OBOZ SAWTOOTH LOW II HIKING SHOES
TEST SERIES BY ROBB PRATT
November 11, 2020
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unicornv007 AT yahoo.com
Canton, Michigan, USA
5' 10" (1.80 m)
165 lb (74.80 kg)
I backpacked sporadically growing up and rediscovered it back in 2011. Since then, I've taken several weekend trips a year. I also car camp with my family roughly a dozen nights a year when we use tents unless I can convince them I might snore and it would be better for all for me to use my hammock rig. I prefer a light pack (weight without food or water under 20 pounds / 9 kg). My backpacking stomping ground is northern Michigan that has small hills and I typically camp late spring, summer and early fall months.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Oboz Footwear, LLC
Year of Manufacture: 2020
Manufacturer's Website: Oboz Footwear
Listed Weight: 15.6 oz (442 g) for a size M9 (1/2 PR) - single shoe.
Measured Weight: 18.1 oz (514 g) for a size M11 Wide - single shoe.
Oboz's Sawtooth II Low footwear are hiking shoes designed for sturdy trail hiking. They feature a large, breathable mesh panel, a robust heel center and an asymmetric collar for improved fit around the ankle. Oboz also has their own, proprietary (and trademarked) sole insert that is specifically designed to fit each pair of shoes to improve fit, feel and performance. The Midsole is made of dual-density EVA (Ethylene-vinyl Acetate) to provide added cushioning and stability. Furthermore, the nylon shank is designed to give added support under the foot. The outsole adds additional flexibility and a solid tread - and even includes a map on the bottom of a mountain range near Sun Valley, Idaho.
While the pair I received is not waterproof (my choice), Oboz does offer a waterproof option. The shoes also come in three different colors (Pewter, Dark Shadow / Brandy Brown and Canteen / Walnut). I received the Pewter ones.
|Shoes Fresh Out of the Box
When I first received the shoes, I was pretty excited until I opened the box and observed that they were a bit small for my foot. Size 9 vs. 11 is a monstrous difference. I did try them on, but as I expected, they were far too tight for me to wear comfortably. Off to the phone to call Oboz about an exchange.
I was (briefly) sidelined again but there were two things working against me here - the Fourth of July holiday week and the Covid-19 Virus. Even though this slowed things down, I found the Oboz customer representative very friendly and helpful. She was able to send me a return shipper and handle the exchange easily. It just took a little longer than I initially anticipated (about three weeks total).
Once I received the right size shoes, I was ready to go. First off, the packaging. They arrived in a box, within a box. There is not much else to say here. The outer box is a traditional shipping box while the inner box is the more normal shoe box that is found at department stores. The inner box did have a nice comment on it that stated "for every pair purchased, Oboz would plant a tree". This did lead me off to the Oboz website, watch a video and learn more about their pledge - at the time of writing this, they have planted over 3.3 million trees.
Overall, I found the construction very clean on the Sawtooth II Low shoes. The portions that are molded EVA fit nearly perfectly with each section. The stitching lines are also straight and tidy with no loose threads or unfinished sections.
Each shoe has a cloth loop on the back that can be used to hang them. This loop appears to be made of a tough fiber which has also been sewn into the main construction of the shoes by placing the ends between fabric layers and sewing through all the layers. As I have had these loops fail before on other shoes, I was pleased with the attention to this detail.
The EVA itself has a soft feel and offers some flexibility but also looks thick enough to provide protection from rocks. The tread on the bottom also has deeper lugs than my normal shoes. For size comparison, they stand out from the bottom of the show about 0.2 in (5 mm) in some areas. There is also a thick section of rubber in the front for the toe-stop and even larger section around the heels, which for me is excellent as I tend to strike on my heels first.
As for the padded sole insert, it looks a little thin but is reinforced with a squishy-kind of rubber (I am not sure of the exact material) at the center of the heel and the ball of the foot. It also appears to have good arch support and is rigid from the center of the foot and rearward, while flexible from the center of the foot to the front of the toe.
The laces are also sturdy and have just the right amount of length that I don't believe I will be stepping on them while hiking (unless of course, they come untied). The loops the laces fit into appear to be made of the same robust fabric as the loops on the back. They are also sewn between several fabric layers on the shoes, giving them added resistanced from tearing out if I pull too hard on the laces.
