Oboz Contour Hiking Shoes

Oboz
Oboz Men’s Contour

April 12, 2010
by Anderson Bowman

  • Nubuck Leather and High Abrasion Textile Fabric Upper
  • Dynamic Bootie Construction
  • 4 Part Midsole
  • -Dual Densities of EVA
  • -Nylon Midfoot Shank
  • -TPU Arch Shank
  • -Full Forefoot ESS Sheet
  • High Friction, Non-Marking Carbon Rubber Outsole
  • Spanish Peaks Outsole
  • Strobel lasted
  • Anatomically Correct Multi-Density Footbed

All the while I waited patiently for the Oboz Contour to arrive I was wondering about the Dynamic Bootie Construction. From the pictures on the website it was not obvious what they meant about that feature, but once I had the shoes out of the box I knew just exactly what they were talking about.

The Contour does not have what I consider a standard shoe construction that includes an adjustable tongue.  The shoe itself is designed and built as a ‘bootie’ that hugs the foot and is secured in place by the laces.  This is an idea that is rather new to me and I was very curious to see what it was like to put these on my feet.

It was a bit of a stretch to say the least, but I did get my feet into the shoes without much effort. The bootie construction made them feel snug enough to wear without the laces tied, but my lack of luck would cause me to trip over them, so I laced them up and wore them around the house. The Contour arrived in a men’s size 10.5 and they felt just fine on my feet. The toe area of the shoes seemed a bit snug and narrow, but nothing to really gripe about.  The real test will be to see how comfortable the toe area is after a few miles of hiking.
The shoes are very nice looking with their Nubuck leather and their color schemes. Nothing bright or gaudy here, just subdued earth tones with some orangey stuff on the heel area. This is something I think that Oboz has done well.  There is nothing I hate more than bright unnatural colors on any hiking gear, especially boots or shoes.

The soles of the Contours look very healthy as well. I am looking forward to getting them caked with mud and dirt to see how well they hold up to things. My main concern will be how well they shed mud since even in the summer months some of my hiking spots can get wet and swampy.

Walking with the Contour

May 13, 2010
by Anderson Bowman

The past month has seen some rather interesting weather here in Texas. The mornings are cool and damp with the afternoons being dry and hot. This means that the Oboz Contour Hiking Shoes have been out and about in weather that I had not really expected.

I have put about fifteen miles on these shoes in the past month. This has mostly been on hard packed dirt trails in various parks and state forests, but also a couple of these miles were on mushy, soft ground when I was bushwhacking along a local creek one afternoon.

No matter what the terrain has been, the Contours have been a stable, well fitting platform for my feet.  While I am not that convinced that I like the integral bootie construction (it makes them a bit of a bear to slip on), I do know that when bushwhacking along a muddy creek, not having to stop to tie my shoe was a huge bonus and the bootie design held the Contours in place for a quite a while till I could stop and tie my shoe.

The fit of these shoes is pretty good and tight. I wear a Men’s size 10.5 shoe and that is what size the Contours are.  They are comfortable with regular socks, but my feet tend to feel squished inside with any of my heavier hiking socks on.  This seems very apparent in the toe area of the shoes, but this is not a huge problem.  At this point I would probably go with a Men’s size 11 to give my feet some extra room with heavier socks.

The Contours are not supposed to be waterproof to my knowledge and while I have not waded in them, I have not had any moisture issues with these shoes. The morning dew and light rain have gotten the shoes wet enough to darken them, but they have never wetted through to my socks or feet.  On the flip side, they seem to breathe pretty well. I have never felt that my feet were sitting in a sauna during some of the warm afternoons that I have been out and about in the Contours.  I cannot claim that my feet do not sweat in these shoes, but they have been much better on my feet than my normal hiking boots are.

One thing that I will never be while wearing the Contours is a ninja. The soles on these shoes squeak whenever I am walking on a hard surface.  I have tried to find out how/why this is, but I cannot seem to locate where the noise comes from. All I know is that on concrete, hard floors, or rocks, the soles squeak, almost like there was noise maker in them that works whenever I put pressure on the shoes. On softer surfaces, the noise does not seem to be that apparent.

The other thing that I am a bit concerned about is how well the soles shed mud.  Texas is not that muddy or mucky during the summer, but there are times when I have to tip toe near creeks and lakes and I can pick up a good collection of mud in the soles of my shoes. So far the mud seems to stick a little more than I would prefer to the soles of the Contours, but I am hoping that further wear and testing will put this issue to rest in favor of the Contours.
Overall, I am happy with how these shoes have performed. I really am a boot person when it comes to hiking, but one thing that I have grown to like about the Oboz Contour Hiking Shoes is that even when I come off the trail (or am on my way there), they are actually stylish enough to wear.  For some reason I am very self conscious when wearing my hiking boots out and about (before or after a hike), but the Contours are perfect for an afternoon at the hardware store or a morning hike through the woods.

