Are you looking for a pair of durable hiking shoes that won’t let you down no matter how rugged your trails are? If that’s the case, you’ve probably run into these two names during your research – Oboz and Merrell.
Both of these companies are held in high regard by millions of outdoor enthusiasts everywhere around the world, as they both design, manufacture, and sell top-of-the-line trekking shoes. But which one of them is better? Let’s find the answer to that question together!
Oboz Footwear – A General Overview
Photo by Aleksomber via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)
I think it’s pretty safe to say that this company was created by folks like you and me, i.e. by those in love with the Great Outdoors and backcountry exploration. Although this brand doesn’t have a long and rich history like some of its rivals, it has successfully managed to make a name for itself over the last decade.
The very first Oboz trekking shoe was created in Bozeman, Montana, in 2008. It was established by an experienced entrepreneur called John Connelly, who noticed the increased need for quality trekking shoes in the region and who already had some previous experience in creating and running businesses.
With the city of Bozeman being completely surrounded by mountainous terrain, it is quite easy for Oboz’s employees to test-drive every shoe and boot they design in the best way possible. The people who work for this company are outdoorsmen, trekkers, runners, walkers, and much more. They create footwear that both their customers and they themselves can use, ensuring each pair’s safety, durability, and comfort.
One particular thing that puts Oboz above its competition is the brand’s impressive respect for the environment. This is one of those companies that really do their best to make the shoemaking process as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible. Believe it or not, Oboz plants a tree for every purchased pair of trekking shoes, and in that way, makes a real impact on our planet.
With each passing year, the technology improves, and this brand keeps finding new ways to design and manufacture phenomenal trekking shoes while at the same time reducing its impact on the environment.
For its footwear, Oboz uses a variety of premium materials. Each of these materials looks and functions differently, depending on the shoe’s style. For example, most of the footwear made by Oboz features an upper that uses either some synthetic material, a performance mesh, or high-quality Nubuck leather.
When making insoles, on the other hand, Oboz tries to achieve the perfect fit and form by evaluating copies made by real human feet. One particular technology that the brand is quite famous for is the so-called O FIT Insole technology.
The company’s outsoles often feature unique tread designs that provide outstanding balance, excellent traction, and a supportive grip. The midsoles, on the other hand, are rigid but lightweight, which makes them flexible enough to allow for easy movement. They still, however, provide a satisfactory amount of support.
Where Does Oboz Make its Hiking Shoes?
The company’s headquarters are in Bozeman, Montana, at the corner of Wallace Avenue and Olive Street. However, the brand’s products are manufactured in Vietnam.
Are Their Shoes True to Size?
Yes, Oboz boots and shoes run true to size. You shouldn’t have any trouble getting them in your size. However, if possible, the best practice would be to try on the pair you’re looking to buy at your local retailer, before purchasing it.
Is Oboz Worth the Money?
Yes, they are. Those who opt for this brand will have to pay more, but they’ll also be paying for better quality. All Oboz shoes are very well-made and they are worth every penny of their price.
Popular Products Oboz Hiking Shoes
Oboz Sawtooth II Low Shoes
- Weight: 1 lb
- Dimensions: 3” x 4” x 7”
- Colors Available: 5
These Oboz trekking shoes feature a wide toe box and a stiff heel counter. The wide toe box keeps the wearer’s upper foot from feeling strained, while the heel counter keeps the blisters at bay by preventing the feet from sliding around (but you may want to check out our post on blister prevention as well before you head out to the trail).
The upper of this shoe is made out of the combination of abrasion-resistant textile and Nubuck leather, and there is also a Sawtooth outsole, Sawtooth midsole, and the O-FIT insole. All in all, a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts.
- The proprietary insole provides excellent comfort
- Outstanding traction – great for off-trail use
- Durable construction
- The fit is not for everyone
Oboz Sypes Low B-Dry Shoes
- Weight: 8 oz
- Dimensions: 2” x 4” x 6”
- Colors Available: 4
Here we have yet another great pair of Oboz trekking shoes. Just like the Sawtooth II shoes described above, these also feature the company’s proprietary O-FIT insoles – with these shoes, comfort and stability are guaranteed.
Other features worth mentioning are the durable Cordura fabric, lightweight midsoles that use the brand’s Adaptive Cushioning Technology (ACT), as well as the B-Dry membrane which is both breathable and waterproof.
- Effective waterproofing treatment
- Great for all-around use
- Aggressive lugs
- Somewhat tight fit
Oboz Bridger Low B-Dry Shoes
- Weight: 6 oz
- Dimensions: 4” x 10” x 6”
- Colors Available: 2
As their name suggests, these Oboz trekking shoes use the company’s proprietary B-Dry technology to keep your feet dry and warm. What is more, they also feature Granite Peak midsoles and outsoles – these provide an amount of traction and support that is necessary for multi-day backpacking trips.
The upper, on the other hand, is made out of Nubuck leather, and the shoes also feature the well-known O-FIT insoles. In summary, another fantastic pair of Oboz hiking shoes.
- Perfect for multi-day backcountry hikes
- Excellent traction & support
- Waterproof but breathable
- Only two colors
Merrell Footwaer – A General Overview
At this moment, Merrell is a subsidiary of the famous Wolverine World Wide label. But it was not always like that – Merrell was once a small brand founded by a couple of trekking enthusiasts. And while it’s true that the company switched owners more than once over the years, it is still making some of the world’s best trekking shoes and boots.
Also based in the United States, Merrell was established by John Schweizer, Randy Merrell, and Clark Matis more than 40 years ago, in 1981. Back then, John Schweizer and Clark Matis were working for a ski company and they knew everything about the importance of having a pair of well-made outdoor shoes.
