The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Waterproof Review

The most comfortable winter boot we tested, and it has burly traction, making it perfect for winter backcountry adventures.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $185 List | $138.69 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, great traction, waterproof, warm, not bad looking
Cons:  Short in the back
Manufacturer:   OBoz
By Laurel Hunter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 5, 2018
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81
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 12
  • Warmth - 20% 9
  • Weather Protection - 20% 7
  • Comfort & Fit - 20% 10
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7
  • Traction - 15% 8
  • Style - 10% 6

The Skinny

If you are serious about hiking in the winter or want your feet to be warm and dry, the Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Waterproof is a great option. It is the most comfortable winter boot we tested. Thinsulate lining keeps the boot cozy, and wool pile lines the cuff, hugging your ankles with softness and warmth. The molded footbeds are supportive while still leaving plenty of room for your toes to move around. The boot is waterproof. Its only limitation is a relatively short shaft, which might leave you wanting in deep snow drifts, though it is gaiter compatible. On steep terrain, glaciers, and fresh snow, this boot has trusty and dependable traction. Its Winterized Rubber and deep lugs bite into snow and grab rocks.

Only the Columbia Bugaboot IV performed better in our traction test, though neither boot let us slip in the field. Overall, this winter hiker received high scores in nearly every category and was an easy Editor's Choice as the Best Winter Hiking Boot.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

The Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Waterproof boot is legit. We wore these winter hiking boots to the top of snow-covered volcanos and tested them for traction, warmth, and comfort. With a form-fitting shoe bed, cozy insulation, and excellent traction, we wore them to the summit and back, across glaciers and fresh snow, and would happily wear them all winter long.

Performance Comparison


The Oboz Bridger winter hiking boot is a warm and comfortable hiking boot  our new Editor's Choice!
The Oboz Bridger winter hiking boot is a warm and comfortable hiking boot, our new Editor's Choice!

Warmth


With 200-grams of Thinsulate insulation, this winter hiker provides excellent warmth for your winter backcountry adventures. The Bridger boot was a top performer in our ice bath test, losing only 14.7 degrees over the course of 20 minutes, making us believers in the B-Dry and Thinsulate system. Indeed, it kept our toes super toasty during cold winter hikes.


We found that this 200 grams of Thinsulate feel warmer than 200 grams of many other types of insulation. Consequently, this boot provides extra warmth with less bulk and kept us warm into colder temps. The lacing system locks in heat while the wool-topped collar adds coziness. The Bridger is fitted with a removable thermal insole that ensures your foot is warm underneath and the rubber sole is thick and insulating from frozen ground.

Thinsulate lining and wool pile on the top make for toasty toes.
Thinsulate lining and wool pile on the top make for toasty toes.

The wool pile topping on the cuff adds a little flair and provides a barrier against cold air. The lining is cozy and soft on our ankles and provides support for all-day adventures.

For the very warmest boot for winter chores or standing around, check out the Sorel Caribou, a winter classic that envelopes feet in insulation, rubber, and waterproof leather to keep you warm all day long.

You don't necessarily need the thickest, warmest sock for winter hiking. Having room for air to circulate in the boot will actually keep your feet warmer. We prefer a thinner merino wool sock and a snug, but not tight, fitting boot.

While we found the Oboz to be 100% waterproof  the relatively short back means you aren't protected in the deepest puddles.
While we found the Oboz to be 100% waterproof, the relatively short back means you aren't protected in the deepest puddles.

Weather Protection


During our waterproof test, we wore every boot in four inches of water in a cold alpine lake for 10 minutes. The Bridger, with its nubuck weather upper proved to be 100% waterproof. In the depth test, it only let in water when we reached the height of the cuff, in six inches of water. It was also perfectly waterproof when hiking in sleet and wet snow for hours. Just as importantly, these boots breathe well. When we were working hard uphill, our feet didn't get soaked with sweat.


The suede is treated with DWR to help it repel water, and Oboz recommends treating the outside of the boot annually. While that helps water bead up at the service, there is also a waterproof and breathable membrane sandwiched into the upper that truly keeps water out. This boot has you covered!

The Oboz is the shortest of the winter hiking boots we tested. While it lives up to it's 7" name at the front of the cuff, the back is a full inch shorter. This could be a problem for deep drifts, but snow pants or a gaiter can provide additional protection. If you are looking for a taller hiking-style winter boot, there is a 9-inch version of the Bridger Insulated Waterproof available (which we did not test). The Keen Durand Polar is a good option at 8 inches tall.

