We love the Oboz Ignition trail running shoe. Period.
We've worn a lot of shoes and the team at Oboz, for such a new company and its first effort, has nailed most of the needs of trail runners in this one shoe. Sure, no shoe will satisfy everybody since every foot is so different, but this one is a must-try. Actually the team that started Oboz has a lot of background at numerous respected companies, despite delivering its first shoes in February 2008.
What we loved:
>> Fit. It was extremely secure with its slightly higher cut neoprene-like collar to make sure your foot stayed put, particularly on uphills or downhills.
>> Volume. The shoe wasn't too "baggy" around the foot but snugged down in all the right places. That includes a smooth fit across the mid-foot but still plenty of toe box room both side-to-side and in height. Enough room in all the right places -- without too much room for sliding around -- means fewer blisters or black toes.
>> Weight and flexibility. It had enough beef to protect you on technical terrain, on mud or over rocks, but not so much that you lost any flexibility in the forefoot and performance. Plus, it's lightweight, not leaving smaller runners feeling as if they have bricks strapped on their feet.
>> Traction. Pretty well thumbs-up on most technical terrain, from mud and slop, to rocks and roots.
>> Breathability. The mesh gives great breathability, as well as lets water drain out well.
>> Cuff. It also helps to keep out dirt, grit and those annoying little rocks that stop you cold and grate on your skin to cause blisters.
There were a few things that weren't quit spot-on, either for most or for some:
>> Cushioning. If you want a shoe to give you marshmallows for flat, hard-packed trails, this isn't it. This shoe is for trails and dirt, not city sidewalks or hard dirt urban trails.
>> Access. Most of us frankly adored the solid ankle cuff on the bootie, but if you have a particularly wide or high-volume foot or a really high arch, it may prove challenging to get your foot in. Or to get it off after a long day if your foot has swollen. The second version due out in early 2009 should have a slightly more accessible entry, we were told, and we trust the Oboz team to not loosen those cuffs too much.
The Oboz is a neutral shoe too. So if you need more support or are a heavy pronator, it may not be for you. One of our testers normally wears a shoe with more support but found, with orthotics, this gave her a truly runnable yet supportive ride.
For the tech geeks, the shoe has a dual-density midsole and a woven TPU underfoot plate for protection, as well as a TPU clip in the heel to help keep the foot in place. The insole is triple-density for support and cushioning. One men's size 9 shoe weighs 12 ounces, while a women's size 7 shoe weighs 10 ounces. Yup, they also come in gender-specific fits and the colors will vary a bit come the Ignition 2's launch in early 2009. But if you're getting dirty, do the colors really matter?
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $100 (Ignition 2 due out in early 2009 has an MSRP of $95)