There are also numerous mesh panels on the top and sides of each shoe which I believe will really help keep the sweat down while I am hiking.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
As for instructions - like most apparel I have tested, I'm pretty comfortable putting my shoes on. I have even learned how to tie them by myself without any help from family and have been doing so for decades now.
The cleaning instructions are a whole different animal. I am usually very hard on footwear. I walk through just about everything in my way and when I am done, I toss them to the side to dry before banging off whatever is stuck to them. When my shoes are near replacement time, I can usually find them in the dark, especially in a small room with poor ventilation.
Oboz has an online section that contains footwear product care that includes several recommendations, including:
* Rinsing, brushing or wiping mud and dirt after each adventure
* Avoiding the use of solvents, petroleum or detergents
* Keeping shoes out of the washer or dryer
* Drying shoes slowly (for example, not setting them by the fire or using a hair dryer on them)
* Stuffing newspaper in shoes to pull moisture out
* Steering clear of leaving them in a hot car for extended periods
* Removing insoles after long day of hiking to help them dry and cut down on odors
There are also instructions for waterproofing and storing the shoes in the off-season.
TRYING THEM OUT
After looking them over, I put a foot in each shoe and tied them. It took me approximately 10 seconds. Yes, I learned quickly in elementary school.
From a fit standpoint, I found the size to be correct for me in length which was something I worried about before receiving them (in the past, I have always tried on footwear in a store before purchasing). I also found the wide size gave my toes enough room on the side to keep them from rolling into each other. The arch support feels good and is not overbearing in the amount of pressure. I
Lastly, the clinch around the ankles was great for restricing my feet from sliding around inside the shoes.
After wearing them around the house for an hour, I took them for a brief but very fast walk around the neighborhood. They have a lot more support around the heels than my normal walking shoes. They had a very comfortable feeling and my feet did not overheat or sweat.
I have found the Oboz Sawtooth II Low hiking shoes to be well designed and beautifully fabricated. They fit my feet very well and I really enjoyed the arch support and the wide toe box. The aggressive tread and solid soles give me a high level of confidence they are going to work well for me out on the trails.
* Trip (August 9 to 11, 2020): Manistee River Trail in Brethren, Michigan, USA for 3 days, 2 nights. Temperatures ranged from 60F to 88F (16 to 31C). The weather was overall hot and very humid - even at night. The terrain was packed dirt, some sand and lots of tree roots. My pack weight started at 28 pounds (12.7 kg) and slowly reduced over the length of the trip. I hiked the entire trail of 20 miles (32 km).
* Trip (August 14 to 16, 2020): Kensington Park in Milford, Michigan, USA for 3 days, 2 nights. Temperatures ranged from 65F to 85F (18 to 29C). The weather was warm and humid both during the day and night. The terrain was packed dirt. While this was a base camping trip, we did take a 5 mile (8 km) hike during the daytime.
* Day Trips: Multiple hikes at Proud Lake Recreational Area (Wixom, Michigan USA), Maybury State Park (Northville, Michigan USA) and several other local trails. Trips generally were 3 to 7 miles (5 to 11 km) in length and usually with a small pack that weighed under 10 pounds (4.5 kg).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
While I have only managed one true backpacking trip and one camping trip during this time, I have had the pleasure of using the Oboz Sawtooth II Low shoes for both trips as well as numerous day hikes. Initially though, things did not start out so well for me.
Having received the correct size shoes right before my first backpacking trip did not give me much time to make sure the fit and feel was correct before marching off into the wilderness for several days. I had to hope it was good. The trip itself even got started late (this becomes important later) due to a comedy of errors (queue the circus music) that resulted in us getting to the trail head near 5pm with 8 miles (12.9 km) still in front of us before camp. I think we finally pulled into camp as the sun was setting and had to battle the mosquitoes while setting up our hammock rigs. We ate dinner in the dark and opted to skip the campfire and just crash in our own hammock nests. We were that tired. My feet from that first evening were sore but it was hard for me to determine whether that was from breaking in new shoes, not being used to carrying a backpack or the hurried trek to get to camp. Either way, I still fell soundly asleep.
At roughly 1:30 in the morning, my hiking partner alerted me that that funny pinging sound was rain and he wondered if we had properly secured our gear. We had not. That led to a flurry of activity to get things undercover as quickly as possible. I was also sound asleep. It is important to note that I always wake up slow and groggy too. Just as I was finishing up is when I made the critical mistake and stepped on the top of one of my tarp stakes with the back of my bare foot. I suspect some of the other campers in the area were wondering what poor animal suddenly got murdered by the noise I made. On the bright side, I was now wide awake to tend to my wound.
