Zero Impact Challenge: Oboz Beartooth Boots

An upstart blows the doors off with recycled and natural materials.

This two year-old Montana company turned in a precedent-setting boot that beats business-as-usual by 75 to 85 percent. How? With recycled, ultrasuede microfiber uppers that have 35 times less impact than leather; recycled linings, ankle padding, outsoles, midsoles, insoles, eyelets, and toe and heel caps; and hemp laces and bamboo shanks. Oboz also plants a tree for each pair of boots it sells, earning a carbon credit in our calculations of seven pounds, the amount sequestered by one grown tree per year.

The hiccup: Oboz didn't have time to perfect the Beartooth's wearability. The biggest flaw was a new, ultra-stiff foam, which hurt enough that we halted field-testing. Blame our short turnaround time and the inherent risks in building a cutting-edge product with no margin for error. We've been very comfortable in other Oboz shoes, and suspect these will match after the company makes several promised changes. On the plus side, the Beartooth has plenty of support for carrying 40 to 50 pounds, and it fit a range of testers very well, though several East Coast testers wished for better traction on wet trails. $150; 2 lbs. 6 oz.; obozfootwear.com

*This boot had a 45% or greater reduction in environmental impact over business as usual.