Walking shoes aren’t good for real walking, are they? That’s what I thought until I wore a pair of Oboz Firebrand II BDRY Low waterproof shoes.
Why was I so sceptical about walking shoes? I’ve been brought with years of wearing boots for walking and hiking. In the early 80s, I wore walking boots in Snowdonia, the Brecon Beacons and the Lake District. In the late 80s, I wore army boots in the hills and mountains of Germany, Denmark, Kenya, Northern Ireland and in the USA. Along came the early 90s, and I wore lightweight walking boots while cycling down Africa for a year.
I thought walking shoes were not going to take the terrain. Walking shoes mean your feet don’t feel protected, let alone your ankles. And, walking shoes weren’t going to be comfortable for a long walk.
How wrong was I? And, what I have been doing without walking shoes for over 30 years?
I’ve walked 14 miles over the Yorkshire Dales (over Buckden Pike, over to Great Whernside, down to Kettlewell, and back up Wharfedale to Buckden) wearing the Oboz Firebrand II BDRY Low waterproof shoes. And, my feet were in good shape afterwards. No blisters, no aches, sore patches or crushed toes. My feet were ready for another long walk the next day with these Oboz Firebrand II shoes.
Wearing a pair of trainer socks under a pair of Regatta walking socks, my feet were never too hot (Oboz made the shoes from breathable material), and always comfortable. The combination of socks, in conjunction with the inner soles of the Firebrand II shoes, felt snug and secure. Unlike some boots I’ve used, my feet were not stiff by the end of the walk.
The depth of the soles on the Oboz Firebrand II BDRY shoes means you never feel any small rocks or stones poking through to your feet. Many boots I’ve owned can’t boast that level of comfort.
When I walk in these shoes, the ergonomic shape of the sole makes them feel as though the shoes are rolling with you. You don’t have to fight these shoes. They are for you and your walking enjoyment; nothing else.
A big concern with using walking shoes was insufficient protection and support around my ankles. The terrain my son and I walked over was a mix of soggy moorland, rocky paths and small streams. How would the Oboz shoes do?
I never felt as though I was any less supported than when wearing walking boots with the Oboz shoes. The soles, with their ‘sawtooth’ appearance give you a feeling that you are in control of the terrain, rather than it in charge of you.
My worries about too easily twisting my ankle on the uneven, rocky ground we walked over were unfounded. The Firebrand II shoes hug your feet and lower ankles while allowing movement, so they don’t rub. Consequently, I never once felt like I was going twist an ankle.
Add to that the certainty of the grip provided by the soles on the Oboz Firebrand II BDRY walking shoes, and you feel secure in these shoes. I do.
Breathability and waterproofing
But, a walking is shoe, or any walking boot, which isn’t waterproof and breathable in our climate is going to be a problem.
If the walking shoe material does not ‘breath’ then your foot will become hot and sweaty. This can lead to blisters as your socks become saturated and begin to rub your feet. Or, your feet just feel uncomfortable at best.
Don’t worry about that with the Firebrand II shoes. Oboz makes them with breathable membrane which lets sweat out and keeps your feet at a comfortable temperature. I’ve used these shoes at temperatures between 16℃ and 5℃ and my feet felt good.
Walking through shallow streams and over wet moorland was good too. Nothing came through. And, no water came through the tongue either. The membrane keeps water out and lets sweat out.
Your walking shoes are going to take a battering if you walk over the types of hills I’ve recently tramped in these shoes. Toes get scuffed as you walk over rocks and over styles. Heels get scraped as you step between stones.
Oboz made the Firebrand II BDRY shoes with this in mind. The rubberised toe section surrounds and protects your toes. The distinctive ‘sawtooth’ soles protect your heels and the sides of your feet. They look like and act like mini-shields on your feet.
The other materials making up the shoe are Nubuck leather and tough nylon panels. Tough is correct. But, the materials are supple enough to allow your foot to move enough.
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