A boot for all (north country) seasons
It is very difficult to provide a meaningful review of hiking boots. No two people are likely to experience the same "fit" in a hiking boot, even if their feet are the same approximate length and width. There is an almost infinite variety in the shape and structure of our feet -- the shape of the arch and heel, length of toes, etc. -- all of which dramatically affect a boot's comfort and fit. Moreover, differences in gait and stance, to say nothing of terrain and intended use, all conspire against broad generalizations. My own assessment of the Zamberlan Vioz GT is therefore, of necessity, highly subjective and personal, other than my observations about its construction and materials.
I purchased these boots to replace a very old pair of traditional "waffle stompers," which had taken me over hundreds of trail miles and were re-soled several times. I tend to reserve my hiking boots for hiking (they are my most important back country tool, not fashion wear), and wear them on long day hikes, and on overnight treks, ranging from 2 days to 2 weeks, in a variety of trail and weather conditions throughout the year. Since I live in Minnesota, and do most of my hiking in the upper mid-west, I am more concerned that my boots be water proof, or highly water resistant, and am less concerned about their performance in extremely hot or arid conditions. I am not likely to hike at low elevations in Arizona during the summer, for example.
My experience with the Vioz GT has been entirely satisfactory, wonderful in fact, and I would strongly recommend these boots to any whose feet fit comfortably.
The materials used in the Vioz GT, and the overall quality of construction, are exceptionally good. The uppers have only two seams -- one at the heel, and one around the tongue gusset. The absence of seems, quite apart from the Gortex lining, gives these boots excellent water resistance with normal leather treatment. To date, they have kept my feet dry even when trails have turned to rivers.
The sole is manufactured by Vibram, but uses a slightly softer rubber than found on the old-style, traditional Vibram product. I have generally found it to provide excellent traction in most conditions, and on bare rock (granite boulders, for example), both when wet or dry.
The lugs that form the leading edge of the heel come to an aggressive point. This provides excellent grip on loose soil when descending on steep trails, and help to prevent the boot from sliding forward. (See photo below) I did not really appreciate this feature (or notice it, for that matter) until hiking a difficult bluff trail in southeastern Minnesota. The sole also has a nice, stiff arch and easily supports my weight with a pack, when hiking over rocks and uneven terrain. Unlike lighter boots, the soles of my feet did not feel the sharp edge of rocks through the sole. Those who have packed over rough, rocky terrain will understand how a soft sole can turn your feet into mush after six hours.
The soles have a "rocker design," which means they are built on an arc, and intended to facilitate walking by rolling forward with each step. This is noticeable when the boot is placed on a flat surface. (See photo below) The heel is slightly elevated where it makes contact, and the arc tends to break upward at the ball of the foot. When these boots are new they seem to almost propel you forward with each step. They have lost none of their support, or shape, over many miles, and still launch me down the trail.
Because these boots are lined with Goretex, they can be hot in the summer, although I have found them comfortable even on warm days. For those who will not be hiking in wet conditions, or are more likely to be in a hot climate, a cooler boot may be more to their taste, although I would wear this boot in almost any wilderness environment.
This boot fits my foot exceptionally well, and (for me) it is the most comfortable hiking boot I have ever worn. It is heavier than some other, light trail boots, but then again it is designed as a back packing boot and intended to provide support for those with a pack. Although it serves this purpose admirably, I also find it an excellent boot for day hikes.
Finally, a few have noted that this boot may be difficult to lace. This is because the hooks are smaller than those used on an Asolo or Sportiva, for example. I consider this to be a trivial point. I find it to lace easily and securely.
If this boot fits... wear it.
