IR - Oboz Hardscrabble shoes - Ray Estrella
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Oboz Footwear Hardscrabble Shoes
Test Series by Raymond Estrella
INITIAL REPORT - May 01, 2010
NAME: Raymond Estrella
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 210 lb (95.30 kg)
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, plus many western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly UL, I try to be as near to it as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with brother-in-law Dave.
Manufacturer: Oboz Footwear
Web site: www.obozfootwear.com
Product: Hardscrabble shoes
Year manufactured: 2010
MSRP: US $110.00
Size: Men's 11 (US)
Sizes available: Men's 8 to 12 in half sizes, 13, 14
Weight listed per shoe: 14.6 oz (414 g)
Actual weight of test shoe: 16.4oz (465 g)
The Oboz Footwear Hardscrabble shoes (hereafter called the Hardscrabbles or the shoes) are rugged trail running shoes meant for rough terrain. While they are aimed at the trail-running crowd I plan to use them as my primary backpacking footwear over the next four months of the test period. This will include multi-day trips and day-hikes, both extreme and normal.
The Hardscrabble's uppers are made of synthetic leather and what they say is "high-abrasion" fabric. This fabric is woven in a mesh pattern, tighter on the top and tongue of the shoes and more open on the sides. The orange stripes visible through the mesh in the picture above are nylon straps that are connected to the lace points. Oboz calls this their "Radial Fit System" There is no waterproof liner in the Hardscrabbles and the mesh areas breathe very well.
The tongue is gusseted to help keep rocks and debris out of the shoes. It does not a slide-control loop on it. The round nylon laces run through 17 nylon loops. At the top of the shoes they go through metal eyes, which have an optional lace position further in to allow the ankle to be cinched in tighter. At the back of the ankle is the strongest and biggest pull loop I have seen yet on any of my shoes and boots. Good job Oboz! I am so tired of tiny loops that I can't fit my big ol' fingers into. I can almost fit two in this one.
The Hardscrabbles are made on a Strobel last. Strobel lasted shoes are constructed with a thin material acting like a sock liner stretched along its perimeter. It is suppose to give a good balance of stability and flexibility.
The soles on this one are the company's Ingition sole package. It has a high-friction outsole with multi-directional lugs. The midsole is dual EVA, with a higher density heel perimeter for stability and lower density elsewhere for cushioning. Above that they have what they call an EVA "SuperSkin Plate" which adds torsional stability and stone bruise protection. It is very cushioned feeling with almost a gel consistency. It can be seen below.
Last but definitely not least, the insoles. I just about always replace my insoles when I get new shoes as the stock insoles are usually very thin offering little in the way of support and control. When I pulled the Hardscrabbles insoles out I got a pleasant surprise. Oboz actually spent some money on them. And a lot of thought it seems.
They are called the BFit Deluxe insole. Here is what Oboz has to say about it.
"The BFit Deluxe insole has a well defined arch that is positioned to support and relax the Transverse Arch. It also has a shaped heel pocket to keep the foot centered properly inside the shoe. The BFit Deluxe is composed of an EVA resin that will maintain shape over time. There are two pockets of softer EVA under the heel and forefoot for cushioning, and perforations that open into channels on the underside of the insole that allow for breathability and air flow."
I have a weird foot. While my foot is not extra wide, my narrow heels and high arch make it seem that way. I have to say that these BFit insoles feel great with my first day of use. (I wore them to the gym where I ran on an elliptical trainer for 3.25 miles [5.25 km], then wore them to work the rest of the day. I am wearing one right now. The other is on the desk as I write about it ) My first impressions are that it is very comfortable. The heel pocket fits well, the arch is great, but the toes may be a bit tight. (I have this problem a lot.) I shall use thin socks with them to help with the fit. The question will be how much swelling I get in the field during long days.
Tomorrow I am going to start testing the Hardscrabbles by taking them on an 18 mi (29 km) day-hike. But as this is the end of my Initial Report you will need to come back in two months to see how they did on it and many more to come. In the meantime I would like to thank Oboz and BackpackGearTest.org for letting put the Hard (hiking) in the Hardscrabble test