The Oboz Sawtooth was our top-rated hiking shoe last year, and the latest Oboz Sawtooth II Low BDry is just as good. With slightly larger vents and a slimmed down heel counter, the shoe is only subtly different. They are comfortable, even with a heavy pack, supportive, waterproof, and durable. The traction is fantastic, even on steep and loose trails. They weigh a bit more than some other shoes in the test, but given how well the shoe performs, we think it is worth carrying a little more weight. The new version of the Sawtooth also seems to be slightly narrower in the toebox and we had no trouble getting a perfect fit. It was an easy choice to be our Editors' Choice Award winner.
Oboz Sawtooth II Low BDry - Women's Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Comfortable, stable, great traction, durable
Cons: Upper absorbs water (but doesn't leak), a little heavy
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Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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 both of the hiking shoes from Hoka One One that we tested — the Sky Arkali and the Tor Summit — are just a little more comfortable than the Sawtooth II, thanks to their super 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, like the Keen Voyageur, showed it 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.
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. Only the Hoka One One Sky Arkali provides a more dialed-in fit, with a high ankle opening and velcro straps that help for subtle adjustments on the fly.
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.
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.
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 middle of the pack in this metric.
Often, lightweight hiking shoes don't work well for longer or multi-day hikes, or when carrying weight in a pack. One of the lightest shoes that we tested, The North Face Safien GTX, weighs about 3 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 also check out the Hoka One One Tor Summit which looks bulky but is surprisingly light and crazy comfortable.
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.
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.
The Oboz Sawtooth II is a fantastic hiking shoe for all kinds of hiking, from day hikes to multi-day adventures, in technical terrain or packed trails. If you are a hiker that likes to mix it up and be prepared for any kind of terrain, this is the shoe for you. If you love hiking in the winter, Oboz also makes our Top Pick for Winter Hiking, the Bridger 7" Waterproof boot.
At $140, 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.
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.
— Laurel Hunter