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Reviews > Footwear > Winter Boots > Oboz Bridger Insulated BDry Boots > Test Report by Richard Lyon
OBOZ BRIDGER 8" INSULATED BDry BOOTS
Test Series by Richard Lyon
Initial Report November 28, 2016
Field Report February 6, 2017
Long Term Report April 6, 2017
PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND
Male, 70 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 205 lb (91 kg)
Shoe size: 13 US; 47 European
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Outside Bozeman, Montana USA, in the Bridger Mountains
I've been backpacking for nearly half a century, most often in the Rockies. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp. Though always looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences. I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Summer adventures are often on centered on fly fishing opportunities; winter on ski or ski touring.
INITIAL REPORT - November 28, 2016
The name is apt - Oboz 8" Insulated BDry Boots are over-the-calf winter boots that make use of a BDry waterproof-breathable membrane and 200 g 3M Thinsulate insulation. The uppers are made of waterproof Nubuck leather, atop a molded rubber toe cap and heel. The outsoles, named Granite Peak after Montana's tallest mountain, have 4mm lugs and just look stout.
The tongue on the Bridgers is sewn in to a point just below the top two eyelets. There are seven eyelets in all - the two at the bottom are sewn-in fabric, the third and fourth closed metal, the fifth fabric and set back, the top two open metal. A D-ring for a gaiter clasp sits in the leather piece through which the lace passes at the bottom. Another sewn-in fabric loop at the rear of the cuff permits easy attachment to a pack.
Manufacturer: Oboz Footwear LLC, Bozeman, Montana
Weight: listed 49.2 oz [1.4 kg]/pair for size 9; measured 60.5 oz [1.7 kg] oz/pair for size 13
Cuff height: measured, 8.7 in [22 cm] at the front of the cuff
Color: Walnut; also available in Dark Shadow [grey]
Size: 13 US; available in half sizes 8-12 US and sizes 13 and 14 (men's)
Related Product: The women's model is called the Bridger 7" Insulated BDry Boot, available in women's sizes 6-11.
MSRP: $185 US
As with every pair of Oboz boots I have worn - at least half a dozen different models - the fit is great. I have never needed a custom insole and I don't expect to with these. I have skinny ankles that the Oboz lasts suit perfectly. Thanks to the insulation I plan to wear only one pair of socks, foregoing liners.
The only noteworthy thing about the fit was that the heel seemed slightly elevated. That is most likely due to the fact that I haven't pulled on a new pair of boots in some time. At any rate I didn't have any difficulty walking in the boots and after awhile I no longer noticed it.
Following my usual custom I wore these boots around the house for a couple of days to detect possible hot spots or pressure points, finding none. They definitely kept my feet warm indoors, and did so also on their maiden voyage outdoors. That entailed a two-mile or so (3 km) walk around the neighborhood, on snowy hard-packed dirt roads with my dog. The Granite Peaks' grip was impressive; I really didn't need the ski pole I brought along for the hills, though the little brat helped by not bolting on me.
My other preparation for testing was to fit the Bridgers to my snowshoes, another perfect fit. Not enough snow around the house for a trial snowshoe run though - for that I'll have to take the Bridgers to the nearby Bridger Mountains.
Great Oboz fit
Good grip on ice and snow
FIELD REPORT - February 6, 2017
An undue amount of travel and hectic holidays limited backpacking use of the Bridgers to a single three-day weekend, just south of Bozeman, Montana. Two of us, on snowshoes, hiked about 2.5 miles (4 km) over rolling terrain to a backcountry Forest Service cabin. From the cabin we explored the surrounding area during the day, sometimes on snowshoes and once or twice on foot. Generally sunny weather, with a couple of short snow flurries, and temperatures from 0 to 20 F (-17 to -6 C). Pack weight on the hikes in and out was about 40 lb (18 kg), less on the day hikes.
I have worn the Bridgers on about half a dozen day hikes, 2 to 10 miles (3-16 km), in the nearby Gallatin, Bangtail, and Bridger Mountains. Two of these were on snowshoes, the balance on foot. Except for a short trip at -15 F (-25 C), these hikes occurred at temperatures and weather comparable to those on the weekend trips.
The Bridgers have had much more use as everyday footwear. I live in the country and have outdoor chores every day, and since injuring my knee late last winter have, consciously and unconsciously, paid much more attention to street conditions wherever I walk. Until the past ten days or so that's meant full-time duty for the Bridgers around the house, in town, and on my travels (to Snowmass, Colorado, Waitsfield, Vermont, and New York City), to take advantage of the boots' tread. (Warmer, freeze-and-thaw temperatures to about 40 F/4 C lately have mandated a shift to a pair of older boots that are permanently fitted with hiking cleats for local dog walks on the steep and icy roads around my home.) I have worn cleats, and once stouter hiking crampons, with the Bridgers, but most use has been without a traction aid.
Let's start with these boots' new and most highly touted feature, their insulation. Results have been excellent; my feet haven't been cold except when standing around at -15 F (-25 C). On planned hikes I've worn a single pair of heavyweight wool socks, long enough to top the boots' cuffs by at least an inch (2.5 cm), but for outdoor chores or dog walks it's been more haphazard - whatever socks I happen to be wearing before heading outside. I haven't noticed much difference among various sock weights, so I attribute warm feet to the boots' Thinsulate insulation. Performance on this front has matched the boots the Bridgers replaced, which have a heavy wool fleece inner boot. The Bridgers may just send those boots into retirement, as they are much easier to don and doff and have a sole that permits the addition or deletion of traction aids. The Bridgers are also far easier to use with snowshoes and hug my feet more securely.
