Oboz Cottonwood Hiking Shoe Review

Discover what makes the Oboz Cottonwood my new favorite hiking boot in this gear review that outlines the comfort, fit, performance, sustainability & more.

The Oboz Cottonwood mid waterproof hiking boots in the color Drizzle on a trail in Joshua Tree National Park

As a hiker who previously lived in Colorado for six years and currently travels full-time in my van to explore trails around the US, I’ve tried my fair share of hiking boots and shoes. The newly released Oboz Cottonwood is my first pair of Oboz, and my biggest regret is not trying this brand sooner, as they have quickly become my go-to shoes for daily wear on and off the trail.

As Oboz’s most sustainable hiking shoe to date, the Cottonwood features elements made of 100% recycled materials and the waterproof finish is free of PFAS (otherwise known as forever chemicals). They are also lightweight, waterproof, and feature grippy bottoms that provide solid traction.

A woman carrying a backpack while wearing shorts and the Oboz Cottonwood mid waterproof hiking boots in the color Drizzle on a trail in Joshua Tree National Park
Wearing the Oboz Cottonwood boots on the trails / Photo credit: @nomadxtom

Over the past few weeks, I have tested the Oboz Cottonwood on various hikes and walks. I’ve worn them for long days of shopping, walking my dog around the campground, and hiking for miles on trails with sand, rocks, water, and mud. No matter the occasion, distance, or terrain, I can confidently say that these shoes have performed remarkably well.

In my Oboz Cottonwood review, I’ll provide an in-depth look at the comfort, fit, performance, sustainability, and versatility of these hiking boots.

Sponsored by Oboz Footwear

The Bearfoot Theory team has been wearing Oboz hiking boots since 2017. Based in Bozeman, Montana, we believe Oboz Footwear makes the most supportive, comfortable, and durable hiking boots on the market. Plus, the people behind the brand are just as great as their shoes, and they plant a tree for every pair sold. We only recommend products we truly love and think you will love too.

Oboz Cottonwood Overview

Oboz wanted to make their most environmentally friendly line to date without sacrificing the performance or features of quality hiking boots and hiking shoots. They achieved this with the Cottonwood collection. The Cottonwoods are lightweight while offering superior traction, cushion, and support.

Oboz Cottonwood Mid-Ankle

Key Features

  • Height: Mid-ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 13.0 oz
  • Heel drop: 8mm
  • MSRP: $165

Where to shop

Oboz Cottonwood Low-Ankle

Key Features

  • Height: Low-ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 12.3 oz
  • Heel drop: 8mm
  • MSRP: $155

Where to shop

Notable Features

  • O FIT Insole® provides comfort and support to allow your foot to move naturally in the shoe, no matter the shape or arch of your foot
  • The grippy tread provides strong traction and slip resistance on slick terrain
  • B-DRY lining adds waterproofness & a breathable membrane, plus it’s made of 100% recycled elements
  • The boot has gender-specific models to provide a more tailored fit to the natural shape of the foot
  • Upper nubuck leather and mesh are breathable and abrasion-resistant
  • Strobel lasted construction provides flexibility and allows the boot to conform to the shape of the foot
  • Rubber heel design offers protection and stability
  • The Cottonwood is Oboz’s most sustainable shoe to date with the liner, laces and upper being 100% recycled. The leather is also traceable.
A female hiker wearing the Oboz Cottonwood mid waterproof hiking boots in the color Drizzle on a trail in Joshua Tree National Park
I love how the Oboz Cottonwood boots offer support, cushion, and traction both on and off the trail / Photo credit: @nomadxtom

Best Uses

Although the Oboz Cottonwoods are hiking shoes, their versatility might be their biggest selling point. No matter what my day entails, I reach for these shoes. Whether I’m going to town or heading out for a day on the trails, these multi-purpose shoes provide comfort for any occasion.

I’ve worn them for hiking, walking my dog, hanging out at my campsite, and running errands. While Oboz didn’t design these as a backpacking boot like the Oboz Bridger or the Oboz Sypes (another BFT Team Favorite), I find them so comfortable that I plan to try the mid-ankle version on an upcoming backpacking trip!

