The Wind River III are as comfortable of a pair of winter hiking boots as you’re likely to find, but don’t let that fool you into believing that they are soft in any way. They provide quality construction and the kind of durability to tackle any trek in the snow, regardless of how epic it might seem.
Support & Stability
The Oboz Wind River III are made from stiff, thick leather combined with an abrasion-resistant breathable fabric. And while this offers some solid protection, it also means that the upper doesn’t wrap around and grip your feet like some of the other boots in the test, which reduces the overall support and stability of the boots. The heel is the big exception, however. Oboz has put a great deal of effort and dedication into providing a cockpit to hold your heel securely in place to avoid the slipping that can often lead to blisters, and it works incredibly well. While the traction on the soles isn’t as aggressive as some of the other boots in the test, it is more than adequate to provide a good grip during excursions in the snow and even passable traction on the ice.
Quality & Construction
There might be more expensive hiking boots on the market, but it would be hard to argue that there are many that have higher quality and better construction than the Wind River III’s. The boots are made to be abused, with the added benefit of actually looking better because of the miles. These are the kind of boots that might very well outlast you.
Oboz has earned a solid reputation for being some of the most comfortable boots on the planet, and the Wind River III provide even more credence for that claim. Despite the fact that they didn’t provide the wrap-around comfort that some of the other boots in the test did, they were still the most comfortable boots to wear day-in and day-out. Straight out of the box, these are the kind of boots that you can wear for many hours, and many miles, without counting down the minutes until you can unlace them. The wide toe box gives your digits some freedom while the tight heel keeps your foot firmly in place. The downside to the wide toe box, however, was that our feet did begin to get chilled after 20 minutes of inactivity, but they remained relatively warm as long as we kept moving.
The Wind River boots have a somewhat bulky look that is accentuated by their actual weight. They weren’t the heaviest boots in the test, but came in a close second. Still, at less than 4 lbs., they aren’t too heavy for a solid pair of winter hiking boots.
Like the Mountain Trainer boots, the Wind River III’s provide the kind of protection for your feet that shouldn’t be possible in a boot that’s as comfortable as they are. While they don’t have a rubber rand that wraps completely around the base of the boot, the thick rubber on the toe complements the thick leather on the sides to provide a nearly impenetrable barrier of protection for your feet. Oboz B-Dry waterproof membrane combined with the waterproof finish on the Nubuck leather kept our feet completely dry even in the slushiest snow.
Christopher Cogley is a freelance writer who spends as much time as possible biking, hiking, camping, and exploring the outdoor playground of Western Colorado where he lives with his wife and two boys.