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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Oboz Ignition Trail Running Shoe > Test Report by Thomas Vickers

Oboz Ignition Trail Running Shoes

Initial Report - September 3, 2008
Field Report November 3, 2008
Long Term Report - January 6, 2009

Thomas Vickers

41 years old
5 ft 11 in tall (1.8 m)
175 lb (79 kg)
Southeast Texas, Houston Area

Tester Background:
I grew up in the piney woods of southeast Texas. Camping was a quick trip into the mosquito-infested woods behind the house. My style has evolved and over the last 4 or 5 years, I have begun to take a lighter weight approach to hiking gear (I still use sleeping bags and tents, just lighter versions). While I have flirted with lightweight hiking, I feel that I am more of a mid-weight hiker now. My philosophy is one of comfort, while carrying the lightest load possible.

Initial Report
September 3, 2008

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Manufacturer Information:

Manufacturer: Oboz Footwear


Year Manufactured: 2008


Weight: NA

Information From Tester:
(all measurements approximate)

Color/pattern: Grey, red, black

Left foot: 12.85 oz (364 g)
Right foot: 13.05 oz (370 g)

Size received: 10.5 US

Tester's shoe size: 10.5 US

Initial tester expectations:
After visiting the Oboz website I figured that I was going to receive a pair of "Trail running shoes" that were basically cut down hiking boots. The website did say that Oboz believes that a "trail runner should be a running shoe first and foremost," but I was a bit leery of this. I will point out that the website did its best to convince me otherwise, but I am a bit stubborn and seeing is usually believing for me.

Manufacturer's description:
"With its dynamic bootie construction, neutral foot-strike engineering, and multidirectional high friction outsole, the Ignition is ready for any terrain.  The Ignition's dual density midsole with TPU heel clip will provide stability through your foot-strike, while the slingshot heel and floating forefoot cage will hold your foot securely."

Tester's Description:
The Oboz Ignition Trail Runners are running shoes. I had expected more of a hiking boot cut down to a "trail runner," but it appears that Oboz lived up to their statement that a

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trail runner should be a running shoe.  The body of the Ignition is made of a stretchy mesh material and is covered in many locations by leather.   This leather over layer contains the lacing eyes and is also used to create the toe guard on these shoes.  The most interesting thing about the Ignitions in my view is that Oboz uses a bootie construction rather than the conventional tongue and gusset construction of most shoes and boots. This means that the shoes slip on over my feet and fit more like a bootie or sock rather than a traditional shoe.  The box hang tag on the shoes warned that it might be hard to slide my feet into the ignition in the beginning, but that the shoes should stretch out a bit with wear and this would make putting them on even easier. 

I found that putting them on was pretty easy (I have narrow feet) and the fact that Oboz has put a pull loop on the heel and on the top (where the tongue should be) to make pulling these shoes onto my feet even easier.  The edges of the opening tend to roll under on occasion when I pull the shoes on, but I can hook my finger under the fabric and unroll it.

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The Z-Grip High Friction Outsole feels very hard and stiff to me. At the very least, I think that it feels durable and I am hoping that it holds up well to a lot of miles on the trail. I was expecting a sole that felt a bit more grippy, but it really does seem stiffer than grippy.

I usually depend on hiking shoes/boots having removable insoles and the Ignitions did not let me down. When I pulled out the Oboz insoles, I was very impressed by the quality of the workman ship. No loose threads and no globs of glue were visible.  It is probably the first time that I pulled out an insole and really felt that the footwear had been assembled with some quality and workmanship. 

Initial thoughts:
I really expected hiking boots that were cut down to 'trail running' shoes, but Oboz surprised me with the Ignition. They look and feel like running shoes and really don't seem like trail shoes of any sort that I have seen.  The bootie construction was also a concern for me, but I quickly found out that it was in no way an issue. I was able to pull the shoes on my feel easily and I like the firmness with which the mesh fabric cradled my foot. 

I can't prove it, but the shoes seem to have a strange, flared width starting at the heel.   When I have them on, it feels like the heel area grips my foot firmly and the width of the shoe seems to widen through the toe box.  It isn't uncomfortable, but it seems like the shoe gets wider as it gets further and further toward the toes.  The other sensation that I am still trying to find a way to measure is that my feet feel like they are tilting back toward the heel. It is as if the toe box is higher (on level surfaces) than the heel area. Again, it isn't a bad thing, just something that feels different from other shoes and boots I have worn.

