Hands-on Gear Review
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Cons: Heavy, not breathable.
Best Uses: Backpacking, snowshoeing, kicking hippies.
The Oboz Beartooth is an interesting step away from traditional design. A lot of plastic, a mechanical advantage lacing system, and plenty o' rubber has produced a modern, technical twist to the classic burly boot model.
However, many of the advantages of burly leather boots come from the design, a single, seamless piece of leather. Adding more seams, more nylon, and more leather feels like an attempt to fix something that isn't broken. Classic leather boots are already waterproof (some without artificial waterproofing), durable, and supportive.
We felt that the design of the Oboz didn't offer any significant advantages over classic leather boot design, kept many of the disadvantages, and added a bit more weight.
That said, the Beartooth holds its own. It's as waterproof as a rubber glove, offers great support, and is extremely well built. The nylon/nubuck blend used for the body is very durable, and cleans really easily. (If you're interested in that sort of thing.)
If you want the support and durability that the Beartooth offers but without the plastic trappings and with better ventilation, try the Asolo Power Matic. It's our Editors' Choice and we found it to be overall much more comfortable than the Oboz Beartooth. If you're set on a leather/synthetic hybrid, no other offers quite the same combination of features, most notably burliness, but the La Sportiva Eco or the Salomon Quest might be good options.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Oboz Beartooth offers great support, comparable to the that of the Asolo Power Matic. The Beartooth gets its support from layer upon layer of leather, nylon, and rubber. The Beartooth approach is effective, but feels heavy, clunky, and unreactive as a result. The walls of the boot are really thick, and make getting a snug fit difficult. All of that aside, the Beartooth is one of the most supportive, protective boots that we tested.
The Oboz Beartooth is built like a tank. Impenetrable and impermeable. The main body is made of multiple layers of leather and synthetic fabric, which should give it an exceptionally long life. However, the lace brackets are very flimsy. It only took a few days before they began to flex back and forth, and, while none of them have broken yet, they will probably soon succumb to metal fatigue.
Unlike most of the others tested, the Beartooth does not have Vibram soles. The Beartooth soles are perfectly adequate, but we did not like them as much as the soles on some of the other boots, like the La Sportiva Eco or Salomon Quest.
The Beartooth is exceptionally waterproof. Multiple layers of leather, waterproofing membranes, nylon and rubber absolutely ensure that nothing will get in. Even if an exterior seam were to rupture, It seems likely that this boot would remain waterproof. However, it has all the breathability of a rubber glove. Because of this, the Oboz Beartooth is well suited for snow hiking, but usually unpleasant for any activity south of the Arctic Circle.
One of the advantages of synthetic material is usually a significant decrease in weight, but the folks at Oboz decided to go the other way on this one. The Beartooth actually weighs an ounce more than the Asolo Power Matic, which is impressive, because 3lbs 12oz is pretty heavy. This, particularly on a warm day, is a lot to lift over and over again.
And, unlike the Asolo Power Matic, we had a difficult time finding a comfortable fit. The mechanical advantage lacing system works a little too well. We found that it tends to exert a lot of pressure over its surface, while not doing much to tighten the section of laces below it. This will keep your ankle where it should be, but it becomes uncomfortable pretty quickly.
The tongue is very heavily padded, which makes the laces difficult to tighten, and creates pressure points along the ankle where material gets bunched up.
— Atherton Phleger
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 6, 2014
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