Review: Oboz Katabatic Mid Waterproof Boots

Hiking and Backpacking Boots
Oboz Katabatic Mid Waterproof
$180, 1 lb. 13 oz./822g (US men’s size 9)
Sizes: US men’s 7-15, women’s 5-12

Designers of backpacking boots—driven by consumer demand—have brought that category through an evolution of sorts to where many popular models look very similar: reasonably lightweight, waterproof-breathable, increasingly flexible and comfortable while maintaining good stability and support, and moderately priced. But as I found while wearing them on a pair of three-day backpacking trips and dayhikes in the Canadian Rockies and a four-day backpacking trip in the Wind River Range, the Oboz Katabatic Mid Waterproof achieve all of those qualities while weighing significantly less than many boots in this category.

I wore these boots on two three-day backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies in early August: the 27.3-mile/44-kilometer Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park and about 23 miles/37 kilometers on the Nigel, Cataract, and Cline Passes Route in the White Goat Wilderness, as well as dayhiking the 13-mile/20.9-kilometer, 3,500-foot/1067-meter Burgess Pass Loop in Yoho National Park and the Cory Pass-Edith Pass loop in Banff National Park, about nine miles/14.5 kilometers with a steep 3,400 feet/1036 meters of uphill and downhill. I also backpacked 41 miles/66 kilometers in four days in the Wind River Range in mid-August in these boots, crossing four passes on the Continental Divide.

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The Oboz Katabatic Mid Waterproof boots.
The Oboz Katabatic Mid Waterproof boots.

At under two pounds/907 grams per pair, they are quite light for a mid-cut, waterproof-breathable boot with this level of performance and have a generous forefoot flex that places them closer on the hiking footwear spectrum to trail runners than traditional, heavier boots. And yet, they gave my feet enough support and cushion for carrying well over 30 pounds/13.6 kilos on my back at the outset of a four-day hike in the Winds. I’d recommend them with 40-pound/18-kilo loads for backpackers accustomed to carrying that much weight.

Credit the midsole’s proprietary, high-rebound EVA and a midfoot-to-forefoot plate that provides additional protection as well as torsional rigidity for hiking on rugged, uneven terrain. The brand’s proprietary O Fit insole, featuring a fully recycled, moisture-wicking top layer, offers better stiffness and cushioning from midfoot to heel than standard, thin insoles that come with most hiking boots.

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The Oboz Katabatic Mid Waterproof boots.
The Oboz Katabatic Mid Waterproof boots.

The medium-volume fit is classic Oboz: comfortably snug from heel to midfoot, to prevent your heel from shifting and rubbing or your foot slipping forward when going downhill, with more space in the toe box than you’ll find in footwear from many other brands. That fit will serve many hikers and backpackers well, especially as feet expand slightly over the course of a day on the trail. The eight-millimeter stack height—the difference between the height of the footbed from toes to heel—is very typical of many hiking shoes.

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The Oboz Katabatic Mid Waterproof boots.
The Oboz Katabatic Mid Waterproof boots.

In the Canadian Rockies and the Winds, the Katabatic Mid Waterproof’s waterproof-breathable B-Dry lining kept my feet dry through torrential rain in thunderstorms, splashing across shallow creeks, slogging through muddy and boggy trails, constantly brushing against dripping-wet trailside vegetation, and standing in shallow streams while filtering drinking water. And their breathability prevented my feet from overheating, although they got a bit damp with sweat—a reasonable expectation with any waterproof footwear. But I probably didn’t hike in them in temperatures warmer than the 60s Fahrenheit/15-20° Celsius.

Abrasion-resistant mesh uppers enhance breathability while TPU overlays on the uppers, welded and stitched to reduce weight, along with a sturdy toe cap and heel counter protect the feet and improve durability.

The outsole’s rubber compound and four- to five-millimeter lugs delivered very good traction on varied surfaces, including trails of packed dirt and steep descents over scree and small stones littering trails in the Canadian Rockies and Winds, as well as off-trail. They also shed mud effectively.

The Oboz Katabatic series comes in four men’s and four women’s models, including, besides the Katabatic Mid Waterproof, a non-waterproof, mid-cut boot and waterproof-breathable and non-waterproof (more breathable) low-cut shoes.

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The Verdict

The Oboz Katabatic Mid Waterproof is a solidly constructed, protective, comfortable, and durable boot with good support, waterproofing, and breathability, at a competitive price—and is lighter than many boots in this category, making it ideal for lightweight and ultralight backpackers and dayhikers.


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See all reviews of lightweight hiking shoes and backpacking boots, my “Expert Tips for Buying the Right Hiking Boots,” and “8 Pro Tips for Preventing Blisters When Hiking,” plus all reviews of hiking gear, backpacking gear, and ultralight backpacking gear at The Big Outside.

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Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned backpacker, you’ll learn new tricks for making all of your trips go better in my “How to Plan a Backpacking Trip—12 Expert Tips,” A Practical Guide to Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking,” and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.” With a paid subscription to The Big Outside, you can read all of those three stories for free; if you don’t have a subscription, you can download the e-guide versions of “How to Plan a Backpacking Trip—12 Expert Tips,” the lightweight and ultralight backpacking guide, and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.”

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 The Big Outside’s Gear Reviews page for categorized menus of all reviews and expert buying tips.

—Michael Lanza


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