End of the Line

by Anderson Bowman
June 12, 2010


I started off this experiment as a die hard boot person. As long as I have been hiking and camping, boots have been the only way to do. There were the stories of twisted, blown, and shattered ankles that were only preventable with the proper pair of boots.  I have done everything from wading to boulder hopping in boots and I did not really think there was an alternative.

When the Oboz Contour Shoes arrived I was more than skeptical. I had turned to trail running shoes when I ran, but to give up my boots, even for three months, seemed like a blasphemous act.

Now it is three months later and I may not be complete convert to hiking in shoes, but I will say that the Oboz Contour hiking shoes supplied me with an eye opening experience.  The most important was probably the fact that I never turned an ankle.  I put close to 20 miles on these shoes in the last month while fishing, hiking, walking, and not to mention the few times I wore them to work or out and about on the town.  During all of this wear there was never a moment that I feared for my ankles or wished that I had boots on instead.

As the Texas summer heated up and got wetter (a hard combination of conditions for any footwear), the Oboz Contour seemed to come into their prime.  My feet did not ever seem to get super hot and that was even with temperatures climbing into the mid 90’s F on several occasions.  While I did not do any stream wading, I did slog through some mud and standing water and I was very pleased that while the shoes got wet, my feet did not.  I know these shoes are not listed as waterproof, but they did a good job of keeping me dry even when the ground was far from it.

Despite being worn very hot and wet conditions the Contours dried well after getting wet and the inside of the shoe never developed any must wet or nasty foot related odors.  All my hiking boots or running shoes smell a bit after use or even after continuous use, but the Contours never seemed to pick up any odors that stuck with them.

The more I wore these shoes the more I came to appreciate them. Even after long hikes they were comfortable and I was never in a rush to get them off, like I often am in boots.  The soles seem to be very stiff, which I think makes these shoes a bit more ‘boot-like’ in their feel.  I never felt as if I was wearing a glorified athletic shoe, it was always like having a good boot on my feet.

Since I cannot lace a pair of shoe strings in a manner that keeps them tied for more than ten minutes at a time, I really enjoyed the ‘bootie’ construction of the Contours.  There were plenty of occasions where the laces came undone and I was able to simply keep on moving without the shoes slipping around on my feet. Another aspect of this bootie idea that I really like is the fact that once I slip the Contours on, I do not feel the need to cinch the laces down super tight to keep the shoes in place.

One thing that has worried me since the first day was the last lacing eye on the shoe (near the top) was plastic.  Now the other eyelets are fabric/webbing of some sort, but this one is in a high stress area and made of a substance that worries me, especially after being exposed to sunlight for so many days.  The good news is that I did not have to put as much pressure on this eyelet to lace the shoes as I had first feared because the integral bootie construction kept the shoes in place without too much high pressure “lace down” being required.  This also meant that the wear and tear on this piece of plastic was far less than I expected and despite my fears it has held up just fine for the last three months.

The Contours are no where near as clean as when they first arrived, but these shoes are still attractive enough to wear around town if I feel like it.  Despite being done with my three month test, I am going to continue to use the Contour during all my summer hiking. They are just too comfortable and easy to wear to toss aside and go straight back to boots.

The only real complaint that I have about the Contours is the squeaking. I truly hoped that after a month or so of wearing them that the strange squeaking sound (almost as if there was squeak toy in the soles) would go away.  This noise only seemed to manifest itself when I was walking on hard surfaces (tile floors, concrete, rocks, hard dirt, etc…), but it never went away.  My wife reached a point where she forbade me to wear the Contours in the house when I was getting ready to go hiking or fishing.  I was reduced to getting my gear ready; moving everything outside, and putting the Contours on outside before I left.  The squeaking woke her up and she told me that it was her or the shoes, so something had to give when I was trying to sneak out before sunrise. Lucky for me it was just as easy to put these shoes on outside as it was inside.

Now the terrain here in Texas tends to be flat and fairly free of obstacles, which makes me feel much better about wearing these shoes on the hiking trails.  The only question I will have left to ask is if I will wear them on the tougher terrain in New Mexico or California later in the summer.  Part of me already knows that the answer is going to be yes unless I wear the Contours out before I get there.

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