There are plenty of great footwear companies out there. But over the past few years, we often find ourselves lacing up the ones that were made by the little company based in Bozeman—Oboz is shorthand for "Out of Bozeman." The reason is pretty simple: they make burly hiking boots and shoes. Boots that are capable of handling any adventure in Montana's 18 million acres of wilderness.
Oboz boots first hit stores in 2008, but the company's founder, John Connelly, has been in the industry for more than forty years. His first outdoor business venture was a three-floor Richmond, Virginia-based hippy department store, equal parts head shop, record shop, leather shop, waterbed vendor, camping supplier, and purveyor of army surplus gear. From there, Connelley went on to work with 17 different—17!— footwear brands before starting his own. Connelley and his cohorts claim that they started Oboz, "so we could wake up in the morning and not dread going to the office." Of course, picking Bozeman as their location helped, too.
A few years ago, our testers were especially smitten with their Ignition model, a light hiking / trail running hybrid that was tough enough for the gnarliest trails. (That shoe is no longer in the line, but it's similar to their Hardscrabble shoe.) More recently, we've been field-testing their newest boot, the full height, big-load ready Beartooth. It's mostly leather with a heel-locking ankle lace and a topo of the Wind Rivers carved into it's sole. Buy it, or any other boot or shoe that Oboz makes, and the company will plant a tree through Trees for the Future. Available October 2011, $200, obozfootwear.com.