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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Oboz Teton Suede Trail Shoe > Test Report by Thomas Vickers

Oboz Teton Suede Hiking Shoes

Initial Report - June 11, 2009
Field Report - August 25, 2009
Long Term Report - October 27, 2009

Thomas Vickers

41 years old
Male
5 ft 11 in tall (1.8 m)
175 lb (79 kg)
redroach@pobox.com
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
June 11, 2009

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Manufacturer Information:

Manufacturer: Oboz Footwear

Website: http://obozfootwear.com

Year Manufactured: 2009

MSRP: $95.00

Weight: 32 oz () Men's size 9

Information From Tester:
(all measurements approximate)


Color/pattern: Bark

Weight:
Left foot: 1 lb 2.0 oz (511 g)
Right foot: 1 lb 2.10 oz (513 g)


Size received: 10.5 US

Tester's shoe size: 10.5 US

Initial tester expectations:
After visiting the Oboz website I was a bit confused. I really could not tell if this was a serious hiking shoe or a casual knock around town shoe. It looks awfully nice in its pictures, but there is no real description of it being a hard core hiking shoe. I really worried that I was going to get a fancy shoe that had no place on the dirty trails.

Manufacturer's description:
"Style your way to the summit or to the bar stool with these sleek suede kicks. Feel confident that the Teton will perform both on Main Street and in the mountains. Perforated Split Leather Upper, Asymmetrical Lacing, 3 Part Midsole - Dual Density EVA, Full Underfoot, High Density EVA, and Nylon Shank"

Tester's Description:
The Oboz Teton are hiking shoes. They are actually very stylish and good looking hiking shoes. They are made out of nice looking and feeling brown suede leather and have a generous rubber toe guard, real pull loops, and a hefty sole.

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The Teton utilizes standard tongue and gusset design and works just like a normal shoe. I pull it on, tighten the laces, and away I go.  The major differences that I have noticed between the Tetons and regular "tennis shoes" is the sole, the toe guards, and the lacing.

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The toe guards are rubber and cover most of the top and side portions of the toe box. For a shoe that looks so nice, this gives me an idea that maybe these are more serious trail shoes than I originally thought.

The Asymmetrical Lacing of the shoes make the Tetons appear to be curved when viewed from the top. This makes them look a bit strange, but it does not affect how I lace or tighten the shoes on my feet. It looks strange, but it works.   The sole of the Teton shoes are also very nice and hefty looking. There is map of the Teton mountain range worked into the rubber of the sole and I would hope that it is accurate enough to be of some help if lost in that mountain range. 

Overall, these hiking shoes just look and feel too nice to be on my feet and dirty. The problem them being so 'purdy' is that I am going to get them dirty. If they are hiking shoes and not fancy street shoes I am going to prove it no matter how much it hurts to wear the 'purdy' off of these shoes.

Initial thoughts:
I really expected the Teton shoes to be gussied up street shoes. After wearing them to work for four days I quickly realized that my initial impressions were way off target.   The Tetons look nice, but boy do they feel comfortable. I spend all day at work on my feet on hard floors and I have not felt a thing yet. No foot pain. No sore legs. No sore back. The arch support in these shoes hit my feet in just the right spot and all I can say is WOW. I need arch support in pretty much every shoe I wear, but after four days the Tetons are proving to be an exception to that rule.  

Another thing that has impressed me so far is that the sole seems to be very stiff.   These shoes fit and feel much more like nice boots rather than shoes. They may look fancy, but after four days I think I am slowly beginning to believe that these are going to be serious trail shoes.

Final thoughts:
These shoes are growing on me. They fit well, look GREAT, and feel like nice boots. I really think the 'purdy' factor is just a smoke screen. The way they wear and feel makes me think that I can have the best of both worlds; good looking trail shoes that fit and wear like a dream on the trail.

Things I like:
1. They look fancy
2. They fit well and have plenty of room in the toe box
3. Sole feels nice and stiff

Things I don't like:
1.They look fancy
2. Cannot find any mention of leather care products to use on them


Field Report
August 25, 2009

Locations:
Massachusetts, Southeast Texas, Padre Island National Sea Shore, Sam Houston National Forest
Temperatures:
55 - 100 F (13 - 34 C)
Surfaces:
Street/sidewalk, hard packed dirt trails, sand, and forest floor with debris

Activities:
Days used:
19
Hiking (trail and street:) 
30 miles (48 km)
Backpacking: 
17 miles (27 km)

Breaking them in:
In the old days it seemed like all my hiking footwear needed to be broken in before I hit the trail or it would break me after a few miles.  I decided to break the Oboz Teton shoes in by wearing them to work. As a teacher I spend 8 + hours a day on my feet on hard surfaces (tiled floors) and it is a good and safe way to break in shoes and boots.  I also have arch issues and require a ton of extra arch support in all of my shoes and wearing them at work usually lets me experience this fact before I hit the trail.

