Hiking boots have for the most part replaced trail runners in my backcountry gear closet, but I’ll be callously tossing aside some poor once-loved boots to make space for the new Oboz Crest Low Bdry shoes. A mouthful of a name, but a jewel of a hiking shoe. A big, burly, grippy-lugged waterproofed jewel worth every penny of their $150.
At first glance, the Crest Lows seem to be a lightweight trail runner. Take ’em out of the box though and the first thing you notice is they weigh more than you probably expect (my size 12s clock in at about 16 ounces). These shoes are tough. The outsoles are built for thru-hiking with deep, rich lugs, that provide terrific grip on slick rock, even in the rain. The heel, toe, and the midpoint of the foot are protected with hard plastic “mud guards”—a cool idea that prevents mud from clinging to the side of the shoe. Handling the shoe for a few minutes is enough to figure out these things are built for toughness and durability, not necessarily speed.
Oboz shoes ship with their proprietary insole system—for my money, the best insoles in the game. Support for days, wonderful breathability, and toughness. The insoles feel like they’re made to last the lifetime of the shoe. It’s a real bonus to not have to spend extra money on aftermarket insoles. EVA midsoles keep your feet cushioned and a nylon shank adds strength without compromising flexibility too much—though the feel of the Crest Lows are definitely on the rigid side.
According to my GPS, I’ve put close to 200 miles on the Crest Lows so far, and they still look and feel brand new. They handle the nastiest of trails and are a wonderful travel shoe. Light and comfortable enough to be the only shoe you’d bring on an overseas trip. I like the speed lacing the shoes come with, which effectively turns them into slip-ons, but there’s a pair of traditional laces included with each pair if that’s more to your liking.
The waterproofing works great and is plenty breathable, though, I’m not necessarily a believer in waterproofing low-cut shoes. The added heat from the BDry hasn’t been noticable yet, but since water can easily enter a low-cut shoe from the ankle, I think I’d prefer the added breathability without the BDry membrane. Having said that, these shoes are designed as true thru-hikers, and need to perform in a wide variety of elements.
For the hiker who likes the idea of trail runners, but isn’t quite ready to give up on the beefiness of a true boot—these shoes are for you. They’re easily the best I’ve worn in this category.
$150 • BUY
MORE BURLY LOW-CUT HIKERS
The Arc’teryx Norvan ST look like the trail runners people will be wearing in the year 2100. But with their super tough Vibram outsoles, they’ll take whatever your trail dishes out. $170
Technically, the Salewa Mountain Trainer GTX is a waterproof approach shoe, but they’ve got the support to wear all-out on the trail too, even if you are preparing for a climb. $199
I’ve never been a huge fan of their styling, but Keen’s Targhee II shoes are small, comfortable tanks for your feet. $125.