Oboz Arete Review: A Versatile, Tough, and Lightweight Hiking Shoe

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.

First Impressions

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.

See our in-depth review of the Oboz Arete lightweight hiking shoes, with details on comfort, traction, waterproofing, fit, durability, and more.
The Oboz Arete lightweight hiking shoe has a durable grippy sole that allows you to feel stable on uneven terrain

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.

Get our in depth  review of the Oboz Arete lightweight hiking shoe, with details on comfort, traction, waterproofing, fit, durability, and more.

Hiking

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.

Trail Running

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.

Backpacking

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.

Get our in depth  review of the Oboz Arete lightweight hiking shoe, with details on comfort, traction, waterproofing, fit, durability, and more.
The traction on the sole keeps my feet in place 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.

Get our in depth  review of the Oboz Arete lightweight hiking shoe, with details on comfort, traction, waterproofing, fit, durability, and more.
Hiking above Salt Lake City on a trail that ended up being very steep towards the top.

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 Giveaway

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!


Do you have any questions about the Oboz Arete? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by Kristen Bor

Hey there! My name is Kristen, and this is my outdoor blog. I discovered the power of the outdoors in my 20s, at the time I needed it most. Now 15 years later, prioritizing that critical connection with nature continues to improve my life. My goal at Bearfoot Theory is to empower you with the tools and advice you need to responsibly get outside.

205 comments on “Oboz Arete Review: A Versatile, Tough, and Lightweight Hiking Shoe

  1. Versatile, breathable, light and comfortable! Sign me up! I’m always looking for a great all-round hiker! Cheers! Fingers crossed for the Giveaway!

  2. I currently wear the Oboz Sawtooth II for my everyday footwear. I hike, camp, walk, and work in these shoes. I love the width of the toebox and depth of the heal. They get bit heavy some times with everyday wear but Oboz are my “go to” brand. Thanks for sharing an honest review. I’m always looking for a good reliable everyday pair of shoes that fits what i need.

  3. Love my Oboz. Great recommendation. I purchased the sawtooth from your recommendation. Keep up the recommendations.

  4. Great post, these seems to be a fantastic pair of hiking shoes. I like that they are waterproof and very versatile!
    I also love that the company plants a tree for very pair sold, this is awesome.

  5. I have been shopping for new hiking boots (doing a backpacking trip this July for the first time in a loooong time) and have been checking Oboz out. Thanks so much for the insight!

  6. I love Oboz. I just got a pair of sawtooth II bdry low. Always looking for a versatile light weight hiker for travel and trail.

  7. I haven’t backpacked in a couple decades and am going in full force now. Looking for a great hiking shoe and have only recently heard of Oboz. Thanks for the well rounded review – very helpful.

  8. Bought the Oboz Sawtooth 11 based on Bearfoot Theory review and I was not disappointed! Would love to add this light weight Arete version to my footwear wardrobe, particularly for summer hikes and bike trips!

  9. These would be perfect for hiking when I travel. I never want to pack my real hiking boots because of their weight, so this is an awesome compromise.

    1. Great review! I am looking for a great pair of lightweights for summer adventures. Thanks Bearfoot Theory for always providing the best info for gear!

  10. Great recommendation. I think I will try these out as my next go to for hiking adventures. I want the try the Bridgers for winter.

  11. Have been looking for a lightweight pair of breathable hiking boots to wear in summer. These sound fantastic! Thank you for all
    of the great information.

  12. I like that the Oboz Arete comes in a variety of options – waterproof/non-waterproof, mid/low. If you like a shoe and it works for your feet, it’s nice to have options that might work for different purposes/environments.

      1. Hey Sean! We haven’t tried the Buck Pursuit Lows ourselves so we can’t say for sure, but the Oboz Aretes are lighter weight than other low hiking shoes that we’ve tried including the Oboz Sawtooths and the Merrell Moabs.

  13. I always love hiking boots wide enough for my arthritic toes. They are lightweight, comfortable, breathable, attractive and durable. Everything I’d want in an outdoor activity boot.

    1. I’d say the Aretes provide little to medium arch support. Your best bet will likely be to bring the orthotics along to try on with the shoes in store.

  14. I wonder if they fit like Keen hikers with the wider toe box? I had a pair of Keens that no matter what I tried (thick socks, different placings, miles and miles to break in) they gave me the worst blisters. Such a shame.

    1. Hi Marion – I’m not sure if the fit of the Arete’s is similar to Keens. I’d recommend trying them on in-store to see how they fit your foot and whether they’re comfortable for you.

