Oboz Men’s Crest Low BDRY Shoe

The Oboz Crest Low Shoe is a waterproof, low-top hiking shoe. Designed for long miles on the trail, the shoe seems to almost be a hybrid between a hiking boot and trail running shoe. Below is my initial review and thoughts on the Oboz Crest Low hiking shoe.

About Oboz:

It’s important to know about the companies that you buy your gear from. Many of us love the outdoors because of its pristine beauty, and we look for gear manufactured by companies who feel the same way. You can find out a little bit more about Oboz by clicking here, but here are a few highlights that I found compelling about Oboz as a company:

  • Partnership with Trees for the Future: for every pair of shoes sold, a tree is planted.
  • Carbon Offset: all shoe shipments (and more) at Oboz have their carbon footprint offset through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
  • 280 hands: it takes 140 people to make every shoe that comes from Oboz. That’s pretty impressive in the manufacturing world and environment that we live in today.

Manufacturers sPecs:

  • MSRP: $150.00
  • Weight: 15.4 oz / 437 g (per single shoe)

bells and whistles:

  • Thru-Hiker Midsole: four separate layers help protect and keep feet comfortable
  • Mud Guards: located at the heel, toe, and arches.
  • “O Fit” Insole: Oboz’ specialized insole.
  • “B-Dry” Upper: Oboz’ “proprietary waterproofing system” claims to keep your feet dry while still being breathable and allowing sweat to escape.
  • Thru-Hiker Outsole: Described as “grippy enough for tough trails and durable enough to hold up for miles” the rubber bears the imprint of the north and south terminus trails of the Continental Divide Trail in New Mexico.
  • Speed Lacing: special laces with a quick release clasp. Makes it easy to snug up and loosen the laces. Also, you don’t have to worry about your laces coming untied (the shoes do come with traditional shoe laces).

areas of focus for testing:

As I test the shoes out over the next few months, I will be paying special attention to some specific aspects of the Crest Low shoe:

  • Durability: does the shoe hold up to miles on the trail and outdoors?
  • Comfort: how to my feet feel after wearing the shoe?
  • True to its Word: does the shoe live up to all of its claims?
  • Utility: just how well does the shoe perform?

Planned usage:

  • Backpacking
  • Day hikes

initial Impressions:

I am excited to get out and on the trail in these shoes. Perhaps what I am most excited about is how the shoes are supposed to not only be waterproof, but breathable. Spring is here, but down here in the Southeast, summer isn’t far off. I enjoy backpacking in areas that offer vista views from mountain peaks, but loops that also often cross rivers and streams. The Crest Low BDry should be a great shoe for hikes and backpacking trips like these.

Thanks to Oboz and 4AllOutdoors for the chance to test out these shoes!


Update – 5/29/17

I’ve had the Crest Low BDry’s for about a month now. I’ve probably put 50 miles on them with a few hikes, walking around the neighborhood, and just wearing them around the house/yard.

I’ve been trying to break in the shoes slowly, as it usually takes me some time before my shoes give a little and my feet are used to them. I want to highlight two specific hikes in this update. The first gave me a very good opportunity to test out the waterproof qualities of the shoe and the second a good example of how the shoe will perform on a longer through hike.

Hike #1: Soggy Bottom

We had a couple of weather systems that brought steady and substantial rain for almost a week. Cabin fever was in full effect after a week of rain and my first two weeks with our brand new baby girl.

I shot my brother a text and agreed to head up to some family property in northern South Carolina, not 30 minutes from the North Carolina state line.

Donning my rain jacket and rain pants, we slogged on for a couple of hours, following logging roads, game trails, creeks, and bushwhacking. This variety of terrain, having had nearly three inches of rain to fall on it in the past week provided a perfect proving ground for the water proof-ness of the BDry shoes.

Takeaways:

  • Waterproof? Check! I slogged around for a couple of hours and my feet never got wet, not even from sweat.
  • Quick Lace System: I’ve always had an aversion to these kind of laces. Maybe because of the aesthetics? Not anymore! With this lace system, I can “tie” and “untie” the shoes with one hand. This came in very handy when I was trying to get my rain pants off before I got in the car.
  • Low tops: The benefits of low tops in comfort and ankle mobility break down a little with the reduction in cover from the elements (like water/mud/etc). I am not complaining, this is just something to keep in mind.
Hike #2: Psuedo-Thru-Hike

We have a small state park that is only 5 miles outside of city limits that provides great trails and decent climbs in elevation. I figured I would get a good day hike on some trails that are similar to what you might find on a through-hike similar to trail conditions on the Appalachian Trail or in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.

