I tend to choose footwear that goes to extremes when hiking. Sometimes I’ll wear my heavy, all-leather boots, at others just a pair of sandals or trail runners so that my feet feel light. When I first tried on a pair of Oboz Bridger BDry boots, I instantly felt like I was getting the best of both worlds. The Bridger is a leather boot with excellent support that feels as light as a sneaker. I had about five days to break-in the boots before a nine-day trial backpacking trip.
Fortunately, Oboz’s claim that “the Bridger’s leather goodness comes with practically no break-in time” held true in my experience. Out of the box, they were already more comfortable than my other pairs of hiking boots and wearing them during my day job as a landscaper made them even more comfortable with time. During this time, I noticed that the boots breathe well, considering that they are leather. I got a lot of comments from co-workers about how good the boots looked. One woman actually came up and told me that she’d been looking for boots like the Bridger.
Soon the big day came and I was off on my trip My pack weighed an estimated 30 pounds and I averaged 15 miles per day right from the start over muddy terrain riddled with stream crossings. I wore gaiters with the boots almost the entire time.
In terms of traction, I thought that the sole was excellent. During the hike, the boot provided good traction on mud, wet rocks, and roots. The only features where I had problems were some particularly slimy submerged rocks during stream crossings and the many slick, smooth bog-bridges that just seemed designed to send hikers flying into the surrounding mud. Both of these features provide a challenge for most hikers, regardless of the boots that they’re wearing.
After my backpacking trip, I took my Bridgers up Jay Mountain in the Adirondacks. The terrain is far rockier than the trails I had been backpacking with several scrambles. The boots did great on the rocks and small amounts of slushy snow. I felt confident jumping from rock to rock while my partner’s trail runners sent him flying several times.
My feet were wet for all but the first few days of the trip, though not necessarily though a fault in the boot’s design. Early in the trip, I crossed several streams, partly submerging the boots and they remained dry. I was able to navigate most of the stream crossings without getting my feet wet but sometimes I could feel the water coming in through my gaiters and seeping into my boots.
One of the design features that frustrated me a little is that the heel of the boot dips down about an inch below the top of the tongue. I found that extra inch to be surprisingly crucial because there were times when water would come down over the heel, but the rest of the boot would not get wet. Even so, I don’t think that extra material on the heel would have kept them dry because several times I plunged into knee-deep mud.
I had bad luck because during the trip it rained nearly every day and the humidity combined with the cold made it impossible to dry the boots once they were wet. At times it was challenging to judge if the boot was waterproof because of the general level of moisture and the fact that my feet tend to sweat when I hike. Towards the end of the 130+ mile trip, I could feel a cold sensation near some seams during stream crossings.
In terms of comfort, I found that my feet did suffer some by the end of most days. I think this was mostly due to putting in long days right from the get-go and having feet that were constantly wet. Under those conditions, foot care would have been an issue in almost any boot. I wish that the shoe laces were easier to tighten near the toe because I think that would have increased the boot’s comfort. Usually when I tied my shoe strings they were tight near the tops of the boots but loose at the bottom. Some of Oboz’s boots have a pulley lacing system that I haven’t tried, but would probably improve the boot.
The Bridger earned high marks for stability. I only rolled my ankles once or twice during the whole trip and it was very mild. I felt like the boots not only gave me ankle support but also helped to stabilize any twisting motion.
One feature that I really appreciate is the boot’s rubber toe cap. I tend to wear out the toes of my boots before most other parts, and that cap offers the boot additional protection and provides additional padding against rocks and roots.
Overall, I enjoyed how my feet never felt weighted down when I was backpacking and that I could comfortably jog down the trail with a pack, without feeling like I was going to twist an ankle.
For more information about Oboz and the Bridger BDry visit: http://obozfootwear.com/womens/mid-hiking/bridger-bdry