Andy Stephen is a climber and guide for the American Alpine Institute.
Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to try out the Oboz Firebrand II hiking shoes. Oboz is known for being super comfortable and well-made shoes, and the Firebrand II held true to reputation. I took the shoes as my main pair of trekking shoes for a two month trip to South America to guide the Guanacos 360 route on Aconcagua, and while in the Argentine Patagonia trying to climb in the Chalten Massif.
The shoes are incredibly comfortable right out of the box. They fit great with my insoles where some shoes don’t have enough height. Another thing I appreciated was the laces the Firebrand II came with: beefy and durable and throughout use over the two month trip they have held up super well. One downside to the laces is that they tend to come untied a bit easier than a thinner pair would, but a trade-off I am happy to make in the end.
On the trail, you can really tell that there was alot of care put into the design. The Firebrand II’s are very comfortable to hike in, and extremely durable. In South America I wore them for big mileage days on worn trails and more rocky, rugged, scrambling terrain, and they handle both brilliantly. In my experience, this is a hard standard for a shoe to reach. Most pairs of approach or trekking shoes I own are either great on rugged terrain but leave your feet aching on longer slogs, or are comfortable, yet sloppy when you need them to be more precise and protective.
The Firebrand II doesn’t incorporate any sticky rubber, so I had to be more careful crossing slabs and such. But even after scree skiing, crossing dry glaciers, countless moraines, and several hundred miles of trail they are still fully intact; no blown seams or rubber peeling, which I have come to expect from other low-top approach/trekking shoes I’ve owned.
I took the Firebrand II through several river crossings on the way to basecamp on Aconcagua, and they dried out quickly. While the material is waterproof-treated with an Oboz proprietary, I think the simple leather, mesh and rubber construction keeps the shoe from getting water-logged.
I am super-psyched on the Firebrand II. They have performed extremely well, are comfortable and durable; basically all I need from a trekking shoe. I think the durability is really the biggest selling point for me. In a market where some shoes seem to barely last an expedition, the Oboz truly live up to their slogan of being “True to the Trail.”