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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Oboz Ignition Trail Running Shoe > Test Report by James E. Triplett

Obōz Ignition
Trail Running Shoe

Oboz Ignition Header Photo

Test Series By: James E. Triplett
Initial Report -  July 29, 2008

Field Test Report -  October 14, 2008

Long Term Test Report -  January 7, 2009

Personal Biographical Information:

Name: James E. Triplett
Age: 48
Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Gender: male
Height: 6' 2" (1.88 m)
Weight: 194 lb (88 kg)
Foot Size:
12 US (as measured on a Brannock Device)

Backpacking Background:
I am an experienced hiker, backpacker, and camper, and am gaining more experience with winter camping every year. I hike every day, and backpack when possible, which leads to many weekends backpacking and camping each year. I try and take at least one annual week-long backpacking trip in addition to many one to three-night weekend trips. My style can best be described as lightweight, but not at the cost of giving up too much comfort. I generally sleep in a tent, and seem to be collecting quite a few of them to choose from.

Obōz Ignition - Trail Running Shoe

Product Information & Specifications:

Date Item Received: 25-July-2008

Manufacturer: Obōz (Outside Bozeman, Montana)
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website:

Style No: 30101
MSRP: None listed - sold only through retailers

Color Received: Grey / Red (with white & black accents)
Other Colors: Only one color choice
Size received: 11½ US (mens)
Available sizes: No size chart available on the 
Obōz website

Listed Weight: None given
Measured Weight: Left shoe: 13.9 oz (394 g), Right shoe: 13.7 oz (388 g)
Measured Weight: 1 lb, 11.6 oz (782 g)

Additional Product Information:

From the website:


  • 3D Air Mesh Upper
  • Anatomically Engineered Footbed
  • Duak Density Midsole
  • Dynamic Bootie Construction
  • Floating Forefoot Cage
  • Slingshot Heel
  • TPU Heel Stability Clip
  • TPU Protection Plate


Initial Impressions:
Based on the product literature available on the 
Obōz website, I pretty much knew what the Ignition shoes would look like.  They are attractive, and boldly decorated with grey mesh uppers, white "slingshot" heels, white lace retainers, and red and black trim in other areas.  The biggest surprises were that the "red" was a little more toward "pink" than I expected, and I wasn't aware that these were tongue less shoes.  I guess in retrospect it can be seen that the upper is continuous under the lacing area on the website, and the description does describe the upper as a "Bootie", but generally speaking the website has very limited information and the construction wasn't entirely clear to me.  That being said, I think these look like pretty cool trail runners.

Oboz Ignition Shoes on railing

The zig-zaggy white shoelace holder seems sufficiently sturdy.  On both sides of the lace path this material is fastened to the shoe along its lower edge.  What this means is that the air mesh upper is free to move independently, which in theory would allow one to put the shoe on more like a sock as the upper should stretch in any direction.  There are two tug straps on each shoe, one at the top where the tongue would normally be, and one at the back of the shoe above the heel.  These also seem sturdy.  (See image below)

Tugging on the Oboz

Other noticeable attributes are the rather aggressive red and black tread.  The tread really is quite deep, even for trail runners.  The toe is reinforced with both a flexible cover and the fact that the tread wraps around the front of the shoe to provide kicking (or toe stubbing) protection. 

Initial Fit:
The Obōz came pre-laced, and all I needed to do, after taking a bunch of pictures and weighing them, was to slip them on and see how they fit.  Well, "slipping them on" is not exactly what I did.  With no tongue the opening to the shoes is a little restricted.  Grabbing the two tug straps, one in each hand, and sitting on the ground, I did manage to get the shoes on.  In both cases the heel rolled over into the shoe, and I had to squish a finger in there to unroll it once the shoes were on.  This wasn't too big a deal sitting on a nice clean surface at home, but what about on the trail?  In the rain?  Well, after writing the preceding sentence, I happened to reexamine the show box the Ignitions came in.  I was looking for the model number for this report, which I found, but I also found the label below on the underside of the lid.  It looks like the shoes are intended to loosen up with use, so my initial observation may not be a big deal.

Snug fit with the Oboz?  Not to worry....

So despite having to do a few gyrations to get the shoes on, they fit amazingly well.  On a Brannock Device, you know the slidey metal things at shoe stores they use to figure out your foot size, I measure a mens 12.  However, I almost always get 11 ½ and that's what I did for the Obōz Ignitions.  They fit great.  The insoles are more supportive than I typically expect in original equipment, and they are not glued in so they can easily be removed for after market insoles.  The mesh uppers seems to really "glove" my feet, and overall I don't believe there will be any break in period required.

Nice insoles on the Oboz

Lacing up the Ignitions initially worked well.  I generally pull pretty hard when tightening laces on my shoes and boots, and the laces slid easily.  Then "pop - pop".  The black plastic clips which serve as the upper most eyelets, both popped open allowing the lace to escape.  The clips didn't break, but distorted enough to release the laces.  This has me a little concerned, as I do like tight laces, but I will see what issues occur if I don't lace them as tight, or if there is an alternative lacing sequence.  I'll also try and get a better picture of this for the next test phase.

