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Oboz Sawtooth Mid Waterproof Review 2018

  • Car Camper
  • Day Hiker
  • Wilderness Backpacker

Oboz Sawtooth Mid Waterproof Overview

Sculpted one layer at a time by the passionate footwear specialists at Oboz, the Sawtooth Mid Waterproof hiking boots have the durability to tackle gnarly terrain, the comfort of a shrewdly molded interior, and a technologically advanced membrane that is both waterproof and breathable. We’re talking Batman’s level of high-tech here.

The Sawtooth Mid excels at light-to-medium hiking whether you’re on trail or bushwhacking into the woods. They’ve got the grip and strength for rocky endeavors, and muddy waters will prove no threat as long as you don’t sink past your ankles. We’re recommending the Oboz Sawtooth Mid Waterproof hiking boots for the adventurous Day Hiker, Car Camper, and Wilderness Backpacker.

Read the full Oboz Sawtooth Mid Waterproof review below.

Oboz Sawtooth Mid Waterproof Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 20.3 oz. (575 g) per shoe Not the lightest boots out there, but not extremely heavy. For the ruggedness they are actually pretty light.
Category Midweight (18-22 oz) We categorize boots in three classes, and the Sawtooth Mids fit right into the Midweight category.
General Fit Standard Oboz boots tend to have a medium-to-wide fit, and a neutral arch.
Upper Nubuck Leather, Nylon Mesh Full-grain leather combined with some nylon mesh is common for hiking boots in this category, as it means they are rugged, will last a long time, and have some breathability.
Waterproof Oboz BDry Excellent waterproofing, but they breathe as well, which is an impressive feat.
Sole Sawtooth Rubber Oboz constructs nearly every aspect of their boots in-house, and that includes the custom Sawtooth rubber sole. Clutch detail includes a topographic map inlay in the sole.
Lace System Traditional, 2 Lace Hooks Standard laces, though Oboz recommends a lace-tying video to get the perfect fit.
Sizes Available 8-14 for Men, 6-11 for Women, with half sizes A decent amount of sizes for both genders.
Manufacturer Warranty 1 Year Limited Warranty Standard warranty for boots.
Retail Price $150 For the quality construction, this is a decently priced hiking boot that will last a long time.

Gear Review of the Oboz Sawtooth Mid Waterproof

Origins: Easing You In

Any good boot needs to be broken in — the Oboz Sawtooth Mid’s in particular use a tough leather, especially the tongue, and a rugged go-anywhere sole. I first received the boots a couple of months before a planned 230-mile Pacific Crest Trail section hike, a continuation of the 100 miles I hiked the previous year.

With my big backpacking journey on the horizon I made sure to wear preparatory miles into the Sawtooth Mids. I went on many day hikes of varying lengths as spring waned and summer bloomed, taking on the muddy hills of the Oregon Coast Range, the volcanic Cascades, and the valleys that lay between. I even wore the Sawtooth Mids on a number of in-town dog walks to get in some extra miles.

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Day hikes are a great way to break in a burly boot.

During these hikes, some of which were as long as 10 or 12 miles, I found the Oboz Sawtooth Mid boots to be quite comfortable. Even as daytime temperatures started to rise with the change of season my feet remained cool and well-ventilated inside the thick leather boot. Being waterproof, I expected the breathability to be minimal, but I was happily surprised at how my feet were never swamped with sweat.

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The Oboz Sawtooth Mid Waterproof boots take some breaking in. Note the mesh breathe holes along the upper.

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

After many weeks of fun hikes I was feeling good about the Oboz Sawtooth Mid boots. The midsole in the heel had a nice spring to it which propelled me forward every step of the way, and as I started my Pacific Crest Trail backpacking journey I was eager to crush some miles.

During the first day on the PCT I was full of excitement as I hiked southbound from Crater Lake. My wife and a friend had joined me for the first 100 miles of the trek, and we were off to a chatty and fast-paced start.

