So what exactly makes a boot “tactical?” And perhaps equally important, what is Oboz and how do you pronounce it? These are burning questions born of historically flat achy feet and an inquiring mind. Here at Special Hog Weapons and Tactics™, we’ve introduced you to several sets of boots, but the Oboz brand might be new to you. Until I found myself in need at the Denver REI store, I’d never heard of them. And while Oboz does not market anything as “tactical,” the Yellowstone II serves the tactical hog hunter quite well, along with the tactical hiker, tactical photographer and tactical SHOT Show floor walker, which might just be the ultimate test.
Oboz (pronounced O-boez) is short for “Outside Bozeman,” as in Bozeman, Montana. Bozeman is about 300 miles south of Kalispell, home of Proof Research, maker of super high tech carbon fiber wrapped rifle barrels. There must be something that spurs innovation in those mountain waters. With 18 million acres of National Forest as a proving ground for their boots, Oboz certainly appears to enjoy their Montana based R&D. Do the math, and you’ll quickly conclude we’re reviewing a hiking boot, not our typical tactical boot. And you’d be right.
Tactics are developed and employed to meet specific operational requirements in support of defined outcomes. So in this test and evaluation, the Oboz Yellowstone II boot is every bit as tactical as anything else we’ve tried, and better in some respects. They just lack the label.
Without a doubt, these boots are the most thoroughly tested of anything we’ve had to date. Wearing the Oboz boots, I’ve hunted wild hogs in Texas wheat fields. The boots carried me on multi day backpacking excursions in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. My Oboz boots were the only footwear I wore at SHOT show. I’ve even worn them to church!
So are they comfortable? Yes. All day. They are like a Jeep Wrangler, well suited for all kinds of terrain and good looking too. The shape of the Sawtooth outsole is designed to give your foot a natural rolling motion. While that sounds like so much marketing drivel, it plays well in the real world. Case in point, SHOT Show last month in Las Vegas. Try walking ten miles a day for three days on concrete floors. I was happy to ditch them and put my feet up at the end of the day, but had no complaints in the process.
Let’s take a look at these from the ground up. The Oboz Yellowstone II boots feature the Sawtooth outsole. The outsole side lugs are ample and robust. That paid dividends hiking above Twin Lakes Colorado. Unlike the west Texas flat wheat fields, the terrain varied a lot and was never flat. The loose soil can be slippery on sideways sloping trails, but the oversized lugs held well. Rocky trails were covered comfortably, in part due to the dual density, EVA, nylon shank which protected my feet from the pokes and pressures of sharp rocks while still flexible enough to allow agility.
On top of all that, my foot rests on the Oboz BDry Deluxe insole. I’ve used some high dollar insoles for years, but decided to give the Oboz factory insole a shot. After all, they claim it is based on some serious “biomechanical analysis.” Again, that sounds like some marketing drivel, but they succeeded in keeping a biomechanical smile on my face.
Thankfully, the Oboz Sawtooth uppers are waterproof. I had the opportunity to test that both in the ice cold streams of Colorado and in some nasty red mud holes in west Texas. In both cases, my happy feet stayed dry. However, unlike some of my purely “tactical” boots with slick outers, the Oboz Nubuck leather doesn’t shed that mud easily.
These aren’t snake boots, meaning they are not tall. Mine are six and a half inches tall with a single set of speed lace hooks at the top. Easy on, easy off. There’s just enough padding around the ankles to protect from inadvertent contact with rocks and the height offers a moderate level of ankle support.
In the final analysis, if you need a boot that looks tactical due to uniform requirements or other preference, these are not the boots for you. But if comfortable all terrain footwear is your priority, these $150 Oboz boots are worth a serious look.