Why Oboz Took a Big Risk in Updating Its Beloved Sawtooth Hiking Boot

Making changes to a popular shoe comes with a lot of pressure. But Oboz believes the next boot bearing the Sawtooth name will please both longtime fans of the franchise and attract a fresh wave of outdoor explorers.

The Sawtooth hiking boot franchise was introduced 10 years ago, and in the years since, the brand has only made minor changes to the line. A decade later, Oboz has come up with its latest update: the Sawtooth X.

But longtime fans shouldn’t expect radical changes to the beloved hiker.

“Going into the Sawtooth X, we knew that there were more things we wanted to keep than things we wanted to change,” explained Brian Krezel, design director at Oboz. “It wasn’t a revolution. It was basically, ‘Let’s evolve this product to a slightly more modern aesthetic and solve a few of the issues that we think we can make better.'”

He continued, “By modernizing aesthetic trends, we can appeal to different and newer consumers and still give the same performance without alienating the [original] Sawtooth base.”

Oboz Sawtooth X
The Oboz Sawtooth X with a mid cut.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Oboz

Since delivering the original Sawtooth, the lone new shoe was the Sawtooth 2, which arrived in spring ’19. The differences between the original and the second boot were iterative and mostly aesthetic.

For the Sawtooth X, Oboz once again focused on aesthetics and created a slightly more modern look. However, this time around, Oboz opted to make further refinements, tweaks the brand is calling “evolutionary steps in performance.”

Krezel said he and his team updated design lines and some of the constructions for consumers who might want something a faster and a bit more modern. What remains consistent is the out-of-the-box comfort, as well as performance and durability.

“When you’re obsessed with trying to understand how things could be better, how you can improve, at some point there’s enough to act upon,” added Dara McDevitt, product line manager at Oboz. “We were like, ‘We noticed this, we’re hearing this from a rep or retailer, consumers are letting us know where these micro improvements can be made.’ When the bucket is big enough, then it’s a great time to implement those changes. It was the right time for us to take that information and act.”

Oboz Sawtooth X
The mid (L) and low Oboz Sawtooth X.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Oboz

The result is the Sawtooth X lineup, which will arrive in spring ’22. Oboz will deliver the boots — which are the most tested in Oboz history — in both low and mid heights, and there will be non-waterproof options as well as waterproof BDry iterations. Retail pricing will range from $125 to $165.

The looks are loaded with tech built for the trail. For instance, they come equipped with True Tread outsoles that feature multidirectional lugs and added teeth for improved acceleration and deceleration, increased lug spacing to shed mud and additional siping for wet surface traction.

Oboz also built the boots with Act+ midsoles, a proprietary rubberized EVA compound made to adapt to all terrains. The proprietary material is dual density and lightweight, and was added to offer high-level energy efficiency and a softer heel strike landing zone. And for durability, the brand opted to add Cordura fabrics to the uppers.

For the waterproof iterations, Oboz turned to its proprietary BDry tech, designed to let sweat escape and keep moisture out.

Beyond tech, tweaks made to improve the experience including making the toe box slightly wider and shaving the area over the toes, which was done to make the boots fit like a glove. Also, the brand utilized a new breathable mesh that has tighter weave and added injected polyurethane pieces in the windows on the upper to provide lateral stability. And from a sustainable standpoint, Oboz added recycled content in both the laces and the webbing.

Oboz Sawtooth X
The low-cut Oboz Sawtooth X.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Oboz

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