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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Oboz Sawtooth Trail Shoe > Test Report by Michael Pearl

OBOZ SAWTOOTH LOW
TEST SERIES BY MIKE PEARL
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - July 20, 2017
FIELD REPORT - September 19, 2017
LONG TERM REPORT - November 21, 2017

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Pearl
EMAIL: mikepearl36ATyahooDOTcom
AGE: 43
LOCATION: Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 155 lb (70.30 kg)

I have a great appreciation for the outdoors and get out at every opportunity. I am a three-season, learning to be a four-season backpacker and year-round hiker. Currently, my trips are two to three days long as well as an annual week-long trip. I utilize the abundant trail shelters in my locale and pack a backup tarp-tent. I like to cover big distances while still taking in the views. I have lightweight leanings but function and reliability are the priority. I mostly travel woodland mountain terrain but enjoy hiking beautiful trails anywhere.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

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Manufacturer: Oboz Footwear
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Made in Vietnam

Manufacturer's Website: obozfootwear.com
MSRP: US$110.00

Listed Weight: Mens 9 - 15.6 oz (442 g)
Measured Weight: Mens 9 - Left 16 oz (458 g), Right 16 oz (464 g) and 2 lb (907 g) for the pair

Sizes Available: 8 through 14, available in regular and wide
Size Tested: 9 Regular

Colors Available: Umber (brown with green accents) and Pewter (gray with green accents)
Color Tested: Pewter

Materials: Uppers - Nubuck leather and abrasion-resistant textile, 3D molded heel counter

Features: 0 Fit Insole - a combination of low, medium and high density EVA* at key places to provide
cushion and support with a moisture wicking top layer.
Outsole - built to be versatile, flexible and supportive
Midsole - nylon shank for added support between heel and forefoot. Dual density EVA midsole
provides supportive balanced cushioning.
Molded Heel Counter - helps maintain snug, comfortable heel hold.

*EVA (ethylene vinyl accetate) two plastics, ethylene and vinyl joined to make a copolymer and turned into a foam making a light weight, water and corrosion resistant, insulating and shock aborping material.

Fit Tip: Length runs true to size. Form hugging heel cup, sculpted mid-foot, and a wider forefoot and toe box.

Warranty: Oboz shoes are covered by a limited 1-year warranty against manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship. Issues of size, or damage due to normal wear and tear, abuse or accidents are not covered by this warranty.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

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The Sawtooth shoes arrived in a standard shoe box. Before moving onto the shoes inside the box I feel it important to mention information found on outside of the box. Oboz participates in one-more-tree, when a pair of Obozs are purchased a tree is planted. Obozs is partnered with Trees for the Future which helps to provide communities with resources to plant trees. I think this is a wonderful initiative and such programs encourage me to support companies with such policies.

The Sawtooth shoes are a stylish combination of leather and mesh. The soles look rugged and aggressive. They also feature a replica of a topomap of the Sawtooth Mountains for which the shoes are named. All stitches as well as the seam between the soles and body of the shoe are tight and neat. All materials and construction look to be of high quality. The insoles are nicely shaped to cup the heel. Flipping the insoles over reveals areas of different stiffness and cushion.

At first pass the Sawtooth shoes are well designed and made as well as visually appealing. If they wear as good as they look I should have happy feet.
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TRYING THEM OUT

Slipping my feet into the Sawtooth shoes I right away feel the cradling of my heel and support in my arch. The toe box is close but still allows plenty of toe wiggle. I pulled the laces tight and tied them up. The shoes are snug without squeezing anywhere. When trying on some shoes my feet seem wide in the forefoot and toe compared to their length and slightly high in the arch. On first wear the Sawtooths accommodate all of this and my feet feel relaxed.

I went out for a 3 mi (4.8 km) walk around the neighborhood pond. The trail is wide but with steep ups and downs with spots of roots and rocks. The Sawtooths wear great and handle every step with ease. I did not encounter any mud or wet conditions. I mention this because this version of the Sawtooth is not waterproof. I am eager to see how they work in wet conditions versus hot. I wonder about performance regarding heat and moisture management versus how quickly they dry when wetted through. But that is something that will wait for till field testing.