It felt like a nasty cut that was bleeding pretty bad but thankfully, I have a big callus on my heel so after carving through several layers of dead skin, the actual wound was not too bad to clean and tend to, but it would be in a sensitive area. No pictures here, just trust me.
The next day, I gingerly changed the bandage and tested walking. It hurt, especially as my camp shoes permitted my foot to slide around. I eyed my Oboz Sawtooth II Low hiking shoes and thought that might be even worse as there was more contact on the back of the heel, but we did not have much of a choice as we were roughly halfway on the trip. I was going to have to walk on it.
I opted for the Oboz shoes as they had a much better tread and the laces could be done up tight enough to hopefully provide some stability. We chose to move forward and complete the trip instead of returning to the car. I'm actually very glad we did too. The Oboz shoes did a great job of preventing my foot from sliding around in the shoe. I was able to confidently complete the trek the rest of that day in comfort and with only minor pain from my injury.
My feet continued to ache a bit at night but by morning, they felt fine (other than the injured area). With proper medical care, the wound healed up over the following few weeks and I still use the Oboz shoes to provide solid support. Since those first few days, I have not had any foot ache after hiking.
From a fit standpoint, the Oboz Sawtooth II Low shoes are perfectly sized for my feet. I especially enjoy the wide toe box. In the past, I have suffered from a few blisters where my little toe gets cramped, slides under the toe next to it and forms a blister. This never happened.
I also found the tread incredibly solid. I never tripped or lost my footing. Even after all the walking I have done after that backpacking trip, I still do not see any wear on the bottom.
As for breathability, the Oboz Sawtooth II Low shoes are designed with a good number of mesh panels. I never did get sweaty feet or feel like my feet were overly hot. I was also wearing both a liner sock and a light wool sock in addition to gaiters.
Although we did have rain briefly on that first evening, I never did get to use them in a wet environment to test their dry time. Even all the day hikes I have gone on have been dry so far. That is Michigan weather in August and September.
Concerning the loop on the back of the shoes. I have since learned over the last few months that they are used to help pull the shoes onto my feet. I think I joked that I learned how to put on my shoes as a little kid and did not need instructions. I guess I did! Using the loop to put the shoes on really does make it easier even if it is tough to train myself to do it that way after so many years.
Lastly, when not in use after hiking for any good length of time, I have tied the laces together and thrown the shoes over a line. I also removed the shoe inserts to let them air out as well.
|Dry Time in Camp
The Oboz Sawtooth II Low shoes have a great fit for my feet. They are comfortable to wear, have great breathability and can be secured tightly to the foot to limit sliding. The tread on them is excellent. I also find they are very stylish. I am looking forward to wearing them on a much longer hike in a few weeks for a fall color trip. I think if I was to complain about anything, the shoe laces are fairly thick and I found them prone to come undone unless I double-knotted them or pulled a single knot very tight.
* Trip (October 7 - 13, 2020): Loyalsock Trail near Forksville, Pennsylvania, USA for 6 days, 5 nights. Temperatures ranged from 40 to 70F (4 to 21C). The weather was overall cool during the daytime and even colder at night. The terrain was rocks. So many rocks. I would say occasional dirt mixed in for humor but basically rocks with lots of sharp elevation changes. The elevation runs from 665 to 2,140 ft (203 to 650 m). The gain in elevation summary for the duration of the trip is estimated at 12,000 ft (3,658 m). We hiked the entire trail and even added some extra sections for a total of 68 miles (109 km). My pack weight started at 32 pounds (14.5 kg) and slowly reduced over the length of the trip down to 21 pounds (9.5 kg).
* Trip (November 6 to 8, 2020): Chief Pontiac Trail, starting at Kensington Park in Milford, Michigan, USA and hiking to Proud Lake Recreational Area in Wixom, Michigan USA and then returning. Temperatures ranged from 35F to 70F (2 to 21C). The weather was warm during the daytime and cold at night. The terrain was packed dirt. Total distance hiked was 16 miles (25.8 km). My pack weight was 23 pounds (10.4 kg).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Over the last few months, I have had the pleasure of wearing the Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking shoes. They have really done a great job of handling a few backpacking trips and keeping me upright and moving.
