Footwear brand Oboz launched ten years ago when company founder John Connely used his experience in the industry to start his own brand. The small team started making and testing boots from a facility in Bozeman, Montana where the company gets its name, “Out of Bozeman.” Over the years, the company made a name for itself producing rugged hiking boots and shoes capable of handling a variety of terrain.
This quality is reflected in the company’s latest boot, the Bridger Mid BDry waterproof hiking boot. To get a true sense of its grit and durability, we took the Mid BDry boot on our own hiking excursion to put it through its proper paces.
Protection and Support
The company’s motto, “True to the Trail,” expertly guides the design of its boots and this philosophy is evident in Oboz’s premier hiking boot, the Bridger BDry. The first thing you notice when picking up the Bridger is its rugged construction. With an all-leather upper, a lightweight TPU Chassis in the sole, and a rubber heel counter, the Bridger provided a significant amount of support.
Even when we found ourselves traversing rough and icy trails littered with potholes, issues with support never arose. Through rocks, roots, and snow, we remained sure-footed and avoided ever rolling an ankle. One of the features we loved about the Bridger boot was its rubber toe cap. Similar to Keen’s line of boots, the Bridger boasts a hard rubber toe cap which extends across and up and over the front part of the boot. This extended toe cap saved our toes many times from bumps and bruises due to various hidden debris emerging out of the melting snowpack.
Unlike Vasque boots which strive to bring a sneaker-like comfort to a boot, the Oboz Bridger stays true to its boot label. With an all-leather upper and rugged sole, the Oboz looks and feels like a hiking boot. The company’s O Fit insole provides a degree of cushioning, especially in the high-strike points and a layer of Dual Density EVA in the midsole does a decent job protecting from stone bruising and sharp rocks. The result is a boot this is comfortable to wear but doesn’t make you feel like you’re walking on clouds — it’s a nice balance. There’s enough padding so you don’t feel pain from every sharp stone but it still allows you to feel the contour of the trail under your feet.
The company’s philosophy, “True to the Trail,” expertly guides the design of the Bridger Mid BDry
Though it looks and feels like a boot, the Bridger doesn’t feel heavy like a traditional boot — at 16.2 ounces, Oboz packs a lot into it. However, it’s not just the boot’s weight where Oboz shows finesse. It’s constructed with a soft lining on the inside and features smooth seams which proved to develop no hot spots for us, even when hiking with a fresh-from-the-box pair. The lacing also does a great job securing your foot, allowing you to remain comfortable when you cinch up the boot.
Perhaps the lone downside rests with the laces themselves.They’re slightly slippery and came undone more often than we like. A lace with notches to help keep a tight fit and are capable of staying tied no matter the duration of the hike would be a welcome addition.
The Bridger comes outfitted with the Granite Peak outsole, described by Oboz as the “quintessential hiking outsole.” It features a nylon shank and a TPU chassis which combine to produce a supportive sole flexible enough to bend as you dig into the boot when climbing steeper terrain. The only complaint is the rounded heel which lacks the bite of a flat heel and may cause slippage when ascending on loose rocks. The 4-millimeter directional lugs, along with rubber on the toes and heels, provides outstanding traction on rock faces, loose gravel, and hard-packed dirt. It even handled well in slushy snow.
Oboz takes a three-pronged approach to waterproofing in its BDry boots, and the system works very well. On the outside is a brushed, water repellent Nubuck leather upper that won’t absorb water. When hiking in slushy snow, the moisture beaded off the boot and didn’t seep in through the lacing thanks to the gusseted tongue. On the inside of the boot is Oboz’s proprietary BDry membrane which seals out water while letting your foot breath. We hiked through streams and mud, and our feet remained dry.
To test the waterproofing, we stood in a pool of water for a few minutes and failed to feel any water seeping into the boot. Though the coldness of the water became apparent around our feet, none of the wetness comprised the interior of the boot. The only time we experienced water inside the boot was when we submerged our foot and the top went underwater. Since the top sits lower in the back, this mistake is an easy one to make.
One other potential issue with waterproof boots like the Bridger is that they don’t breath as efficiently as their non-waterproof counterparts. You often end up with sweaty feet from excess sweat unable to escape from the boot. To help keep your feet dry under these conditions, the Bridger boasts an inner textile lining that’ll wick away sweat.
Perspiration and buildup of moisture were never an issue with the Bridger and since it was spring, our feet didn’t sweat a lot. What sweat we did generate was handled adequately by the lining and a pair of lightweight wool socks.
One look at the Bridger boots and it’s apparent Oboz didn’t skimp when it came to construction. The company uses top-notch hardware and quality stitching in the making of its Bridger boots. The lacing system is a prime example of this craftsmanship as it uses a leather loop at the front of the shoe and a combination of fabric and metal hardware. Oboz double-stitched the fabric to the leather upper and manufactured it out of a thick material resistant to tearing.
The other half of the lacing system uses metal hardware riveted into the leather upper and serves as a secure attachment point for the laces. Finishing details on the boot are also clean — the stitching is rock solid and both the rubber toe cap and the heel counter are firmly glued to the boot. Even more important are the seams which lay flat and don’t create any pressure points when wearing the boot.
The Oboz Bridger Mid BDry is an outstanding hiking boot which lives up to its “True to the Trail” slogan. The boot provides outstanding support and traction in a variety of conditions and kept our feet dry when hiking through both water and slushy snow.
Oboz shoes are covered by a limited 1-year warranty against manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship. Damage due to normal wear and tear, or abuse or accidents, isn’t covered by the warranty.
Is there a better alternative?
The Oboz Bridger Mid BDry is an all-around strong performer but its boot-like feel may be a turnoff for some hikers. A strong competitor to the Bridger is the Vasque Breeze III or the Salomon QUEST 4D 2 GTX, both of which combine leather and mesh to produce a more flexible boot. Another option is the Oboz Sawtooth Low, a solid performer which offers the traction and durability of an Oboz boot is a low-cut form factor.
How long will it last?
Oboz is known for its quality construction and long-lasting boots. We would expect to get several years of hiking out of a new pair of Bridgers.
Should you buy it?
Yes, if you want a comfortable hiker that looks and feels like a boot, go with the Bridger Mid BDry from Oboz. However, if you’re looking more for a boot which provides the squishy cushioning of a sneaker, perhaps this model isn’t for you.