Gear Review: Oboz Emerald Peak Trailsport Shoe
Being on a trail to me usually means breaking out the big hiking boots and thudding through the mud, rocks, and mischievous tree roots without any second thoughts. Since my interest in trail running has grown, and that simply cannot be accomplished in a comfortable level with my boots, I wanted to test out something lighter. Oboz’s “Trailsport” line offers to give you the support, comfort, and quality the trail runner needs, so I gave the Emerald Peak a try. It’s brother shoe, the men’s Sundog was reviewed by another App Trials writer, and can be found here.
Now, I will make the disclaimer that I was a bit nervous about testing out hiking shoes, as I am prone to ankle injuries (thank you years of being a soccer player and dancer). So I usually prefer the support of a product that comes up higher and makes me less nervous about a rocky trail just waiting to jump up and trip me. But since regular running shoes would just not cut it and my boots were made for walking (not trail running) I was ready to give ’em a go.
Category: Trailsport (Lighter weight shoes suitable for hiking and trail running.)
Weight: W7: 9.3 oz (As listed on the website, but I have the W 9.5)
- Single Piece Mesh, Minimally Seamed and Lined
- Welded, Stitchless TPU Midfoot Cage
- Textile Mesh Lining in Heel
- Protective Synthetic Leather Heel and Toe Overlays
Insoles: BFit Essential
- Dual Density EVA
- EVA Super Skin (ESS) Forefoot Armoring
- Nylon Shank
Sizes Available: 6-11
Water Proofing: None
Test Subject & Area
Size tested: Women’s 9.5 Leaf
Testing Area: Colorado (Primarily Gray’s Peak) – Terrain of rocky steep inclines, some wet areas to try slicker surfaces, but mostly arid loose pack gravel and large boulders
As I said, I was a bit curious about taking on a trail with a shoe rather than a boot. I know this might be old-fashioned, but hey, I like to really take care of my feet, ankles, and everything on up. Even with their flexibility though, they offered a sturdy sole, and a great fit. I loved the color (which I recognize is totally subjective and more of an eye catching selling point, but hey, I like it!)
The tread was also eye catching in a reassuring way. I was pleased with the potential these shoes promised.
The company dates back to 2007, (meaning they’ve been around as long as Soulja Boi’s Crank That). But more to the point, they are an awesome shoe company, with the main principle “True to the Trail.” Based in Bozeman, Montana they make ethics a top priority right along side top-notch shoe design. They go so far as to plant a tree for every pair of shoes they sell, as part of Trees for the Future campaign. Their trees are planted with the focus of providing environmental stability to African, Asian, and Latin American communities.
And if that wasn’t already cool enough, they ALSO:
-donate their unsellable, but still useable merchandise to Project Sole and local nonprofits
-carbon offset their shoe shipments
-power their offices with 100% wind power
Moral of the story: this is an ethically responsible company with their gaze on greater horizons than simply profit margins.
Comfort/Fit: As I said with my first impression, I was delighted with the overall fit. In shoes, like with all women’s clothing, I fit in a wide range depending on the brand. I can range anywhere from a 9-10, so I was lucky that my guess with a 9.5 was spot on. The upper single-piece mesh design offered comfort without much sliding or need to retie/readjust, a wonderful distinction from hiking boots or other running shoes where I feel as though the tongue often slips and needs realignment.
Also, the flexibility needed for a running shoe paired well with the great outsole, making running on any surface tangible. They were light enough to run with ease, but sturdy enough to wipe away some of my fear.
Design: As I mentioned, the upper mesh piece was a comfortable design, and I give Oboz a gold star for it. I also liked the overall mesh design. Because I primarily am taking on terrain in Colorado, waterproof shoes are not essential for the usually dry climate making the the mesh design pretty great. If they were to get wet, they are quick to dry and they offered great breath-ability for a runner’s hot feet. In wetter climates where “insta-dry Colorado air” isn’t an option, this may be need to be reevaluated.
Other than the lack of extra lace hole (see CONS section) I also liked the laces and body of the shoe. My feet didn’t feel cramped, yet still were secure, and the laces did not need constant adjustment or to be retied. And although the shoe hugged around my foot, the breath-ability along with the light weight made it a nice supportive hug, rather than a smothering one.
Weight: Here comes the broken, skipping record, but I
am was a die hard boot fan. Nevertheless, I was happily surprised by the lightness of this shoe, and what it felt like being on a trail. I felt secure, while avoiding the feeling of dragging along cinder blocks attached to my ankles. For hiking a 14er, it was a great place to cut weight on my tiring legs, and for running, it was ultimately ideal.
Grip: Overall, my first impression was correct. The grip served me well running on rocks (wet and dry), sticks, grass, road kill (just kidding, I don’t run that fast). I will note, however, that things got a bit tricky on loose packed gravel.
Uphill it is a totally kick-ass shoe, pretty much making me feel like Spiderman climbing buildings. On the downhills though, it was a little ify. Although I do frequently enjoy a gravity check or two (meaning I fall on my ass and reassure my company that Sir Isaac Newton was in fact correct) I was hoping that the downhill rocky slides would be lessened with these shoes. For matter of full disclosure, I did end up on my bottom, riding down a bit of Gray’s Peak. Although studies are inconclusive whether this was due to the shoe or human error, I’ll say it could have been a mixture of both, but they did handle better than other shoes I’ve taken on similar terrain. Taking into consideration the lightweight aspect of these shoes, I’d say they still get a big thumbs up.
Fit: My biggest complaint, which is as a whole still not very BIG, with this shoe was the lack of an extra shoe lace hole. I know most people ignore this extra hole, adjacent to the last criss-cross hole, but with running shoes, I usually take advantage of it.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m even talking about with this extra hole business, here is some info!
Maybe because I knew this magical shoe lace slot was missing, I subconsciously took this into consideration while hiking in it, but I felt like there was some unpleasant heel slip action. This was more noticeable while hiking rather than running (which was a plus!) but with hiking, it definitely caused some rubbing. Not enough for any sort of blisters, so that was good!
In conjunction with this observation, I also plan on changing the insoles. Although the BFit Essential is not by any means a bad option (light weight with relatively good arch support) it doesn’t quite offer as much support as I like for running. Hiking, it was a pretty solid support, but on runs, especially as I continue to push to longer distances I would like more support.
This shoe gives you a good bang for your buck. If you are looking for a good pair of shoes to start testing out your trail running, this is a great value. They didn’t feel heavier than regular running shoes, but provided the much need stability to really hit the trail. You’ll feel like roadrunner taking on rocky terrain.
For hiking, I’d be a little hesitant, as again I personally like something heavier for a longer distant more challenging hike, and so I much preferred the comfort as a running shoe rather than a hiking shoe. As I said, it also presented a bit of a challenge on the downhill for rougher terrain. I will continue to use them for shorter day hikes.
If you are looking to support a cool brand while also investing in some awesome trail runners, this shoe is highly recommended.
OVERALL RATING : 4.8 / 5
Disclosure: the preceding product was donated for the purposes of review.
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I’m curious how the shoe fits once you changed the insole? I’m looking for a trail runner, but whenever I add my Sole insole my foot sits too high in the shoe, which leads to heel slip. Thank you!