Gear Review: Oboz Arete Low Hiking Shoes
Ever wondered what would happen if a rugged boot had a baby with a lightweight trail runner? If so, put your weird dreams to bed and take a look at the Oboz Arete Low Hiking Shoes. This is a strong boot from the ankle down that can power through most any terrain you’d want to put it up against (just don’t forget the gaiters). Striking a nice balance between rugged boot and lightweight trail shoe, the Aretes are an interesting hybrid to check out.
Oboz Arete Low Hiking Shoes At-a-Glance
- MSRP: $125
- Weight: 13.6 ounces per shoe (men’s size 9)
- Upper material: Mesh/thermoplastic polyurethane
- Midsole: Single-density EVA
- Outsole: Tempest rubber
Circumstance of Review
These shoes have seen about 50 miles of hiking across Alabama in the winter and spring of 2020. They’ve climbed up the steep rocky start of the Appalachian Mountain Range on the start of the Pinhoti Trail, and along the way they’ve also scuffed through mountain puddles and creeks. They’re definitely lighter than traditional boots, but I could easily tell I wasn’t in the trail runners I’d grown accustomed to. Indeed, they are a solid “in-between” shoe.
Oboz Arete Features
- Weather-resistant open spacer mesh with no-sew panels
- Synthetic TPU overlays and welded TPU toe caps provide protection (TPU stands for thermoplastic polyurethane and is a generally long-lasting, lightweight plastic conglomerate resistant to splitting, oils, abrasion, and chemicals).
- Proprietary O FIT insoles are molded to match the specific shape and construction of each shoe Oboz makes for top-notch fit, feel, and performance
- Single-density EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate, the most common and one of the most effective “foams” used in most shoes) throughout provides cushioning and comfort
- A3 Chassis™ integrated shanks and TPU stabilizers provide support and torsional flex
- EVA Super Skin (ESS) forefoot armoring mitigates overflexion and protects from stone bruising
- Tempest outsoles reduce weight and feature multidirectional and perimeter lugs for traction
There are a lot of big fancy words and acronyms used to describe this shoe, but basically what you want to know is that the Aretes are a rugged, low-top “boot” in a lightweight package. So how well does this package fair?
To start, there are definitely some things to appreciate about the ruggedness of the shoe. These guys are thickkk compared to trail runners I’ve grown accustomed to hiking in, so it felt like wearing little tanks down the trail. It’s hard to feel much of anything through the Aretes’ souls, so sharp chunks of large gravel on the Pinhoti Trail road walks were minimally noticed. The bottoms are also thick enough that it’s possible to traipse through an inch or two of water without getting wet feet. I wouldn’t plunge through a creek in these any time soon, but with some careful foot placement, these come pretty close to all terrain.
As far as being lightweight, they’re certainly lighter than some other low hiking shoes out there, but they aren’t exactly trail runners. They’re only a few ounces more per shoe than some of the popular trail runners out there, but they just felt a bit bulky on my hikes in them. I also found them to be a bit on the more traditionally narrow side as far as the fit goes. Not quite as tight of a toe box as I’ve found Salomon shoes to be, but more like an average-fitting shoe. After my first double-digit mile day in these, the big toes on both of my feet were sore from banging against the hefty toe cap all day. At the end of the day, it feels like these are more in the middle of the weight spectrum: definitely not heavy, but not quite lightweight either.
What Did I Think?
The Aretes are really a fine pair of hiking shoes, for what they are. If this is the style of shoe you’re looking for (low top, rugged, not heavy) then they really are a top-quality choice. I don’t think they’re groundbreaking enough to convert thru-hikers away from the lightest, widest trail runners they can get their hands on. I think what you see is what you get here. These would make an excellent transition shoe for somebody coming in from the classic hiking boot world, or on the other end of the spectrum, somebody frustrated with how flimsy their trail runners have felt.
I like the Aretes enough that they have become my go-to day hiking shoes. As someone who trends toward all things UL, they’re a bit much (bulk and weight) for my longer backpacking ambitions, but I do quite like the functionality of these shoes for spending a day or even a weekend on the trail and I think that says what you need to know: even though I wasn’t blown away by the shoes, they did enough things well at the end of the day that they’re a go-to for what they are.
- The look. In my opinion, these are one of the better looking hiking shoes on the market. They’re satisfyingly sleek, they give off “I know how to hike” vibes, and they’re downright sexy compared to some of their competitors. If style is among your top considerations for a hiking shoe, this is as good as it gets.
- Ruggedness. As I’ve mentioned before, coming from the world of lightweight trail runners, these things feel indestructible stomping through tough terrain. They’ve got a nice bulk balance to them without compromising too much weight.
- Light for their support and ruggedness. These aren’t a miracle lightweight shoe by any stretch, but they certainly aren’t heavy, especially for how well they manage to tackle all terrain types.
- True to size. One of the most frustrating aspects of finding a new pair of shoes is figuring out the fit. Depending on the maker, I’ve found I have a range of two full sizes I can wear. The Aretes are right on the money in both length and width.
- Overall solid shoe. Even though this shoe isn’t amazing at any one thing, the components come together so well that it has become my go-to for a lot of the hiking I like to do. It’s comfortably versatile.
- Not astoundingly lightweight. I don’t want to be too harsh here because this really isn’t terribly off the mark. These shoes certainly aren’t heavy, but I think in the world of thru-hiking (i.e., a large percentage of the visitors of this site) this will be a bit of a turnoff.
- Laces are a bit long. Definitely not a huge deal, as those are easy to replace or even just trim, but I found them to be excessive.
- Toe caps too rugged? The only discomfort I had of any sort while wearing these shoes was beating up my big toes on the downhills, but it’s hard to tell what’s to blame. Is the front of the shoe not as spongy as I’m used to? Is this part of the break-in process for the shoes? Again, this isn’t a huge deal, but as it’s the only physical issue I had with the shoe I think it’s worth mentioning.
The Oboz Arete Low Hiking Shoes are a jack of all trades, but a master of none. These shoes are very good at a lot of things but not the best at any one thing (other than looks, I stand by it). This is not a bad thing. Honestly, in some ways that’s as good as a shoe can get. All these brands are always striving to be the best at everything, but that’s just not realistic. What is realistic is this shoe. It does so much well that at the end of the day, the sum total really is an excellent piece of gear to keep you happy and efficient on the trail.
Weight: 9.9 ounces/shoe
Weight: 13.2 ounces/shoe
Weight: 15.5 ounces/shoe
Weight: 15.6 ounces/shoe
**This product was donated for purpose of review
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