Last month, I ended the summer by spending a couple weeks tromping trail in the new Oboz Scapegoat Mid light hiking boots. I got my first look at these boots earlier this year at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City. The two things that caught my attention were their gaiter-like scree collar and their light weight. As intrigued as I was about these summer hikers, I was curious to see how they would perform on trails in the wet Northwest—they don’t have any water repellency. But after logging 40 miles over five hikes (everything from a stretch on the Pacific Crest Trail to roaming Portland’s Forest Park), I’m glad to give them an enthusiastic thumbs-up—even if they are a single-season boot.
After sizing up a half-size (my regular size was just a bit too snug in the toes), my first observation was that the Scapegoats were out-of-the-box comfy. That was a big plus, largely due to their BFit Deluxe insole, which offers just the right amount of cushion and arch support. Their light weight (just a hair over 16 ounces) made them feel like they should be much heavier for a full-size boot. The result was a bit of that “walking on air” feeling. The fit proved to be suitable using both lightweight and midweight hiking socks. Heavyweight trekking socks felt a little crammed and bulky inside, but as a summer hiker, that probably wouldn’t be a sock of choice anyway.
On the Trail
Once I hit the trail, it took less than the first mile for them to feel comfortably broken-in. They conformed nicely to my feet, and provided a nice combination of stability and flexibility over a variety of terrain. On Mount Hood, the trail was uneven, rocky, rooty and duffy; in Forest Park, it was a mixed bag of hardpack, duff, rocks, roots and mud; along the Columbia River, it ranged from hardpack to soft sand. Over that wide variety of terrain, the rugged Thru-hiker outsole performed admirably. On the rougher terrain, they were nice and grippy, sturdy but not too stiff; on the wetter surfaces, they held fast with little slippage. The standout performance came from the ultra-breathable mesh upper. As I hiked along, I could actually feel the air flowing into the boots, keeping my feet cool and dry. This was especially nice on the warmer days.
Pros and Cons
Pros: I’m a big fan of the scree collar. I seem to be a magnet for twigs and pebbles to work their way into my boots, and often wear gaiters to alleviate that annoyance. The elastic scree collar conforms nicely to the ankles to help keep trail debris on the outside. The breathability provided by the mesh upper is superb, and the heavy rubber toe guard helps cushion the blow against the occasional rock or root.
Cons: The scree collar can take a little while to get used to, especially when wearing lighter, thinner socks. If wearing shorty running socks, it has the potential to rub against the skin which could cause irritation. The mesh upper has no water repellency meaning that your feet will get wet, possibly soaked, if you tromp through streams and puddles, or wear these in the rain.
As a summer dayhiking boot, I would definitely recommend the Scapegoat. They offer a nice combination of light weight, breathability and solid support that can handle any terrain. I didn’t get to try them as a backpacking boot, but I wouldn’t hesitate to take them out for a week or more on the PCT. Plus, they come in at a nice price point that won’t hit your wallet too hard.
The Oboz Scapegoat Mid hiking boots are available in men’s sizes for $145.
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