Oboz Crest Low BDry
$150, 2 lbs. 5 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: men’s US 8-14
Finding one ideal shoe or boot to cover your feet for dayhikes in any conditions, and crossover to light backpacking, poses a real challenge. Finding one that achieves those lofty objectives at a relatively affordable price can feel like winning a lottery. Encouraged by its design and price—and having plenty of experience with other Oboz models—I wore the new Crest Low BDry on outings ranging from dayhikes in humid, hot Costa Rican rainforest to a three-day, 40-mile backpacking trip in May in Utah’s Dark Canyon Wilderness. I found much to recommend them and a couple of minor nitpicks.
They have the support for carrying over 30 pounds—as I did in Dark Canyon—at least for people accustomed to backpacking in low-cut shoes, who don’t need the greater ankle support and protection of midweight, mid-cut boots. That’s because of the compression-molded EVA midsole, plus a polyurethane heel plug that gives the heel more rigidity and support, a partial nylon shank positioned only beneath the mid-foot, and a 1mm plate under the forefoot. The plate provides slightly enhanced stiffness and protection from rocks, and means the shoe doesn’t have quite as soft a flex as many lightweight hiking shoes or trail runners—which is a good thing if those lighter shoes aren’t supportive enough for you. The Crest Low is a bit heavier and feels somewhat beefier than many lightweight low-cuts precisely because there’s more under the hood here to lend them greater support.
We backpacked that 40-mile loop in the Dark Canyon Wilderness in three fairly long days, under a warm sun for many hours of the trip; and by the second day, I felt hot spots just beginning to form on the balls of my feet simply because the medium- to high-volume fit of the Crest Low has a little too much space for my midfoot and toes, allowing my feet to slip slightly when walking at a strong pace on flatter terrain. That might have created blisters if I hadn’t taped the balls of my feet as a preventive measure (one recommendation in my “7 Pro Tips For Avoiding Blisters When Hiking”). With any footwear, a good fit is critical, and these shoes may be best for people with slightly wider-than-average feet.
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The boa-style lacing system, where you pull the shoelace through a locking drawcord and tuck the excess lace into a stretch fabric pocket at the top of the tongue, is simple and fast; but I prefer the greater control of traditional laces, which allow micro-adjusting the tightness differently between the forefoot and upper foot (and may have allowed me to compensate for the slightly loose fit). Plus, one of the pull tabs on my pair of shoes broke off—a minor failure that didn’t prevent me wearing the shoes. The shoes also come with standard laces.
Oboz’s proprietary B-Dry waterproof-breathable membrane kept water out when I stood in shallow creeks to test them, and easily repulsed a light rain while dayhiking a coastal trail on the edge of Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. They also proved moderately breathable: Even under a hot desert sun with temperatures around 70° F in Dark Canyon, and in extremely humid and warm weather in Costa Rica, my feet got only a bit sweaty.
They’re built to withstand more abuse than many lighter low-cuts, with uppers made from a blend of synthetic leather and an abrasion-resistant synthetic textile. The nicely padded, flexible, close-fitting collar didn’t let in much trail debris, even when I hiked miles of sandy trail in Dark Canyon. The outsole features relatively deep, multi-directional lugs that deliver good traction on a variety of loose surfaces—sandy and pebbly trails, mud, and dry dirt. Bonus: Oboz insoles are much higher quality than those found in most hiking shoes and boots, with a shaped heel cup, good arch support, and EVA foam padding in a range of densities to balance cushioning and support.
The Oboz Crest Low BDry offer one of the best values in a low-cut, waterproof-breathable shoe for dayhiking and lightweight backpacking. There’s also the Oboz Crest Mid BDry ($165).
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.
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