Oboz Traverse Low
$125, 2 lbs. (men’s 9)
Sizes: men’s 8-12, 13, 14
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this shoe is as light and nimble as many low-cut hikers; the Traverse Low is like a Hummer that weighs no more than a Prius. Dayhiking in Utah’s Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national parks, I found them as supportive and tough as models several ounces heavier—a significant amount of weight in footwear—and a standout for traction.
A dual-density EVA midsole with a partial nylon shank, as well as a molded rubber heel cup, deliver enough support for hiking with 20 pounds or more on your back (for hikers accustomed to wearing low-cuts while carrying that much weight). The welded synthetic overlays that anchor the metal lace hooks form a cage that wraps around the midfoot, enhancing support, especially lateral stability. Beyond support, the deep outsole lugs excelled for traction on all types of surfaces: hard-frozen ice, slippery wet snow, slick mud, gravel, packed dirt, and when I scrambled off-trail up and down steep slickrock in Capitol Reef. The synthetic leather and tightly woven mesh uppers proved resistant to abuse from coarse sandstone; they also breathe well (in part because they’re not waterproof), but still keep grit out. A side mudguard and toe cap protect your forefoot. Fit is good for medium- to high-volume feet. Bonus: The shoes come with Oboz’ BFit Deluxe footbeds, inserts that compare with good after-market insoles—about a $50 value. Overall, the Traverse Low is an excellent choice for dayhiking on or off-trail and ultralight backpacking. The women’s version is the Oboz Luna, $125.
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NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.