Top of the Oboz IgnitionTop Oboze eyelet or "clip"

Test Plan:
I will be using the Obōz Ignition trail running shoes for all my hiking, backpacking, and camping adventures throughout the test period.  This will include the remainder of the summer and into the autumn season before the test concludes after the long term reporting phase.  I plan to use the Obōz Ignition shoes on daily hikes of 2 to 4 miles (3 to 6.5 km) and multi-day trips of up to 10 or 12 miles (16 to 19 km) per day.  I expect the Ignitions to see dry dirt trails, wet grassy trails, as well as mud, pavement, creek beds, and most other imaginable pre-winter surfaces.  The current plan is for these hikes to take place here in Eastern Iowa.  The elevation is around 860 feet (262 meters) and the temperature and precipitation data can be found in the table below.

Temp Range
degrees F
Temp Range
degrees C
62 to 83
17 to 28
53 to 75
12 to 24
42 to 64
6 to 18
29 to 47
-2 to 8
16 to 32
-9 to 0

No tongue on the Ignition Trail Shoes

The Obōz Ignition shoes are attractive, comfortable, and light.  All good things for a trail runner.  The tread also looks appropriately aggressive for this type of shoe.  So far the Obōz look and feel great!  My concerns so far are the mild difficultly I had putting them on, and the laces popping out of the top holding clips.  The shoes also seem to have more "pink" than I imagined, but that isn't really a concern.  Did I mention the Obōz name is on each shoe once or twice?  Or is it eight times!  (See images below)

Oboz Logoz!

I look forward to getting out into the woods with these new shoes!


Test Conditions:
I have worn the Obōz Ignition trail running shoes on all my backpacking outings since receiving them in July.  This has included a 1-day 1-night trip to Pinnicon Ridge Park, and a 3-day 3-night trip to Palisades-Kepler State Park, both in Eastern Iowa.  I also used them for my hiking shoes on a 3-day 3-night drive in camping trip in St. Joseph, Missouri.  Additionally I wear the Obōz daily on morning hikes in the woods near my home for distances of 2 to 4 miles (3 to 6 km). 

The temperature has ranged from 42 to 90 F (5.5 to 32 C).  Primarily the weather has been dry, but I have worn the Obōz Ignitions for a total of three hours in the rain, one hour of which was in a fairly heavy downpour.  Trails have consisted of packed dirt, grass and weeds, and a small amount of sandy/rocky surface.  I estimate the current mileage on the shoes is around 80 miles (130 km).

General Comments:
One of my initial concerns with the Obōz Ignition shoes was how difficult they were to put on.  I was relieved to see the sticker inside the box (shown above in the Initial Report section) saying that this was to be expected in the beginning, and that has indeed proven to be the case.  They have loosened up quite a bit.  They are still not as easy as a shoe with a tongue, but I have the technique down where I actually use the front and rear tug-straps, and I can put them on without a struggle.

Another concern I had reported on initially was the black plastic clips, which serve as the upper most eyelets, popping open allowing the laces to escape when I tightened them snuggly.  In this case, the shoes have not adjusted to me, so I have adjusted to them.  I have found the maximum force I can put on the laces and have the clips still hold their own.  Occasionally I still over do it and one will open up, but for the most part I am successful in the lace tighten process.  I must say though, that this seems like something which could totally be avoided if Obōz had just selected a more appropriate clip.  I should also point out that this has never happened when hiking, just when tightening the laces.

On The Trail:
Okay, so what is a lightweight, mesh-upper-bootie, slingshot heel trail shoe supposed to offer a backpacker?  Well, for me I expect a lightweight, breathable shoe with good traction and reasonable support.  For the most part the Obōz Ignitions have lived up to these expectations.  They are light at under 14 ounces (400 grams) a piece.  As for breathability, they do breathe pretty well, being made of mesh, although they still take a day or more to dry out when they have been completely soaked.  And although they don't cause my feet to overheat, I have noticed some foot odor accumulating in them as time goes on.  Interestingly enough, the only other mesh-bootie shoes I have owned exhibited the same odor behavior, so maybe it is just a characteristic of this type of design.

As far as traction goes, the Obōz Ignitions definitely meet my expectations.  The two main areas that typically separate trail runners from pavement runners is the tread, and the support.  The Obōz have a nice deep tread which has served me well on dirt, grass, mud, and gravel.  The only places I have experienced significant slippage are on wet wood, and wet rock, which are surfaces where tread depth has little bearing on traction.  Support wise, the Ignitions, in my opinion, leave a little to be desired.  I have come down on a root or a small rock with a loaded backpack and twisted my ankle several times.  Not sprained my ankle, but rolled it enough to cause some awkward maneuvering to maintain my balance.  This is somewhat expected in a low cut shoe, however the phenomena I have experienced is actually the ball of my foot moving inside the shoe, stretching the shoe, and thus the alignment of the shoe with my foot is then just off slightly enough to cause a stumble.

