves.
My only concern with the shoes is in the stitching. I continue to see stitching that is unraveling in noncritical areas such as the areas noted in the Field Report picture. While I do feel that other, more critical areas of the shoe will wear out (such as the sole) before the stitching issues become a problem, I am concerned that this is occurring in multiple areas on both shoes. I'm really torn by this because I see the durability and superior craftsmanship in other areas of the shoes, but it is really unfortunate that a trivial issue such as this is pointing towards sloppy craftsmanship.
Having identified some negative aspects of the Oboz, I really love these shoes. I think I'll be able to get another summer season out of them before they wear out. While the Contours are not suited for every condition, I think they excel at the terrain and environment they were designed for, which is dry arid conditions. I do think that next year I will wear Oboz footwear exclusively as I will be ordering another model that offers a waterproof membrane and ankle support for use in conditions that are not quite suited for the Contours.
|Relaxing after the Summit with my favorite shoes.|
This concludes my testing of the Oboz Contour Trail Shoes. My thanks to Oboz and backpackgeartest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
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