Outdoor enthusiasts who want their backcountry adventures to be as safe and enjoyable as possible always go with high-quality gear. And when it comes to outdoor equipment, one item you definitely don’t want to get for cheap is a pair of hiking shoes.
If you’re unable to decide whether to go with Oboz’s or Merrell’s footwear, you’re in the right place. In this article, I’ll be pitting these two globally-renowned brands against each other by taking a detailed look at their backgrounds, manufacturing processes, as well as their most popular products. Let’s dive right into it!
- 1 Oboz – A General Overview
- 2 Oboz – Popular Products
- 3 Merrell – A General Overview
- 4 Merrell – Popular Products
- 5 Oboz vs Merrell – The Verdict
Oboz – A General Overview
The most interesting thing about this brand is that it was established by a person just like you and me, i.e. by someone who loves being outside in the wild more than anything else.
While it’s true that Oboz’s history isn’t as interesting as those of some other world-famous footwear companies, the brand has still managed to climb up the ladder throughout the years and become one of the most well-known names in the industry.
Unlike its rival, Oboz is a relatively new footwear brand – it was established a decade and a half ago, in 2008. The company got its name from the town in which it was established: Bozeman, Montana (Outside Bozeman = Oboz).
The person who created this brand is John Connelly, an outdoorsman and a guy with a lot of experience in running various types of businesses. Back in the late 2000s, he realized that the folks trekking around his hometown of Bozeman needed better hiking shoes, and decided to do something about it.
Today, almost all of the people who work for Oboz are into outdoor activities – they are runners, walkers, climbers, hikers, and much more. For that matter, they give their best to design footwear that they themselves would like to use. It goes without saying that something like this ensures the premium quality of each pair of Oboz shoes or boots.
What is more, it is incredibly easy for these guys to “test-drive” the products they design. After all, the city of Bozeman is in the middle of a mountainous region – they just need to get outside and try out the newly-created hiking shoes on various types of terrain.
Another thing worth mentioning here is that Oboz is one of those rare footwear brands that genuinely care for our environment. In other words, the brand puts a lot of effort into making its footwear manufacturing processes sustainable and environmentally friendly.
One of the most impressive things in this regard is the fact that, for every purchased pair of Oboz hiking shoes, the company plants a tree. As far as I’m concerned, this definitely deserves special words of praise.
As the years go by and the shoemaking processes evolve and improve, Oboz keeps discovering new methods of creating exceptional hiking shoes while trying to keep those same methods as eco-friendly as possible.
Just like all other well-esteemed footwear brands, Oboz manufactures its boots and shoes from top-quality materials. The brand chooses which materials it’s going to use depending on the purpose of a particular boot or shoe.
Most of Oboz’s footwear sports an upper made out of one of the three following materials: premium-quality Nubuck leather, synthetics such as polyester, or performance mesh.
To achieve an ideal fit and form of insoles, on the other hand, the engineers working at Oboz evaluate imprints made by human feet.
This kind of detailed approach to shoemaking led to the creation of the brand’s in-house O FIT insole technology, which is one of the best insole solutions in today’s market.
The outsoles found on Oboz’s boots and shoes typically sport distinctive tread designs that provide a supportive grip, extraordinary traction, as well as excellent balance. The brand’s midsoles, on the other hand, are lightweight and rigid at the same time, and the result of this is formidable flexibility that promotes effortless movement.
Oboz – Popular Products
Oboz Bridger Low B-Dry Hiking Shoes
- Colors Available: 2
- Dimensions: 13” x 10” x 5”
- Weight: 2.75 lbs
The two most important in-house technologies used in the manufacture of the Oboz Bridger shoe are the B-Dry membrane and the aforementioned O FIT insole. These make the model waterproof and incredibly comfortable to wear, respectively.
The model’s upper, on the other hand, is made out of durable Nubuck leather, while its Granite Peak outsole guarantees excellent traction and support. All in all, a fine choice for any backcountry explorer.
- Excellent traction, support, and comfort
- Durable construction
- Good waterproofing
- Only two colors
Oboz Sypes Low B-Dry Hiking Shoes
- Colors Available: 3
- Dimensions: 2” x 4” x 6”
- Weight: 0.98 lbs
Just like the model described above, Oboz Sypes sports an O FIT insole and a B-Dry waterproof membrane. However, the main material used in its manufacture is the Cordura fabric, which is extraordinarily durable thanks to its high-tenacity fiber construction.
If you’re serious about your hiking adventures, you won’t make a mistake by going with this hiking shoe. Oboz Sypes is durable, comfortable, and sports a very grippy outsole.
- Waterproof & comfortable
- Durable Cordura fabric
- Great traction
- The fit is a bit tight
Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoes
- Colors Available: 4
- Dimensions: 3” x 4” x 7”
- Weight: 1 lb
It’s no wonder that this is Oboz’s best-selling hiking shoe. The Sawtooth Low II has it all – a durable upper made out of Nubuck leather, a shape-conforming O FIT insole, and the in-house Sawtooth outsole that provides a firm, planted feel.
The only not-so-great thing about this Oboz hiking shoe is that it’s a bit expensive. However, the price is completely justified here: Sawtooth is the brand’s best footwear product yet.
- The best Oboz hiking shoe so far
- Phenomenal build quality
- Great for multi-day hikes
- Somewhat expensive
Merrell – A General Overview
While it’s true that Merrell is not an independent company anymore – it belongs to Wolverine World Wide, which also owns Chaco and Saucony, among other footwear brands – it wasn’t always like that.
