Last year we did a monster Shoe Review… now, it’s time to do it again. 5 of our Veteran Writers picked ELEVEN Top Brands and we’re reviewing our top picks; find out which of our choice pairs fits you best.
Obōz was started in 2007 by John Connelly who had over 30 years of experience with some of the largest brands in the industry. He opened up HQ “outside Bozeman,” Montana and named the company for this geographic location. Obōz has grown rapidly since its start and has developed a reputation for designing unique high quality shoes that are ready to hike in right out of the box. Two highlight features of the company; they are one of the only companies that developed their own sole of super-gripping rubber graphite, and they plant a tree for every pair of shoes sold.
The Scapegoat is made for the thru-hiker; comfortable, low cut, tough, and so grippy it feels like they stick to the ground. They are designed to be breathable but withstand extended wear, provide stability but feel easy on the foot, and make you never want to take them off. This is the low cut take on the Mid model and provides a lighter option to the popular Scapegoat series.
The upper is made of performance materials for breathability, protection, and shedding water. The materials are fully synthetic including lightweight breathable mesh with synthetic leather overlays and tasteful orange accents. Surrounding the toes, sides, and heel is an abrasion resistant rubber coating that acts as a mudguard to prevent the mesh from getting clogged up, and the tongue is integrated to keep small pebbles and dirt out. The laces are a solid feeling cord that is fished through an easy to tighten layout, unlike some other hiking shoes, and pull tight with two metal hooks at the top to make the shoes easy to take off. One feature that’s not present on many shoes is the scree collar on the ankle that keeps trail debris out of your shoe; very cool. And the inside liner is a bright orange breathable cushiony mesh.
The midsole and outer sole below is where the magic happens and set Obōz apart from all the other brands. The Scapegoat features the BFit Deluxe insole that is designed to be extremely supportive to stabilize arches, protect areas that strike the ground the hardest, and provide cushion that cradles the foot. This insole lays on top of an EVA, or Ethylene-vinyl acetate midsole. This waterproof material is selected for its “rubber like” properties that allow it to be both soft and flexible, but tough and resistant to cracking in low temperatures. For support, the midsole includes a Nylon shank that provides stability from torsion and protection from sharp terrain without the weight of heavier materials like metal. In addition, there is an EVA Super Skin (ESS) Forefoot Armoring, meaning this shoe can take a beating and leave your foot unscathed. Then, if that were not enough, there is a Lightweight PU heel plug for extra shock absorption.
The outer sole is like an ATV tire. It has grippy, like super grippy, rubber bottom with lugs made for traction and shedding water. The ESS plate in the front prevents overflexing and stone bruising, and the sole is bisected into two independent pieces so the shoe can conform to the trail on uneven terrain while providing maximum contact with the ground. This means that when you step on that rock that rolls, or a wet branch, the lugs will wrap around and grasp the surface to prevent you from slipping
I tested these shoes hopping across ridges and through the dense forests of the Catskill and Appalachian mountain ranges in the northeast US of A. Having had experience with Obōz before, I did not hold back and added on weight and pushing over steep and scraggily terrain on hot, long days.
Obōz is known for comfort and I have yet to find a shoe of theirs that does not deliver. First, expecting the unfortunate problem with most low shoes that permits pebbles and twigs to get in, I immediately discovered the Scree Collar that made this shoe feel like I’m slipping on a glove. The scree collar is a neoprene like lip on the ankle that sits tight against my foot and keeps that trash out. The shoe of course felt like something I had worn in for several weeks once it was on. The mesh lining feels soft and cushiony and the sole is wide and roomy, but wraps up around the sides of my foot when the laces are tightened. It doesn’t feel too heavy and it gives you a decent bit of height and confidence when you stand up.
Regarding performance, I was very surprised. I’ve worn low hikers before and they always feel like gym shoes with a hard sole; not so for the Scapegoat. This shoe actually makes you feel the security of hiking in a boot, but with unrestricted ankles for a full range of motion and light weight. The sole provided incredible traction and I tried some surfaces with weight that scared me, but the shoe didn’t even blink and had me scrambling up and down with confidence all day. These work well on every sort of terrain, crushing over pebbles and twigs, supportive over large sharp stones and roots, and sure on wet, dusty, and bare rock. They of course offered the comfort Obōz is known for, and at the end of the day I never even switched them out for my flip flops, which is what I usually do to let my feet rest on a ride home.
The Scapegoats are fantastic low hiking shoes that can be a serious choice for actual through hiking. Just a note; as with any low shoes, I do not recommend these to novices because you must train your ankles on technical terrain before stepping from a High or Mid shoe to a Low. However, for experienced hikers, you will be very surprised at how well these shoes perform and feel.
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