After four days of wearing these shoes I was very impressed. Yes, they were fancy looking, but they felt GOOD on my feet. I actually looked forward to putting them on and after four days I had not ripped the stock insoles out and inserted my aftermarket support insoles.   My feet, legs, knees, and lower back all felt great and I was starting to wonder if I had found the shoes that I always dreamed of. The magic shoes that do not require special insoles to make my body happy were always something I dreamed of and I started to think I had found them.

Up and down the hills:
Before I could hit the trail with these shoes I had one more test for them. I took a trip to Boston and spent four days walking around the city. By some standards Boston is probably not that hilly, but by my flatlander point of view the city was full of nothing but constant up/down walking. It was nothing but hill by how I measure things in Texas.   Worst of all, I walked somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 miles (24 km) while in Boston and most of that time I was either carrying a 25 lb (11 kg) or 40 lb (18 kg) child as I trudged around. 

I wore the Tetons the entire time and without them I doubt that I could have made it through my trip. It was a lot of walking while carrying a lot of weight, but my feet loved it. My upper body hated carrying my children, but after the trip was over I realized that the Oboz Tetons had felt great the entire time and I had still not changed out the stock insoles. My feet did not hurt. My knees did not ache. My lower back was not sore. The only thing I had left to test was to get a pack on and hit the trails.  The Tetons were officially very purdy, very comfortable, and about to get some serious testing done.

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On to the ropes:
Once I got back from Boston my next order of business was spending a week working at the ropes course.  I spent the entire week climbing and working on high elements and this is where I started to get an idea of why these shoes feel so good on my feet and work so well for me.  When climbing and working high elements I prefer a shoe with a stiff sole. It makes climbing on the staples and cables so much more comfortable and after five days of doing this in the Oboz Tetons it struck me that the soles were stiff. After climbing in them, I realized that the soles were really stiff. It was at that point that I formed the opinion that the stiffness of the soles is one of the reasons why they are so comfortable and why I have not had to replace the stock insoles.  

Hitting the trails:
My first trips out this summer were short, 3 mile (5 km) dayhikes in the W.G. Jones State Forest (North of Houston).  I did not carry a pack and I just enjoyed some leisurely walks on the packed dirt trails in the forest.  The Tetons held up well and they also got their first moisture exposure from the dew on the more overgrown portions of the trail. I was very happy to see that despite getting rather wet, the shoes did not wet through and get my socks wet.  They also dried rather quickly as the morning warmed up and I got out of the grassy sections. 

I figured that the suede would discolor after getting wet, but it did not. It also did not bleed any color onto my socks which was another surprise.  Best of all, I had not felt the need to use my after market insoles.  I put about 15 miles (24 km) on the shoes in this manner and I was more than happy with their performance. I cannot stress how comfortable they were on my feet no matter what the terrain or temperatures were like.

Using a pack:
I took two serious hikes while wearing a pack in this portion of the test. The first was a 9 mile (14 km) hike carrying a 15 lb (7 kg) load in my pack.  It was a strenuous morning and the shoes got wet, got dry, got hot, got dirty, and kept my feet HAPPY. I was hot, sweaty, covered in bug bites, and happy because of all the things that hurt, my feet were not on the list.

I had to cross several dry creeks and the soles did a good job of grabbing the sides of the creek beds and allowing me to scramble down and back up and out of them without any trouble or slipping.  This hike was a good test of how these shoes handled terrain and they passed with flying colors. The soles also shed any mud or debris that they encountered and never gummed up at all. 

When I was done and back at the car, I did not take the Tetons off, which is what usually happens to my hiking boots.  The temperatures in Texas are murderous in the summer and I usually want my feet to cool off on the ride home. This time I hopped in after wiping the shoes off with my hands and headed back to the house.  I am still trying to wrap my mind around how comfortable these shoes have been.

My second outing was also in the Sam Houston National Forest and it was an 8 mile (13 km) round trip with a 12 pound (5 kg) load in my pack.  Once again I enjoyed a nice hike that subjected the Tetons to moisture, sand, dirt, mud, and just about any other obstacle I could walk over.  Despite getting dirty, they wipe clean easily and still look pretty good. At this point I would expect shoes that are this 'fancy' looking to be breaking down and on the mangy side looks-wise, but not the Tetons. They have taken the wear and look almost as good as new. Dirt does not stick to them or stain them as far as I can tell.

Final thoughts:
I have put a few miles on these shoes and I am really impressed. Despite being suede and the heat being in the 95 F (53 C) + range for the entire summer, my feet have never overheated in these shoes.  I have also tried a variety of socks (cotton, synthetic, wool) in these shoes and they the performance has always been the same.  My feet feel great and never get too hot and sweaty.