Despite their heat-retaining qualities the Bridgers breathe and wick quite well. My feet haven't become too warm or especially sweaty even after all-day indoor use at a conference or thirty or forty minutes of uphill climbing.
Fit is terrific, as noted in my Initial Report, and the Bridgers' lacing system makes for very easy ingress and egress. The gusseted tongue provides enough leeway for inserting my foot while the laces remain threaded through the bottom five eyelets. All I need do is pull the laces tight and lash them, criss-crossed, into the two C-clips at the top, then tie my knot. If I don't rush it I can do (and have done) this in the dark, a great thing at night in the Forest Service cabin or, in future, in a tent. I always use a double knot, as without it the lace loops and tag ends are too long and the knot tends to slip.
The Bridgers' grip continues to impress. Here in the boots' namesake Bridger Mountains (pictured - the mountains not the boots) we've had little snow over the past few weeks, resulting in several very hardpacked paths and especially streets and sidewalks. I haven't yet slipped while wearing the Bridgers, despite my puppy's occasional charges at wildlife, other dogs, or other people. As noted I switch to cleats for dog walks in freeze-and-thaw temperatures, but that's not always possible on trips to town (can't wear microspikes in a grocery store or a restaurant). I still take care but can rely on the Bridgers for a safe grip on anything but sheet ice.
All my hiking and walking's been in the snow, minimizing any need for significant boot cleaning. I knock off accumulated snow and let the boots dry in my garage, which is heated to about 45 F (7 C). On the weekend trip, when staying in a cabin that was unheated for about seven hours each night, I did tie the laces and place the boots near the woodstove to reduce the chance of their freezing, or at least freezing in an unusable position. Thanks to the minimal exposure to dirt the Bridgers still look like new.
WHAT I LIKE
The great fit is still at the top of the list.
First-rate insulation without overheating
Easy to put on
WHAT I DON'T
Can't come up with a thing.
LONG TERM REPORT - April 6, 2017
I have worn the Bridgers on eight day hikes, one overnight, one three-day backpack trip, and several more short jaunts around my house. This last category probably counts as day hikes as most of them covered a couple of miles (5 km) at least, consistent ascents and descents, and closer to bushwhacking than walking on established trails. We did get one all-day snowstorm that deposited more than a foot (20 cm) of powder snow in the nearby backcountry. This coincided with my overnight backpack, which was to a Forest Service cabin in the nearby Bridger Mountains. Other than that and one five-minute flurry all hiking was done in fair or overcast weather, at temperatures from 10-50 F (-12 to 10 C). All this backcountry activity except two day hikes was on snowshoes, the Fibmulvetr Hikrs that I am also testing. The exceptions were on hardpacked trail. Pack weight was up to about fifty pounds (22 kg) on the backpacks, but ordinarily much less.
Until about ten days ago I wore the Bridgers almost daily on outdoor chores around the house and in town, on snow, ice, and paved sidewalks. Weather and temperature ranges were comparable to those in the backcountry described above.
On planned hikes I wore my usual heavy wool socks without liners. For the more casual frontcountry use I paid little attention to which socks I was wearing. I simply changed from house shoes to the boots in the garage before going out. As a result socks varied from lightweight cotton athletic socks to heavy wool hiking socks. If I was wearing ankle socks I did change into over-the-ankle socks.
The one-sentence summary is more of the same. Continued firm grip, warm feet, and that great Oboz fit. No undue sliding around in the boot, which has meant no blisters or chafing. Breathability has been marvelous. Even when standing around at 10 F (-12 C) I never got cold feet. When hiking at the upper ranges of our late winter/early spring temperatures I didn't find my feet perspiring to the point of discomfort, though after removing the boots my socks were a bit damp on a couple of occasions. In my opinion the fit and insulation make the Bridgers ideal winter footgear.
One new development, thanks to the two extended periods of warmer temperatures in the Northern Rockies, was walking in the mud. Once again the Bridgers' grip kept me upright without major slipping or sliding. For the first time the Bridgers got dirty, and the rubber toe piece collected scuffs, detritus, and mud ingredients. This required some minor attention at the end of the day. Though I occasionally was careless, after most extended uses (day hike or backpack) I used a wire brush to remove surface dirt and anything that remained in the soles, and wiped the uppers with a damp towel. The Bridgers no longer look like new but the apparent wear and tear is minor - more a bit of character than anything else. Certainly nothing that has impacted utility.
I remove the insoles after extended use, leaving them to dry in the mudroom or (heated) garage. I have not noticed any unpleasant odor though there are a few sweat stains. After winter truly ends (it's snowing as I write this) I plan to give the Bridgers a dose of leather balm and the insoles a bath in mildew treatment.
Four months' use hasn't loosened a stitch or resulted in any other visible deterioration of the boots.
I continue to have only good things to report about these terrific winter boots. I'd like somewhat shorter and less slick laces, as once in awhile the laces work loose (though never undone). All this means is an occasional re-tie at a rest stop. And I attribute this more to my skinny ankles than any design fault in the Bridgers.
My Test Report ends here. Thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and my friends at Oboz for this testing opportunity.
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