Established by three outdoorsmen, Merrell started out as a small shoe-making business that slowly grew into one of the world’s most beloved and best-known footwear labels. Let’s take a closer look at its history:
Another famous American hiking footwear brand, Merrell was born over four decades ago, in the early 1980s. It was created by two experienced outdoorsmen – Clark Matis and John Schweizer – and one shoemaking expert, Randy Merrell.
Back in those days, Clark and John had jobs in a skiing company and knew pretty much everything there is to know about the importance of wearing proper apparel and footwear while exploring the backcountry.
Mr. Merrell, on the other hand, had quite a bit of expertise when it came to designing durable and supportive shoes and boots.
Together, they started a shoemaking business with the ultimate goal of designing, manufacturing, and selling hiking footwear that wouldn’t only be affordable to average buyers, but also practical and good-looking.
A few years after establishing Merrell, the three friends shipped off their best pieces of hiking footwear to several East Coast-based outdoor equipment stores. What followed was a massive success.
However, even though the brand had an extremely successful start, Mr. Merrell decided to leave the company – he sold his share and decided to spend the rest of his life customizing luxurious boots in peace.
In the following decades, Merrell switched owners a couple of times before finally being bought by the aforementioned Wolverine World Wide, under whose ownership it remains to this day.
Today, the brand’s trekking footwear is held in high regard by millions of loyal customers all over the planet. Just like four decades ago, Merrell still designs some of the world’s best hiking shoes, but also a number of other outdoor equipment products and accessories.
To make its hiking shoes and other products as practical and hard-wearing as possible, Merrell uses various top-quality materials sourced from all over the globe.
On Merrell’s footwear designed for rugged terrain and harsh conditions, one can typically find grippy and slip-resistant Vibram outsoles, strong Italian metal hardware, as well as uppers that are made out of leather and which are as durable and water-resistant as they can be.
The aforementioned Vibram outsoles are an essential part of every pair of Merrell hiking shoes. Not only do they provide outdoor enthusiasts with much-needed support by biting into all types of surfaces, but they also absorb shocks. The comfort, on the other hand, is ensured by the presence of well-cushioned uppers.
Just like the rest of the well-known names in the footwear industry, Merrell uses a number of in-house technologies to make its shoes as comfortable, supportive, and protective as possible. Some of these include M-Select Wick, M-Select Grip, M-Select Wind, M-Select Dry, and M-Select Warm. If you want are interested in more brands similar to Merrell, check out our Salomon vs Merrell comparison as well.
Merrell – Popular Products
Merrell Moab Flight Hiking Shoes
- Colors Available: 10
- Dimensions: 13.07” x 8.43” x 4.96”
- Weight: 1.21 lbs
Although it looks like your typical trail runner, this is actually a hiking shoe and a great one at that. Its only drawback is the somewhat poor traction – everything else is on point.
The highest amount of comfort is ensured by the model’s thickly-padded midsole, while the wide platform provides much-needed stability for long walks through the backcountry. The shoe is also very breathable, which turns into a great choice for those hiking in hot climates.
- The wide platform provides stability & comfort
- Exceptionally breathable
- Not the best traction
Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator Hiking Shoes
- Colors Available: 18
- Dimensions: 10” x 15” x 6”
- Weight: 2.20 lbs
As its name suggests, this particular Merrell hiking shoe is an ideal option for folks looking for above-average breathability and ventilation. However, the model also provides excellent support as well as out-of-the-box comfort.
Besides the mesh/leather upper, this shoe sports a nylon shank, an EVA midsole, as well the grippy Vibram outsole. These shoes are not waterproof, though – make sure to stay away from creeks while hiking in them.
- Top-of-the-line breathability
- No break-in period
- Superb support
- No water resistance
Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoes
- Colors Available: 8
- Dimensions: 10” x 15” x 6”
- Weight: 2.34 lbs
One of Merrell’s bestsellers, the Moab 2 Waterproof shoe is a phenomenal choice if you’re on a budget but still don’t want to sacrifice quality. It is fully waterproof (M-Select Dry) and offers terrific comfort when used on easy and moderate hiking trails.
Furthermore, Moab 2 Waterproof provides outstanding traction thanks to its Vibram outsole and sports a very durable construction that can take a serious beating. It is, however, not the best option if you’re looking for something lightweight.
- Fully waterproof (M-Select Dry)
- Extremely durable
- Grippy outsole
Oboz vs Merrell – The Verdict
Both Oboz and Merrell have plenty of incredibly well-made hiking shoes and boots on offer, and both brands sit in the same price category. As you can already guess, this makes choosing the winner quite difficult. However, I feel like the victor of this “battle” should be Oboz, and for a couple of good reasons.
While testing Oboz’s shoes, one can immediately notice that these were made by outdoorsmen for outdoorsmen. The footwear products designed by this company do not have that “fancy” look that is usually found in, say, Salomon’s catalog – these are extremely rugged, highly durable hiking shoes that can take a serious beating and serve their owners for many years.
However, there are a couple of departments in which Merrell beats its rival. The most important advantage that it has over Oboz is the massive selection of stylish designs and colors – Merrell’s lineup of footwear is not as conservative as that of its rival. This makes getting a pair of hiking shoes that match your personal style much, much easier.
But still, I’d say that Oboz is a better choice between the two. As I said above, this brand’s shoes are made for more than just day hiking – they are as practical, protective, and durable as shoes can be.