Mid-ankle vs. Low-ankle

The Oboz Cottonwood collection comes in two options for both men and women: mid-ankle hiking boots and low-ankle hiking shoes. Both are waterproof, are made of the same recycled elements, and have the same technical features.

Oboz rates both their Cottonwood mid-ankle and low-ankle the same in terms of lightness, support, breathability, waterproofness, and insulation.

The key differences between the Cottonwood mid-ankle hiking boot and the low-ankle hiking shoe are the weight, fit, use, and colors:

  • Weight: The mid-ankle boots are 13.0 oz, while the low-ankle shoes are 12.3 oz – a minimal difference for the added ankle support.
  • Fit: The Cottonwood mid-ankle hiking boots offer more ankle protection than the shoes. The mid-ankle hits right above my ankle, but not so high that it feels restricting in any way
  • Use: The low-ankle shoe might be a better option if you are looking for a more versatile shoe to wear for other activities besides only hiking. I think the shoes could work well for trail running or mountain biking.
  • Colors: There are different colors for the Cottonwood low-ankle hiking shoes vs. the mid-ankle boots.
A woman backpacking while wearing shorts and the Oboz Cottonwood mid waterproof hiking boots in the color Drizzle on a trail in Joshua Tree National Park
Both the low-ankle and mid-ankle versions of the Cottonwood are great for hiking and backpacking / Photo credit: @nomadxtom
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    Oboz Cottonwood Review: First Impressions

    The Oboz Cottonwood boots have become my new favorite shoes for both hiking and casual wear. As soon as I took the boots out of the box and slipped them on, I knew they were different from others I’d worn in the past as they felt comfortable right out of the box.

    Since I live in my Sprinter van full-time, I must be selective about which shoes I keep in my limited space. Here’s what I liked about these boots right away while testing them for this Oboz Cottonwood review:

    • Versatile: These multifaceted boots are perfect for long days of shopping around the city, walking with my dog on gravel, and hiking. They are so comfortable and stylish that you can wear them from town to trail. This allows mo reduce the number of shoes I need to pack in my van.
    • Supportive: I currently have a pair of trail runner shoes that are lightweight and convenient for short hikes, but the Obox Cottonwood boots stabilize my feet better on rocky terrain and keep my feet dry in wet conditions.
    • Light: Other brands of hiking boots often feel clunky and heavy on my feet, but these boots are lightweight while offering both support and flexibility. The boots provide a light bounce in my step as I walk due to the design of the toe spring. They provide a smooth stride across a variety of terrain.
    • Grippy: While exploring the trails around Joshua Tree, I noticed that the Cottonwood bottoms are grippy and offer excellent traction to prevent me from slipping on sandy, rocky surfaces and scree on the trail. I saw someone slip near me, but I never once lost my traction or balance in these boots!
    A woman backpacking while wearing shorts and the Oboz Cottonwood mid waterproof hiking boots in the color Drizzle on a trail in Joshua Tree National Park
    Even with a heavy backpack, I’m all smiles in my new Oboz Cottonwood hiking boots / Photo credit: @nomadxtom

    Oboz Cottonwood Comfort & Fit

    Made with the O Fit Insole and designed for versatility, the Oboz Cottonwood hiking boots hit the mark in terms of comfort, fit, and style. They have quickly become my favorite everyday shoes.


    While some shoes may require a break-in period, the Oboz Cottonwood boots are comfortable right out of the box. When I put mine on for the first time, I went for a mile hike on rocky terrain and experienced no discomfort whatsoever.

    The Cottonwood boots are comfortable enough to wear all day long. I have flat feet with basically no arch, so I find that my feet often ache after long hikes. With my old hiking boots, I counted the seconds until I got back to the car and could take them off, but I wanted to keep these boots on!

    The insoles of the Cottonwood feel like they move with me and adapt to the trail terrain, unlike other rigid boots I’ve tried. The O Fit Insoles allow my feet to move freely when I step. Even when hiking on challenging terrain and rocks along the trail, the insoles provided comfort the entire time, and I never felt the sharp rocks under my feet.

    The Cottonwood boots are lightweight and flexible. At 13.0 oz, they are only a couple ounces heavier than the super-light Oboz Katabatic, giving them a light and bouncy feel. They are comfortable enough to wear hiking all day.

