Hiking boots are totally out. Like Air Jordan, Pop Rocks, Hypercolor, sipping soda behind the bleachers, scrunchies – OUT. I’m at the point now where no gear salesman can tell me otherwise. The best thing to do with your old boots is go down to your local framing store, mount them in a glass frame, put a picture of you hiking when you were twelve next to them, and hang them on the wall. That is all they are good for. As for the Oboz Firebrand II shoes? They are the hottest thing since Justin Bieber and Coke Zero.
Among the low rider trail shoes this seems to feel a bit heavier than most. But still lighter than a Keen Targhee. The traction and movement is very similar to a Keen actually but the Oboz feels like you can get around a lot easier. The Keen Targhee in my opinion feels like a clown shoe at the circus – super wide and super ugly.
The leather design for the Firebrand is well done. Treatable with Nikwax and has a good rubber toe for mud. The venting on the shoe could be done better. I constantly had to take off the shoes about every 1.5 miles to air out my feet. I was using a lightweight Lorpen hiking sock so I don’t think it was a sock issue. That is a trade off for a burly weatherproof outer leather though, which I was ok with. At the end of the day, I love taking off my shoes anyway on the trail and relaxing. Especially when I’m backpacking with grapefruits.
Oboz Firebrand Fit
This shoe can best be described as a well done Keen. I know I’m giving Keen a hard time in this article but the truth is, Oboz did it better. The toe box has a little space but not much. To me that is the right amount. The tread on the Firebrand gives it quite a bit of weight which I think could have been trimmed down a tad. The lacing system may be a culprit to the venting problem. You’d think the leather near the laces would have gotten more of the mesh design.
Hiking in the Oboz Firebrand II
Two weeks ago I took these on a 5 day backpacking trip. I had worn them for 4-5 months beforehand and really got them broken in. Now remember, this isn’t 1992 so breaking in a pair of these low rise trail shoes isn’t a 5 month process. When you hike in this style of shoe I like to get my feet use to the shoe to prevent sore and blistered feet. I can’t say my prep-work really paid off. I think these either fit you or they don’t. That may come off negative but honestly it’s a positive. I’d like to now welcome Oboz into the big players VIP shoe box seats.
What shoe brand isn’t like this? Scarpa fits some but not all. Same with Garmont. Same with Salomon. And who knows about Keen. At the end of the hike I asked myself if I would’ve hiked in these shoes again for the trip. The answer is no. Why? Because my Scarpa Epics would have been a lot better. However, they did the job and didn’t completely destroy my feet. Why no? Because I’m a selfish jerk when it comes to hiking. I covet my comfort. I hike with a pillow. I bring a solar shower. But that doesn’t mean the Oboz Firebrand won’t work for you.
Every company is different. It’s actually refreshing that Oboz is starting to move into a fitting niche. One size does not fit all in trail shoes. But these Oboz Firebrand have the design and quality that will rock the trail, in a good way. Give em’ a try.