Oboz Sawtooth II Mid Waterproof
Weight: 1 lb. 15 oz. (women’s)
Waterproof: Yes (B-Dry)
What we like: Waterproof, supportive, and durable—three critical considerations for a backpacking boot.
What we don’t: Feels very sluggish and ungainly compared to other more modern designs.
See the Women's Oboz Sawtooth II Mid WP See the Men's Oboz Sawtooth II Mid WP
In a wide-ranging market of hiking boot designs, Oboz’s Sawtooth II Mid slots in as a stable and tough option meant to handle the rigors of backpacking. We put the women’s Sawtooth through a fitting four-day trek in the Grand Canyon and came away with mixed feelings. While the waterproof boot is nicely cushioned and its height offers ample protection from sharp rocks, it felt clunky and awkward on the trail. Stacked up to most modern lightweight hikers, the Oboz was noticeably slower and less sprightly. Below we break down our experiences with the Sawtooth. To see how it stacks up to the competition, see our article on the best hiking boots.
Table of Contents
- Stability and Support
- Build Quality and Durability
- Fit and Sizing
- What We Like/What We Don't
- Comparison Table
- The Competition
Oboz is known for its focus on comfort, and this comes across clearly with the Sawtooth II Mid Waterproof. Out of the box, I was immediately struck by the leather boot’s snug fit: it hugged my foot without feeling overly tight or loose in any area. A few days later, when we began our descent into the Grand Canyon, I quickly noticed that my foot didn’t feel any of the rocks on the loose trail thanks to the boot’s heavily cushioned foam midsole and removable footbed. I had spent most of the winter hiking in my trail-running shoes (the La Sportiva Bushido) and wasn’t used to the additional padding underfoot. But on the rocky and rough trails of the Escalante Route under the weight of a 35-pound pack, I was initially glad to have it.
All that said, after our first 10-mile day, my feet were throbbing. While there weren’t any pressure points or areas of rubbing, the well-cushioned design had my arches aching and my feet in considerable discomfort. Further, the boots felt heavy and awkward on my feet all day—I struggled to gracefully navigate the 5,000-foot descent into the canyon without slipping down rocks or consciously repositioning my feet. I initially chalked this up to the lack of both break-in period and recent experience carrying a heavy pack, but four days later, there was little improvement. I even took the Sawtooth out more recently on a couple local trails without a pack and suffered the same discomfort after about 5 miles. All told, while the Sawtooth provides a great fit and is nicely cushioned underfoot, it is noticeably clunky and grows uncomfortable on long days, lacking the light and flexible feel of many other modern boots and lightweight hiking shoes.
At 1 pound 15 ounces for the pair, the Sawtooth II Mid is a fairly average weight compared to the competition. Similar models like the Keen Targhee III Mid (1 lb. 12.4 oz.) and Vasque Talus AT UltraDry (1 lb. 13 oz.) undercut the Sawtooth ever so slightly, while others like the Merrell Moab 2 Mid WP (2 lbs.) and Oboz’s own Bridger Mid BDry (2 lbs. 0.4 oz.) come in a bit heavier. That said, for its weight, I expected the boot to feel much lighter and sprightlier underfoot. After four days of hiking on everything from loose rock to well-maintained trail, I was a bit disappointed by how heavy, clunky, and slow the Sawtooth felt. I had intentionally opted for the protection of a mid-height hiking boot over less supportive trail runners or approach shoes, but by the end of the trip I was wishing that I’d worn a more responsive shoe.
The Sawtooth’s relatively deep lugs effectively gripped everything from slick rock to ice-crusted snow. At first, I was a bit wary: since the Sawtooth felt awkward underfoot, I didn’t feel confident in its ability to navigate any sort of uneven terrain. However, after carefully stepping my way down a boulder-filled rock slide, I began to trust my feet more and found that the Sawtooth adequately gripped anything I threw its way. It held on nicely over everything from loose gravel to a short section of steep scrambling and 6 inches of snow at the top of the rim. The proprietary design even dug into soft mud and dirt without caking up too heavily. Additionally, I appreciated that the boot’s lugs extended just over the sides, which can be helpful on trickier terrain like slabs and boulders. All things considered, the Sawtooth’s bite doesn’t match that of a performance model like the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid or a tackier approach shoe, but it’s plenty good for most backpacking adventures.