  15. These seem to be great shoes! And the fact that the bdry is waterproof is wonderful! I’m always getting soggy socks from hiking in wet weather or through puddles.

    1. Hi Barbara – yes, what’s great about these hiking shoes is that they’re grippy and durable enough for rugged trails but also comfortable and lightweight for everyday wear. We’ve worn them on neighborhood walks and on all types of trails.

  16. Love reading your reviews!! I just shared your blog with a girlfriend that I’m taking on her first backpacking trip up in the Sawtooths in July! She’s loved reading through all your tips and tricks! Hope you’re doing well!

    1. That’s awesome Amy – thanks so much for sharing, we really appreciate it! I got to visit the Sawtooths for the first time with Kristen last summer and was blown away by how beautiful they are. Have an amazing trip!

  17. I have heard great things about Oboz! I really appreciate your thorough review. I am needing a new pair of hiking shoes and am definitely going to check Oboz out!

  18. My husband and I are planning a trip to the big 5 in Utah next year and I found your site by googling hiking shoes. i read your other post about what you recommended for women’s hiking boots and then I started following you on Instagram. I’m looking forward to reading some of your other posts. You have some helpful information. Thank you

  19. I bought my first pair of Oboz several years ago after reading one of your posts about how much you love them! My bridgers are my favorite pair of hiking shoes and I recommend them to everyone I know! Can’t wait to try this new lightweight style!

  20. These sound amazing!! We’re going to the Galapagos next year and only doing carry-on, lightweight multipurpose hiking shoes like this are exactly what I need!

  21. I love Oboz. They fit my narrow feet better than any other hiking shoe. I wear my sawtooth hiking boots on all my outdoor adventures.

  22. Last year was my first purchase of Oboz boots, absolutely loved them right out of the box. Great support, comfort and durability. Can’t wait to add other pairs to my gear. A light hiker is much needed this season!

  23. These look like a awesome pair of hiking shoes love how they are lightweight and waterproof I love hiking and need a pair of these.

  24. This is an awesome giveaway! I’ve been following your blog and your social media platforms literally for years! Way back before you purchased your van. You are such a trustworthy resource for pretty much everything outdoors. I always look forward to reading your blogs and I enjoy your social media post. Thank you for what you do bring to the outdoors community. I’m also crossing my fingers for this giveaway!

  25. Definitely in the market for a lighter weight hiking shoe so that I don’t always have to wear my intense, high-top, heavy boots. Curious to see how these would fit since they run big.

  26. Oboz are my go to hikers!
    Also, thanks for sharing your thoughts about all that is happening in our nation. Well said.

  27. Thank you for the Oboz shoe review! Timing is just perfect as summer is approaching and hiking season is finally here. I can’t wait to try these out on the Pacific Northwest hiking trails. I’m currently wearing Brooks Calderas trail running shoe and would like to try out a new shoe this season. The Oboz sounds perfect!

  28. I love Oboz hiking shoes! Bought my first pair at REI a couple years ago. Lightweight and comfortable. Thanks for sharing the “give-away” offer!

  29. I love OBOZ! They have a narrow toe box which is perfect for my feet. Also, make great waterproof hiking boots! I’d love to win a pair of these ones!

  30. I’d love to try them out! My trail runners weren’t enough last year for Mt. Whitney so I’m looking for something a little more substantial and Oboz might be just what I need!

  31. I love the look of these. Some hiking shoes are so bulking looking, but these look slim and comfortable.

      1. The breathable, non-waterproof version of these would be great for Sedona since it can get hot there in the summer 🙂

  32. Excited to get back outside after quarantine! A new pair of shoes would make getting outside all the more sweet! Thanks Oboz!!

  33. I bought a pair of Oboz Bridger Low BDry Hiking Shoes from REI about 15 months ago. They are my everyday shoes and for local hikes in the hills with the dogs. They have been a great pair of shoes and I’ll likely buy another pair when these wear out.

  34. I love my Oboz! I have worn them hiking half some, Trans Catalina trail, Rae Lakes Look, Mount Baldy, and many more! They have served me well but I am due for a new pair, I hope I win!

  35. These would be be for the canoe trips we do in the boundary waters. Sturdy enough for portages, but not as heavy as hiking boots

  36. Those look like great shoes. I hadn’t heard of this brand before, but now I will be looking into them. Thanks!

  37. I do not have a pair of Oboz’s but they have been on my wish list for a while now! I like how they are not only great for hiking, but an overall great versatile shoe!

  38. I’ve always been a Salomon kind of lady, but these look awesome!! Very excited to check them out.
    Stay safe dear ones! Strange times we’re living in.