SUMMARY

The Oboz Sawtooth shoes are well made and comfortable. They are secure and stable on my feet. My feet feel well supported and cushioned. These shoes are ready to go right out of the box. I look forward to getting out on the trails with the Sawtooth shoes.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Four Day Hikes at Balch Hill - Hanover, New Hampshire
Distance and Elevation - 4 mi (6 km) from 525 to 950 ft (160 to 290 m)
Pack Weight - 15 lb (7 kg)
Temperature and Conditions - 50 to 66 F (10 to 19 C), cool and clear to damp and cloudy

Five day backpack on the Long Trail - Route 4 to Route 2, Vermont
Distance and Elevation - 80 mi (129 km) from 326 to 4083 ft (99 to 1245 m)
Pack weight - 30 to 15 lb (14 to 7 kg)
Temperature and Conditions - 45 to 76 F (7 to 14 C) from misty cloud cover to bright sunshine to sideways blowing rain

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Oboz Sawtooth trail shoes saw 96 miles (154.5 km) of hiking during this period of testing. I hiked my local hill on four occasions with the Sawtooth shoes. They were comfortable and responsive every time. The bulk of the time in the Sawtooths were five consecutive days of backpacking. Here the shoes began to reveal their strengths and weakness.

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Day one on the Long Trail was hiking in a misty, wet cloud all day. Everything was wet from a rainstorm the night before. The shoes wetted through after a few hours from wet brush and puddles on the trail. My socks and feet were moist all day. On two rest stops I removed the shoes and my socks to air out. My feet dried and recovered after about 30 minutes. The socks were still damp and shoes were not quite damp but not dry either. However I felt the Sawtooths allowed my feet to breathe and some heat and moisture to escape. So my feet were never terrible uncomfortable and my skin stayed intact. After settling into my tent for the night I removed the insoles from the shoes and set everything up to dry. While the outsides of the shoes were caked in mud the insides were dry by morning.

My feet stayed dry the remainder of the trip except for the minor slips while crossing streams. When only a small portion of my sock was wet it would dry out after several hours of hiking. I think the major issue the first day was the near 100% humidity, not much dried that day. The next four days on the trail remained dry, not counting stream crossing and very frequent copious amounts of mud of many varieties and consistencies. Many after hiking in Vermont on the Long and/or Appalachian Trail jokingly refer to the state as "Vermud".

But mud was not the only terrain I encountered. There were rocks, roots, dirt, gravel, iron rungs drilled into rock slabs, an aluminum ladder bolted to a 15 or 20 ft (4.5 to 6 m) vertical ledge, wooden bridges and one suspension bridge. The Sawtooth shoes handled all this terrain without pause with two exceptions. On wet wooden boards, usually the ones placed to avoid the deepest and widest of mud pits I would lose traction sometimes. This was almost like sliding on ice, I even twice fell to ground. This only happened when moving fast or not paying close attention to my steps. The other place this occurred was on exposed bare rock slabs or large jumbled piles of rocks. Several times in these areas even when moving with care I would lose traction. This would happen on rough but wet rock and on dry but smooth rock as well. Falling on a wooded board and mud is one thing but a fall on a jumbled pile of rocks or on a steep slab is another. This made me nervous when crossing these areas and slowed me down to be extra cautious. I never injured myself but my confidence was pretty shaken.

The fit of the Sawtooths work very well for my feet. Over the five days and 80 miles (129 km) I never had sore feet, hotspots or a blister. The Sawtooths are amazingly comfortable. Each morning I put them on my feet slid in without complaint. My feet never felt hot or sweaty. They provide nice support for all day hiking over rough terrain. Stomping through mud quickly discolored the Sawtooths. Scrambling over blown down trees and rough rocks bumped and rubbed the shoes. The only negative outcome to report would be a minor peeling of the left toe rand. No biggie other then it tends to pick up and carry grass and small twigs.

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SUMMARY

Overall I am very happy with the Sawtooth trail shoes. The comfort and fit are so good that it's close to perfect. I like the breathability and think it beats being waterproof. I like preventing water from getting in but I much prefer moisture, sweat and heat being able to get out. The episodes of poor traction are dissatisfying but not a deal breaker. My theory, which over the course of five days I had plenty of time to develop plenty of theories, is that the outer sole is harder material to prolong wear. But maybe this comes at the cost of traction lost then if the material was softer and potentially providing more grip. Another hiker I met on the Long Trail was wearing a pair of Sawtooths. He had the same complaint with respect to traction. However he found this improved after about 100 miles (161 km). So I will be rolling the odometer or would it be pedometer on the Sawtooths into that mileage for the next test report. And just in time as the family and I are hiking the steep, wet Falling Waters Trail at the end of the month.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1Two day overnight backpack to Mount Lincoln and Lafayette - Franconia Notch, New Hampshire - 8 mi (13 km) from 1770 to 5260 ft (539 to 1603 m). Temperature 55 to 25 F (13 to -4 C) sunny and clear to cloudy and spitting snow and ice. Pack weight - 20 lb (9 kg).

Two day overnight backpack to Waterville Valley, New Hampshire - 24 mi (38.6 km) from 1560 to 4315 ft (475 to 1315 m). Temperature 40 to 65 F (4 to 18 C) sunny to cloudy and windy. Pack weight - 25 lb (11 kg).

