Oboz Sawtooth Low
Where to Buy
Oboz's Sawtooth Low hiking shoe is a comfortable,…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $78
Oboz's Sawtooth Low hiking shoe is a comfortable, not-too-heavy shoe that's great for trails. The midsole provides plenty of cushioning and has an aggressive, mud-shedding tread that's grippy but appears to wear fairly quickly. They provide a medium amount of support and ventilate sweat quite well.
I think this is a great shoe for day hikers or backpackers who prefer a lower, lighter shoe.
- Solid cushioning and support
- Mud-shedding yet aggressive sole
- Better than average insole
- Easy to lace up
- Sole seems to be wearing more quickly than average
The Basics: Details and Fit
The Sawtooth (mine are a year-old model, purchased on sale) weighs in at a hair above 2 pounds per pair for my size 11 1/2 - 12 feet. These are the low version and don't have a waterproof/breathable membrane, though you can buy them with Oboz's BDry membrane if you prefer. I'll address how they ventilate below.
For such a light shoe, it has a lot of leather in areas you might expect to get banged around, and it feels much more firm and cushioned and solid than any trail running shoe I have worn recently. This shoe fits my feet well. I'm somewhat wide in the forefoot and average at the heel. No shifting around, no sliding forward or lateral movement. I wear them with custom orthotics (more on that in a minute).
These are a relatively new purchase, but I have walked 50-60 miles in them and feel like I can provide a good review.
As you can see, lacing them up is easy due to fabric speed lacing. The laces slide more easily through than with small eyes. The laces themselves are a little thicker than most. So far, they have stayed tied without having to double knot them. I have been wearing them with low, medium-weight merino wool socks. (Point 6 Hiking Tech Light Mini Crew and Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion.....could the sock companies come up with easier names? imagine asking for this at your local outdoors store!)
Oboz provides an unusually supportive and cushioned midsole. You can see, with the insole flipped over, the grey parts that provide extra cushioning and the black perforated heel cup that is made of out fairly hard plastic. The black plastic provides much better than average arch support.
Because I wear custom orthotics, I had to remove these insoles and replace them with something pretty flat and thin, similar to a running shoe insole, so they would fit. To me, though, the fit is one of the advantages of this shoe. It's worth noting that I bought these a half-size larger than normal to leave a little extra room for my toes on downhills. Definitely worth considering if you check this shoe out.
Support and Traction
Another strength for this shoe is the well-cushioned midsole and the sole itself. My feet feel pretty well-shielded from rocks and roots, and the midsole is firm but not overly hard. It's not so easy to see here, but the outside of the heel is reinforced, which adds to the solid feel of this shoe.
The sole is aggressive, deep channels in the rubber, so they do pretty well on mucky or slippery trails. As you can see, the shoes have already seen their share of mud. The soles shed mud particularly well. The rubber is very grippy on rocks. This is my second pair of Oboz shoes, and both appear to place a premium on the grippiness of the rubber sole.
Also, despite all the leather, there are nylon sections on both sides of your feet. These let moisture out really well. That said, a no-membrane pair of trail runners, with larger nylon panels, breathes the sweat out a little better than these, and conversely, the Sawtooth will keep your feet more dry/less sweaty than any all-leather shoe or boot.
The generous use of leather on this shoe should make the uppers very durable, though I have found recently that nylon panels on most trail runners stand up pretty well to abuse too. The firm feel of the midsole, heel counter and toe box suggest that these shoes will take a beating. But, the excellent grip I experienced with the soles appears to come at a cost, as I have already noticed some visible wear on parts of the sole at the heel and near the ball of my foot. I expect these soles to wear more quickly than average.
This is the heel - note the left side, where the small channels visible at the bottom left have already disappeared on the inside edge of the heel.
Where I have Used Them
I have walked 50-60 miles in these shoes on dirt trails, rocky trails, and pavement. I'm wearing them here, overlooking the Potomac River last weekend. About 60 degrees in February! All day hiking, carrying packs less than 20 pounds, so I really haven't tested the shoes in terms of supporting a heavier load. I would probably opt for an all-leather boot if I were carrying much more weight, anyway.
