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Sometimes I like to begin a product review with the odd fact or two, but am conscious that I don’t want to lose you before we get to where we are heading, so to speak, therefore I’ll keep it brief, but slightly educational.

Māori or te reo Māori (‘the Māori language’) is an Eastern Polynesian language and, well, obviously really, the language of the Māori people, the second largest ethnic group in New Zealand, after European New Zealanders (commonly known by the Māori name Pākehā).

Oboz Whakata Ease

Still with me? Good-oh, because this brings me nicely to the product in hand or, rather, on the foot in this case. As bikers, we are now well into the season of solo and/or group motorcycle camping and rallies, where a variety of coloured canvases pop up in fields like resplendent bursts of summer flowers. Ah, summer flowers, does that not remind some of you of the Summer of Love, 1967, when thousands of youths gathered under San Francisco’s summer sun, a time thrumming with that well-worn, three-pronged cliché of sex, drugs and, yep, rock n’ roll? Well, we are now well past the hippies’ idealised view of enlightenment, seeking revolution, anarchy and freedom. I can’t recall seeing many images of tents around at that time, either, although there were many of those who converged in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district and Golden Gate Park wearing colourful clothing, sandals or, er, nothing at all.

Oboz Whakata Ease

I digress, but it is a deliberate swerve, because I mention sandals, something I see many bikers wearing when they arrive on-site, set up their tent,cooking pots, pans and utensils, their lightweight, foldable chairs and tables, don shorts and sandals, and lounge back with a well-deserved tinny after probably a very long ride. Which brings me back nicely to the Maoris and the term ‘Whakatā’ (pronounced fah-cah-TAAH), which translates as ‘to catch breath, rest, have a break’.

Cue Oboz, manufacturers of high-quality men’s and women’s hiking boots, hiking shoes, winter boots, insulated shoes, sandals, and insoles in the outdoor industry. From that, you gather that the team includes hikers, bikers, runners, dogwalkers, and fun-chasers, enabling the brand to create footwear that is always worthy of the task at hand.

Oboz Whakata Ease

Enter the Oboz Whakatā Ease, a slide-in sandal which boasts plenty of breathable stretch mesh and webbing. The bio-EVA sculpted footbed is made from 20 per cent sugarcane (a renewable resource), providing all-day comfort, while a stretch binding over the arch secure the foot. The footbed also features a raised heel cup made with I’m Green™ bio-based EVA. The ‘Trail Tread’ sole ensures superior slip-resistance and enhanced durability.

I have been trialling a pair for a while now, and have found them perfect for gentle strolls around the neighbourhood, in the garden, and at the occasional campsite or rally field. Mind you, I have had to dodge the inclement weather a number of times. (Did someone just mention summer? Nearly got blown off the bike the other day.)

Interestingly, Oboz consulted and duly received approval from the Māori language and culture guide at Oboz’s New Zealand-based parent company, KMD Brands, for use of the name. Oboz intends to honour the Māori culture in the best way  – both within KMD Brands’ company walls and in the broader community.

Oboz Whakata Ease

Responsibly made with recycled polyester, vegan leather, and sugarcane bio-based content, the sandals’ easy entry and exit certainly enhance their practicality, whether that be taking a leisurely stroll to the pop-up beer tent, the staging area, or hosting a campsite barbecue with a few biker mates. The length runs true to size, from the form-hugging heel cup, through the sculpted mid-foot, and wider forefoot and toe box.

Weighing in at a mere 9.8oz/280g grams, the Oboz Whakatā Ease are available in men’s and women’s specific designs and retail at £80. Grab yourself a pair and pop them in a pannier, you won’t regret it.

Haere rā.*

*By the way, commonly written ‘Kia ora’, it means goodbye in te reo Māori, not the orange-flavoured drink Kia-Ora.


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