Top quality boot, high performance
Although I do most of my hiking in Florida, I needed a pair of top quality, high performance boots for mountain hiking and backpacking trips in Alaska and Montana. After much on-line research I selected the Zamberlan Vioz GT boots and I am quite happy with the choice. These boots have met all my expectations for comfort, support, and durability when hiking on rocky alpine trails, when hiking off-trail including scree and talus slopes, and when carrying heavy backpacking loads. They were also very good on the mushy tundra of Denali Park in Alaska. The Vioz GT boots are well-designed and have a natural "rocker" motion that puts a spring in your step. If you are considering these boots, I offer a few pointers in advance:
1. To obtain the most accurate sizing selection, go by your EU size and use that to cross-reference to a US size. For example, I determined that my shoe size was EU 44.5 and this cross-referenced to a US 10 in the Zamberlan boots, although my normal US shoe size is 10.5.
2. Like all good, stiff boots with leather uppers they take time to break-in. Give yourself about a month to break-in these boots before using them on any hike of significance.
3. Apply Zamberlan's Hydrobloc cream to the leather uppers on a regular basis to keep the appearance, waterproofing, and performance of these boots at their best. It only takes a small amount of the cream for each application.
4. I replaced the standard footbeds (insoles) in these boots with SOLE Softec Ultra footbeds (heat molded for custom fit) and they provided an extra level of comfort and performance. After 9 hours of alpine hiking during one day in Alaska, my feet were ready for more!
5. The Vioz GT boots work best when the laces are snugged to just the right tension (not too tight, but definitely not loose). I found that I needed to re-snug the laces once or twice during a day of hiking to maintain the right fit.
6. These boots are not the high-breathability type; they are for moderate to cold climates (temperature-wise) where your feet don't sweat a lot. I tried them on a couple of 2-hour hikes during July in Florida and the boots filled with 1/4" to 1/2" of sweat/water (not good if you want to avoid blisters). Use these boots for the mountains, not the swamps.
Final comments: The Zamberlan Vioz GT boots fit like a glove, provide excellent comfort and support, and they seem to work with the anatomy of your feet. Good Italian design like that of their fine sportscars!
BUY THESE NOW!
Been researching online for a new hiking/backpacking boot for weeks now. I have very sensitive/tender feet so finding a great boot is imperative to enjoy hiking at all. Not to mention when spending $200+ you owe it to yourself to compare shop and do your homework. Read all the reviews. Looked at all the stats. Went into REI several times to try different brands/boots on. After comparing them all and trying on several from Asolo, Vasque, Salomon, and other Zamberlan's there is now no doubt in my mind that this is the best boot out on the market. It is a very attractive modern interpretation of a classic boot. The Italian styling and quality of craftmanship and materials is unmatched from any brand I've ever seen in hiking boots. Its a blend of soft and supportive in all the right places. It flexes just the right amount and the the leather is top notch while the lining and cushioning are plush yet they don't feel like they will ever break down. The fit is superb and fits true to size. The heel holds like a suction cup and there is just enough room in the toebox so your toes don't feel cramped. Traction is great but haven't really tried it out to its fullest. The heel strike feels like a memory foam mattress and the forefoot is shaped to roll with each stride and it is really noticeable. Haven't tested waterproofing or durability but I'm assuming both are top notch based on other reviews and perceived quality. These boots are also much lighter than expected. Even if they are full leather they feel lighter than most other synthetic's because of how well they fit and the quality of materials. It feels like an extension of your foot and you don't want to take them off. Lacing feels snug but not painful. Ankle support is good but still flexes in the right direction when needed. It's a high boot but not annoyingly high if you compare it to others. They feel perfect right out of the box and will require minimal break-in but will only better with age. Going on a 3 day hike through the Grand Canyon in two weeks and really excited to rock these bad boys. All the hype is worth it. The reviews don't lie. It is the best boot out there even over other Zamberlan's I tried and I feel like I'll have them for many many years. They had one pair left in my size at REI so I felt it was fate that I buy them.
Listen to your feet
It's amazing not to have blisters! My finicky blister prone feet have found a match and I'm looking forward to miles and years in these boots.
