Gear Guide 2012: Oboz Mystic Low B-Dry Hiking Boot

The shoe has less width in the heel and ball and more curve in the arch compared to men’s hikers.

Tired of sloppy-fitting shoes? The Mystic dials in female fit without compromising protection and support. Oboz studied the dimensions of women’s feet to design this gender-specific model, trimming volume in select zones rather than overall—as many women’s boots and socks do. The shoe has less width in the heel and ball and more curve in the arch compared to men’s hikers. “They cradled my narrow feet nicely,” says a tester who usually tapes her heels when hiking in new shoes but found the precautionary measure unnecessary with the snug-fitting Mystic.

The Mystic midsole is amply cushioned and supportive via dual-density EVA and a nylon shank that allowed one tester to carry a 25-pound pack comfortably off-trail in Arizona’s Coconino National Forest. “Thanks to the stiff midsole, this low-cut shoe provides boot-like support underfoot, but without feeling clunky,” she said. Testers also appreciated the high cush factor from padding in the tongue and around the Achilles. The proprietary waterproof/breathable liner kept feet dry when hiking through wet slush. A solid toe bumper and stiff heel counter protected against sharp rocks during off-trail scrambles. $125; 1 lb. 9 oz. (7); w’s 6-11; obozfootwear.com