Oboz Arete Low BDry - Women's Review
Cons: Narrow and short toe box, non-flexible fabric
Our Analysis and Test Results
Comfort in a hiker is crucial. As your mode of transportation, if your shoes are not comfortable, you won't enjoy the trek. The Arete is a hiking shoe that looks like it will fit like a sneaker or trail running shoe. The midsole is quite thick and includes a rock plate, providing superior protection from rocks underfoot. However, the fabric lacks the flex of a sneaker, and only testers with narrow or low-volume feet found these to be adequately comfortable for long hikes.While the fit is very individual, our testers identified some specific issues that will affect comfort in these shoes, especially on longer hikes. The narrow heels felt supportive at first, but our testers experienced heel slipping, and this model lacks a lacing method to get the heels to cinch down, such as a second set of eyeholes at the top of the collar. Additionally, and more importantly, the shoe's forefoot, across the ball of the foot where it flexes when hiking, lacks volume, and our feet felt compressed. This is exacerbated by the lack of flex in the fabric and is especially noticeable on steeper hikes. When we removed the proprietary insole and replaced it with an Ortholite insole, the shoe was much more comfortable for more testers. The heel slipping issue was solved, though the volume remained somewhat low in the forefoot. If you otherwise love these shoes, replacing the insole may be a solid option, especially if you have a higher volume foot.
Oboz is known for making supportive shoes, and the Arete follows this trend. The O Fit Insole (which takes up a lot of space in the shoe, potentially affecting comfort, as mentioned above) provides a considerable amount of arch support. The upper is reinforced with welded TPU overlays that offer protection and additional support. The midsole is constructed of multiple materials, including a "suspension chassis" that makes for a very stable ride. The Arete has enough support for multi-day trips and hikes when you might carry a heavier pack.
Multi-directional lugs and sticky rubber provided impressive traction on various surfaces, including snow and wet trails. While shoes with a broader platform have a higher rubber-to-rock ratio, preferred for off-trail and very technical trails, the Arete performs well on volcanic and forested trails, alike.
The Arete is about the middle of the pack of all of the hiking shoes we have tested in terms of weight. However, the support and traction that it offers are typical of much heavier shoes. We measured them to weigh 1.49 lbs on our scale in US Women's size 7.
Not only did the Arete perform well on the trail in mixed conditions, but it also crushed our bucket soaking test. There were no leaks after ten minutes of dunking, and the pair only absorbed .38 ounces of water.
Hiking shoes will always be limited by their shorter flood height, but the Arete is about average in that department, and these shoes would be a great choice for drizzle and any hike that has shallow puddles or streams.
While the use of synthetic materials may shorten the life of these hiking shoes, throughout our testing, there was no indication of any material weaknesses. The welds are solid, the midsole has full integrity, and the fabric is free of abrasion. We would anticipate the uppers will fail before the soles lose their life.
Should You Buy the Oboz Arete Low BDry?
We like the fresh look of the Oboz Arete Low BDry - Women'sand the overall high quality of construction, level of support, and effective traction. However, the fit is tricky, and we recommend this shoe highly, but only if your foot has the right volume and width. It simply does not have features that allow for various foot shapes. The Arete falls midway on the scale of cost among our hiking shoe choices. Considering the solid construction, support, traction, and waterproofness this shoe features, they are a good value.
What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?
If you love the Oboz brand, their Oboz Sawtooth II Low BDry - Women's performed better in our tests than the Arete and would be our Oboz pick. The Sawtooth offers better comfort, traction, and support. If you have a tighter budget, we think the Merrell Moab 2 WP - Women's is a great shoe most folks will love. This shoe is comfortable, offering good support and excellent traction. It is fairly lightweight and provides much bang for the buck.
— Laurel Hunter
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