You can see the water-shedding nubuck leather at work on the most comfortable boot we tested.
You can see the water-shedding nubuck leather at work on the most comfortable boot we tested.

Comfort & Fit


Of all the winter hiking boots we tested, the Bridger is the most comfortable. It has an engineered insole that keeps our feet in place while giving us enough room to wiggle toes in thicker socks. We never experienced pinching, hot spots, or cold toes, not even on the first hike! Women often have narrow heels, and this boot hugged ours comfortably with zero slip even on the steepest slopes. The insole provides arch support and is intended to keep the foot in a neutral position. We all agreed that the heel felt slightly lifted at first and then quickly forgot about it.


Oboz says the heel is shaped to a B-width while the toe box is a C-width, allowing for the extra volume in the toe box. Because hiking boot laces are so adept at adjusting for different foot shapes and sizes, these boots worked for testers with narrow to medium width feet.

For those that don't like arch support, the Columbia Bugaboot IV also offers a roomy toe box, with a less sculpted insole. If you have very narrow feet, take a look at the Keen Durand Polar, which offers the snuggest fit of the winter hiking boots we tested.

Overall, we are big fans of the Bridger's comfort and fit, and it led the test in this metric!

With two lace hooks above the eyelets  it takes a little work to get the boot on or off  but it makes for a precision fit.
With two lace hooks above the eyelets, it takes a little work to get the boot on or off, but it makes for a precision fit.

Ease of Use


Any hiking boot with a dialed-in fit doesn't let you just kick it off when you get back to the house. They have to be untied, you may have to unhook the top two lace hooks, and you might even need to loosen the laces. That said, the Oboz Bridger, once untied, opens up generously and is easy enough to slip on or off.


As for getting the right fit, the lower-bulk lining means that getting the boot tied comfortably for a long hike is a piece of cake. But, the Columbia Bugaboot Plus lacing system is our favorite of the winter hiking boots. The Keen Durand Polar, with its bulky tongue and three lace hooks per side, was the most challenging.

We got lugs! Oboz on the right has the deepest lugs while the Columbia Bugaboot IV in the middle performed best on ice.
We got lugs! Oboz on the right has the deepest lugs while the Columbia Bugaboot IV in the middle performed best on ice.

Traction


This boot has deep and varied lugs aplenty! They dug into the snow and held traction in steep, loose, and wet terrain. This boot has the deepest lugs of the boots we tested and its Winterized Rubber stays grippy in a range of conditions.


We motored along in soft, slippery snow and moved with confidence on frozen trails. Ice is a challenge, no matter the boot. In our ice traction test, the Bridger was good, but not quite as good as the Bugaboot IV. As a result, its score is a little lower in this test.

As much as we love the performance of the Oboz Bridger winter hiker  and even though it is cuter than the average hiking boot  we also think the Shellista II has a bit more style.
As much as we love the performance of the Oboz Bridger winter hiker, and even though it is cuter than the average hiking boot, we also think the Shellista II has a bit more style.

Style


While the Bridger looks like a hiking boot, it's the most stylish of the winter hiking boots we tested. The light gray and blue leather, the matching blue accents in the soles, and the clouds of wool around the ankles make for a cozy looking shoe that we would happily wear on dog walks and snowy errands, as well as more ambitious mountain treks.


For those of you that find technical features stylish, you will appreciate the rubber toe cap, the molded heel kick, and the gaiter D-ring, all useful technical features, along with the deep lugs that make this such an effective winter hiker.

If you are looking for more style and less tech in a boot that still has hike-ability, check out the North Face Shellista II, or the Columbia Ice Maiden, both of which have traction for gentle trails and will keep you warm on moderately cold days.

Best Applications


Winter hiking! While you can always slip it on to shovel the driveway or walk the dog, this boot really shines on the trails. You can just walk out on packed trails or step into a pair of snowshoes and wander off into the wild. If the drifts are deep, we recommend gaiters.

Hike  hike  hike! This boot has all the features of an excellent hiking boot but keeps the toes toasty!
Hike, hike, hike! This boot has all the features of an excellent hiking boot but keeps the toes toasty!

Value


At $185, this boot is in the middle price range of the hikers we tested. With the excellent support, warmth, and traction it offers, it will not let you down on your winter adventures. It scored highly in all metrics and we feel it is worth the price. The Columbia Bugaboot IV is a less expensive boot that also performs well, but does not have the support, dialed-in footbeds, or coziness that the Bridger Insulated boot offers.

Conclusion


The Oboz Bridger 7" Insulated Waterproof boot is an excellent winter hiking boot that easily became our top pick for cold-weather backcountry adventures.


Laurel Hunter