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Got to keep moving when section hiking the PCT.

Until now I never had much of an opportunity to test the waterproofness of the Sawtooth Mids. One of the first water sources we encountered was a shallow pond a short hike off the PCT. With my Smartwater bottle and Sawyer Squeeze water filter I would have been able to collect and drink from the murky puddle just fine, but across the pool was a lovely little trickle from a crystal clear stream that looked much more appealing.

Oboz-Sawtooth-Mid-Waterproof-review-deep-water
Deciding to wade into the river for some sparkling clean drinking water.

Someone had placed a log across the pond to access the stream, but it had been pushed underwater by too many hiker feet and was slick with slime where it did breach the surface. I took a tentative step into the pond, and then another, and then a half dozen more as I made my way across to the stream. I ended up collecting water for all three of us, standing near ankle-deep in the pond while the others waited on dry ground in their trail runners. I felt a bit like a hiker hero in that moment!

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Even when seriously submerged, no water got through.

Digging Deeper

The Oboz Sawtooth Mid Waterpoof hiking boots weigh in at 20.3 ounces per shoe, which falls under our midweight category. They aren’t massive clunkers, but they’re a few ounces heavier than the more lightweight, agile boots out there today. The weight is evidenced in the shoe: layer by layer, Oboz constructed these boots with versatility and strength in mind.

One of those layers is Oboz’s proprietary waterproof, breathable, and aptly named BDry membrane. Somehow, someway, the geniuses at Oboz figured out the boot science required to keep water out and let sweat escape. It shouldn’t be possible, but be it mad science or black magic, it kept my feet dry and sweat-free, so I’m not going to ask too many questions.

The outsole (the bottom exterior of the boot) is somewhat rounded, encouraging a proper heel-to-toe rolling step, and it wraps high around all sides of the boot so that you can maintain a solid grip on rocks or uneven ground. The midsole is comprised of industry-standard EVA foam, and your feet come into direct contact with Oboz’s own O Fit insole, a removable insole equipped with moisture wicking and multi-faceted supportive cushion. This insole is a step above the typical ones found in most hiking boots.

Oboz-Sawtooth-Mid-Waterproof-review-soles
The in-house outsole is burly, has lots of lugs, and includes a map imprint. Can you guess where it is?

The sole system worked wonderfully for me on many day hikes, but, unfortunately, it destroyed my feet by the third day of my Pacific Crest Trail section hike. I hiked 24 miles my first day and felt fine, but by the end of my second day — and 22 more miles — I was starting to have some severe tendonitis issues. On the third day I could not walk in the Sawtooth Mids any longer. Each step became a stinging pain in my ankle which reverberated down the side of my foot.

I tried different lacing techniques. I tried to walk differently. I even used my trekking poles like crutches to relieve some of the weight, but nothing worked. As soon as I switched into a pair of La Sportiva Wildcats, a trail running shoe I had backpacked the PCT with, the pain evaporated and I was able to continue hiking without issue.

There is a reason Backpackers.com does not “recommend” footwear like we do other gear — we review footwear, but are fully aware that no matter how amazing a boot’s construction may be, it simply will not work for some people. The fact that the Sawtooth Mids were fantastic for me during short hikes without much weight, but excruciating with heavy weight and long miles, means that something in the insole’s support, heel-strike, and my load’s pressure (which was 22 pounds) was simply not working.

I feel that if I changed the insoles my issue may have been resolved, but I wanted to test the actual Sawtooth Mids and not a modified version of them. That said, many people use insoles like Superfeet or SOLE to augment a shoe’s not-quite-right support. If you find issues with this shoe (or any shoe) consider an insole that supports your specific arch.

I’ve decided to give the following ratings based on my experience of day hikes and low-mileage backpacking (under 12 miles per day). I do like the Oboz Sawtooth Mids, but I also want you to be aware of the issues I had. If you aren’t planning to go 20 miles a day for multiple days in a row, I feel these Sawtooths can still be a great boot for you. And if you are planning more, test it for a day or two before setting off on hundreds of miles.