  39. I love my sawtooth low hiking boots. Super stoked to try these as the Sawtooth boots are bit heavy for day to day running around.

  40. I think the arête shoes are very stylish , very comfortable looking shoes , im an avid hiker and these would be great for me.

  41. Love the features of these comfy stylish looking hiking shoes – waterproof, versatile, breathable, and light!

  42. Great writeup, & gave me a nice intro to Oboz! I love how versatile the Arete seems to be, and it seems like it’d fit my needs. The waterproof option would be great for life here in the PNW, and the mid version would give me ankle support!

  43. I’m not a hiker but I could definitely see myself using these for everyday walking … I have some issues with proprioception that affect my balance, so having a firm yet lightweight base would be perfect!

  44. Thease hiking boots sound great. I just bought a pair of hiking boots,paid a fair price but find them hot.Wish I had known about these.Thanks for sharing.

  45. Your previous recommendation of the Oboz Bridger Insulated for snowshoeing was spot on. Would love a summer shoe that fit and performed as well!

  46. So interesting..really..I have never heard of this company before..I will keep my fingers crossed to win a pair.

  47. These shoes look amazingly comfortable. Much better than a hiking boot which is what I have been using up til now.

  48. Thanks for the awesome review. I am looking forward to do some hiking once the parks open back up.

  49. I love that thy plant a tree for every pair… I wonder how these would hold up on some of the trails out here. Lots of sharp rocks in Nevada. Tear my poor boots up

  50. I was not aware of this brand until reading your post. I love that they are light wight. The weight of the shoes has a huge impact on my feet and legs.

    1. Hi Melissa! We’ve worn them on long day hikes and they’ve stayed comfortable throughout, especially if you wear comfortable hiking socks 🙂

  51. I like to visit Northern Maine and hike the trails and walk along the waterfalls on the rocks, these shoes look like they would provide great traction and be comfortable as well.

  52. I love to go on day hiking and have been looking for comfortable and appropriate shoes. These would be perfect.

  53. These hiking shoes sound amazing. Have had several foot injuries and need comfort. Thanks for the chance.

  54. Awesome! My hubby and I, and our little furry guy…..LOVE hiking and camping out! Would love to try out these Oboz! Wish me luck! thank you! 🙂

  55. I love that these hiking shoes are so light & versatile! When packing for a trip, you only need to pack one pair of shoes for working out, hiking, etc.

  56. The Oboz Arete lightweight hiker has a wider forefoot and toe box which is better for my feet. My feet swell more now than ever before and I always need a shoe size that’s about 1/2 a size larger because going up to the next number is always too large.

  57. I love that they are environmentally friendly and yet maintain their quality. Looks like a great shoe. Fingers crossed for me

  58. Thanks for this great giveaway..I have never worn Oboz hikers, so I am quite intrigued with this brand, especially the Oboz Arete hikers with a wider forefoot & toe box. I had bunion surgery several decades again, and ended up with a metal pin in my large toe, so I am always having to pay attention to the shape of my shoes/boots.

    1. Hi there! Yes, the waterproof version of this shoe will keep your feet dry when hiking on wet ground or walking through puddles.

  59. I don’t own any hiking shoes and plan on starting to hike this summer. These look so comfortable!

  60. I not only love Oboz for their wonderful shoes and gear, but as a company, they are also environmentally aware and want to help protect the planet. I just love everything about them. Thank you for this special giveaway!

  61. I hiked the Inca trail in oboz hiking boots two years ago, and still wear them for hiking. Goi g ro look for these now for a good replacement. Thanks for the Info.

  62. Your Oboz Arete Hiking boots look awesome. These would be perfect for hiking and also lightweight for when I travel. I am always having to watch my weight when I travel and these would be perfect for me in every way. Thank you!

  63. Sounds like a great hiking shoe. My daughter loves to hike the trails and needs a good lightweight dependable shoe.

  64. Thank you for always giving such a thorough write up! It’s really helpful to know how these boots perform for certain activities.

  65. These sound amazing! My current hiking shoes are so heavy and uncomfortable. Would love a chance to try these!

  66. Thanks for this post and the giveaway. I love Oboz! I bought my first pair after trying to hike in tennis shoes on the rocky, steep, trails of Alaska. Those shoes saved my feet and are still going strong today. The one problem is that they most definitely a hiking shoe and it is hard to wear them running or for city wear. I would love to add the Aretes for my one-stop shoe. Again thanks for this opportunity.

    1. Sounds like the Arete would be perfect for what you’re looking for. Thanks for reading and good luck with the giveaway!

  67. Looking to replace my worn out hiking boots for a lighter style. I have never worn this brand before, thank you for the detailed review! As always, so helpful!