This has been a weird winter — at times very warm, other times very cold and snowy. Two weekends ago, a light snowfall stuck around because the temperatures dropped into the teens when we did a local day hike, Sugarloaf in Dickerson, Md. The shoes felt great on a mostly-rocky and dirt parts of the trail; they slipped around a bit on the snowy parts, where a harder, heavier sole might have been a better choice.
Low hiking shoes are worth considering if you don't carry tons of weight and are looking for a lighter-weight shoe for hiking. I think these could extend to light backpacking (30 pounds or less. I might want an ankle-height shoe with a more robust shank if i were carrying a larger backpack), and it's great that they offer a mid and a waterproof/breathable version.
This particular low hiker has a lot to recommend it, a nice combination of comfort, cushioning, traction and durability. It's a shoe that won't last forever, but should give you plenty of happy miles.
Excellent shoe. Lighter than most boots, yet sturdier…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $75
Excellent shoe. Lighter than most boots, yet sturdier than trail runners. Great underfoot protection, arch support and heel cup. I've never had a blister from these.
- weight-protection ratio
- Laces are too long and prone to untie
Excellent shoe. I've had them for over a year, taken them backpacking and up multiple 14ers - heavy loads and long days. Lighter than boots, yet sturdier than trail runners. Great underfoot protection, arch support and heel cup. I've never had a blister from these. No break in required. Not the waterproof model, but this helps keep my feet cooler. Super grippy, very burly treads. loops at top of heel and tongue make it easier to slip on. Fairly durable - some wear to the nubuck leather and exposed foam, but nothing of substance, purely cosmetic.
About me: 55ish year old, 5' 10” tall, overweight…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $110 (full price)
55ish year old, 5' 10” tall, overweight (190lb and all in the beer belly), upper-intermediately experienced backpacker. Been backpacking all my life since before Boy Scouts in the early 70s to present.
Due to injuries and some physical issues (read: fat, old and lazy, mostly) I don't get out as much as I used to or would like to and have been transitioning from “Old Style” backpacking where I'd carry between 40 and 60 pounds (sometimes more) for a 3-7 day trip to “Lightweight” backpacking. My 4day, summertime pack which includes a complete tent (not just a tarp) and food, is now down to just about 20lb and I'm hoping to get that down by another 3-4 pounds in the next year or two.
Most of my backpacking is done between late-April and late-October in the high Sierras in central to northern California between Yosemite and Tahoe.
After over 10 years and more than 1100 miles, my old HiTec Magnum Tundra boots finally let me down. I'd been expecting it for a few years, but was in denial that the day would ever come.
While backpacking with my son in the high Sierras late last summer, trying to get out of the open on a 45 degree granite face during a thunderstorm (yikes), I lost traction with one of my old worn out boots and started sliding down to the edge and my doom. I lucked out and was able to jam one of my trekking poles into a horizontal seam that arrested my slide just a few feet from what would have ended up a 40+ foot fall onto a pile of large and jagged boulders. Almost pulled my shoulder out of its socket, but at least I stopped and my son and I were able to continue our trip. Remind me to never skimp on trekking poles.
My poor old comfortable boots with the Shoe Goo patches had to go.
After doing some online research I had come to the conclusion that I needed to try out a brand of shoe that I'd never heard of before...Oboz. Reviews I'd read mostly stressed the fit, support, traction and grip, but what really caught my attention were the reviews that seemed to indicate that the Oboz shoes are constructed with a wider toe box... something important to me as my feet are pretty messed up from years of abuse after being badly broken more than once. Ya, I kinda abused my feet as a kid and now I'm paying for it. I have thin heels, but my toes tend to splay out really wide. Ya, they're ugly! In an effort to overcome my funky feet I usually leave the laces pretty loose from the toes to the arch where I tie a second knot to keep the fit loose in the toe box and then tighten them the rest of the way from the arch to the ankle (or, in the case of boots, as far up as they go) to ensure my heels are locked into the heel cup.
