First few rucks are done, one 20K, and two 12Ks. All executed with armor and pack, in that middle ground that lives between a proper running pace, and a half dying terminally wound antelope. Terrain has been typical with the area: lots of hardball, sad, mud, loose rock, and more sand. So what have I learned about the Oboz Yellowstones
? We will start front to back with construction and move on from there.Oboz
builds a significantly capped composite toe into these boots, which would normally concern me. This time I was pleasantly surprised to have a roomy enough toe box to not have the capped toe rub my feet, and still offer the protection that I need on the trails and fire breaks of FT Bragg and surrounding areas. It was after the first stumble over roots and rocks that I was praising the extra added protection. Would these boots qualify for use in an industrial area, probably not. Would they give ample protection from sharp rocks, roots, and the occasional mouthful of teeth...yes. In the begining the cap worried me, but it was pulled off very well, and I was thankful for it.
With the vast majority of the good footwear manufactures using Vibram for their outer soles, it is great to see a company like Oboz
running their own. Vibram makes great soles, but by using them a company is tied to making the boot around the sole, and not the other way around. So if you are a company like Oboz
and you want to pull off an evolution in footwear, you may need to look internally to develop the whole package. What do you get from Oboz
and their homegrown rubber? You get an outersole that is tailored to the particular nature of the boot. The soles are off center, with a slight cant to the them, and through whatever magic Oboz
uses..they work. They were also nice to enough to give us little diamond shapes, so if you have to leave a loving boot print on someone, you could be sure it would show up nicely. I have used the tread on everything from wet pavement, to sand and mud, and they have given as good of grip as I could ask for. Someday, there will be a wonder outersole that keeps me from falling on my ass in loose rock on downhills...but not yet.
I have to put this out first, I am not partial to most aftermarket insoles. They just never seem to fit as perfectly as the stock sets. So, this is why I was pleasantly surprised to find a decent set of insoles in the Yellowstones
. Usually you will find that a boot company will cut this corner, but Oboz
has gone above and beyond.
Now, the heel. I have a hard time finding boots that will completely retain my heal when I push off hard. If you look at a cross section of most of the boots of there, you will find that the heels are squared off to the sole. The problem as I see it is that our feet are not shaped that way, heels are round creatures. The Yellowstone
has a very contoured and rounded heel cup similar to what you would find in something like a 5.10. What does this do? It gives great heel retention. This did take a bit to get used to, as pretty much every other boot on the planet doesn't contact the heel in this way. At the end of the day, a very positive thing, but you might want to give yourself some time in them to get used to it to prevent blisters.
The ankle on the Yellowstones
are very, very stiff, but since they are mid cut it doesn't feel restrictive. I don't know that I would like the feel of the stiffness if they were any higher as with some of the other Oboz line. With a good tight lacing I was able to minimize the joys of the inevitable twisted ankles, through the surprising amount of support they gave.
What do you find is the biggest double edged sword in footwear? Yes, you guessed it, Gore-Tex or waterproof linings. For those of us that use boots more like a running shoe, in deep water, or in very hot climates, waterproofing can be a real issue. It is also very difficult to find a non Gore or waterproof boot on the market. Oboz has used a proprietary waterproof liner in the Yellowstone, that does work very well as keeping water out, as long as you don't submerge them. So, obviously I had to pull off a knee high water crossing in the middle of a 12K. The Yellowstones
had a sealed tongue, with a tight fitting ankle so they were able to resist much of the water that was desperately trying to turn them into buckets, but eventually the water will always get in. Would a change of socks have helped? Yes, of course they would have, but I am stubborn and smart like a tractor. The waterproof liner made it difficult to clear the water from the interior of the boot, and even after a day of drying at home, they were still a bit damp. It is hard to put this in the negative column as most boots/hikers out there now have some kind of waterproof liner in them, but I really wish that Oboz had made it an option to have a non-lined version of this boot. Be prepared, if you submerge them, they will stay wet.
This leads us to the upper. What I found again was the tongue which is hard sewn to the rest of the upper, does a great job keeping the sand of the FT Bragg firebreaks out. What I did not find were any rubs or hot spots on the tongue or anywhere in the upper. The feeling I got from a tight lacing was more like a running shoe than a boot. They gave a feeling that my feet were more wrapped in the boot. How Oboz
pulled this off is probably why they are footwear manufactures and I am a lowly guy that uses their product is ways that it was never originally unintended for. The whole package of the upper, laces and all, feels exceptional. One piece to watch out for is the top eyelet. If you are falling out of airplanes for a living, and need 100% closed eyelet footwear, you may not be able to run the Yellowstones. The top eyelet is mostly enclosed, but still is not completely enclosed. Again, since most of the population is not worried about having a horse shoe malfunction because a line wrapped up on an eyelet, this is just something to me mindful off. So, the upper is full of win with a footnote to be careful of them in free fall.
Overall the Oboz Yellowstones
have met or exceeded my expectations in every department. I do wish that there was a non-waterproof version for those of us who get more than ankle deep in the wet stuff. What haven't I learned yet? One of the biggest measures of these boots is going to be mileage and time. Will this high concept reasonable priced boot hold up to hard use of ruck running in mixed terrain? Only time is going to tell.
What is between the lines? These are a great boot for ruck running in. They give a stable feeling of a good boot, with the ability to roll over the miles like a running shoe, but with the support needed from the extra weight of a pack and armor.
If you need to find a pair of the Oboz Yellowstone 2s, we are stocking them here at GGT
- Toes: Cap is great, doesn't rub, gives ample protection from teeth.
- Outersole: Not your average Vibram outer, good grip.
- Insole: Not quite a high dollar insole, but far exceeds most factory insoles.
- Heels: Very different feel with a high degree of heel retention, may take some getting used to.
- Ankles: Lots of support, could be uncomfortable if they were much higher from how stiff they were.
- Liners: Proprietary waterproof liner does a good job of keeping water out until the boot is submerged, then hurts in the clearing and dry time.
- Upper: Helps to make the boot wrap the entire foot in goodness and keeps out sand etc, but does have an open eyelet which can be bad for free fall.
, and yes the hose under the plates does help.