Oboz has updated last year's Editors' Choice women's hiking shoe with the new Sawtooth II Low BDRY and it is even better than before. The updates are minimal but meaningful, including a redesigned heel counter and fewer (but larger) vents on the sides. Nothing about its comfort, support, and durability has changed and it maintains its status as our favorite hiking shoe.
We happily wore the Sawtooth II on many adventures, and it was an easy pick for our Editors' Choice Award.
Comfort and fit are two of the most important aspects to consider when choosing your next pair of hiking shoes, and the Sawtooth II is just as comfortable as its predecessor. While other shoes have more plush midsoles, Oboz knows fit better than most brands and the Sawtooth II is a close runner up in the comfort category.
The heel is well-cushioned, and so is the forefoot. Why would you care about this? Hiking on flat surfaces, the heel strikes first and takes most of the impact, but when you hike on an incline the forefoot strikes first. If there is ample padding through the length of the shoe you will most likely have happy feet, especially when you are hiking in technical terrain or carrying a pack. Other models that lacked much forefoot padding revealed this in such conditions.
Some testers feel that the new Sawtooth is narrower than the old version, so if you have a narrow foot and couldn't get the old Sawtooth to fit, it might be worth checking out the Sawtooth II and see if it is more to your liking.
Ample cushioning in the whole shoe kept our feet happy on steep inclines, too.
When it comes to support, this shoe lacks many rivals. Arch support, effective lacing system, and lateral support are all there. The Sawtooth II comes with Oboz's "O Fit" insole, which is sturdy and provides excellent arch support. It is much more robust than the majority of the insoles that we saw in this test.
For a "low cut" shoe, the Sawtooth II comes up higher around the ankles than most other hiking shoes, adding to its support. The eyelets for the laces run up high on the upper, so locking down your ankle really works with these shoes. And the cut of the shoe cradles the heel well, so we didn't feel like we had to crank on the laces to keep our heels in place. Even more, the stiff upper materials reinforce the support of the shoe. Few shoes provide a more dialed-in fit.
The O Fit insole provides excellent arch support, one of the best in the test.
The Sawtooth's outsole has enough torsional rigidity to withstand rough terrain, boulder hopping, and scrambling. Among all contenders, these shoes are our top choice for backpacking with a heavier pack. It is a common piece of advice to wear a hiking boot rather than a shoe if your pack weighs more than 25-30 pounds. Boots will provide more ankle stability, but they can also create more pressure points and hot spots. If you've sworn boots off for good, we recommend these shoes as a great alternative. We would also recommend this shoe for someone who mostly hikes, but may do one or two short backpacking trips per year and doesn't want to buy a pair of boots.
When scoring for traction, we consider how well the tread handles going up and down loose scree as well as rock slabs. Volcanic rubble is the ultimate test for lugs, while wet rocks reveal the strengths or weaknesses of the rubber. The Sawtooth II did well on both!
The lugs are chunky, zig-zag shaped, and deep, which is great for shedding mud and smaller rocks. There is ample rubber on the sides of the shoes for added grip in technical situations. We also appreciate the soft, sticky rubber which grips bare rock with ease. On steep, loose trails and exposed rock we felt secure underfoot and scrambled confidently around on rock bands and cave rims.
Mossy rocks are always a challenge, but the Sawtooth II is a traction champ.
The Sawtooth also gets high marks for its downhill traction. A well-defined heel is useful to dig in with your heels when chugging down slopes.
We never had any qualms about going downhill. The Oboz Sawtooth II has sticky rubber, large lugs, and a well-defined heel.
All that sticky rubber that we love comes with a price, which is a heavier hiking shoe. And while there is no question that weight is an important factor when it comes to hiking shoes, we believe that the stability, protection, and solid ride of the Sawtooth II are worth the extra weight. And the new version is, in fact, lighter than the original Sawtooth, bringing it closer to the rest in this metric.
Often, lightweight hiking shoes don't work well for longer or multi-day hikes, or when carrying weight in a pack. The lightest shoes that we tested weigh about 4 ounces less per shoe, but they lack the traction, support, and durability of the Sawtooth II. If light and fast is your style, you might want to look at other options, but for max protection and durability, this shoe beat the rest.
The Sawtooth II absorbed over an ounce of water per shoe in our bucket test.
As with most of the hiking shoes that advertise waterproofness, the Oboz Sawtooth II Low did not leak at all in our testing. It is made with Oboz's BDry waterproof membrane, which keeps the water out while also transporting foot sweat out. We were a little surprised by how much water the Sawtooth II absorbed in our bucket test — over an ounce per shoe! While it would be a rare hike that you are standing around in three-plus inches of water for ten minutes or more, it is possible that a downpour could soak the shoes and you would be carrying around that extra weight. Leather can absorb water, but luckily it can also be treated with a little waterproofing wax for better repellency.
A feature that we appreciate in this shoe is that the upper comes up higher in the front and on the sides for added protection. An extra half-inch of coverage can make a difference when you are crossing mountain streams or navigating puddles. If you love hiking in the winter, Oboz also makes our Top Pick for Winter Hiking, the Bridger 7" Waterproof boot.
We had no durability concerns with this shoe in its previous version and we have no reason to think anything less of the Sawtooth II. Triple stitching on the upper will keep the leather attached to the mesh and the rubber heel counter that functions to maintain the shape of the shoe also provides extra durability. We've surveyed online user reviews and see no complaints about durability there, either.
One thing to note is that sticky rubber soles, like the Sawtooth II has, will wear out faster if you wear them on concrete or asphalt surfaces, so stick to the trails to maximize their life.
Even on steep, loose lava rubble, carrying a 20-pound pack, the Sawtooth II was solid and supportive.
The Sawtooth II is cheaper than a full hiking boot and costs less than many shoes in this review. Considering that it excels in so many conditions, comes with a well-built and supportive insole, and is durable enough to last for years, we think this shoe is a great value. Dig this shoe, but don't need the waterproofing? Oboz also produces a non-waterproof version of this shoe for about 30 bucks less.
Happy to be hiking in the Sawtooth II!
Multiple testers and our scoring metrics agree — the Oboz Sawtooth II Low BDry our overall favorite for all kinds of hiking objectives. They stand out in almost all of our testing metrics, but we especially appreciate their comfort, stability, waterproofness, and sticky rubber. Our feet are always happy at the end of an adventure in the Sawtooth II and we think you will love them, too.