Stability and Support
Unsurprisingly, the mid-height Oboz Sawtooth II Mid excels when it comes to stability and support. I’m prone to rolling ankles, but the Sawtooth’s sturdy heel counter, above-the-ankle height, and high laces allow me to snug the shoe tightly over my foot for a close fit. Unlike my experience with other mid-height boots, I never had an off-balance feeling in the Sawtooth and was able to navigate tricky sections of trail without any twisting or side-to-side movement. Further, the Sawtooth’s thick outsole gives the shoe a noticeable planted feel on each step. But as I touched on above, this also contributes to the boot’s sluggishness and sacrifices the flexibility that many modern boots offer.
Combining a leather upper and an in-house B-Dry membrane, the Sawtooth provides ample protection against both snow and rain. The final couple days of our trip were rife with intermittent storms—the lower half of my boots even spent a particularly rainy night peeking out under my tent’s vestibule. The result: while the outside of the boots grew soaked in the downpour, the insides were still dry in the morning. Further, on our ascent out of the canyon, the rim was lined with 6 inches of snow and the boots kept my feet noticeably warm, dry, and comfortable. But while I appreciated the waterproofing overall, if I had to choose again, I’d opt for the non-waterproof Sawtooth. My shoe simply lacked the breathability needed to stay comfortable throughout most of the trip (more on this below).
Compared to the previous generation, Oboz made notable improvements in the waterproof Sawtooth’s breathability, with much wider vents and more liberal use of mesh. That said, despite this generous mesh paneling along the sides and front, the Sawtooth warmed up quickly while hiking in spring weather, causing my feet to overheat and grow sweaty. This is common for shoes with waterproof membranes: since they’re meant to seal out moisture, they lack wide enough openings to allow significant airflow. In the end, it’s a tradeoff: you can opt for a non-waterproof boot that will dry much faster and ventilate better but inevitably let in moisture. Or you can choose a waterproof boot but risk overheating. Predictably, the Sawtooth effectively kept my feet dry all trip, but it also sealed in sweat and warmth—even in moderate 50-degree morning temperatures.
Build Quality and Durability
The Sawtooth is a hardwearing leather hiking boot made to withstand the rigors of backpacking. Throughout our trip into the Grand Canyon, it faced sharp rocks, hiking through thick brush, and steep up- and downhill sections over loose trail. This resulted in minor scuffs at the front of the shoe where the rubber outsole meets the leather upper, but that’s to be expected after the abuse it faced. Aside from this minor cosmetic damage, the Sawtooth is in great condition: the tread looks like new with no noticeable signs of wearing down, the laces show no fraying whatsoever, and all the mesh is still perfectly intact. In comparison to the much lighter-weight shoes and boots worn by my group members—one of which delaminated after only 15 miles on the trail—durability is an obvious strong suit of the Sawtooth.
Fit and Sizing
I ordered my usual size (a women’s size 9.5) in the Oboz Sawtooth II Mid and found that it fit very well overall. The boot didn’t feel roomy or loose in any given area, my heel fit snugly into the heel cup, and my foot didn’t move around while hiking—even on steep uphill and downhill sections. Compared to most other hiking boots I’ve worn, including the original Merrell Moab Mid (which is a tad roomy in the heel and causes my toes to jam forward on steep downhill sections), the Oboz boot offers the best and closest fit to my foot.
Other Versions of the Oboz Sawtooth II
For this review, we tested the women’s Sawtooth II Mid Waterproof. Oboz also makes the boot in a men's version for the same price with a slightly heavier weight and different colorways. In addition, both the men's and women's models are made in waterproof low-top models ($140), which sacrifice some ankle protection but shave off around 2 ounces per boot. If you prefer non-waterproof shoes, both the mid- and low-height Sawtooth are available without the B-Dry membrane, which saves you $15 and $40 respectively (compared to the waterproof mid-height version). Finally, Oboz makes a dedicated winter model that features the same B-Dry waterproofing but adds a taller collar, Thinsulate insulation, and a cold weather-ready outsole for snowy conditions.
What We Like
- With a waterproof B-Dry membrane and leather upper, the Sawtooth II Mid provides effective protection against sustained rain and full immersion in snow.
- The over-the-ankle design offers a secure fit, good support, and solid protection even on rough sections of trail.
- The Sawtooth fits like a glove: there are no areas of looseness, my heel fits snugly into the heel cup, and my feet don’t move around while hiking.
- The high-quality construction is durable and long-lasting.
What We Don’t
- Despite a snug fit, the Sawtooth feels heavy, cumbersome, and clunky on the trail.
- Not very breathable, even given the generous mesh paneling.
