From Bozeman, Montana you are three hours north of Yellowstone and four hours in the same direction to Jackson Hole, WY. Four hours to the north you come to Glacier and the Canadian Rockies. Bozeman has a population of less than 40,000 people and it is only the fourth populous city in Montana.
In 2007 a number of footwear veterans got together and formed Oboz in Bozeman, Montana. The name is a fusion of the words ‘outside’ and ‘Bozeman.’ And outside is where these shoes are meant to be worn. That emphasis on the outdoors carries through to the company’s slogan – “True to the trail” – and to the commitment to plant a tree for each pair of shoes that is sold. The company also emphasizes ethical manufacturing up and down the supply chain, including overseas where the shoes are assembled. By putting these social and environmental issues front and center, Oboz is banking a continuing trend towards socially conscious consumers who have money to spend on quality gear.
And whether or not the message (the politics, if you will) agree with you, the quality is there. Take the mid-rise ‘Big Sky’ insulated and waterproof boot. At $165, it is at the mid to upper end of comparable shoes you will find at the local REI. With 200g 3M Thinsulate over genuine leather and a B-DRY waterproof membrane, these shoes tick all the boxes. Oboz have developed Granite Peak sole construction which combines support, comfort and durability.
The Big Sky’s appearance is hardly revolutionary. Style-wise, it is easy to confuse these with the competition from Merrill and other legacy brands in the hiking boot market. It is hard for a boot to break through with consumers when the differences are on the inside. In this case, the distinguishing factor is the durability. Oboz footwear just lasts longer than the comparable shoe.
Apparently word is getting out and the Oboz are becoming more widely available. After ten years, the group from Bozeman is proving to be the little engine that can. They now offer dozens of styles that can be purchased online and locally. For a tough pair of boots designed to tackle the rugged beauty of Montana and Wyoming, Oboz have a lot going for them.