After hours in the store trying on boots I narrowed my choice down to Zamberlan Vios GT, ASOLO TPS 520 and Scarpa SL M3. I bought the ASOLO TPS 520 and followed proper break in techniques but still had problems so back to REI they went. The 520's appear to be great boots just not for me.
Enter the most comfortable boot I've ever wore, Zamberlan Vios GT. I've wore these through most of the summer and I couldn't be more pleased. I wanted to wait to write a review until I had some miles on them. The Full-Grain leather is banged up from the trail but that's what I bought them for and there's no degradation in performance.
I didn't like the rocker sole in the store but it's a different story on the trail. I usually put Superfeet in my boots but found the original inserts more comfortable. Break in was minimal; actually they felt so good I skipped a few steps. They provide great traction and support; better than most on wet rocks and perfect for carrying a load over sharp terrain. My feet don't ache at the end of the day and they've never gotten wet. Yes they're heavier than trail runners but provide more support. I've used them in Oregon and Alaska and my feet didn't get excessively hot and stayed warm during spring snows.
I wish they came with the rubber rand found on other boots, it's a small gripe I'm willing to live with.
Listen to your feet and don't get wrapped up in sizes. ASOLO support gave me this sagely advice when I contacted them about the 520's:
"First let's make sure you are in the correct length boot. With your hiking socks on put your foot into the unlaced boot. Then push your foot forward till your toes just touch the front and make sure you stand up since your weighted foot is often longer. Then stick a finger down the boot behind your heel – sometimes easier to have someone else do this so you do not tip over. You should have one finger space of extra room in the boot. If there is wiggle room then the boot is too big."
Been researching online for a new hiking/backpacking boot for weeks now. Read all the reviews. Looked at all the stats. Went into REI several times to try different brands/boots on. After comparing them all and trying on several from Asolo, Vasque, Salomon, and other Zamberlan's there is now no doubt in my mind that this is the best boot out on the market. It is a very attractive modern interpretation of a classic boot. The Italian styling and quality of craftsmanship and materials is unmatched from any brand I've ever seen in hiking boots. It's a blend of soft and supportive in all the right places. It flexes just the right amount and the the leather is top notch while the lining and cushioning are plush yet they don't feel like they will ever break down. The fit is superb and fits true to size. The heel holds like a suction cup and there is just enough room in the toebox so your toes don't feel cramped. Traction is great but haven't really tried it out to its fullest. The heel strike feels like a memory foam mattress and the forefoot is shaped to roll with each stride and it is really noticeable. Haven't tested waterproofing or durability but I'm assuming both are top notch based on other reviews and perceived quality. These boots are also much lighter than expected. Even if they are full leather they feel lighter than most other synthetics because of how well they fit and the quality of materials. It feels like an extension of your foot and you don't want to take them off. Lacing feels snug but not painful. Ankle support is good but still flexes in the right direction when needed. It's a high boot but not annoyingly high if you compare it to others. All the hype is worth it. The reviews don't lie. It is the best boot out there even over other Zamberlan's I tried and I feel like I'll have them for many many years. They had one pair left in my size, so I felt it was fate that I buy them. Several staff gave me the head nod as I walked to the register with them and the cashier said good choice and that he owned a pair too and they were the best boots he ever owned.
