I’m trying to be a minimalist. To KonMari my gear closet. I’m taking a hard look at my hard shells. I’m unpacking backpacks. And I’m treading lighter with my boots.

For the latter, I’ve asked the tough question: do I really need dedicated day-hikers and dedicated backpackers? Used to be I tromped the wilderness with a hefty pair of high-tops and scooted the local walkabouts with some ultralightweight kicks. This year, I donated my Frankenboots and pared down to one pair.

For all trails to come—I chose the Oboz Sawtooth II Mid Waterproof.

Comfort is King

I still hear people asking how long it takes to “break in” a pair of hiking boots. Unless you’re buying mountaineering boots or going some funky retro-way with a pair of two-kilo leather clunkers, you shouldn’t need to break-in modern boots at all. If they don’t feel right in the store, shelve ‘em. (I once “broke-in” a pair of hikers by taking them out-of-the-box and up 2,100 vertical metres.)

My Oboz Sawtooth II Mid Waterproof fit right, right away. Oboz boasts their comfort—as do most shoe-makers—but I’ve found some technical chops here to back it up.

For starters, Oboz’s key differentiators are narrow heel cups and wide toeboxes. This means your heel won’t slip, reducing chances of blisters; yet the roomy toebox means your tootsie can spread and move and won’t pinch after a long day.

ObozDavid Webb

Plus, the insole features three densities of EVA (a tough, crack-free copolymer common in footwear). Low-density pods absorb impact on the forefoot and heel. Medium density end-to-end keeps a happy middle-ground of support from toe-to-heel. And the high-density arch holds its shape—never letting you get flat-footed.

Always Go Waterproof

True—one deep puddle or sloppy-footed canoe exit and your waterproof boots will swamp, but I only wear hikers with a waterproof bootie in them. Simply put, the places we hike are wet. Muddy trails. Creek crossings. Without waterproofing, even morning dew on meadow grass can seep onto your socks.

ObozDavid Webb

The Oboz Sawtooth II Mid Waterproof protect with their proprietary BDry system. Essentially, this entails an integrated taped-seam polyurethane bootie that stops water from seeping in, while allowing sweat to escape. They combine the bootie with an outer DWR (durable water repellent) that beads moisture on contact. The lining of the boot wicks sweat, the mesh vents aid in heat-escape and gusseted tongues obstruct low-level-soakers.

True to the Trail

But can this boot be your One Pair? Yes. Here’s why: the mid-height offers enough support to lug a multi-day backpack over variable terrain—think 60 to 80 litres. The dual-density midsole is engineered for long-term comfort and protection on rugged paths. The outsole has mud-shedding lugs—as well as side-lugs—for tackling the gritty and unstable trails. (The outsole even has a topo map of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountain Range etched between the lugs. Cool!)

But with all this toughness, they weigh about one kilogram for the pair, size-dependent. (Mine are size 12 and weigh 1,200 grams—but I’m a Bigfoot.) This reasonable weight means you can tackle your two-hour dog-walking hikes without feeling like M. Piedlourde in a pair of backpacking clodhoppers. (Any Kids in the Hall fans out there?) That, of course, is the main reason we shelve hefty boots on light day-hikes.

In short—an effective all-purpose combination of comfort, waterproofness, support and light-weight means I just traded two old pairs for one new. And that’s a good thing.

Did I mention Oboz plants a tree for every pair sold? Find out more at: obozfootwear.com.

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