    These boots have provided my feet with the perfect balance of cushion and support during challenging uphill hikes, long walks with my dog on gravel, and walking to stores on paved surfaces in the city.

    A female hiker wearing the Oboz Cottonwood mid waterproof hiking boots in the color Drizzle on a trail in Joshua Tree National Park
    My feet felt comfortable over short and long distances while exploring the Joshua Tree trails / Photo credit: @nomadxtom


    The Cottonwood boots are gender-specific, and the length runs true to size. Although I usually size up half a size for hiking boots to account for swelling and toe movement on trails, I think it comes down to personal preference.

    I went up half a size from what I typically wear in everyday shoes, and the boots fit well with my favorite hiking socks. They don’t feel loose, and I don’t experience any slip in my heel.

    However, they do feel a bit loose with thin socks. I recommend ordering your regular size if you tend to wear thin socks.

    The Cottonwood boots fit a variety of foot shapes and arch levels. I am usually a medium (regular) width and have flat feet. I felt immediate support for my arches when I slipped on the boots.

    The boots feel snug enough to prevent heel slippage but not overly tight as though they are uncomfortable. The cup comfortably hugs my heel, and the toe box feels wide enough to fully spread out my toes.

    I like how they move with my feet and stay in place while I hike. I haven’t gotten any blisters or sore spots, and my feet never felt hot or sweaty while wearing them.

    A female hiker wearing the Oboz Cottonwood mid waterproof hiking boots in the color Drizzle on a trail in Joshua Tree National Park
    These fit true to size. The heel cup hugs my heel perfectly and my feet don’t shift inside of them.


    The Oboz Cottonwood boots are stylish enough to be worn as an everyday shoe, making them a great choice to bring on your next trip. If you only have enough room in your travel backpack for one pair of shoes, these boots are versatile enough to wear around town without looking like you’re about to hit the trails.

    I wore mine while walking to all the shops in Joshua Tree, running errands in Palm Springs, and going to a date night at a brewery with my husband. The Cottonwood boots are a convenient choice for travelers who plan to do a mix of hiking, sightseeing, and hanging out in cities and don’t want to sacrifice comfort or style.

    The only reason I docked a star for style is because of the color choices for the mid-ankle version. They come in Drizzle gray or Rye brown. I love the pops of color, but I’d like to see some brighter options too. However, you may be pleased with these colors if you prefer more neutral and earthy tones which tend to hide dirt better.

    A female hiker wearing Darn Tough socks and the Oboz Cottonwood mid waterproof hiking boots in the color Drizzle on a trail in Joshua Tree National Park
    A close-up of my Oboz Cottonwood Mid Waterproof hiking boots in the color Drizzle / Photo credit: @nomadxtom

    Oboz Cottonwood Performance

    The Oboz Cottonwood boots are functional and reliable, making them a quick favorite piece of outdoor gear that I love wearing on various adventures.

    Here is a breakdown of the Cottonwood key performance features in my review below:


    The Oboz Cottonwood boots are my first pair of waterproof hiking boots. I was skeptical if they were truly waterproof, so of course, I  jumped in some puddles along the trail.

    These boots exceeded my expectations and passed the waterproof test. The waterproof Cottonwood boots utilize the B-DRY lining to prevent water from getting into them.

    Even after jumping in puddles that covered the outside of the boot, my socks and feet stayed dry. After a few minutes, the outside of the boots appeared completely dry, and there was no evidence that I had walked through any water.

    BFT Founder, Kristen (an avid Oboz lover), and BFT Contributors who’ve been wearing other Oboz models for years attest to how effective their B-DRY waterproof lining is for keeping your feet dry, whether you are walking through a puddle like me or hiking in a downpour.

    A female hiker wearing the Oboz Cottonwood mid waterproof hiking boots in the color Drizzle while standing in a puddle in Joshua Tree National Park
    My feet stayed completely dry after waking through this icy puddle in the Oboz Cottonwoods


    The raised rubber lugs on the bottom of the Oboz Cottonwood boots are very effective. They provide trail tread, slip resistance, and durability.

