The Sawtooth has garnered an enviable reputation Stateside, which seems fully deserved. Though the chunky styling might be divisive, there’s no faulting the protection and support it offers for hiking and backpacking.
Protective and robust
Distinctive styling may be divisive
Heavier and chunkier than many trainer-style mid-cut hikers
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Oboz Sawtooth II Mid: first impressions
The Oboz Sawtooth II Mid is a well-built budget hiking boot, combining a leather upper with fabric sections and an in-house B-Dry waterproof membrane. This certainly keeps the rain out, though it has to be said that the heavy-duty construction impairs breathability a little. They wouldn’t be our first choice for hiking on very hot days. On the other hand, they come in to their own in cooler weather and muddy conditions.
In terms of fit, the brand describes the Sawtooth II as a ‘standard width’, but they are proportionately wider in the forefoot than the heel, which suits a boot intended for general hiking use by allowing the toes to splay. They’ll suit medium volume feet but should also work for you even if you have a slightly higher arch, thanks to that structured midfoot and instep.
That solid feel underfoot is partly thanks to the high-quality insole, which is far less flimsy than that found in even some of the best hiking boots, even some that cost twice this price. In fact, a lot of other brands should take a leaf out of Oboz’s book in this regard.
• RRP: $155 (US) / £135 (UK)
• Weight (per boot): 539g / 19oz
• Materials: Suede and fabric upper with B-DRY waterproof breathable lining, dual-density EVA midsole with nylon shank, OFIT footbed, Sawtooth moulded outsole
• Colors: Antique / Ds & Woodbg (sic)
• Compatibility: Three-season hiking and backpacking adventures including easier hill and mountain walks
Oboz Sawtooth II Mid: on the trails
If you spend a lot of time tackling rough and rocky trails, you’ll likely love the rugged stability of the Oboz Sawtooth II Mid. It’s a favorite among US hikers and backpackers, and we can see why. The extended height of the ankle cuff offers more protection than most mid-cut boots, and though it’s not as nimble as the lightest trainer-hikers, it’s sturdy and comfortable. The durable uppers and beefy outsole work with the cushioned midsole and structured footbed to fully encase the foot in an armored, supportive cocoon.
Underfoot, a tread pattern of the brand’s own devising provides decent traction, and though the side bulges that protrude around the edge of the sole aren’t the most graceful, they proved helpful on sticky mud and awkward scree slopes. Obviously, you don’t get the contact grip of the best approach shoes nor the all-terrain bite of the best mud running shoes, but as an all-round hiker, it performs well. A pronounced rocker angle to the sole also encourages a natural gait and walking rhythm – ideal if you’re putting in long miles.
Their other stand-out feature is how planted and sturdy they feel. The downside, of course, is that you lose a little responsiveness and flexibility compared to a lighter and less structured boot. But if you’ve struggled to find supportive but well-cushioned footwear, the Oboz Sawtooth II Mid is a good choice.
An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.