Zamberlan is an Italian footwear company that was founded back in 1929. This brand is still owned by the Zamberlan family today, with the third generation siblings now running the company. The Zamberlan footwear brand is very well-known, being made of high-quality materials and constructed for beauty as well as durability. Italian boots and shoes are often favored for their apparent superiority over mass-produced US brands and Zamberlan boots do fit the stereotype.
Like other footwear companies, Zamberlan produced a variety of shoes and boots with good traction, primarily broken down into activity categories. You can find footwear specifically designed for mountaineering, hunting, work, Icona, approach, backpacking, and light hiking. Their backpacking footwear is also suited for more serious or strenuous hikes. One of the brands most beloved backpacking boots is the 996 Vioz GTX – a classic leather boot designed for hikes, and backpacking trips into the backcountry.
The 996 Vioz GTX is Zamberlan’s best-selling boot thanks to its combination of high performance, comfort, and excellent design. This burly boot is as tough as they come and manages to offer a comfortable, dry experience for casual hikes up to serious multi-day treks. Many fans of the Vioz GTX consider this quite a luxury boot to have, but well-worth the investment.
Some of the technical specs you should be aware of this pair of boots include –
In terms of the design of the Vioz GTX, here are the main features you can expect –
Based on the features and design of this water resistant boot, it comes as no surprise that the Viox GTX has gained hundreds of positive reviews from happy customers. Before you buy yourself a pair of boots it’s worth it to compare some of the advantages and potential drawbacks of this model.
The majority of 5-star reviews for the Vioz GTX can be summed up in these four major advantages.
The Vioz GTX boots are as about as tough as you’d expect a hiking boot to be. The leather upper is smooth and offers incredible protection against the elements as well as the terrain. Depending on your style of hiking and how often you’ll be used these boots, it’s safe to say you’ll get a few years of use at a minimum. Better yet, once your soles naturally wear down you are able to have them resoled. This extends the life of your boot and the value of your original purchase.
A characteristic of real leather hiking boots is that they tend to be quite water-resistant naturally. Zamberlan takes this to another level with the Vioz GTX. Aside from having complete leather construction, Zamberlan also added their Hydrobloc treatment to this model. Hydroboc occurs during the tanning process of these boots which enhances its water-repellency. Through proper maintenance and use of the Hydrobloc care line, you’ll maintain the waterproof nature of these boots. All in all, the Voiz GTX can really handle any type of weather conditions and keep your feet dry.
The Vibram 3D outsole is a very versatile sole that is capable of handling a variety of different types of terrain. It proves stable and supportive on loose rocks and non-slippery on wet rocks or through the mud. The wide lugs prevent mud, dirt, snow, or small pebbles from getting stuck and makes it a breeze to clean off. The boot design coupled with the sole offers excellent downhill traction control, giving you a braking effect when traversing down mountain and hillsides.
After you break in your Vioz GTX you’ll find that it’s super comfortable to wear and fit your feet almost as if they were custom made. Zamberlan managed to design this boot in a way that they hug the heel and foot, but still allow the wearer flexibility in movement. Another incredible aspect of this boot’s design is that it is non-tiring to wear for long periods. There aren’t overly heavy and the rubber Vibram sole feels as if it propels your feet forward with each step. These boots are a great choice for those that have had issues with foot fatigue.
The Vioz GTX is certainly deserving of a solid 4.5/5 star rating. Chances are high that you won’t have any problems with your own pair, although there are a couple things to consider prior to purchasing.
You’ll find that poor reviews for the Vioz GTX are rare, but there are three potential issues to keep in mind.
The advantages of a traditionally-craft leather boot, like the Vioz GTX, comes with a cost. Like most leather boots, these do require breaking in prior to taking them out on long hikes. Although some newer types of shoes feel great right out of the box, it isn’t uncommon to experience soreness, blisters, or hot spots if you fail to break these in. Thankfully after a brief breaking in period, you will find these to be quite comfortable.
Classic leather Italian hiking boots are undoubtedly beautiful, but only if they are properly cared for. Customers accustomed to the no-fuss care needs of nylon or mixed Nubuck and nylon boots might find caring for these leather boots to be a pain. Care for leather boots involves special leather cleaners and conditioners. Others who expose their boots to very wet conditions also use a waterproofing treatment, though this isn’t always required.
Unlike many hiking boots designed for serious use, the Vioz GTX is lacking a toe cap. The Vibram sole does run up to the tip of the toe, but otherwise, this boot has no toe protection. Those that regularly hike in rocky or rough terrain might experience a lot of scuffing on this area of the boot.
What you consider to be a dealbreaker for a hiking boot is really personal preference. Although this boot isn’t flawless, if you are comfortable with the drawbacks then chances are you’ll be happy with your purchase. Take the time to break them in properly and if they start looking a bit drab, be sure to clean them up and slap on a little conditioner. The numerous benefits of the Vioz GTX make them an excellent choice for nearly any hiker, regardless of experience level.
Sam Hardy is an outdoor enthusiast with a penchant for survival skills. He writes about the great outdoors and his favorite equipment here.