The Oboz Firebrand II Bdry is a heavy hiking shoe that provides good overall comfort and durability thanks to a robust outsole and a leather upper. We like the fit of the Firebrand II and find that it is useful for those with wider feet, and it has a supportive midsole for long stretches on our feet. It gave an average performance in most of our other rating metrics, with weight and versatility being diminished in comparison to most other hiking shoes. This is a good shoe for those who want comfort, do not mind the weight, and desire a durable and stable shoe for day hiking and light backpacking.Editor's Note: On March 6, 2022, we made an update to this review to include new details about our favorite shoes and award winners.
Oboz Firebrand II Bdry Review
Cons: Clunky, average performance, heavy
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Oboz Firebrand II Bdry
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|Pros||Durable, supportive||Excellent performance, lightweight, great traction, water resistance, support||Extremely comfortable, lightweight, supportive||Great value, waterproof, versatile||Lightweight, breathable, great dry traction, inexpensive|
|Cons||Clunky, average performance, heavy||Cuff can be uncomfortable on ankle for some, Quicklace lacing not everyone's favorite||Not as cushioned as previous Hoka models, some traction issues||Average support, lacks long-term durability||Durability concerns, not good for wet weather|
|Bottom Line||A good basic all-around hiking shoe that will do well on day hikes and light backpacking use||This is a rugged hiking shoe that can do everything from day hikes to tackling long multiday backpacking trips||A blend of top-notch comfort with support in a lightweight package that makes them an excellent choice for long-distance hikers looking to shave weight and increase mobility||This shoe is a great value for the all-around performance as well as waterproofness that it provides||A budget-friendly hiking shoe that is a perfect choice for those hiking in dry climates|
|Rating Categories||Oboz Firebrand II Bdry||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Hoka One One Toa Go...||The North Face Ultr...||Vasque Juxt|
|Water Resistance (5%)|
|Specs||Oboz Firebrand II Bdry||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Hoka One One Toa Go...||The North Face Ultr...||Vasque Juxt|
|Weight of Size 11 Pair||2.46 lbs||1.76 lbs||2.03 lbs||2.04 lbs||1.90 lbs|
|Upper||Nubuck leather/nylon mesh||Synthetic, textile||Synthetic||Performance mesh||Suede leather|
|Width Options||Regular, wide||Regular||Regular||Regular||Regular, wide|
|Waterproof Lining||BDry||Gore-Tex membrane||Gore-Tex membrane||DryVent membrane||None, just gusted tongue|
|Flood Level (inches)||4.5 in||3.25 in||5 in||3.25 in||2.5 in|
|Last Board/Shank||Nylon||ADV-C chassis||EVA||ESS||Torsion stability TSS|
|Outsole||Rubber||Contagrip MA rubber||Vibram MegaGrip||UtrATAC||Vasque OTG|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We tested these shoes in various conditions, including desert hikes, mountain scrambles, and both on and off-trail use. We find that the Firebrand II Bdry is a good, basic hiking shoe that does everything reasonably well but does not excel in any one category other than in support and durability.
The Firebrand II Bdry is a pretty beefy hiking shoe, and it is one of only a few models that we would actually need to break in to make them comfortable in the long term. This is not necessarily a big deal, but they are in a different class than the shoes that more closely resemble a trail runner.
They are reasonably comfortable once broken in a bit, thanks to the OFit insole, which is one of the more quality insoles we tested. Oboz footwear tends to come with superior insoles. On warm hikes, we found the extra leather to be quite warm and affected the shoe's ability to breathe, and we ended up with pretty sweaty feet, something to be aware of if you hike in desert climates during the warmer months.
The Firebrand II Bdry shoes are not light. They weigh a full half-pound per pair more than shoes that offer similar comfort and support and are the second heaviest hiking shoes that we tested. Is this necessarily a bad thing? Not when you consider their longevity, given the heavy-duty outsole and the mostly leather upper, which will resist wear for years given moderate use. But we do not want to put these on for long hikes nearly as much as a lighter pair, as they do not offer extra performance benefits for the weight penalty.
Support is one metric that the Firebrand II really excels in. As mentioned above, the insole is great and gives as much underfoot support as an aftermarket insole does. Below it, we find a chassis built by layer upon layer of robust, supportive material. A nylon shank stiffens the sole, making it more torsionally rigid, a helpful attribute when traversing across a slope or edging on a boulder, as well as a dual-layer EVA foam midsole that helps to deflect a lot of the impacts found on the trail. This support benefits those who don't enjoy the lack of structure found in lighter shoes and who want the shoe to be more protective of the foot.
The sole found on the Firebrand II Bdry is called Sawtooth, and we find that it is effective in light-duty trail hiking, though it did not give much more than average performance in more demanding situations. The rubber compound is relatively hard, and so it kicks well into loose sediment, but the lugs are quite shallow and wide, so there is not much "bite" when dealing with this kind of terrain, despite the large oversized outer lugs. We find ourselves slipping when on rock slabs as the sole does not smear well, so in these more specialized conditions, consider a more capable shoe, though, for most applications, this shoe will do reasonably well.
The Firebrand II is a solid, well-made hiking shoe, but it does not do much beyond hiking. It can double as a supportive work shoe and a daily driver (especially if you live in a wet region where a waterproof lining is helpful). Still, it has a limited capacity as a mountain scrambling shoe, a trail runner or a fastpacking shoe, applications where other models can succeed.
These hiking shoes use a proprietary waterproof/breathable liner called BDry (the Firebrand II is also sold in a non-waterproof version). We put these shoes on and waded through a shallow stream, and thanks to their 4.5-inch flood height, they did not allow any water in. Aided by the leather outer, which should be reconditioned every so often to retain its water repellency, these shoes are good at keeping water out but don't breathe as well given the heavy outer material.
We gave the Oboz Firebrand II good marks for durability, as it has a rugged sole that will hold up to seasons worth of use, as well as a hefty nubuck leather upper in addition to a thin strip of mesh, which will be able to resist wear and tear much more easily than the lighter less durable fabrics usually seen in hiking shoes. We have heard of these shoes lasting upwards of two years of consistent use with care and treatment.
Should You Buy the Oboz Firebrand II Bdry?
The Oboz Firebrand II Bdry is a good hiking shoe for those who want great support, seek long-term durability, and do not mind a little extra weight. They are great day hiking shoes, and given that Oboz will plant a tree for every pair sold, they also contribute to long-term sustainability. These shoes are a reasonable value if you want to buy a hiking shoe that, while not being the best at any one thing, is a good all-around shoe that will last for longer than the average hiking shoe.
What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?
While this shoe is durable, it isn't that impressive overall, with disappointing results in several metrics. The Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex is a standout shoe with great comfort, traction, and support. This shoe brings better water resistance and a lower weight to create a more versatile shoe than the Oboz. If you need a more wallet-friendly option, The North Face Ultra 111 WP is a good choice. While it isn't as impressive as the Salomon, they are better than the Oboz in many important test metrics, including comfort, weight, traction, and versatility.
— Ryan Huetter
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