I normally buy hiking boots one size larger than required to accommodate my socks and liners, but I did not do this with the Oboz Tetons. I ordered my normal size 10.5 and have worn different types and weights of socks with no issues with the fit of the shoes.   While I have tended to lace hiking boots very tight, I have noticed that I tend to lace the Tetons rather loosely and my feet do not slide around in them.  The soles of these shoes are very stiff and stable.  One thing I like about boots is the rather wide "footprint" that they provide and that means more stability for me on the trail.  The Tetons seem to convey the same level of stability that I am used to in hiking boots in the form of a very nice hiking shoe. 

I have put over 40 miles (64 km) on these shoes with a variety of loads and terrain.   The Oboz Tetons are the first shoe/boot of any sort over the last 15 years that I have not had to put an aftermarket insole in to save my feet. It does not matter if it is dress shoes, casual shoes, or hiking boots they have ALL required new insoles to make them wearable. The Oboz Tetons do not. It is plain and simple. The fitting of the shoe body and the stiffness of the sole combine in some strange and mystical way to make these shoes the most comfortable ones I have probably ever worn.  

To top it off, they are nice enough to get away with wearing them to work. These shoes go way beyond hiking for me at this point. They work great on the trail and great off the trail which means I am going cry if they ever go out of production.

Things I like:
1. They look fancy
2. They fit well
3. Sole is nice a stiff

Things I don't like:
1.They look fancy
2. Cannot find any mention of leather care products to use on them


Long Term Report
October 27, 2009

Locations: W. G. Jones State Forest, Sam Houston National Forest, other areas in Southeast Texas,
Temperatures:
65  - 100 F (18 - 34 C)
Surfaces:
Street/sidewalk, hard packed dirt trails, sand, and forest floor with debris

Activities:
Backpacking:
29 miles (47 km)
Hiking (trail and street): 
35 miles (56 km)

Carrying a load:

I have made three serious overnight trips in the Oboz Tetons since my last report.   All three trips were in the Sam Houston National Forest and I managed to cover a lot of ground in these shoes.   My pack weight varied from 15 pounds (7 kg) to 25 pounds (11 kg) and I covered distances of 9 miles (14 km), 8 miles (13 km), and 12 miles (19 km) on these jaunts to the woods. 

All I can say at this point is that no matter how far I travelled or how much I carried, these shoes were comfortable. I know my feet swell as I hike, but there was never any time when they felt too tight or hot despite the weather here in Texas.  Even better than pulling my shoes off at the end of a hike and sitting in my hammock was the fact that while I lounged around camp, my knees, legs, feet, and back did not hurt. Knowing that it could and usually is much worse on my body after a hike made wearing and using these shoes a blessing.

I cannot go as far as to say these shoes were magical and did not let my feet sweat or swell, but I can honestly say that with the variety of socks (wool, cotton, synthetic) they never picked up any permanent odors.  My feet and socks may have stunk at the end of a hike, but simply letting the Tetons air out over night seems to have prevented them from getting stinky or stale.

I have also done a great deal of day hiking that did not involve carrying a pack.  These shoes were great just to knock around in fishing, day hiking, and even wearing around town. If my job did not have a strange dress code restriction on shoes, I would be wearing the Tetons every day.

Wear and tear:
After four months of using these on and off the trail, I am very pleased with the way they have held up. The leather has been wet several times and it has never stiffened up nor lost any of its flexibility. I would still love to know if there is a leather treatment that Oboz recommends to help prolong the life of these shoes or help make them water reistant.

Another aspect of these shoes that has held up rather well is the sole.  Any shoe that I wear on hard surfaces tends to have serious heel wear from the way I drag my feet. The Teton's sole seems to have resisted this despite being worn on roads, concrete, and other hard surfaces quite often.  The sole also sheds dirt and debris really nicely, even after four months of use.  The weather has not been seriously rainy here in a long time, so I have not really had too much of a chance to get them out in mud. Giving them a go in some slippery mud would be a great way to test the traction of the sole in a more extreme environment. As it stands, I am happy with they way the soles have performed in this test.

Final thoughts:
I was a boot wearer until I tested these shoes. I was a boot wearer who required aftermarket insoles in my boots so that my body did not force me off the trail.  I cannot explain how the Oboz are constructed, but they are the only pair of shoes that I have been able to wear without after market insoles in over a decade.  They are beyond comfortable and after four months on and off the trail I can also say that they are durable as well.   I had originally worried that I would have issues with my ankles due to the lack of ankle support in these shoes, but it never became a problem. There was never any rolling of my ankle or any other injury that I feared would happen if I was not wearing a boot to help my ankles out.  This is not something I can give the Tetons full credit for, but it is nice to know that by taking a leap of faith about the nature of hiking shoes, I have discovered a pair of shoes that will help me spend a lot more quality time on the trail.

Things I like:
1. Comfortable
2. Durable
3. Nice looking

Things I do not like:
1. Nothing



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