    They are easily the grippiest hiking boots I’ve ever tried! When I encounter scree on the trails, I usually slow down and watch my step to avoid slipping.

    However, I never once came close to slipping in these boots, even when hiking on smooth rocks with sand. The sturdy and grippy bottoms made me feel secure and allowed me to keep my balance the entire time.

    A foot lifting while hiking to show the bottom traction of the Oboz Cottonwood mid waterproof hiking boots on a trail in Joshua Tree National Park
    I never slipped on the sandy trails in Joshua Tree with the Oboz Cottonwood boots / Photo credit: @nomadxtom


    I used to avoid waterproof boots as I had heard that they can make your feet feel hot and sweaty during long hikes, causing blisters to form more easily. I found this is not the case with these hiking boots, though.

    The Cottonwood boots have a breathable membrane and a mesh upper lining, offering ventilation and allowing your feet to feel cool even in hot temperatures. My feet never felt uncomfortably hot, even while hiking for several miles in the desert.

    These boots are breathable enough to be worn comfortably in warm or dry climates. However, they are a hair less breathable than my ultralight hiking shoes or the Oboz Katabatic lightweight hikers.


    The Oboz Cottonwood is a mid-ankle boot that offers just the right amount of protection on trails. They hit just above my ankle, allowing me to be nimble on the trail.

    I have found that my ankles feel supported on all types of terrain and when carrying various sizes of backpacks and gear. They aren’t overkill for day hikes or backpacking trips where you are packing light.

    Within the past year, I switched from hiking boots to trail runner shoes for backpacking trips because I feel lighter when I step. However, I’ve been missing the support I get from a more traditional hiking boot. I’m happy to find that the Oboz Cottonwood is the perfect in-between.

    The mid-ankle style helps me maintain a quick pace on trails while climbing up and down rocks and scree without feeling overly rigid, chunky, or heavy like other hiking boots. They provide more structure than a trail runner or lightweight hiking shoe, while still allowing you to go fast and light.

    I never once felt like I might twist my ankle on the trail in the Oboz Cottonwood boots. I love the confidence these boots give me in such a lightweight package.

    A female hiker wearing the Oboz Cottonwood mid waterproof hiking boots in the color Drizzle on a trail in Joshua Tree National Park
    I felt supported by the Oboz Cottonwood boots even while carrying a load on the trail / Photo credit: @nomadxtom


    One of the features I’m most exited to share in this Oboz Cottonwood review is that the Cottonwoods are Oboz’s most sustainable hiking boots yet. They feature multiple 100% recycled elements, including the upper, the lining, and the laces. The BDry waterproof lining is also 100% recyclable and made from 25% post industrial waste, plus it is completely free from forever chemicals (PFAS) that are common in waterproof finishes and known to pollute waterways.

    I feel proud to wear my Oboz Cottonwood boots on the trail because they are more eco-conscious than other leather products and put the planet first, all without compromising performance.

    The upper nubuck leather is produced using less water than traditional methods. It is traceable to the farms, and the ranchers must adhere to verified and strict animal well-being standards.

    I also admire how Oboz Footwear is a company that prioritizes sustainability at its core. Oboz plants a tree for every pair of shoes they sell – more than 5 million and counting! Their Bozeman office runs off of 100% renewable energy from wind, solar, and biomass, and they carbon offset all their shoe shipments.

    Since Oboz started in 2007, they have devoted themselves to being environmentally responsible. They are certified B Corp® and have met high social and environmental performance standards.

    This is a brand you can feel proud to support while enjoying nature!

    A woman backpacking while wearing shorts and the Oboz Cottonwood mid waterproof hiking boots in the color Drizzle on a trail in Joshua Tree National Park
    I am proud to wear the Cottonwoods, Oboz’s most sustainable hiking boots yet / Photo credit: @nomadxtom

    Where to Buy Oboz Cottonwood

    The Oboz Cottonwood boots are available on Oboz Footwear’s website. They come in either a mid-ankle or low-ankle waterproof version in both men’s and women’s sizes.

    Here are some of the current Oboz Cottonwood styles and colors available

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    Do you have any questions about the Oboz Cottonwood? Have you tried them out yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

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