The backcountry will sometimes always throw curveballs your way. In these moments you need your gear to handle the unexpected. A good, solid pair of hiking boots is one of the first essentials. Trek Tech’s new backpacking gear reviewer David Frandsen sees if Oboz’s Beartooth waterproof hiking boots live up to their name.
Oboz Beartooth BDry Hiking Boots – Men’s, $199.95, www.obozfootwear.com
The Good: Solid, rugged boot that doesn’t compromise comfort.
The Bad: They’re not light.
The Ugly: Toes get chilly during winter use.
Lighter is not always better when it comes to boots. When you’re going on high-mileage excursions with a heavy pack or you’re tromping through gnarly terrain, you want something that’s going to provide support and protection. With its waterproof leather and high-abrasion textile upper and a polypropylene lasting board in the midsole, Montana footwear company Oboz’s Beartooth hiking boot provides (as the name implies) beastly amounts of protection.
I took the Beartooth hiking boots out for what should have been a simple one-night stay in Klamath National Forest’s Russian Wilderness. We arrived at the trailhead behind schedule and wondered if we would make camp before dark. With no time to lose, my trail partner and I started hiking.
When I first slipped the Beartooths on, I was quickly reminded that I was no longer wearing my comfy multisport hikers. Though not uncomfortable, they felt beefy. I was soon thankful for the stiff support. Within the first ten minutes of leaving the truck, both my hiking partner and I slipped and fell on the frozen trail, reminding us that the conditions were less than ideal. We were in the middle of a cold snap and wished we had some light crampons. It was ankle-twisting terrain, and the Beartooths proved to be a must-have in this varied landscape.
I put the Beartooths up against ice, mud, snow, creek crossings, and even frozen lakes. The tread performed well with the exception of slick ice. At one point, while navigating an icy trail cut into the steep mountainside, I pounded my boots into the frozen snowdrift to break the surface and get traction. The stiff construction and thick sole of the boot were essential and my footholds prevented me from slipping down the steep embankment. A lesser boot would have proved inadequate and possibly bruised my feet.
One downside to this rugged boot is the weight. At 30.7 oz. per boot (size 9) these suckers aren’t light. My only other complaint was tingly toes at temperatures down into the mid 20’s. Temperatures less than this would warrant an insulated boot.
On a backpacking trip, especially in harsh conditions, you need to be able to forget about your footgear. You just need them to perform without thought. These boots did just that. Never once was I concerned about twisting my ankle. Even after hiking several extra miles to get help (because the truck would not start in the cold) I did not experience any blisters or hot spots.
If you are looking for a solidly constructed, waterproof boot that can handle rough, varied terrain, these are well worth a look, just be aware of the added weight and temperature restraint.
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Author: David Frandsen