I tried on a bunch of boots, probably spending 3 hours at the REI flagship store in Denver . The problem is that boots really require time to break in then being used on a trail before you know what you got. You need to make a guess while testing it out for 15 minutes.First of all, these boots are really nicely made. It's obvious that Zamberlan take care in designing and manufacturing their footwear in the tradition of numerous fashion shoe designers in Italy. The leather outers are as fine as you can find in shoes from top fashion houses. The leather seems to stand up to scuffing and other damage. In fact, mine look almost brand new, which sometimes makes me feel like a poser wearing them. I might have to intentionally damage them.The break-in period seems reasonable. I have nothing but anecdotal evidence, but it always seems that the higher end, more expensive boots break in faster. But, I'm sure there are others who would disagree.The Gore-Tex works more or less. I've never been impressed with its ability to breathe (I think it's over-rated), but it is waterproof, so I can't complain all that much. But after a few hours in these boots, I can feel that it's moist inside, which indicates that the breathability is lacking. I'm not a fan of Gore-Tex (except to be used in arterial reconstruction, but I'm in the medical world, so I would think that!), and think it is overpriced for what it does. I have weak ankles, but I feel remarkably stable wearing these boots. Nice.I have a couple of issues. First, the laces. They are way too long (unless that's a feature that I'm not getting). And they're already fraying, after just a few months of use. That's ridiculous that I'm going to have to buy new laces for such an expensive boot. Maybe I just got a bad pair of laces.The second issue is the tongue. It just doesn't self-center, and it takes me a while to get it right. It's not a major flaw, but I don't like it.The laces cause me to take my review to 4-stars. I might bring the boots back to REI for lace replacement, but I won't return the boots, because they're broken in, and I've got them feeling really nice on my feet.
nearly excellent, but I'm returning them
I walk a lot, mostly on concrete and asphalt in city environments, carrying 40-60 lbs. of photo equipment. I need to wear good hiking boots for adequate support and stability. My previous pair of Raichle boots wore out, and the internal foam began to lose its resiliency. They were extremely comfortable and durable, but unfortunately they aren't available any more.
The Zamberlan boots are beautifully made, no question about it. When I first put them on, my feet slid into them slightly snugly width-wise and they felt good. But after a few hundred paces on a carpeted floor, I began to notice a serious problem. The length felt just right, BUT...
The toe box tapers to a "point" too quickly at the big toe, which causes both of mine to rub with every step. This would undoubtedly result in blisters. Also, there isn't quite enough vertical space for toe movement. My toes felt "trapped". I wouldn't expect breaking-in to alleviate these problems, because the leather is very thick and stiff. A larger size would have required wearing thick socks, which are especially uncomfortable in Phoenix's hot weather, and wool makes my skin itch. (I'm using Wigwam Cool-Lite Hiker Pro socks.)
Secondly, the Vibram outsole has too few "nubs" along the length. This causes a slight rocking motion and "perforated" or "pebbly" feeling as my weight rolls forward. There's also a bit of uncertainty on steps. It might be great for rough terrain, but it's not so good for city sidewalks, streets, curbs and stairwells.
I have a few other very minor quibbles: the laces are a little too thin when you want to pull them tight (and they're a little too long), there's an insufficient gap in the leather hinge cutaway at the inside ankle for flexibility (the upper and lower segments press against each other on the trailing step), and for my taste there are too many accent colors on the Vibram outsole (yellow, red, and light gray) which make them less acceptable for business wear.
All in all, it's a fine product, but it falls short of filling my needs.
Best boots owned in 3 decades
Bought these boots about a year ago, took them on eight backpacking trips totaling about 25 nights, plus perhaps 10 days dayhiking about 10 miles per day, mostly in the mountains. In May 2010, took them on several trips postholing through early-season snow. I wear them with thin nylon REI liner socks (which are great) and thick Smartwool or synthetic outer socks. The thicker socks give more cushion, and the warmth is appreciated in the cooler climates I like to hike in. I typically carry about 40 lbs., with extra gear to have a comfortable safety margin above treeline. I spent a couple hours in the store trying on different brands (wearing my usual socks) and walking many laps on the carpet, looking for the boot with the best fit to my own feet. These boots have a larger toe box and generally fit me better.
All my previous boots have leaked when postholing in melting snow, including several with Goretex liners. These did not - or at least any small leakage was indistinguishable from sweat. I don't need to carry as many backup socks as I am used to carrying.
