When I’m not in my [evil but warm] mountaineering boots, I love the feel and weight of a low-cut good trail runner but for longer hikes or days with bigger packs, a solid hiking boot is just a better call — at least for my feet. My past Oboz boots performed admirably against the rocky trails of the Cascades over the last few years but were done by the end of the season so for 2018, I decided to follow things up with a pair of their Sawtooth Mid BDry (Waterproof) Boots.
It’s been just over two months since I first put on the Sawtooth Mid Boots with plenty of miles and vert under my feet to get a chance to really feel them out. I’ve hiked them across everything from warm summer days on perfectly built trails to stream covered granite in Yosemite, snowy summits around Lake Tahoe, and cool nights in the PNW. So it’s time for a review…
Fit, Function & Form:
I wear a size 14 (EU 48ish) but have fairly narrow feet so finding a boot in my size can be a challenge as I don’t get to pull from all the options. Of course big feet or small feet, boot fit always differs and it’s really a good idea to try out any boot style for yourself… these guys are no different.
For me, the Sawtooth Mid has been pretty solid from the start and downright comfortable once I swapped out the basic insole for a pair of SuperFeet (Oboz talks up their O Fit Insole heavily and the durable build is much more impressive than the standard freebie insert found in most boots but I’ve just never found a generic insert to suffice compare to a more custom fit with SuperFeet or similar products — if your arches are more regular, Oboz will probably crush it out the gate for you.)
I have experienced a bit of heel life on these boots from the wider design and with most of the lacing pre-set, there’s less opportunity to use tying techniques to correct this or other fit problems. Nothing a good choice of socks or piece of tape has not corrected and likely related to their breathability (more on that below.)
On the exterior side, I picked these boots because they seemed grippy & protective in their build, rugged in materials, completely waterproof and yet not too stiff. That’s proven true and then some.
As for style, well, once you get a coat of dirt on your boots, they all look pretty good in my book. You can see them in action on Mount Tallac about 2 weeks in from the photo above.
Despite having all the fun of getting to tell my mom I’m a blogger, I still pay for my most gear (if anything is provided for me to review, you’ll see that clearly at the top of the post) so you can bet that anything I’ve used for a couple months works and works well.
To that end, the Oboz Sawtooth Mid Boots have been a solid pick for spring and summer adventures.
- The waterproof is indeed stupidly good: When I first got these, I stood under a small waterfall running over Upper Yosemite Falls’ trail and not a drop to the socks, a few months later, same thing (just don’t put your foot under the stream, whoops!)
- Traction is also rather impressive: From wet trails to jumping big boulders to descending the smooth granite on the backside of Yosemite’s Half Dome, the grip good while plenty of others struggled on by.
- Support for ankles has also been spot on: I walk a little weird and despite taking a few bad steps, no twists or pulls so far. Knock on wood for that one.
- Underfoot cushioning is decent: These are not a super stiff boot so landing on a sharp rock is noticeable but pounding along on a dirt trail feels good. Even better with a thicker sock and / or insole upgrades.
- Weight feels fine for what you get: Some reviews critique the heaviness of the boots but while I’m sure they are not Ultra Light worthy in specs, I haven’t felt them to be heavy for what they do or against other boots / shoes I have in my gear closet.
And the bad:
I wish I could say I had found the perfect boot but like most gear, there are some downsides to be found.
For me, the main negative has been how the boots breath.
Don’t get me wrong, good waterproofing always comes with some tradeoff to airflow but as someone who only buys waterproof shoes (puddles? what puddles?), I’ve noticed my feet far warmer than these than even my 4-season boots on an approach and I’m not alone in this comment (see Dirtbag Dream’s review.) For a high peak or a day with plenty of water crossings, no big deal, but on a summer dirt hike, trail runners still win.
The outside of my boots also started to show wear almost from the first hike. Not unexpected given the rocky terrain I’ve been on and no boot is immune but these do seem to scuff up quick. I’ll return with updates on longevity as I have more time, more miles to talk about.
- Category: Shoes / Boots
- Utility: Spring & Summer Hiking / Backpacking
- Pros: Good support, grip and waterproofing
- Cons: Don’t breath as well as other boots
- Style: Mid-height, waterproof hiking boot
- Fit: True to size for me
- Weight: 20.3 oz (Men’s size 9)
- Price: $150
- Rating: 4 out of 5
- Official Site | Buy it at REI