These shoes are very comfortable.  There was no break-in period required, and the mesh construction is pleasant to wear.  Arch support is adequate with the supplied insoles.  One testament to their comfort is when I wore the Obōz while helping a friend move.  I spent 12 hours carrying boxes and furniture up and down a metal ramp, in and out of a moving van.  At the end of the day I was exhausted, and my feet were tired, but my feet were without blisters or hot spots, and recovered quickly.

Cleaning and Durability:
I haven't intentionally cleaned the Obōz Ignitions at all during this phase of testing.  I have worn them in the mud and gotten them pretty dirty, but I have allowed for the self cleaning process of wearing them through tall wet grass, or in the rain, take care of it for me.  And when the shoes are muddy and already totally soaked I've been known to seek out some puddles to trod through.  Even with pretty caked on dirt stuck in the treads, a few miles of hiking down the trail seems to take care of the cleaning.  As for durability, so far everything is still functioning as it did when the shoes were new.  No loose threads or serious abrasions, and the workmanship and materials seem to be quite solid.  I will go into more detail on wear and durability in the Long Term report.

The Obōz Ignition trail running shoes have pretty much lived up to expectations.  They are lightweight and comfortable, and offer good traction.  The construction seems to be solid, and the design is attractive.  The only areas I see for improvement are design related, and those are support and the lace retention system.  Maybe if the top eyelets allowed the laces to be tightened more tightly then the stability would improve as well.  That being said, I still enjoy hiking in these shoes.


Oboz Ignition Shoes at the end of the test

Test Conditions:
I have used the Obōz Ignition trail running shoes for nearly all my backpacking and hiking outings since receiving them last July.  In this Field Report phase of testing I have gone on two overnight backpacking trips to Pinicon Ridge Park, as well as daily hikes in the nearby woods with my black lab.  The total accumulation of hiking for the entire test period has been approximately 160 miles (260 km).

Temperatures for this phase have ranged from 65 F (18 C) down to a low of -10 F (-23 C).  Trail conditions include clear dry trails, wet muddy trails, and since the end of November, snow or ice covered trails.

Fit and Comfort:
As reported earlier, it is my opinion that the Obōz Ignitions do not quite measure up in the area of support.  Obviously they aren't designed to provide "boot-like" support, but the design of the mesh bootie uppers stretch allowing my foot to twist and feel unsupported.  That said, the fit is appropriate for my feet, and the Obōz are quite comfortable in very benign conditions. 

Field Testing:
I have continued to wear the Obōz Ignition trail running shoes even into some of the snow that winter has brought.  When the snowfall was more than ankle deep I did resort back to a pair of boots for a few short day-hikes.  Prior to the cold weather the Obōz saw lots of dew on wet grass and weeds, as well as a few shallow stream crossings.  All this use has caused the Obōz to not hold up so well.

Oboz material coming off
In this picture the red material is missing, exposing the white material underneath.

The red material on the toes, seen clearly in its original condition in the header picture at the top of this report, has all but come completely off.  I don't remember any individual event where this could have happened, but over time it is gone.  This can be seen in the picture above.  However the main issue regarding the functionality of these shoes concerns the pesky top lace retainers I reported on earlier.  When pulling the laces tight, the lace clips bend and the laces can pop out.  After lacing the shoes for several months now, the continuous bending of these clips has resulted in one of them breaking off.  This happened on the last overnight trip I was on and I ended up having to tie the right shoe below the last pair of lace retainers.  Finally I was able to tighten the shoe as tightly as I desired… but the already lacking ankle support was reduced even further.  At this point I have declared the Obōz unusable.

One good clip one bad one
The clip on the left side of this picture is still holding, but the one on the right has broken off.

Bent lace clip
This is a picture of a good clip, although it can be seen that it is bent in the middle.

Broken clip
This picture shows the clip which has broken off in the middle... where the good clip was bending too.

I will say that the tread of the Obōz has been great.  I have continued to have good traction throughout the test period, and the soles of the shoes show very little wear.

Oboz tread is still fine
The tread has always performed well and remains in good shape.

Unfortunately, what started out as stylish, lightweight, trail runners are now beat up, unusable, shoes.  It the clip hadn't broken, or better yet, been redesigned to function properly, I could still use the shoes for hiking and backpacking.  If the material on the toes hadn't deteriorated, I could still use them as casual around town shoes.  They are quite comfortable.  Regrettably the combination of these two failures has made the shoes unsuitable for any further use.

This concludes my Reporting on the Obōz Ignition trail running shoes.  

Thank you to and Obōz for the opportunity to participate in this test series.

Respectfully submitted,

-James T.

Read more reviews of Oboz gear
Read more gear reviews by James E. Triplett

Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Oboz Ignition Trail Running Shoe > Test Report by James E. Triplett

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