Although this has been a strange year with Covid, I finally did get out to do a major backpacking trip. I managed to complete my first Thru-Hike which was the Loyalsock Trail in Pennsylvania. This was a major accomplishment for me as even though I had done my research, I was woefully unprepared for the rugged trail conditions.
The entire trail was rocks covered in more rocks. The ongoing joke was that all the rocks were flat. This is true. They just were not parallel to either the ground or each other. All of them were pointed in different directions and had sharp edges. I was in a constant stage of rock hopping, banging into rocks, sliding on rocks mixed in with occasionally tossing the trekking poles ahead and using my hands to climb up or down other rocks.
To make matters even more interesting, both the uphills and downhills of the trail were designed by someone that truly believed in the concept that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. The few switchbacks that did exist were clearly designed by a different person that must have started arguing about designing a trail that goes straight up or down but lost that argument. Even those were ridiculously steep, and no pictures will ever do them justice.
|Down & Rocks
Suffice to say that the Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking shoes (along with my body) got a workout. The treads on the shoes performed spectacularly and kept me from falling. I only did fall once, and this was toward the end of the trip when I decided to go out onto the rocks that are normally covered in water. As it turns out, dried seaweed on rocks is not only hard to see but pretty darn slippery. As I looked closely at those particular rocks while I was on the ground, I came to the conclusion that no shoe I have worn would ever have maintained traction there.
From a distance standpoint, I averaged close to 13 miles (21 km) per day. My original plan had me doing less than that but after a small gear mishap, I had to add 8 miles (12.9 km) to the trip to find some gear (the water filter) that fell out on the first day. Furthermore, my normal hiking pace is in the 2-3 mph (3.2 to 4.8 kph) but with the rocks and sharp elevation changes, my average hiking pace was more around 1-2 mph (1.6 to 3.2 kph). This distance and duration meant my feet were under a constant assault from the trail from when I first started hiking in the morning until usually after the sun set when I quit for the day.
At the end of the trip, my feet started tingling and were throbbing even when I was resting. This lasted for roughly two weeks after the trip. This was located in the balls of my feet. The friend that went with me on the trip complained of the same issues and that it lasted even longer for him. He also suffered from knee and calf pain. He used a different brand of hiking shoe. I did not suffer from any noticeable knee or calf pain.
While I make the trip sound tough (it was!), I had a great time and part of this was because my footwear did a great job. I did not get any blisters or have any trouble with my shoes. They held my feet firmly at the heels while still permitting my toes some expansion from normal swelling that happens during hiking. They absorbed enough of the load that my heels (where I strike first in my stride) did not have any problems.
Just over three weeks later, I went on a scout-led backpacking trip through the gentle terrain of southeastern Michigan. Normally, this trip would have been a breeze as it was less distance per day, lighter pack and easier ground cover with almost no elevation change. I found that trip tough though because the scouts set a pace that some might call running. They don't, but I felt like calling it that at times. Both my calves were burning at the end of the trip and my feet started throbbing again half-way through the first day. Thankfully, by the next day the throbbing went away. I suspect I needed a little more time to recover from my Loyalsock trip.
The Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking shoes have taken a beating over the last few months, especially on the Loyalsock trail with all the rocks. The shoes though have done a great job of holding up and I believe still have a lot of life left in them. I have noticed several areas of wear but none of these affect the function or performance.
* Peeling on Front Toebox Rubber of Right Shoe. I have had this occur on several shoes in the past. Previously, I have used epoxy to address this and I will likely do that on these shoes. The left shoe does not show this wear.
* Damage Tear on Left Side of Left Shoe. This occurred sometime during the Loyalsock trip but I am not exactly sure when. The damage appears to be surface only and I never felt anything on my foot to indicate this happened.
Overall, the shoes show only minimal wear in all other areas. The treads on the bottom both still have a lot of depth left. The shoelaces do not show any signs of fraying and the stitching is still all in place with no signs of degradation.
|Shoe Toebox Peeling
|Shoe Side Damage
I have found the Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking shoes to be very comfortable and they have done a great job of protecting my feet (and the rest of my body) while hiking. Besides backpacking, they also make excellent shoes for normal day activity and I have found myself adopting them as my go-to shoes for casual hikes and even running out to the store. I will definitely be continuing to use them in the future.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.
This concludes my long term report. I want to thank both BackpackGearTest.org and Oboz for letting me take part in this test.
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