I usually wear hiking boots that are a full size larger than my normal shoes, but the customer service department at Oboz told me that they run true to size and I am probably better off wearing running socks versus hiking socks with the Ignitions.  I went ahead with my normal shoe size (10.5) and I have had no trouble with the fit of these shoes. The length and width are perfect and there is plenty of room in the toebox for my feet. They feel good when they are on and they are nice to look at too.

Overall, these shoes feel really good on my feet at this point. The fit is perfect and does not rely on the laces to hold the shoe firmly in place.  This means that pulling them on correctly is just about all I have to worry about when it comes to getting them to fit correctly.  Lacing merely seems to tighten them up a bit and is not the main means of keeping the shoes firmly in place.

Final thoughts:
At this point I have put almost 9 miles (14.5 km) on the Oboz Ignition Trail Running Shoes and I plan on putting a lot more miles on them. They are easy to put on, grip my feet firmly without too much lacing, and have not made my feet, legs, or back hurt so far.   I really think that Oboz has made a good shoe that fits very well without much adjustment. This aspect of the Ignitions have made it really easy to get the shoes and hit the trail since I don't spend a ton of time adjusting the lace or tongue to get the 'just right' feeling that the shoe is on my foot in the correct manner.

Things I like:
1. Shoes are easy to get on
2. They fit snuggly and don't require a lot of lacing to get a good fit
3. Nice look to them

Things I don't like:
1. I have trouble with the plastic lace guides at the top of the shoe
2. Fabric around the 'bootie' opening sometimes rolls under itself

Field Report
November 3, 2008

Jones State Forest
Other locations in Southeast Texas

Temperatures from 40 - 95 F (21 - 38 C). 
The terrain has been hard packed dirt roads/trails, grass, leaves, sand, concrete, and asphalt

ˇTrail running  (6 days): 18 miles (29 km)
ˇStreet running (15 days): 45 miles (72 km)
ˇDayhikes (2 days): 8 miles (13 km)

Trails and streets:
I started running in the Jones State forest with the Ignitions and was really enjoying them on the trail until Hurricane Ike hit. Since that time I took a break from running and when I got started again, I have had to stick to the streets. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks some of the trails in the area will open up again so I can get off the hard surfaces and back into the woods where these shoes belong.  With that being said, I have gained a good deal of insight into how these shoes perform on and off the trail.

On the trail, I have encountered varied running surfaces. The Ignitions have handled all of them very well, but I was most impressed by how they performed in the sandy portions of my run.  The toe (front) section of the shoes are wider than the heel area and when I stepped in the sandy trail sections, the shoes bit into the sand, but did not sink or stick at all. The faster I was moving the better they seemed to allow me to move through the sand, but moving at too fast of a pace is not that easy on this type of terrain.   I liked the fact that my foot did not sink or wallow in the sand. The wide toe box did not allow me to float on the sand, but it was pretty darn close. The soles bit into the sand just enough to give me traction and stability and then they allowed me to push off firmly.

On hard packed trails and asphalt, the Ignitions have performed very well.  The shoe is constructed so that it provides a great deal of stability when I am running. This means that when I am spending a lot of time on the front portion of my feet, the Ignitions are making sure that I am stable and comfortable. 

As a running shoe, I can not stress that they are a great pair of shoes and the stock insoles were okay to start with. After a couple of weeks of running though, I started to have sore feet the day after I had run. I did not think too much of it till I stopped running during the hurricane and my sore feet went away. What really surprises me about the insole issue is that while my feet demand a lot of arch support, the most usually signs have always been leg and lower back pain. This time around the discomfort manifested itself as sore feet within 24 hours of running in the Ignitions.

Walking, not running:
I have only spent to days doing some leisurely dayhiking in the Ignitions.  I wanted to see how well they did when I was not breezing through the woods at a fast pace and with a small load on my back.  I carried a daypack with about a 10 lb (4.5 kg) load on both trips and I was no where near as happy with the Ignitions as when I use them for running.