    1. Hi Leslie! They don’t currently come in a wide size, but I have wide, flat feet and they fit me very comfortably. If you’re unsure if they’d work for you we recommend trying them on in-store to make sure they feel good 🙂

  68. Thanks for such a detailed review! Most of my hiking shoes are waterproof as well. Nice to know that the non waterproof is much more breathable. And since these shoes are super light, it’ll be nice to carry a dry pair of shoes without worrying that it’ll add too much extra weight to your backpack.

  69. These shoes look and sound amazing. I live in Montana and am stoked to hear about such a great company providing jobs and a great product near home. I just bought these mid height boots yesterday and am excited to give them a try!

    1. I would compare this more to a trail running shoe – it’s lightweight and flexible with good tread. Both Kristen and I have pretty flat feet so it’s hard for us to judge arch support, but I would say it’s moderate. If you need more support you could always add insoles and if you’re not sure if these would work for you, you may want to try them on in the store first. Hope that’s helpful!

  70. Never heard of this brand, but these hiking shoes look fabulous! I am one-year post-partum and am starting to get outside again. These shoes would be great to go hiking in with my little man. =)

  71. I’m looking forward to reading more about these hiking boots. With a high arch and wide foot, I’m always looking for something with a nice size toe box.

  72. I believe I may have found a shoe that will fit my needs. Now to find a local retailer. Thanks for the informative review.

  73. I recently made the switch over to trail runners because in hiking boots I’ve always had feet pain and blisters. I am in love! I got a pair of altras, but I’m really interested in trying these out.

    1. We know a lot of people in the same boat who prefer to hike in trail runners. We prefer hiking boots with ankle support for long backpacking trips when we’re carrying a load but for day hikes or trips when you’re not carrying a heavy pack trail runners and lightweight hiking shoes like these Aretes are great. I think you’ll love them!

  74. I’ve been going on multi-day backpacking trips in an Oboz hiking boot for a couple years now and it has held up really well and provided good support for my problematic ankle. Since I just moved to Utah, I’ve been looking for a more durable shoe for day hiking. The low cut waterproof Arete looks like it could be a great fit. Thanks for the insight!

  75. Thank you for this thorough, well-written review! I can respect and trust your judgement—these look like a great choice for my next pair of lightweight shoes! Thanks Kristen and Oboz 🙂

  76. These shoes look so comfortable. I am looking for something like these, they protect and let my feet air and are great for different terrains

  77. Love your blog, thank you! I just started hiking and I am looking for a great shoe. I can’t wait to try Oboz. Thanks for this opportunity~

    1. Thank you for reading and for the kind words and for entering the giveaway. We hope to do more of these in the future. If you haven’t tried Oboz yet, I encourage you to try them out – they really make great shoes 🙂

  78. I have a lot of pain So finding shoes that don’t aggravate my neuroma is challenging. Hoping these have great support

    1. I can imagine that’s challenging. I’d say the support on these is moderate – if you have an insole that you’ve found helps you may want to try them out with these shoes to see how that feels. Best of luck!

  79. My Oboz are the only hiking books I’ve ever found that I love. I can hike longer without sore feet and go up and down steep hills with ease.

    1. That’s great to hear! It’s so important to find a comfortable pair of shoes, it makes hiking so much better 🙂

    1. Hi Patricia! We’ve worn them on all day hikes and have found them comfortable through the end, especially when wearing good hiking socks.

  80. Do you have a contact at Oboz? I ordered the Oboz Arete Low after reading this review and when it arrived I slipped it on and it felt really, really great. EXCEPT one major major flaw. The bottom of the tongue on both shoes is sewn to the rest of the shoe in the middle instead of around the edges, which leaves a bunch of slightly stiff fabric from the tongue hanging down on the top of my foot and rubbing on it as I move. It’s like if someone took a big woodchip and stuck it in the top of your shoe on top of your foot.
    You can see in the REI reviews that other people seem to be having the same issue.
    https://www.rei.com/product/165953/oboz-arete-low-hiking-shoes-mens#product-reviews
    Upon feeling around in there more it feels like the fabric hanging down has dried glue on the back of it, so maybe for some reason that fabric was glued to the top of the shoe rather than sewn, and the glue they used is unreliable and fails in some of the shoes. Is there a way to find this out? I can get a refund no problem but I love the feel of the shoe otherwise so I’m hoping there are just a handful of defective ones out there that I got and that others who have reviewed them got. I can’t imagine you wouldn’t have noticed it if it were happening with yours because, like I said, it literally feels like someone put a big woodchip or giant rock into your shoe.

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