Overnight at Mt Moosilauke - Benton, New Hampshire - 7.5 mi (12 km) from 2400 to 4803 ft (730 to 1464 m). Temperature 45 to 70 F (7 to 21 C) clear and windy on the summit. Pack weight 15 lbs (7 kg).

Trail maintenance hike on the Appalachian Trail - Pomfret, Vermont - 4.4 mi (7 km) from 775 to 1295 ft (236 to 395 m). Temperature 50 F (10 C) and sunny. Pack weight - 15 lb (7 kg).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I broke the hundred mile mark in the Sawtooths during Long-Term testing. I added just shy of 44 mi (71 km) for a total of 149 mi (240 km) during the test series. I saw perfect fall weather mixed with a winter preview on two and half overnight backpacks and one day of trail maintenance. Fortunately the traction issue experienced in field testing did not reoccur.

The resolution was timely as our first hike we had freezing temperatures overnight. This was followed with a fluctuating mix of rain, snow and ice all morning. My feet were comfortable enough in these conditions. But if we stop for a prolong rest my toes became chilled. Hiking in a cloud above treeline over rough, rocky terrain is not the time for a slip of the foot. I was concerned because of my slips on my last hike. I remained cautious as I crossed particularly sketchy spots but never lost traction. Once back in the forest the trail traveled along and several times across a waterway. The Sawtooths performed great here as well. Only on the smooth wet granite did I experience any slips. However these spots were slick for everyone.

My next hike provided a nice variety of terrain. The valleys were well worn dirt trails. The trails crossed half a IMAGE 2dozen streams and rivers, one of them twice after I became slightly lost. A few times my feet were wet by the time I reached the other side but never saturated. The trail up and down one of the mountains is a "slide" where soil has been washed away by one or more processes, that's the trail in the photo on the right. The trail here is stacks of boulders, jumbles of rock and loose dirt. It's very steep involving hand over hand climbing up and "crab walking" and scooting on the way down. On the mountain top the trail was mostly bare rock. Once back down I decide to shorten my route by hiking an abandoned trail. I could sight the trail but the treadway was covered by lots of fallen trees, leaf litter and overgrown brush. This was almost like being off trail, a pseudo-bushwhack. The Sawtooths handled all of this without pause. Although I had to pause when I lost the trail and hence crossing a river twice. I was happy once heading in the right direction again. And my feet were quite happy too. I endured only two minor discomforts. The first being no fault of the shoes, twice I had to remove the Obozs to get several pebbles out while on the slides. I was wishing for some lightweight gaiters here. The second was cranky toes when slipping into shoes in the morning. The combination of damp shoes and 40 F (4 C) air made my feet cold during breakfast. But after I got moving all was well again.

The "half" overnight hike was to Mount Moosilauke and the beautifully renovated Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. I call this a half because we were able to drive right up to the lodge, stay the night and hike the mountain the next morning. It almost felt like cheating. But it was an amazing hike and the Sawtooth performed flawlessly.

My last outing of the test series was for end-of-season trail maintenance. A few days before a powerful storm roll through leaving downed trees and wet trail. The Sawtooths worked nicely in this setting. However my feet did become wet. Sometimes I have to simply stand in water or mud to remove a tree or clear drainage. Between the cool temperature and wet shoes and socks my feet were uncomfortable for the last half of the hike. So the combination of trail condition, not being waterproof, low temperature and trail maintenance did not work very well. I think if one of these variables were removed it would have been different.

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SUMMARY

IMAGE 4I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in and everywhere I have hiked with the Oboz Sawtooth Low trailshoes. The initial wear-in period of the soles was a mild frustration. This would have been lessened if knowing of the potential ahead of time. Once the soles fully wore-in these shoes rank as some the best hiking footwear I have used. The fit, comfort, breathability and later on traction are top notch. As the temperature dipped to 45 F (7 C) or 50 F (10 C) and wet my feet were a little chilly in the Sawtooths. In conditions above these points the Sawtooths are well suited.
The only change in the condition of the shoes is peeling of the other toe rand. The peeling did not progress beyond the semicircular piece of the rand. The soles and uppers remain fully intact without breaks anywhere. All other parts and construction remain good condition and working order. There is of course the evidence of expected normal wear along with the stains of several coatings of mud. But overall the Sawtooths have held up very good to the miles and terrain I have traveled.
As conditions here move toward winter I will switch to warmer and waterproof footwear. But as soon as conditions permit I fully intend to again cut up the trails with the Sawtooth trailshoes. While they are mud stained and the toe rands are peeling I think they have many more trails left to hike.

This concludes my Long-Term Report. Thank you to Oboz Footwear and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to participate in this test series.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

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