The shoes feel like they are built in such a manner that while standing flat footed in them I feel that I am leaning back. I do not think the toe box is actually higher than the heel, but that is how they feel when I stand around in them. They just are not comfortable for standing around in or slow hiking in my view. 

After 17 days of use I can easily say that Oboz's claim that they are running shoes first is accurate. I have never run in a pair that handles differing terrain so well and feels as good on my feet.  I just can not recommend them for casual hiking at this point.
Bootie tells the tale:
One of the features that caught my interest was the integral bootie construction of the Ignitions. This means that the shoes fit more like a sock rather than like regular shoes with a tongue and gusset construction.  I have narrow feet and they are easy to get into the Ignitions, but the bootie construction holds the shoes firmly in place, even without the laces.  On at least three occasions I have forgotten to double knot the laces on the Ignitions and the laces have come untied during a run. Other than being agitated by the laces striking my shoes, I was able to complete over two miles of running with one shoe unlaced.  The bootie construction was tight enough to keep the shoe in place and comfortable even when I was running at a quick pace. I have since learned to tie the laces correctly every time, but it was great to find out that I could keep on moving even without the laces to hold the shoe in place.

One of my concerns about the construction and design of the Ignitions was how low cut the shoe was. The low cut area around the ankle made me a bit leery of small debris on the trail, but after all the different types of soil  and terrain I have run on I have had no issues.  I really do attribute this lack of debris to the tight fit of the bootie design. Despite being low cut and very inviting to small debris, I have never finished a run with anything other than my feet and sweat in these shoes.

Final thoughts:
I have tried several different types of socks with the Ignitions. Cotton crew length, cotton ankle socks, and synthetic crew length socks were all used with the Ignitions. I really felt that the ankle socks were going to be the best, they actually look the most 'normal' with the Ignition's low cut and profile but one bad encounter convinced me that a taller sock was better.

I had been on the trail for about 20 minutes when the back of one of the ankle socks slipped down below the back of the Ignition. By the type the run was over I had a large blister from the back of the shoe rubbing my heal.  This is not a shoe problem, but just a lesson I learned about wearing taller socks.  Right now I am sold on synthetic socks because I have several light weight pairs that work great with these shoes.

As far as odors go the Ignitions seem pretty resistant to anything permanent. I air them out after every run and they have yet to develop any lingering odors.  If they do, I plan on pulling out the insoles and allowing them to air separately from the shoes.

Wrapping it up:
I really enjoy the Oboz Ignition for trail running. They are so light that I do not even feel them on my feet, but they are well constructed and make running over different types of terrain easy. While I may not be overly thrilled about them as casual hiking shoes, I can say that Oboz does make it clear that they are running shoes first and foremost.

I have recently (last two weeks) slipped some after market insoles into the Ignitions. Not only do they fit fine and do not fill the shoe up to the point where there is no room for feet, but they have helped eliminate the sore feet that I was getting after running in the Ignitions. This makes me really happy because these shoes feel great when running and not having to deal with sore feet the day after has made wearing them even more fun.    

Things I like:
Bootie construction
Light weight
Cool color scheme

Things I do not like:
Not comfortable for regular hiking

Long Term Report
January 6, 2009

Jones State Forest
Other locations in Southeast Texas

Temperatures from 32 - 70 F (0 - 21 C). 
The terrain has been hard packed dirt roads/trails, grass, leaves, sand, concrete, and asphalt

ˇTrail running  (10 days): 30 miles (48 km)
ˇStreet running (8 days): 24 miles (39 km)
ˇBackpacking (4 days): 16  miles (26 km)

Putting on the miles:
The first thing I want to throw out is how much happier I am with the Ignitions since I put my own insoles in them.  I went far too long with the stock insoles and probably would have enjoyed them a lot more if I made the change sooner.  I still suffer from the amount of running that I have been doing, but at least the problem of sore arches is gone.  I do not consider this a design flaw in the shoes, but a design flaw in my flat feet. 

One thing that the after market insoles have done for these shoes is to make them much more comfortable for regular hiking and when needed, daily wear.  The original feeling that the shoes some how slanted downwards from the toe box toward the heel is gone after I put the after market insoles in.  This has made them much more comfortable for hiking and backpacking.