So, I've put a few miles walking the dog (road, sidewalk and trail – equal parts of each. Uphill, downhill, flat and even side-hill for a short distance) on a couple of occasions on the new shoes just to ensure there'll be no problem on the trail with them. The first time out I cinched the laces down tight from toe to ankle, which I NEVER do with my hiking shoes and boots, and was amazed at how comfortable the shoes were even after a couple of miles even though they felt a little tight all around at first. No movement in the heel cup, no pinching feeling in the toes and arch and no rubbing anywhere.
The next time, I left the laces a little loose and found the overall feel was more comfortable (read: “less tight”). On the couple of mile walk (same as before) with the dog, there was some minimal sliding inside the shoe, but no hotspots developed. I rarely have hotspots develop with any footwear, though as I'm extremely picky about my socks if I know I'm going to walk/hike with purpose, but it was nice to know that, even loose, I'd have no problems with these shoes.
The next time Belle (the pup) and I went out, I tied the shoes the way I usually do when backpacking (as described above). No movement anywhere, no sliding, no hotspots, room in the toe box to wiggle my toes and they felt great. Definitely the way to go for me.
If I had anything even slightly negative to say about these shoes, it would be that the soles, being thick like a proper hiking boot should be, don't seem quite as wide as other sneaker type shoes I've worn and, for the first couple of times wearing them, gave me the feeling like I was standing on a 2x4 and that I might roll an ankle. Now, that could just be me, but when comparing the soles of the Oboz to my every-day New Balance walkers, there was a noticeable difference in the width of the soles. That being said, I have yet to actually have any issues with rolling my ankles in them, but that may also be due to the fact that I am constantly conscious of the lack of sole width in the Oboz and am being more cautious in them. Something I should be doing any way!
As comfortable and lightweight as these shoes are, I'm really looking forward to getting out for some extended backpacking with them and will update this review as I gain more time on the trail with them.
FINALLY got out on the trail for a quick little overnighter...kind of a shake down of a few different pieces of equipment.
Too much snow in the high-country, so my backpacking buddy of 40+ years and I just headed out for a spot in the lower Mokelumne Wilderness. The trail starts at about 4400' in elevation and gains about 10' (ya, ten feet) over ~3.5 miles. Many stretches of the trail lead up a few hundred feet, then back down, then back up, then back down again, so there's probably about 1500'-1700' of actual rise and fall each way to and from where we made camp. My pack weight started out at 21lb including fishing gear, food for both of us and all the “common camp gear” (water filtration, kitchen kit, food).
We were in camp and completely set up before I even remembered that I was in a shoe and not my usual boots. No hotspots, no stone bruising and not footsore in the least. So far so good.
After setting up our tents and getting our gear stowed (thunderheads were rolling in), we decided to take a little day hike upstream to see what Blue Hole looked like this year. As the crow flies, that would be about 3.5 miles each way. As the trail meanders, it's more like 5-5.5 miles each way. Carrying just our water filters, some snacks and a first aid kit, we were basically just out for a walk. The trail, similar to that on the way into camp, wanders uphill, downhill and all over the place on it's way to Blue Hole and, toward the end, requires some scrambling up and down granite.
I was impressed with the way the Oboz Sawtooth shoes felt and handled the hike. Good traction, good grip and comfortable the whole way. One of the reasons for purchasing these shoes was because of the reviews about the combination of traction AND grip...even when wet. My experience with the wet part of that seemed to differ from most other reviewers as I found them to have no more grip when wet than any other shoes. They slipped readily on fairly smooth granite when wet.
We finished the trip after covering ~17 miles total (~6-7 of that with backpacks on) and I have to say that I'm pretty impressed with these shoes. Yes, I did end up with a slight hotspot on the bottom of one big toe, but in all fairness, I grabbed the wrong socks when I left the house originally and they were kinda thin there. That and the fact that I haven't really gotten any REAL walking in other than the dog walking... All in all, I'd have to say that one small beginning of a hotspot over ~17 miles is pretty darned good!
