If you love the great outdoors as much as I do, it is difficult to justify running on sidewalks and paved roads in town while there are miles and miles of trails waiting to alleviate the boredom and monotony that go along with running on paved surfaces.
While many of us are not lucky enough to run on the trails as often as we may desire, Oboz Footwear has created the Lightning trail runner to get the most out of training on the trail. Gear provided by Oboz Footwear for review and testing purposes.
Oboz is a fairly young company, having only opened their doors in 2007, but that hasn’t stopped their Lightning shoe from being awarded Trail Runner Magazine’s Editor’s Choice for “Best True Trail.”
Manufacturer Specifications (from website)
Upper: Synthetic leather and fabrics
- Trail Dynamics Balancing System
- Two Part Molding Process with Dual Density EVA
- Full Forefoot & Heel EVA SuperSkin Plate
- Nylon Shank
Outsole: Bridger model
Insoles: BFit Deluxe and BFit Minimal footbeds
I was excited to receive the Oboz Lighting trail runners and to see how they would perform on the trail. A quick description on the Oboz website about the Lightning shoe described the shoe as “light weight.” I realize that there are many interpretations of “lightweight” out there, but 12.7 oz is not what I consider as a lightweight shoe. A quick search of a variety of makes and models of trail running shoes out there, shows that the Lightning shoe is at the upper spectrum of shoe weights. So if you are looking for the minimalist “lightweight” trail running shoe, the Lightning may not be the first place to look. That being said, your feet and shoes take a good beating when trail running. The Oboz Lightning offers a good balance of protection and comfort for the trail.
The Lighting utilizes a heavy dose of double-layer synthetic mesh and also employs synthetic leather throughout the construction of the shoe’s upper. The mesh allows for breathability and moisture wicking while the synthetic leather provides rigidity and protection for the toe-box and the forefoot.
The Lighting shoes utilize an asymmetrical lacing system, which Oboz claims allows a much better fit and flex on the forefoot and is more comfortable overall. An interesting feature that the Lightning shoe employs is the use of a rubber film (see photo below) which connects the base of the outsole to the base of each of the loops in the lacing system on both the medial and lateral sides of the shoe. This allows for a more secure fit of the shoe on the foot as the shoe is tightened and the laces are tied.
The tongue of the shoe does not protrude very high above the laces, in fact only about a quarter of an inch protrudes when fully laced. The tongue is also continuous with the upper of the shoe, which is a nice feature on the trail as it allows less grit and debris into the shoe (see below photo).
My first impressions with the outsole of the Lightning was that it was a little less aggressive than I have seen on other trail running shoes . The Bridger outsole style, supposedly named after the Bridger Mountain Range in Montana, was designed as a shallow outsole in order to increase the surface area of the shoe. The multi-directional lug pattern of the outsole was developed to create optimal grip and traction on whatever surface you face. Interesting note: if you look closely enough at the outsole rubber, you can see a topographical map of what I assume is the area around Bozeman, Montana.
The Lightning comes with two different insole inserts for the trail runner to use. The BFit Minimum is just what the name says: minimal. Nothing more than soft EVA foam for cushion, the lighter BFit Minimum sole is ideal for those with wider feet and who do not desire any additional arch support. The BFit Minimum also has small holes in the heel and forefoot to provide extra ventilation for the foot. This will be the insole that I will be using to review the shoe as I have very flat, wide feet and do not require any type of arch support.
The BFit Deluxe is a new insole provided by Oboz. It offers a pronounced arch which is kept firm and durable with exra EVA resin to maintain shape throughout the life of the shoe. This is the sole for those who need the added arch support in their shoes. The BFit Deluxe also features soft EVA under the heel and forefoot for extra cushion (see photo below). The BFit Deluxe also features small ventilation holes in the forefoot for extra ventilation.
The Oboz Lightning appears to be an able shoe with a lot of potential. I am excited to hit the trails and get some runs in so that I can update you on just how the Oboz Lighting performs. I also want to highlight something that I believe is important when you consider buying any kind of outdoor gear. Oboz goes great lengths to be environmentally responsible. I know that this is just as important to many of you who are looking to buy outdoor products. Visit Oboz’ website to see their environmental ethics. Please check back in about a month for my first update on the Lightning shoes.
