Gear Review: Zamberlan Boots…

My name is Jabon and I am a wilderness explorer and photographer now living in the Phoenix area. I have spent my entire life exploring.  Starting as a child camping with my family in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, I later relocated to Colorado Springs. Colorado is filled with epic adventures and I quickly got hooked on climbing 14’ers (14,000 foot tall plus mountains). I was deeply bitten by the summit bug and have climbed the highest mountains in Colorado, California, and Arizona. Now living in the warm desert of southern Arizona, I have discovered the mystique of Indian Ruins and petroglyphs left behind by the native tribes of the Hohokahm, Salado, and Sinagua to name a few. I spend hours investigating images and leads to hidden gems of the southwest then plan excursions in to the wilderness to find them.

Zamberlan Boots in ColoradoWhile in Colorado I worked as a fireman and assisted in search and rescue cases.  I also worked a few major wild land fires including the biggest in Colorado’s history. I relied heavily on very diverse and specialized equipment to perform my job with confidence and to explore in comfort. Having used a wide array of outdoor gear, I have learned to become especially critical of my choices before each purchase. This is what led me to the Italian footwear company, Zamberlan.

The first premium hiking boot I ever purchased was a pair of leather Zamberlan boots. I had previously avoided slushy spring time hiking to avoid inevitably cold, soggy boots.  When I was ready to make my purchase, I walked into a local sporting goods store in Colorado Springs and reached to the top shelf for a rugged looking boot named Zamberlan Civetta. This began my love affair with Zamberlan boots.  Over the next ten years, climbing and hiking more than 1000 miles in the Colorado Rockies, these boots always did what I pushed them to do allowing me to focus on the trip and destination. This suddenly changed when I realized I had worn my boots out! The Vibram lugs were worn smooth. The leather uppers, which I had religiously waterproofed every season, had become paper thin from countless scuffs and abrasions. I was in denial and tried to keep these old boots alive with glue but they had finally succumbed to the abuse.

Zamberlan Boots hikingI then began the quest to replace my favorite boots and was impressed with the new features and advances Zamberlan had made. There are many new models to suit any footwear need.  I laid my eyes on the Vioz GT and read through the specs.  The Zamberlan Vioz GT represents cutting edge technology carefully crafted with age old techniques dating back to just after World War I. Giuseppe Zamberlan began shoe production in 1929 after a short time as a shoe repairman and the design and manufacture of these products reflects his love of the mountains. Zamberlan was an early adopter of Vibram soles for his footwear and these technologies come together with time tested synergy. The full grain leather upper treated with HydroBloc and the Gore-Tex lining make these a truly waterproof boot.

True to form, my second pair of Zamberlan boots has carried me to high mountain peaks and scrambled down red sandstone to splash in the rivers bellow. The Zamberlan Vioz GT’s are equipped with the toothy Zamberlan Vibram 3D soles which are made of a softer rubber than the old style Vibram sole, therefore they grip with more assurance.   These new soles bite into any surface allowing me to climb virtually anything that stands in my way, fulfilling my childhood comic book superhero fantasies.

Each and every Zamberlan product is made entirely in Italy and are designed and tested by the Zamberlan family. The modern technology such as Gore-tex membranes, Hydrobloc leathers, and Vibram 3D rubber soles are on the long list of features Zamberlan incorporates in their footwear. User comfort is ensured by minimal torsional flex and a solid heel cup. This is noticeable when walking on grapefruit sized rocks as the stability of the boot reduces stress on the ankle. I have found the factory laces have to be double knotted or they loosen up.  However when replaced with a simple flat lace, they stopped creeping on me.

Zamberlan Boots in snow and waterEven after 14 hours of pounding feet along a trail, these comfortable boots are the last thing I take off before zipping up the sleeping bag. I have now owned the Vioz GT for 3 years and have worn them in 115 degree desert heat, summited Arizona’s Humphrey’s Peak in the rain, and hiked in cold, snowy canyons all in perfect comfort. Every time I lace up my Zamberlan boots and point them towards the next adventure, I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic, walking on more than 80 years of Italian tradition and quality.

Gear Review: Sanuk Footwear

 

Sanuks

You know when you finish a long, tough hike nothing feels better than slipping off those hiking boots and letting your poor, abused feet breath? For me, it was always a pair of sandals or just go barefoot to give my feet some relief.  Sandals aren’t always the best option, though.

SanuksLast year I discovered the joy of wearing Sanuks!  Sanuks are not shoes, but they’re not sandals either…they are a loose, casual, flexible shoe built on a sandal footbed.  The result is the comfort and feel of a sandal with the security and coverage of a shoe.  And they are FANTASTIC!  I originally bought my first pair (my awesome brown Chibas $65) in Reno because I needed a casual shoe I could wear around town.  I loved them so much I bought a second pair (my ever present Khaki Carpe DMs $60) just because.

Sanuks have now become my pre and post-hike shoe of choice.  They pack easily, weight very little and stand up to a lot of abuse.  Wear and tear just add character, so mine have been almost everywhere with me.  I wear them heading to the trail, take them with me if I plan to stop or camp, and slip them on as soon as I get off the trail.  When they get dirty they wash easily in a stream, lake, pool or a quick spin in the washing machine.  Couldn’t be easier!

sanuk01I am looking forward to my next pair of Sanuks from their R.A.S.T.A. collection!  All RASTA Project products are made from recycled, low eco-impact materials and shipped in biodegradable bags.  Check out their website for details!

Many retailers carry Sanuk Products these days and there are A LOT of imitators out there.  Be sure to look for the SANUK signature green logo tag.

 

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