- Heavily cushioned midsole might be a bonus for some, but I find it makes me feel much less connected to the trail—and therefore, less stable and confident.
|Oboz Sawtooth II Mid WP||$155||Light / mid||1 lb. 15 oz.||Yes (B-Dry)||Nubuck leather / mesh|
|Merrell Moab 2 WP Mid||$135||Lightweight||2 lbs.||Yes (M-Select Dry)||Leather / mesh|
|Keen Targhee III Mid WP||$150||Lightweight||1 lb. 12.4 oz.||Yes (Keen.Dry)||Nubuck leather / mesh|
|Oboz Bridger Mid BDry||$180||Light/mid||2 lbs. 0.4 oz.||Yes (B-Dry)||Nubuck leather|
|Oboz Sypes Mid||$165||Lightweight||1 lb. 11.6 oz.||Yes (B-Dry)||Nubuck leather|
|Vasque Talus AT UltraDry||$150||Lightweight||1 lb. 13 oz.||Yes (UltraDry)||Nubuck leather / mesh|
The Oboz Sawtooth II Mid is a light-to-mid-weight hiking boot that balances durability, waterproofing, and traction on the trail. In this category, there’s no shortage of options to choose from. Merrell’s Moab 2 Mid, for example, is another popular over-the-ankle boot that’s lightweight (1 oz. heavier than the Sawtooth II Mid) with similar waterproofing, nice cushioning under the heel, and impressive all-around comfort (see our in-depth review here). That said, we found that the Moab’s Vibram sole offered less traction on rock and in mud, and the shoe lacks support for heavier loads compared to the Sawtooth. For day hikes and those carrying light loads, the Moab is our top pick. But for only $20 more, some may appreciate the stiffer and more supportive Sawtooth.
Keen’s Targhee III Mid also looks strikingly similar to the Oboz Sawtooth II Mid on paper with a durable leather build, over-the-ankle design, and reasonably light weight. Clocking in at 1 pound 12.4 ounces per pair, the Keen boot undercuts the Sawtooth by 2.6 ounces and feels much more responsive on the trail—in fact, our testers experienced no fatigue or feelings of clunkiness after big-mileage days. But while the Targhee is great for day hiking and easy-to-moderate backpacking, it lacks the stability of the beefed-up Sawtooth, especially on rugged terrain. All told, the Targhee gets the edge for its less cumbersome trail feel on all but the roughest terrain.
Within Oboz’s own boot lineup is the Bridger Mid BDry. Like the Sawtooth, the Bridger is offered in waterproof and non-waterproof versions (the waterproof model uses the same B-Dry membrane). Further, both designs utilize Oboz’s high-quality insoles for good foot hold, and strategic use of leather and durable rubber along the toe caps make them long-lasting. In parsing out the differences, the Bridger costs an extra $25, includes a TPU plate that gives it a stiffer and slightly less cushioned feel underfoot, and weighs slightly more at 2 pounds 0.4 ounces (neither boot feels particularly agile on the trail). All in all, we like the cost savings of the Sawtooth, but the Bridger Mid is the tougher and more supportive option.
A newer Oboz design to have on your radar is their Sypes Mid. In a departure from the more traditional designs of the Sawtooth and Bridger, the Sypes is a decidedly modern-looking alternative with a lot more around-town appeal. You also get a comfortable leather upper, the same BDry waterproofing as the Sawtooth, a relatively light weight (1 lb. 11.6 oz.), and good all-around support and comfort for on-trail adventures and light backpacking. However, the Sypes is much less of a performance option than the Sawtooth and lacks the toughness needed for higher-mileage, more technical pursuits. For $10 less, the Sawtooth is the more capable but clunkier pick.
Vasque’s Talus AT UltraDry is a final boot to consider. With a $150 price tag, nice-looking leather construction, and waterproof membrane (in this case, Vasque’s in-house UltraDry), the Talus bears a striking resemblance to the Sawtooth. Further, like the Sawtooth, the Talus’ outsole extends over the sides, which can be helpful on slabs or big boulders. However, the Talus comes in slightly lighter at 1 pound 13 ounces per pair (compared to 1 lb. 15 oz. for the Sawtooth) and runs a little narrow in the toe box (Vasque does offer the boot in dedicated wide sizes). In the end, it’s a bit of a toss-up: both shoes aren’t standout performers, but they do well traveling over moderate terrain and hit a desirable price point. From our experience with the slow-feeling Sawtooth, the slightly nimbler Vasque wins out.
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