The boots fit well from the start, and continue to remain comfortable, perhaps even improving with 'break-in'. I don't carry camp shoes, my feet feel good after a 10-mile 2000-ft day over trails with some talus and other rough terrain. I do try to air my feet a couple times a day when it's hot, the outer socks do get somewhat damp from sweat when it's more than about 60F. The boots are not light, but I hike solo with loads and the extra ankle support has several times saved me from a probable sprain.
Usually after this many trips I expect to see the outer part of the heel wearing down, and I am starting to think about when I need to buy another pair. But I am pleasantly surprised to see very little wear on the soles.
These are the best boots I've ever owned. I have previously worn out 5 pairs from 3 other big-name manufacturers.
Comfortable, only 1 complaint
This is considerably lighter than the heavier mountaineering boots I'm used to, a big plus. I'm a washed-up climber, so this seems good for the light mountaineering and long hard backpacking I'm doing nowadays. It is not what I'd call a real mountaineering boot, but it is stiff enough for step-kicking in moderately steep softer snow and will take crampons acceptably. It's good for easy/moderate mountaineering. Break-in period was essentially zero. Delightfully comfortable.The leather is not what I'd call top-quality, so take very good care of it: clean after every trip and keep it treated or it'll crack. Maybe this is the price of lighter weight. It's not gonna be as durable as old-style full-grain rough-out leather boots.The laces are extravagantly long. Don't be in a hurry to cut them short. Double-wrap the top hooks; you can lock them this way. The hooks are too small and lacing is awkward; that is my minor complaint.My major complaint is also the chief virtue of this boot: the radical rocker that makes it so comfortable and eliminates the critical heel pressure that has always made break-in an agony for me also eliminates some traction. Stand in the boot on a hard smooth floor. Note that the tread under your toes is OFF THE FLOOR! You do not have toe-grip as you begin your forward stride, when you need it most. You will notice reduced traction on smooth hard rock or wet sidewalks or descending smooth rock, because the footprint is reduced. Toes aren't on the ground. It's not the best boot for friction climbing on, say, steep canyon slickrock. But you get used to it; it is very different but not a deal-breaker. I have pump-bumps on my heels from a lifetime of shoe pressure; these have often gotten excruciating pressure from new stiff boots, but I have had NONE of this with these boots.The small hooks are dumb and the French-[*] styling is stupid and the leather seems 2nd-rate, but anything is forgiven in a boot that doesn't hurt my feet at all.
Worthy replacement for my Sundowners...
This is a sort of pre-review, as I have only owned the Zamberland Vioz for a few weeks. To date, I have only logged 7 trail miles in them. In 1992, I bought my first 'real' pair of hiking boots: Vasque Sundowners. The real Italian make, not the Chinese knock-offs. I hiked around in these wonderful boots for nearly 14 years before they went South. That is, they started giving me horrible blisters. I don't know what happened to them, but they had to go. Enter the Zamberland Vioz.With several upcoming overnight hikingtrips pending, I decided I needed to invest in a new pair. I knew I wanted the same build and quality of my original venerable Vasques. After reading several reviews , I quickly navigated towards the Vioz. Right out of the box, these hiking boots were wondermous![*] The sizing was spot on. The laces seemed about twice as long as needed, but I delegated the extra to double-lacing the hook ends. Perfect. Maybe this is by design. I wore them daily for five days while attending a conference. City walking. No issues. Even when I was hot, my feet were comfy. I used Smartwool socks, and my feet were very happy.Today, after a five plus inch rainfall, I took them out on a seven mile backpacking trip. I loaded up my pack and hit the trail. With all the rain we had, most of the trail was under water. As long as I kept the top of the boot above the water level, the Vioz kept my feet exceptionally dry. Even when I splashed water over the top, my feet were nice and dry. I experienced no issues at all with hot spots, arch pain, toe cramp, or anything that would have dissuaded me from these boots. Very nice indeed! Mid-May I will be taking on a modest 18 mile trip. I expect the Vioz will perform very well. If anything changes, I'll offer up a second review.