When I hike, I am most happy when I don’t have to worry about my feet. That means two things:

  1. I’m confident my shoes will protect my feet
  2. I’m confident my shoes won’t hurt my feet.

The initial 3 or 4 miles of the hike were mostly uphill. My feet did cramp a little early on in the shoes, but after a mile or so my feet got used to it, and I didn’t have any discomfort. I crossed a couple of streams and was able to test out the water-proof abilities once again. My only comment: don’f forget these are low tops. What you may be able to walk through in your high-top hiking boots is a little deep for these shoes.

It was really the few miles back to the car where I forgot about my feet (remember, that is a good thing!). The entire downhill section consisted of a trail that is also a popular mountain bike trail. In Upstate South Carolina, that means smooth, hard packed red clay. There often isn’t a great deal of traction, especially downhill, but the Crest Low’s kept my feet on firm footing without and slips or falls. I also liked how my ankle remained locked in so my toes didn’t smash into the front of the toe box.

Overall, I really like these shoes. They have kept my feet safe, and comfortable. The real test will be in about a month when I will take them out on a long weekend backpacking trip into the mountains of Western NC. Check back in about a month for my next update.

Kaleb R.


Final Review – 6/27/17

Overlooking Nantahala Wilderness

A 24 mile hike in the Nantahala Wilderness at the headwaters of the Nantahala River in the Blue Ridge Mountains provided the “perfect” final test for the Crest Low BDry shoes. I wouldn’t call the conditions perfect for backpacking, but for testing a pair of waterproof shoes made for through hikes, it couldn’t have been any better.

A late start had us hiking in a downpour for a few hours with a couple thousand feet of elevation gain.  It had been raining on and off the a few days prior thanks to a tropical depression that had moved inland from the Gulf. Because of this, the ground was saturated, and the trail was flowing with water like a small stream.

This provided the first challenge for the shoes. We were hiking by headlamp and it was tough to miss all of the deeper puddles and streams of water. Because this is a low top shoe, I had to be extra careful about the depth of the water I was trudging through. This wasn’t ideal for a night hike by headlamp (although, hiking in by headlamp is never ideal in my book) and I did make a few missteps and had water seep in the top of the shoe.

I left the shoes in the vestibule of the tent the night of that soggy hike and wasn’t surprised to wake up to the same soggy pair I left outside. Not wanting to put a pair of dry socks into wet shoes, I set the shoes high enough above my camp stove burner and let them dry out for a few minutes. After seeing a little bit more than steam billow off the shoes  (think plastic burning) I adjusted the burner and after couple more minutes had shoes that were try enough to attempt a 14 miles hike in.

The shoes were great for about 10-11 miles that day. My feet were relatively dry and comfortable as the trails has drained from the previous night’s downpour. However, a couple of miles from making camp on the second night, I realized that my feet were starting to get very uncomfortable, as if they were starting to blister. And not at my toes or the usual hot spots for blisters, but rather almost the entire soles of my feet. I was happy to make camp and dry my feet off. In the end, I didn’t have blisters, but my feet were so water-logged, the skin just started to wrinkle and was causing irritation. Changing my socks mid-hike would have helped, but I only had one dry pair left for the hike out the next morning. I don’t think I can definitively chalk this discomfort up to the shoes. Keeping your feet dry all day in weather like that is near impossible with any shoes. Without being able to get them completely dry that morning, the dampness was just too much for my feet to handle over 13 miles.

Final Thoughts:

Pros:
  • Traction: I don’t think I slipped once the entire time. The outsole grabs on to whatever it touches and doesn’t let go.
  • Mobility: While some enjoy the ankle support of high top shoes, I enjoy letting my ankle flex and freely move. This shoe allows you to do that.
  • Durability: I haven’t had any issues with the shoes in this sector. No rips, tears, or seams coming apart.
  • Lacing: The speed lacing on these shoes makes them a breeze to get on and off. Perhaps one of my favorite features.
Cons:
  • Low tops: offer less protection from the elements (water specifically) than a traditional high top boot.
  • Aesthetics: This just isn’t the best looking shoe out there.

Conclusion:

One question has been running through my head since I got back from my trip this last weekend: Would I wear the Crest Low BDry’s or my traditional high top leather boots next time I go out?

I’ve thought long and hard about it and I think in the end the added protection of the high top from those deep puddles gives me the peace of mind that my feet are protected in a wider variety of environments. Don’t get me wrong, this really is a great shoe, and one that I will wear many times in the future. But if I see a tropical depression in the forecast for my weekend on the trail, I might go with a different shoe.

-Kaleb R.