With the help of Randy Merrell, a successful maker of luxurious boots, they set off on a journey of making footwear that was supposed to be both affordable and high-performing. Two years after they founded Merrell, the guys packed up and shipped off their best trekking shoes to a few outdoor gear stores on the East Coast, and the rest is history.
However, even despite the brand’s success, Randy Merrell decided to sell his share of the company once he realized that he prefers a quiet life of luxurious boot customization. A few years later, Merrell was sold to Karhu, and in 1997, it became a subsidiary of the Wolverine World Wide label.
Nowadays, Merrell’s footwear is still being manufactured from premium materials, just like in the early 1980s. But the brand now also designs and sells a number of other products, such as sandals, sneakers, and various accessories.
It goes without saying, but this brand uses durable, premium-quality materials for its trekking shoes, boots, and other similar products. Some of these materials include Italian metal hardware, strong and water-resistant full-grain leather uppers, as well as traction-controlling and slip-resistant Vibram outsoles.
Merrell’s boots provide trekkers with rubber soles. Their job is to absorb the shock that comes with each step as well as to provide the hiker’s feet with the necessary support. The cushioned heel, on the other hand, provides much-needed comfort.
Also, just like its rivals, Merrell has developed a number of its own, proprietary technologies. These include M-Select Grip, M-Select Dry, M-Select Warm, M-Select Wind, M-Select Wick, and others. If you want to check out more brands like Merrell, check out our Salomon vs Merrell comparison and our Keen vs Merrell comparison.
Where Does Merrell Make its Hiking Shoes?
During four decades of Merrell’s existence, the brand’s shoes have been manufactured in many different places. At the moment, most of this company’s footwear is made in Asia and the USA.
Are Their Shoes True to Size?
Most people consider Merrell shoes to be true to their size, and I tend to agree with them. They fit as they should and you shouldn’t have any issues with them size-wise.
Is Merrell Worth the Money?
Merrell products are exceptionally well-made and often come at fair prices. As far as I’m concerned, this brand’s shoes are absolutely worth the money. They will last you for years as long as you take proper care of them.
Popular Merrell Hiking Shoes
Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Shoes
- Weight: 1.1 lbs
- Dimensions: 10” x 15” x 6”
- Colors Available: 8
There’s a lot to like about these phenomenal Merrell trekking shoes. They are exceptionally durable, provide great traction, and feel very comfortable on most types of trails. In my opinion, they’re a great choice for folks who prefer easy to moderate day hikes.
A very important thing to keep in mind here is that these shoes really weren’t built for carrying sizable loads. Furthermore, they’re not the lightest shoes of this type around and they’re not that great when it comes to water resistance, even though their name suggests otherwise.
- Very comfortable & no break-in period required
- Above-average traction
- Robust construction
- Not for serious backpacking
Merrell Moab 2 Vent Shoes
- Weight: 1.1 lbs
- Dimensions: 10” x 15” x 6”
- Colors Available: 18
Not many trekking shoes available on today’s market are as popular as these. Merrell’s Moab 2 Vent shoes provide its wearer with out-of-the-box comfort, but also with great traction and breathability.
This shoe works great for short, moderate hikes due to its Vibram TC5+ outsole, a nylon shank, an EVA midsole, and a thick upper made out of mesh and suede leather. Moab 2 Vent effortlessly hugs wet and dry rocks and has no trouble with handling daily wear and tear.
- Affordable but exceptionally well-made shoes
- Very breathable (for the price)
- Incredibly comfortable
- Not waterproof
Merrell Thermo Chill Mid Boots
- Weight: 4 lbs
- Dimensions: 14” x 11” x 5”
- Colors Available: 3
For the price it comes at, this winter boot has quite a lot to offer. While it’s not as warm as I expected it to be, it is very comfortable and also provides above-average traction. These boots are also reasonably protective, especially if we take their (relatively low) cost into account.
The soft fleece lining creates a very cozy environment for one’s foot, while the aggressive tread pattern works wonders on slippery terrains. If you’re someone who does a lot of walking in the snow, the Thermo Chill Mid Boots are an excellent option.
- Sharp & angular lugs provide outstanding traction
- A great choice for those on a budget
- Phenomenal comfort & fit
- Could be warmer
Oboz vs Merrell Hiking Shoes The Verdict
Photo by Aleksomber via Wikimedia Commons(CC BY-SA 4.0)
Both of the brands I compared in this article are sitting in the same price category and both of them also provide top-quality products made out of premium materials. However, I feel like giving some extra points to Oboz, and for a couple of good reasons.
First of all, this brand is extremely dedicated to eco-friendly manufacturing and production. Also, it never changed owners ever since it was established – Oboz shoes and other products are still designed by the same people who founded the company. Merrel, on the other hand, was owned by a few different brands throughout its history, although it should be pointed out that this business is almost three decades older than Oboz.
That is not to say that Merrell doesn’t have a couple of advantages over its rival, though. Oboz’s lineup of shoes is somewhat conservative, while Merrell offers a huge variety of stylish designs and colors, making it much easier to buy a pair of shoes that match your own, unique style.
But in the end, I still consider Oboz to be the winner of this comparison. Most of their shoes are amazing in every sense of that word – they are versatile, comfortable, and made for folks who love backcountry exploration more than anything else.
I’ve had the privilege of hiking the Camino de Santiago twice, walking up Ben Nevis, and spending three weeks hiking in the Candian Rockies. I love the peace that comes from getting out of the cities I have lived in to enjoy hikes of all lengths in various countries.