Comfort 

It took some lace adjusting to get the right feel. The material around the ankle is rather tough– it rubbed my skin raw during the first few hikes, and I had to leave the lacing loose from then on for comfort. My average-width, average-arch feet were supported well, though, and didn’t rub in any of the wrong ways after a few weeks of wear and adjustments.

Oboz-Sawtooth-Mid-Waterproof-review-on-a-rock
Adjust lacing to get the perfect fit, and make sure the insoles work for you.

Durability 

I am impressed by the quality construction of these boots. The entire shoe feels as if it is one solid piece from sole to eyelet, and every component appears sturdy and reliable. After 100 miles they still look and feel like new.

Oboz-Sawtooth-Mid-Waterproof-review-snow
The Sawtooth Mids held up to everything I threw at them.

Soles 

Quite grippy, slow to wear, and pretty to look at (there is a topo map etched into the sole, can you figure out from where?). I’m a big fan of how the outsole rolls up around the sides of the shoe as this turned out to be quite beneficial on rough terrain.

Uppers 

The uppers are perfectly waterproof and exceptionally breathable. The hardy laces never untangled, which is an often overlooked blessing. At first I had some mild discomfort with the fabric and tongue around my ankle. The tough material had little give, and when laced tightly the tongue prodded my flesh in a painful way, but with the help of this informative boot lacing video recommended by Oboz I found the right lacing technique to fix this issue.

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Detailed shots of the upper. Solid construction with lots of holes for breathability.

Fit

I can’t stress the important of lacing enough. As long as you get the shoe size right, the way you lace can have a dramatic impact on your opinion of a shoe, especially a boot. I found there to be a little more room in the heel than I would prefer, but correct lacing mostly fixed the issue, and all around the boot fit my feet well.

I have pretty standard-width feet, and a normal arch.

Grievances

The Sawtooth Mids couldn’t handle the high-mileage days I put them through. Well, more like my feet couldn’t handle the miles because of the Sawtooth Mids. The boots survived just fine, my feet, not so much.

I’ve put hundreds of miles at a go into heavier, less-forgiving boots that never caused me any similar tendonitis issues. This backpacking experience with the Sawtooth Mids was a letdown, and I want to stress how important it is to test boots and make sure the construction is right for you.

Final Word

Strap on a pair of Oboz Sawtooth Mid Waterproof hiking boots and hike through anything in your path with confidence. Cruise over rocks, splash through streams, and but make sure they’re the shoe for you before backpacking deep into the wild.

Where to Buy Oboz Sawtooth Mid Waterproof

We tested the men’s Oboz Sawtooth Mid Waterproof hiking boots. There is a women’s version, which is the same material construction with a different fit.

The Sawtooth line is also offered in a Low, which is very similar to the Mid without the ankle support. The Low is offered for Men and Women, with and without waterproofing. If you don’t need the ankle support of the Mid, we recommend the Low, as it’s a solid hiking shoe.

Compare Oboz Sawtooth Mid Waterproof prices below.

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arthur mcmahon outdoor gear reviewer

Arthur McMahon

Arthur loves to walk. It's as simple as that. Whether it be in the mountains, on the beach, or along the city streets -- he believes walking is the best way to experience the world. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was his first backpacking foray, and he hasn't stopped since. He and his wife chronicled their journey in their book Adventure and the Pacific Crest Trail. They now regularly travel into the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest seeking new trails to hike. Follow his adventures on Instagram. Arthur also hosts the Better Hiker podcast & blog where he discusses trail wisdom, philosophy, and historic adventures.

Review Policy: We do not accept payments or gifts from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples which we return, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review. Affiliate Policy: We support the hours that go into our reviews and testing through affiliate commissions on purchases made through links in this article. These don't effect the outcome of our reviews or selection of gear, as per our Review Policy.

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