Oboz is a hiking footwear company out of Montana, and since trying on my first pair of Oboz hiking boots, they have been my go-to brand. The Arete is the newest and lightest shoe in Oboz’s lineup and is an all in one shoe that is great for day hikes and everyday wear. While they’re extremely lightweight (you’ll barely notice you’re wearing them), they’re sturdy and capable on the trail. The women on the Bearfoot Theory team and I have been putting the Arete to the test for the last couple of months, and we can confidently say that they are the best lightweight hiking shoe that we’ve ever tried.
In this blog post, I share my thoughts on the pros and cons and best uses for the Oboz Arete. Also, at the end of this post, don’t miss our Oboz giveaway, where we are giving 5 lucky readers a brand new pair of the Oboz Arete just in time for summer!
In this blog post, learn why the Oboz Arete is one of the best lightweight hiking shoes of 2020 and enter to win your own pair!
Disclosure: Oboz is one of our industry partners. We only partner with brands that we love and whose products we stand behind. As always, all words and opinions are my own.
Living in a van the last few summers, I have to limit the number of shoes I have with me. That means I rely heavily on hiking shoes for everyday wear due to their versatility on the trail and at campsites.
My go-to last summer was the Oboz Sawtooth II Low hiking shoe, and while I still wear these on heartier day hikes, the Oboz Arete lightweight hiking shoe quickly replaced them as my go-to everyday shoe. The Arete is lighter, and their mesh upper makes them ultra breathable and easy to move in. I also love the colors that they come in.
As a lightweight hiking shoe, the Oboz Arete was comfortable right out of the box with zero break in period needed. The soles are grippy with plenty of traction to keep you from slipping on those slick sections of rock and scree. After three months of daily wear, I’ve found them to be durable enough to stand up to the wear and tear of the trail and to protect you from bruising as you step on rocks. The soles also allow the shoe to flex with your movements unlike heavier hiking shoes that tend to be more rigid.
Best Uses for this Lightweight Hiking Shoe
What I really love about this shoe is its versatility. Whether it’s day hiking, biking, hanging around at camp, running errands around town, trail running, or even backpacking, this shoe is truly multi-purpose. I’ve worn them everyday for the last 90 days and have relied on them for a majority of my trail excursions. My first test on the trail was when I wore them hiking to the top of Frary Peak on Antelope Island which is 7 miles and has over 2,000 feet of elevation gain.
With their low ankle and natural articulation, the Oboz Arete is designed for fast and light travel. The pair (at women’s size 9) only weighs 1 lb 6 oz, and the sole provides plenty of traction for a variety of surfaces and will keep you quick on your toes. The O Fit sole has ample cushion for rocks and uneven terrain, and my feet remain comfortable on longer hikes.
For the average trail runner, these will do the trick. They might be a little heavier than some of the lightest weight trail runners and a bit more narrow, but if you want one pair of multi-purpose trail shoes. these could be a great option for you.
While I personally prefer a stiffer hiking boot for backpacking trips for more support, I know many people who prefer to hike and backpack in trail running shoes since they’re so lightweight and efficient. If you fall into this category, the Arete, which also comes in a mid-ankle version (more on that below), would be an option to consider for backpacking.
Biking and Other Activities
The Arete can also be worn as an everyday shoe and would make for a great travel companion. I love wearing the Arete for daily walks around the neighborhood and on bike rides, as the multi-directional grooves on the sole prevent my feet from slipping on my bike pedals.
Waterproof vs Non-Waterproof
The Arete comes in both a waterproof and non-waterproof version. We tested both and found that the non-waterproof version of the Arete to be much more breathable than the waterproof version (as to be expected). The non-waterproof version has a mesh upper while the waterproof Arete is covered in Oboz’s BDry waterproof coating. Either version is great at keeping dust and small rocks out.
If you live somewhere where it rains a lot and you know you want your trail shoes to be waterproof, then the Oboz Arete BDry will be a great option for you. If you’re looking for more breathability and something you can wear comfortably in warmer climates, we recommend the non-waterproof Arete. Since all of my other hiking shoes are all waterproof, the non-waterproof Arete provides breathability and functionality that my other shoes don’t provide.
Oboz Arete Mid vs Low
The Oboz Arete comes in both a mid and a low version. Which one is best really comes down to the terrain, the load you are carrying, and personal preference.
While we haven’t tried the high-top version of the Arete ourselves, it seems like they’ve found the right balance of lightweight and breathable bolstered with ankle support, which provides more stability if you are carrying a heavy pack or hiking on uneven terrain.
Oboz Arete Fit
The Oboz Arete lightweight hiker has a wider forefoot and toe box. Since our feet swell when we hike, providing more space up front increases the comfort level of hiking shoes in our opinion. Everyone’s feet are a little different, and what’s nice about the Arete is that they fit a wide range of feet types. For example, I have a narrow heel and an average forefoot, while Bearfoot Theory’s Director Linda has wide, flat feet. The Oboz Arete manages to fit us both comfortably.
One thing to note is our entire team found the Arete to run just a touch larger than Oboz’s other hiking boots. Some of us had to size down ½ a size from what we normally wear in Oboz hiking boots. Perhaps it’s the fact that I wear thinner socks with the Arete compared to my other hiking shoes. With my narrow heels, I also found the heel pocket to be a little wider than the Oboz Sawtooth or Bridger hiking shoes, so I need to lace them pretty tight in order to prevent heel slippage.
Where to Purchase the Oboz Arete
Oboz is sold at retailers all over the country. The pair I have can be purchased at REI or the full lineup of the Arete lightweight hiking shoe can be found at a variety of local retailers all across the country. If you want to try them on in person, use Oboz’s Dealer Locator tool to find a local shop that carries them.
Oboz has generously donated 5 pairs of the Arete (you pick the model and color) for me to give away to Bearfoot Theory readers. To enter, fill out the form below. For extra entries, visit Oboz and Bearfoot Theory on social and share with your friends!Oboz Arete Giveaway
Why We Love Oboz
We love Oboz because the people behind the brand are just as awesome as their shoes. Plus, as a brand, Oboz puts the planet first. They plant a tree for every pair of Oboz sold, and they donate shoes to nonprofits that help distribute them to people in need. 100% of the energy they use in their Bozeman office comes from renewable resources like wind, solar, and biomass, and they carbon offset all their shoe shipments. Now that’s the kind of brand that we want to support and stand behind, and we hope you will too!