Oboz Sundog review: hiking shoes that please the teen

I have a 13-year-old who loves hiking, but hates hiking boots. We’ve tried just about everything, from rugged backpacking boots that I hoped would look ‘cool’ to very simple Columbia low-cut hiking shoes that practically slid onto his feet. It didn’t matter: he always preferred to hike in his Keen sandals.


I’m a huge fan of Keens for outdoor adventure and travel: we believe about 80% of all outdoor activities can be done in Keens. But for the other 20%, we needed to find this kid some hiking shoes that he’d wear without argument.

As an Oboz ambassador, I learned about the full line of men’s Oboz shoes, which now include a Trailsport category in addition to low and high hiking shoes and backpacking boots. Trailsport shoes include Oboz’ lightest, most agile, and most versatile shoes, so I ordered my teen the Oboz Sundog and crossed my fingers. Maybe he wouldn’t notice they’re trail shoes…

He did. The rugged tread gives that away. But, after weighing the Sundog in his hand like a melon in a grocery store, and realizing they weighed the same as his beloved Keens (and his Nike school shoes, for that matter), he gave them a chance.


Right out of the box, the Sundog feels like a sneaker, though with more stability. It’s made of single-piece mesh, with only the seams and support that’s absolutely necessary. In fact, it’s described as ‘only-what-you-need protection’. You get leather heel, toe, and mid-foot overlays, but even these are minimalistic. The Sundog is incredibly breathable, and while the shoes are not waterproof, this wasn’t a deal-breaker for us. This is the kid who prefers to wear sandals, remember?

He gave the Sundog a test drive on a local trail near our home in Southern Oregon. We encountered some mud, per usual in spring, but otherwise contended with dry trails. He got the support he needed (he’d recently had an ankle injury), without being weighed down by clunky boots. He loved the color of the Sundog (you can get them in a bright ‘Woodbine’ green) and when they got wet, they dried out reasonably fast. At the end of the hike, the teen gave his reluctant approval. Yes, the Sundogs could accompany him on our seven-day PCT hike this summer. When we go on our five-day rafting trip, however, he’s brining his Keens.

What to look for in hiking shoes for kids who hate hiking shoes:

Turn your ankle a few times, and you’ll understand why the support of hiking shoes–not just on the ankle but also on the arch and sole–is crucial. Slip on rocks or logs, and you’ll know why you need the traction afforded by hiking shoes. The challenge is imparting this message to kids and teens who don’t want to listen, of course. Here are a few characteristics we look for in a hiking shoe:

  • Lightweight: The lighter the weight, the less like a hiking shoe the shoe will feel. Kids who can jump and run in their shoes will be willing to wear them.
  • Low-cut: Forget about full ankle support for kids who don’t like the restrictive feeling of high-tops. High-quality low-cut hiking shoes will still provide enough stability, mostly because they cradle the arch well.
  • Lots of mesh: Breathable hiking shoes are more popular around here than any other. Enough said.
  • Well-fitting arch: Know if your kid or teen has a high or low arch, and make sure his or her shoes fit accordingly. Look for a quality insole if needed.

Want to try the Sundog? They’re $100 on the Oboz site. Need Keens for the other 80% of outdoor activities? Get a deal on the men’s Newport on Amazon.



About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.




  1. Forget the teen, I want these! Also…hiking in sandals?! Noooo! Say it isn’t soooo!

  2. I hate hiking shoes too. They hurt!

  3. I have a child who dislikes all athletic shoes. Perhaps these would be a good “fit” for her!

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