Oboz Hyalite Low Shoe Review

14th Feb 2019

Oboz Hyalite Low Shoes

There are brands I work with regularly and it is great to see how their products develop with new fabric innovations or when a new piece of technology means they can introduce a new product idea onto the eager outdoors community.  We are all living through an age of incredible ingenuity and ground breaking design in all walks of life and the outdoor industry is another example of that.  

However,  I also love it when I’m introduced to brands I’ve never been aware of before as it is great to explore the company backstory along with their products.  I was recently invited to try some Oboz shoes and, for all these reasons, jumped at the chance.  I looked at their range and thought their Hyalite Low’s would be the type of footwear I’d see myself using regularly.  Here is my take on this multi purpose shoe......

The Oboz Brand

I was surprised I’d never heard of Oboz before as, when I discussed the brand with friends, quite a few had knowledge of them.  I did some research.  Oboz was formed in 2007 by a group of, as they describe themselves, ‘likeminded footwear industry vets intent on doing business a better way’.  They are based in Bozeman (Montana) which conveniently gives them the Yellowstone National Park as both their play and test ground.  It also gives the company its intriguing name.....Outside + BOZeman = Oboz.

The company focuses on using top quality materials from sustainable sources and they certainly seem dedicated to giving back - they plant a tree for every pair of shoes sold, donate all unsellable shoes to those with needy feet, carbon offset everything from shoe shipments to employee travel and their factory is wind powered.  Even before I tried their shoes I was already loving how they walk the walk.

 Beyond all this, their focus is on producing the highest quality products (which in itself is another form of sustainability). Their website says that every pair of shoes produced will be worked on by 140 people (yes, I had to read that again too!) and they focus on using top quality materials from sustainable sources.  Their website is packed with information (you can find it here) and it is well worth a browse.  

Features

I picked the Hyalite Low’s having only seen the pictures of them and read the product description on the Oboz website.  The design was good and they looked like a good option for scrambling and easy grade rock climbing.  

The shoes feature a single density EVA midsole, a more supportive EVA perimeter for added stability and an extra layer of PU for added cushioning.  The outsole has a deep tread pattern across most of the sole combined with a flat edge at the toe.  Oboz have varied the sole density to offer more support at the toe, a thinner layer in the centre and a high density EVA at the heel - this combination is said to offer the best blend of comfort for day to day wear combined with the performance characteristics needed for active pursuits.  

The upper is manufactured from spilt suede which is naturally waterproof and resistant to abrasion and there is additional protection offered by a PU rand at the toe and heel.  The lacing features a heel locking system and a variety of ‘ghillie lacing’ (tape loops to you and me) in the lower foot to provide good adjustment and make the lacing low profile and then normal eyelet lacing in the rest.  

Oboz offers very detailed information on their website regarding fit and they describe the Hyalite Low as fitting in length true to normal size and with a form fitting heel cup, sculpted mid foot and a wider toe box and forefoot.  

Finally, Oboz are very aware of the importance of a well fitting and supportive insole and so their shoes are shipped with the Oboz O-Fit insole which features a raised arch and deep heel cup.  

In Use

I had chosen to test the Hyalite Low’s based solely on the website description and photos.  It seemed to be the type of shoe I would most often wear for everyday use and approaches to crags.  I often also use similar types of approach shoes for low grade climbing when instructing.  Infact, this type of shoe is my most used of all really.  For this review they have been used for all of that although I’m certainly not climbing so much on outdoor rock with clients at this time of year. They have certainly had plenty of use in very varied conditions and on mixed terrain for me to judge their capabilities though.

When the shoes arrived I was as impressed with the appearance and evident quality of the Hyalite Low’s as I was when I saw them on the website.  They are a modern and yet understated design that, while not screaming for attention,  looks suitably chic (if an outdoor shoe can ever look chic!?).  I always explore products thoroughly before use and a good check around these showed that they are clearly designed and built with care.  

Next, I tried them on.  Well, here I was a little surprised.  Having just taken off my trusty Five Tennies (my benchmark comparison approach shoe) to try these on I was immediately aware that the fit was very different.  The deep heel cup is evident straight away and the raised arch of the insole takes a little getting used to.  I laced them up and took a stroll around the village to try and get used to them - and I have to say that initially I didn’t.  I persevered and went out for a number of walks in them and would say that it took a good week of regular hour long walks before I had everything bedded in and feeling comfortable. 

I was surprised at this because nowadays most shoes offer out of the box comfort and I haven’t felt the need to break in shoes for a while - but please don’t let this put you off.  Now that the insole is bedded in these babies fit like a glove.  The fit is truly fantastic and I would actually take them over my Five Tennies for comfort any day.  Of course, this was my feet and you might enjoy immediate comfort from them.  I am only sharing my personal experience.  

I did find the length perfect for my pretty regular size 8 feet and the tighter midfoot and wider forefoot is as Oboz promised.  They feel snug enough for climbing and relaxed enough for general wear.  

The sole has the flat toe section that is now seen on many ‘climbing’ approach shoes and I really rate it.  It makes edging on small holds possible and seems to really smooth my walking action on flat ground (maybe I am dreaming that second point though as I am only surmising that it’s the sole design). This certainly combines well with the more featured tread that covers the rest of the sole as this has performed extremely well on everything from slippy grass to muddy or rocky terrain. 

The shoes have been in regular use for a couple of months and they are, as I expected, standing up to general wear and tear with ease.  The uppers have shrugged off liquid and wear and tear and the soles show no signs of wear at all.  The solid construction and durable materials certainly looks set to give plenty of life out of a pair. 

Summary

I am delighted to have come across Oboz and it has been a privilege to review a pair of their shoes - it is always great to find a new company producing top quality products while also doing more than their bit to protect the environment. It also helps that the Hyalite Low’s turned out to perform as well as they look.  I will certainly be searching out more Oboz products in the future and hope the company go from strength to strength.  The only point raised is that these shoes didn’t give me out of the box comfort but please don’t let that put you off - stick with it for a little while and these capable shoes will become a much loved favourite. The Hyalite Low’s retail for £110. 

Posted by Paul