I have gone on four separate trips carrying about 20 lb (9 kg) on my back while wearing the Ignitions. This was about four miles (6 km) total per trip and I really like the shoes on my local terrain. It is mainly flat here with no rocks or other huge terrain surprises and for the first time in a long time I did not feel like my footwear was overkill for the situation.  The Ignitions were perfect for going off trail in the piney woods and I did not feel like I was lugging around my footwear on my feet.  I am still a boot person, but for local hiking I can honestly say that the Ignitions are going to continue to be my hiking footwear.  I see no need to carry around the extra boot weight when the conditions do not call for that type of footwear.

Running myself silly:
I had hoped to get in a lot more miles in this last phase of the test, but weather and sickness prevented me from getting out and running like I should have. I did however, manager to put a decent amount of miles on these shoes either on the street or when the state forest reopened, back on the trail. 

I really do love how the Ignitions work on all types of surfaces/terrain when I am running.  The design of the Ignition puts the most surface area in the toe area which translates to better traction and handling because this the part of the shoe that has the most contact with the ground when I run.This means that they do not allow my feet to roll from side to side which is a problem that I encounter when I wear 'normal' running shoes.

Till I manage to wear these shoes out, they are going to be my main running shoe, on and off the trail.

Wear and tear:
I have worn the Ignitions in a wide variety of temperatures and on several different terrains. The one thing that I have not really put this shoe through any serious wet and dry cycles due to my weather, but that was beyond my control. They have been wet on a couple of occasions (which meant my feet got wet), but they have never been soaked completely.

The shoes have really held up well despite the amount of wear I have put on them.   The soles do not appear to have any wear on them and the body of the shoes look as if they are new.  The toe of the shoe is covered in a black material (leather?) and despite having been worn in sand, dirt, and gravel, the toe area is still pretty shiny. These shoes seem to shed dirt and dust easily when dry.

The back of the shoe (which I normally break down quickly) is just as stiff as the day the Ignitions came out of the box. The bootie construction has held out well and despite the addition of after market insoles (which seem to fill the shoe a bit), the bootie has not become loose or worn.  It still fits tightly and holds the shoe in place even when the laces loosen or come undone.

My one complaint comes from the top lacing loop in the shoe. This is not a wear issue, but is something that has plagued me from the first time I have put on these shoes.

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If I pull up (towards my knee) to tighten the laces, the lace pops out of this loop.  At first I thought I had damaged the shoes, but after several rethreading of the laces and attempts to retighten them, I realized that it was a simple design flaw in the lacing loop.  The loops are open on the back and this is where the laces pop out of.  I am not sure why the plastic loops are not solid, but it seems like this would fix the most and only annoying thing about these shoes.  I did finally discover that in order to keep the laces from popping out, I had to pull the laces toward my toes to keep them in the loop.  This was not a huge problem, but after 40 years of pulling laces upwards to tighten them, it was rather annoying to have to learn a new lacing method. 

Final thoughts:
I like the Oboz Ignition Trail Running Shoes. They fit well and despite being designed as a running shoe first and foremost, they are still comfortable enough to wear while backpacking or dayhiking.  The integral bootie design worked excellently and held the shoe in place no matter what kind of a pace I kept and when the laces came untied.   The fit of the bootie remained snug enough during the testing that I never had an issue with debris entering the shoe at any time.

The large surface area of the toebox made for a very stable and comfortable shoe as well. They handled great on all sorts of terrain, including loose sand and gravel which typically make for interesting and dangerous running conditions.

My last compliment on top of the fit and comfort of these shoes has to do with the durability. I have worn them a lot and put them through their paces. Despite my hard use, these shoes have held up wonderfully during the test period. 

Being a boot person I am finding it difficult to believe that I would be able to embrace a shoe like this for every day hiking as well as trail running. For my local conditions I feel that these shoes are great for what ever I am doing outdoors not matter what the conditions are. They were comfortable in cold and warm conditions and I never felt like I was missing anything that I would have gained by wearing higher cut shoes or boots. 

This concludes my test of the Oboz Ignition Trail Running Shoes.

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