The issue with the not-so-wide sole didn't seem to be a problem as, without even thinking about being careful about it and despite the varied terrain from duff to swamp to granite faces, no ankle roll.
Comfortable: they hold my heel in place solidly while allowing some wiggle room in the toe box and that without an rubbing.
Good traction: Uphill, downhill, mud, swamps, rock, duff were all handled well.
Wear: With the dog walking miles and this trip, they probably have 60-70 miles on them and are showing virtually no wear on the soles. There are a couple of scuffs on the heels and toes from the granite, but the soles, unbelievably, look almost brand new. The insoles are showing just the slightest amount of wear, but that could just be dirt, too.
Just as slick on rock when wet as any other shoe. I'm not sure that's a con if ALL shoes are like that.
So far, I'm liking these shoes for their comfort and apparent durability.
I've been thru about three different types of various…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $75
I've been thru about three different types of various Oboz hiking shoes, these being the most recent, and likely the last. I keep running into markdowns which propelled me into trying yet another pair.
Unfortunately there is always some defect that leaves me just happy I did get them on "markdown." Every pair seemed to wear exceedingly fast. On one pair the grommets, which were really sewn straps, gave way. All are fairly technical looking but just reek of low cost manufacturing problems.
- Cool and technical looking
- Shoddy materials and poor construction
- Wear quick
Used three different Oboz pairs, finishing with these. All over, different terrain, wet-dry. Everyday use as well.
Used them for hiking in very rough hot terrain of…
Source: Purchased on line after reviewing
Used them for hiking in very rough hot terrain of North West Australia. Initially great, but once they got wet they seemed to shrink to where I could not wear them.
- Initial great fit
- Good traction
- Shrunk in either the heat or after getting wet
Purchased on line after a review of the boots. I used them in the northwest of Australia where the ground gets very hot—65 degrees Celsius. Mainly used hiking on large loose boulders as well as grassed surfaces when paragliding. Great traction!
Were not waterproof at all, but gave very good ventilation and kept my feet cool which suited my environment.
Fitted initially well, looked good and did up well. After 7 months they started to shrink noticeably and were very uncomfortable. Initially very pleased, but did not last. Still look reasonably good but did not live up to expectations
Rock solid gripping sole. Just feel the give in a…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $110
Rock solid gripping sole. Just feel the give in a Merrell sole compared to these and you will never go back. They offer the quick drying Oboz Sawtooth Low and the BDry version with more waterproofing. I opted for the former and am truly a happy hiker.
- Solid tread with great grip
- Stable platform for backpacking
- Quick drying when wet
- Shoelaces tend to come untied easily.
These shoes are an excellent backpacking or trail shoe. They are tremendously supportive from the tank tread like sole up. As an ultralight backpacker I can appreciate a shoe which dries quick. I figured when I got wet my shoes needed to dry quick when the rain stopped. With the BDry version of this shoe you tend to be a bit warmer in the shoe and dryer. However, when you get wet it takes longer to dry them out.
As far as sizing them with thicker socks I would recommend going a size or at least a half larger. I typically wear a 10 and a half. I bumped it to 11.5 and the fit and have wore great for the past few months. Compared to the softer soled Merrell hiking shoes I previously wore, through which you could feel every twig and pebble, these shoes are incredibly comfortable for long distances.
Give them a try. I know I will be buying another pair.
Good shoe. Could of been better. Had them for about…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: ???
Good shoe. Could of been better.
- Break-in time
Had them for about a year. I wanted a shoe that would take place of my heavy boots. Unfortunately, these were not it.
I have a narrow, low volume foot with moderate arch. At first these seemed slimmer than Merrell and Krebs, but after an overnight hike, I noticed a good amount of slipping. Also take forever to break in.
Although they are comfortable and supportive, they are not "The One".
All Sawtooth Low versions
In addition to the 7 men's reviews above, there are 2 reviews for other versions of the Sawtooth Low. Read all reviews »