Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoes Review

Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoes Review

Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoes are ventilated, non-waterproof shoes for hikers and backpackers who want shoes that are lighter weight and less constricting than hiking boots but are more stable and protective than trail running shoes. While they look similar to Merrell Moab 2 Low Vent Hiking Shoes and KEEN Targhee III Low Hiking Shoes, they provide much better arch support and a stiffer feel, without compromising on front toe space or comfort. The Sawtooth II Low is also available in the wide sizes required by a third of hikers.

Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoes

Foot Protection

Roomy Toebox. Available in Wide Widths

The Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoe is a lightweight hiking shoe with a roomy toebox and excellent traction. It's available in wide sizes and comes with an excellent insole for added support.

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I got turned onto Oboz hiking footwear this past winter, when I tried the Oboz Bridger 10″ BDry Winter Hiking Boots (see review), which is a very warm 400 gram insulated boot that shares many of Sawtooth’s II characteristics, including a deeply lugged sole and sturdy heel counter that helps lock your heel in place and can help prevent plantar fasciitis. The Sawtooth II Lows are hiking shoes, however, so far less warm and bulky than insulated winter boots. They’re still quite supportive in the heels and cup them to help prevent blisters and the pronation (rolling inward of the heel) that can lead to heel pain.

The Sawtooth || Low Hiking Shoe has a angled heel counter that helps lock your heel in place while aggressive side lugs provide a bumper against side impacts.
The Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoe has an angled heel counter that helps lock your heel in place while aggressive side lugs provide a robust bumper against side impacts.

The protection around the outside of the shoes is excellent for hiking in rocky terrain. A beefy toe cap protects your tootsies, while over-size side lugs provide lateral protection and traction. While the leather uppers give the shoe some structure, they also help shield against side impacts during rock scrambling and off-trail.

While the Sawtooth II Low’s have mesh sides, the inside of the shoe is lined to reduce friction and help eliminate blisters. This also prevents dust and sand from penetrating into the interior of the shoe and making your socks dirty, while still allowing sweat and moisture to evaporate through the external mesh. The interior lining also provides a surprising amount of insulation in cooler weather, making the shoes good for cold days in spring and autumn when the trails are covered in snow, ice, or mud.

Oboz makes a lot of hay about the “O Fit Insoles” that they include in their boots and shoes. They’re actually pretty good and provide more arch support and heel cup support than the crappy insoles most hiking shoe and boot manufacturers include. They’re quite similar to Superfeet’s Carbon insoles (thin insoles designed for low volume trail runners) in terms of arch support and durability, but provide significantly less support and durability than Superfeet’s Green insoles (designed for hiking boots). If you use Superfeet Carbon insoles today, you can probably stop buying them if you use the SawTooth II’s, a saving of $55, which is quite a perk.  On the flip side, the SawTooth II Low’s have enough internal volume to fit a Superfeet Green insole, which is a big plus if you need to use them for arch and heel support.

The Sawtooth Low has big lugs that provide excellent traction in mud
The Sawtooth Low has big lugs that provide excellent traction in mud

The Sawtooth II Low’s run true to size in terms of fit and are available for both men and women, in regular and wide sizes. The O Fit Insoles ($30) are also available for sale separately, which is useful if you need to replace them or want to try them in other shoes you own.


Oboz’s Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoes are comfortable and stable low hikers for people looking for a supportive yet lightweight hiking shoe that provides plenty of toe box room and protection. Available in regular and wide sizes for both men and women, these ventilated, non-waterproof hiking shoes come with an innovative insole (also sold separately) that compares favorably to Superfeet’s Carbon insoles. An aggressive contoured sole and deep lugs provide excellent traction in mud and rain, while leather uppers provide excellent durability and value.

Disclosure: Oboz provided the author with a pair of shoes for this review.

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  1. Phil,
    Thank you for the review. Thank you also to reviewing one of the most important, if not, the most important piece of gear.
    I wish more companies would offer wide widths as opposed to one size up, and calling that a wide with, if you catch my meaning. Most companies are offering wides which is a good thing as opposed to even a few years back. I wish I had regular sized feet, most of my friends, and I have fred flintstone feet. Now we just need to work on thier toeboxes….

  2. Phil,

    Do you know how the toe room compares to Salomon X Ultra hiking shoes? I really enjoy my X Ultra 2s, but the one thing I would change is the toe box space to prevent any rubbing and allow for a thicker sock in the shoulder season.