The Oboz Lightning trail running shoes have gotten a good bit of use over the past month and I have been happy with how they have performed so far.
Comfort: My feet are very wide and very flat. This often causes problems for me with virtually any shoe out there on the market. I usually have to “break in” a pair of shoes for a few weeks before the pain is tolerable enough to wear. Most of the pain can be attributed to a narrow width or arch support that is too high. So far, I haven’t experienced any pain with the Lightning trail runners. I have been wearing the BFit Minimum insoles which are the lighter of the two insoles that come with the shoes and also does not have any arch molded into them. The padding and seams inside of the shoe have been comfortable and haven’t caused any issues with blistering or skin irritations. I have also been able to comfortably wear thin cotton athletic socks as well as thick wool socks with the shoes.
I have worn the shoes for everyday use and they have proved to be very comfortb
Breathability: Heavy implementation of mesh throughout the shoe and ventilation holes in the insoles makes the Oboz Lightning very breathable. I have worn the shoes in the gym and on the trail and so far my feet have not become overheated despite the high activity and heat during my runs and time in the gym.
On the trail: I have used the Lightning trail runners on a variety of surfaces. One recent run took place on both gravel and asphalt. I had good control on both surfaces. The dual density EVA construction allowed for comfort on each of the surfaces. The high-density EVA provided protection from the the sharp gravel, most of it about the size of golf balls, from bruising the soles of your feet. The low-density EVA provided adequate cushioning on the hard surface of the asphalt. The terrain that I experienced on my trail runs was very diverse. Portions of the trail that I encountered consisted of sand, hard packed clay, stumps and rocks. The multi-directional lugs on the outsole of the trail runners handled each of the different types of terrain with ease. All of the trail runs that I have completed so far in the Oboz Lightning shoes were in dry conditions. For my next update I will do my best to try some the shoes out in some wet and muddy conditions to see how they perform.
Check back in a month to see my next update on the Oboz Lightning Trail Running Shoes.
Final Update: 1.3.12
I have always enjoyed trying out a new pair of shoes, especially those from new and upcoming companies. The opportunity to try out a pair of Oboz trail runners over the past months has been a blast and I have come to some final conclusions about the “light weight” shoes.
- These shoes are NOT “light weight.” At 12.7 oz a piece (size 9.5), I would have to say that these are on the heavy side of the weight spectrum. In a world where lightweight, ultralight, and all the adjectives in between are used superfluously, I believe that the label on Lightnings is misleading. However, here is why that does not matter to me…
- My feet feel safe in these shoes. Let me try to explain this by telling you what often makes my feet feel”unsafe.” Many lightweight shoes out there use materials which leave my feet moving around far too much inside the shoe. This hasn’t been the case with the Oboz Lightnings. The upper is rigid enough to keep my foot in place on the footbed, but soft enough to still feel like a pair of running shoes. The upper material has stood up well over the past months and it’s durability also contributes to making my feet feel safe. The toe box is rigid enough to take the blows of roots and rocks on the trail but doesn’t make your toes feel constricted as if you were wearing steel-toed boots.
- These can be your everyday go-to shoes.Don’t try to wear them to a casual dinner, your wife wont approve (tried it and failed). However, I’ll throw these shoes on to head to the gym, go for a day hike, take a trail run, or just use them for my everyday activities. I like to leave the laces tied lose and just slip them on and off. The heel loop is something that I didn’t think I would use, however, since I leave my shoes tied loosely, it comes in handy to pull them on (I realize that this can ruin the heel of the shoe, but I’m sure some of y’all out there do the same thing)
- They are durable. I have worn these at the gym, to work, on trail runs, on day hikes, to run errands. I’d say I wear them at least 3 days a week and as you can see from the photos below, the outsole may show some minimal wear, and some threads have frayed, but they are still in great shape.
- My wide, flat feet love them. I have to qualify this by the fact that I mostly wore the shoes with the BFit Minimalist insole. While my flat feet perhaps needed the support of the BFit Deluxe sole, it made the shoe narrower and these wide feet of mine need all the width they can get. Be warned, they are not as cushioned compared to the comfort sole, however the trade off it worth it for me. So, rest assured, if you have wide feet, these shoes can work for you.