The Oboz Wind River III is a durable and well-constructed backpacking boot that will withstand heavy use. It fits snugly around the foot, though the narrow heel may require a break in period for some users. This boot provides plenty of support along the arches with great lateral stability so that testers never worried about rolling an ankle while carrying a heavy pack over rocky terrain. While the tread on this boot looks quite aggressive, testers were slightly disappointed in actual performance on slippery terrain which was just average.
The Oboz Windriver III initially felt pretty comfortable right out of the box but were a noticeably tighter fit compared to other models from Oboz which are known to be roomy in the toe box. This boot is intended for a medium volume foot and testers didn’t have any problems with rubbing but wouldn’t have minded a bit more room in the toes where it felt a bit tight. Testers did appreciate that the Windriver III has a good amount of cushioning that provides great padding all around the foot. This boot also has a custom insole which helps to provide a more comfortable experience when covering many miles on the trail. This boot does have a narrow heel, so some testers found that they got blisters on the back of their heel after a few days of continuous use. Another aspect of this boot that testers liked was the cut-out notch in the collar behind the heel. This allows for more comfort when hiking downhill while the leg is pressed against the back of the boot.
Support & Stability
Overall support and stability were good on the Wind River III. Oboz designed the boot with many features in mind to provide support on the arch and to create stability while hiking. The boot has an integrated shank which flexes when needed to prevent rolling an ankle by having enough lateral support for technical terrain. In the field, testers never had any problems with rolled ankles and found that even when scrambling over rocky terrain they were confident that the boot would provide the support needed. Oboz also created their own insole called O FIT which provides support on the arches as well as a deep cushioned heel cup that helps cradle the heel for both stability and comfort. Like previously mentioned, some testers found this heel design to be a bit too narrow, but with the proper fit, testers found that it did just as advertised to help keep feet as dry and comfortable as one would expect when backpacking all day long.
Testers came away with a mixed opinion on the traction of the Wind River III. The tread pattern on the outsole is fairly aggressive and has deep lugs that are meant to provide plenty of traction especially when going down slick or rocky terrain. However, the outsole is not Vibram rubber like most of the other boots in the test and testers found that this resulted in less traction compared to others. Overall, even though the tread pattern was quite aggressive, testers thought that these boots could be improved with a higher quality rubber outsole to really provide the traction needed in technical terrain.
The Wind River III scored as highly in the protection category as it did comfort. The exterior of the boot is made primarily out of nubuck leather in addition to some synthetic material on the top around the laces. Since this boot isn’t constructed solely out of leather, it avoids the long break in time common of a leather boot while still being made out of durable materials that seem likely to last a long time. Oboz also uses their own waterproof membrane called B-DRY in contrast to the Gore-Tex lining that all the other boots in this test used. However, testers still found the Wind River III to be very waterproof and never had any problems with water leaking in during shallow river crossings. Another aspect of the Wind River III that adds protection is a molded rubber toe cap. Testers liked that this helped to protect the toe while hiking through rocky terrain but didn’t cause any tripping as was the case with a particularly tall toe cap on the Salewa Mtn Trainer.
All the backpacking boots in this round of testing were very similar weights and the Oboz Wind River III landed smack dab in the middle. The Wind River III weighed in at 2 lbs 10 oz for the pair which is pretty standard these days for a backpacking boot. The Oboz look like they might feel a bit clunky, but testers thought it neither felt too heavy nor exceptionally light. Considering that backpacking boots are meant to last for a while and go through a variety of tough terrain, testers thought that Oboz boot lived up to these expectations and therefore justified the weight.
The Oboz Wind River III is best suited for people who want a supportive boot that is made out of durable material. The provided insole is more supportive than found in other boots and the nubuck leather outer will surely hold up to rugged use in the field. This boot would work best on more moderate terrain as there is still room for improvement with traction.