    • I’d give them a try. I haven’t used the X Ultra, but I have similar Salomon’s. I suspect they all have a similar fit.

    • I have both the Salomon X Ultras and the Oboz Sawtooths–and I like both of them very much–but I find the toe box in the Oboz to be roomier.

  3. This was the main shoe I used for the previous season. I put some Superfeet Orange insoles in them because of foot issues, but my feet are stronger now and the original insole would be fine.

    The rubber outsole peeled off of the front while backpacking the 70-mile Massanutten Trail. If there’s a trail in VA that will break a shoe, it’s the MT. That was early in the season. I re-attached with some E6000 and after a couple hundred miles more they’ve been good. The E6000 in my judgement is stronger than the original adhesive. No excessive wear given what the shoes have been through.

    My only complaint now is that I wish the wet grip was better. With all of the rain we had last year there was plenty of opportunity to test that. The Sawtooth II is already out at REI. Very similar, I’m hoping the rubber compound is a little stickier though.

  4. Bill "LDog" Garlinghouse

    Thanks Phil,

    The description of the heel cup, volume, toe width, and insoles has me sold!

  5. Do these have a shank like the KEEN Targhee? I’m considering stiffer shoes to help with arthritis in my left foot.

  6. Bill "LDog" Garlinghouse

    Did you get a chance to test them on wet rock?

  7. Any idea how these differ from the previous generation Sawtooth Lows, which are now on sale at REI for $79.93 (compared to $110.00 for the Sawtooth II Lows)? Online, the specs look almost identical. Thanks

  8. Phil- you are spot on with your excellent review of this fantastic shoe. I switched to the Sawtooth from the Keene Targee half way through my thru hike this year. I wished I had started out with the Oboz! The insoles were perfect as you described and did not need the Carbon Superfeet insole any longer. What an amazing shoe. I did experience somewhat better traction on wet rocks as well. After about 800 miles, I have a separation at the toe cap that was repaired with Shoe goo.

  9. Thanks for this Phillip, seems like a good contender against the La Sportiva Raptors – I especially like the brawny toe cap, an improvement over the Raptors (my current go-to shoe) it seems.

  10. OBOZ SAWTOOTH LOW SHOES are as Phillip describes, a truly awesome shoe out on the trail however after 2 years in the same pair there are a couple of points I have found that stop them from being perfect.
    1 The heel cups are very rigid and the inner fabric and padding wear through pretty quickly; cure is to go to your shoe repairer and have leather inserts added. Cost $10
    2 As the shoes are well made on the top side water does not drain out quickly, like boots once wet from a river crossing they stay wet for a couple of days.
    3 After 2 years of continuous use the stitching at the outside of the toe box right at the sole join has broken. I say this as through a 10x lense it is a break and not worn through. This may well be my walking style that has doe this in all fairness.
    These points said these are the best shoes I have ever had by a country mile!

  11. Phil,
    What would be your pick between the Oboz, Merrell Moab, and Keen Targhee?
    I have the Keen’s and the Merrell’s, but have never owned the Oboz.

  12. I work at a large outdoor retailer and sell OBOZ Bridgers and Salomon Ultras, Merrill and other hiking boots. By far, I sell more OBOZ than any other hiking shoe. If I bring out 3 pairs, the OBOZ win most of the time… simply put, the o-fit insole, toe box, heel box and outer sole put OBOZ boots at the top of my recommendation list for my customers. my customers feel the difference. Your feet don’t lie, but your brain will….

  13. I bought some “Merrell Moab 2 Vent Low Hiking Shoes” a couple of years ago. For some reason I chose them over the Oboz Sawtooth. I’m so disappointed in the Merrells! The fabric in the heel area wore clear through, causing me to get blisters with even around-town walking. And I wasn’t even using them much for hiking. I had to line the heel area with Gorilla tape to be able to stand to wear them. And the uppers don’t seem to be wearing that well on the outside either.
    About 6 months ago I bought some Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hikers and love them. They are way more supportive, feel more precise (Merrells seem clunky), and feel lighter than the Merrells. Plus, they don’t seem to be showing any wear after substantially more hiking than I did in the Merrells. I am totally sold on the Oboz, to the point where I have reached out to a few friends I know who had the Merrell Moabs also. I’m totally sold on Oboz and will be buying some other styles.

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