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We test Oboz' burly Firebrand II shoes to see if great build quality translates to a great walking experience.

oboz firebrand ii low web
Best for...
People who put a lot of miles on their walking footwear
Overall Score
They will last and last....
Consequently, they're heavy

Oboz don't really subscribe to the less is more philosophy, they're known for making burly shoes and boots that are built to last, with their most popular hiking shoe, the Bridger spearheading this design ethos.

The Firebrand follows the same sort of form and silhouette as the Bridger Low, with big rubber heel and toe caps, massive lugs and a chunky midsole. This midsole is backpacking ready, with a stiff dual-density EVA construction bolstered by a nylon shank. We initially found it too stiff for our tastes, but it loosened up enough after a few miles to be just about acceptable. The stiffness provides stability over rough ground, but you lose a lot of cushioning as a result, especially at the heel which feels decidedly plank like, but again, softens a little over time.

We found that the deep, aggressive lugs of the outsole performed best in squelchy, muddy ground and lose gravel trails but when walking over greasy Cotswold stone we didn't feel very confident in the Firebrand's ability to stick. Having said that, most walking boots and shoes we test struggle with these conditions, the best balance between grip on slick and lose surfaces we've found so far is in Vibram's MegaGrip compound.

Inside, the fit is mid-narrow with just enough room for toes to splay comfortably in the toe box without leading to sloppiness. The laces extend quite a way towards the toes so you can customise the fit in this area well. The heel cup in the Firebrand is fairly wide, and the foot opening is quite long, which, for my particular foot and ankle shape results in a little heel lift. I have low volume feet and skinny ankles, but if you're of more normal proportions then the Firebrand's might well be fine in this regard.

Thankfully Oboz have recognised the terrible quality of most walking shoe insoles and, not being a company to scrimp on quality, have put something much more substantial into the Firebrand. Their O-Fit insoles have levels of support and ergonomics comparable to good quality aftermarket insoles, saving the additional cost of buying a pair. Below the insole is a very pronounced arch - similar to Merrell shoes and boots. This will work well for those with high arches but might agitate those with lower arches.

There's no question about the fantastic build quality and durability of the Firebrand II Shoes. If you spend £125 on these rest assured you're getting a shoe that will last for miles and miles, which makes them a great option for those working in the outdoors. But at 1038g they will be too heavy for some, especially the fast and light crowd.

If you want a pair of shoes with good old-fashioned build quality and don't mind the extra weight then the Firebrand II is an excellent option. The fit seems very specific where others opt for a more generic shape, making it important to try the Firebrand II on before you buy.


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