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."
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.
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.
Finest boot made
I bought these for 2010 archery hunting in the Colorado Rockies. Day 1 of the hunt required a 4 mile hike into a gulch lying between two mountains in the Collegiate Peaks region. The hike was completed in pouring rain through a combination of dark timber (coniferous) and aspen with about 30% of the hike being through willow bogs, if you know what those are. The purpose of this trek was to retrieve about 400 lbs of elk staged the previous night and carry it back the same way - - an 8+ mile hike in the terrain described above. My partners (4 other hunters) all had the popular "hunting" brands of boots. Interestingly (to me), all of their feet were soaked pretty much the entire time.
I was mostly wet shortly into the hike despite expensive raingear. My feet, however, were completely dry the entire time in the Vioz boots. Ironically, the first time my feet got wet all day was the first step into my tent because I left a tarp I put under it sticking out too far so the rain all ran under and just sat there.
Throughout the week, we also did a ton of steep climbing including several death marches involving seemingly straight up climbs with 2,500+ feet gains in altitude. The boots had phenomenal grip and support for this type of hiking. The ankle support when side stepping back down steep hills (30%-45% grades) was very good.
In summary, my feet stayed dry, warm and comfortable the entire time. I truly gave the boots a pounding and they are still flawless after the week. I believe these boots will be remain in great condition for many years.
I have not owned dozens of pairs of boots but I cannot imagine any boot being tougher, dryer, more comfortable or performing better than these.
Great success. Very nice.
I have to admit, the price tag on these boots kept me away for quite a while. Dissatisfied with my Vasque Breeze's (high volume, not waterproof, mediocre traction), I tried several lower-priced options before settling on the Vioz GT's. So far, they've been worth every penny. These boots have been glued to my feet for the past month, at first to break them in before a trip to Pictured Rocks, and since then because they've become the most comfortable footwear I own.
The leather on these beasts is quite stiff at first. Before wearing them backpacking, I went on several day hikes, ran stairs, ran on a track, did lunges and squats, and wore them to class and work every day for two weeks. In Michigan's UP, I hiked 20 miles in two days with a 35lb pack through sand, mud, standing water, etc. with no blisters and only two hot spots. Remarkable performance given the short break in and the fact that the liners got soaked twice (water poured in from above, the leather/goretex is certainly waterproof!).
The overall fit is normal-narrow in the heel and normal-wide in the toe box. Heel retention is great, and the boots are quite supportive, although the insoles are relatively cheap and have low arches. The Vioz GT's are heavier than many other options, but I didn't notice the weight and was relieved not to have the skin torn off my heel or mangled toe(nail)s.
The vibram soles are excellent and rock solid -- my friends were all slipping on wet, leaf-covered boardwalks while I enjoyed excellent traction.
Minor gripes: No lace locks, poor footbeds, take FOREVER to dry if they get wet.
I can't comment on the durability, but so far these boots have been superb. I don't regret the purchase one bit.
Love These Boots
I really love this boot. Everyone has a different foot size and shape, but the 9 fits me perfectly, which is about 75% of the battle. As much as I loved my old Zamberlan Civettas for about 13 years, my feet have grown somehow (as I've gained weight?) and they became "too small." The Viox seems bigger even though it's the same size--mid-volume versus low-colume, or so I was told at the REI shoe dept. Anyway, I was also told to walk on flat ground for 10-30 miles with no pack to break them in, and probably didn't do more than 2 miles before my first climb--nary a problem with break-in/hot-spots. They fit like they were made for me, keep me warm (generally) and dry (always). Great support and traction. I've got a solid 75 miles of hiking on them and have never had a complaint.
My only issue, and it's quite minor, is that last weekend while snow camping on Mt Rainier my toes got cold. I had been digging snow caves for a few hours and was pretty immersed in snow (not what these are made for) and sweating, so my socks were wet from perspiration, and like the rest of me, got really cold once I stopped working. The fact that it took three hours in my down bag with new socks on to finally feel my toes again suggest that the issue was not really the shoes--I was cold to the core. But I specifically did NOT want insulated boots when I bought these because my feet are sweaty and the other 30 times a year I wear them, I am not crawling in snow for hours at a time. Maybe I'll buy snow boots some day, but for hiking and climbing, these are my babies.
Simply the best
How do I explain perfection in a boot that fits me? I'll give it a shot
I'm more of a day/weekend hiker nowadays. In the past I have scaled a couple 14'ers in Colorado, trekked along most of the San Gabriel mountain range (grew up in Southern CA). I say this to let you know I have gone through my share of hiking boots.
I'm tall and lean, 6'2" 175lbs. So with my smaller volume size 10.5 foot, this shoe is a perfect fit. I actually got a size 11 for this shoe to allow room for SmartWool socks and foot swelling. Just perfect!
When I am not hiking on the weekends, several days a week I wear these shoes all day as I walk and inspect large projects for work. I put the SuperFeet insoles (orange) inside mine and what a great combination for support! You might think this stiff shoe would be tough for walking on concrete. But this boot has the right amount of cushion with ample support structure to keep your foot and ankle pointing the right way.
When hiking in the rocky hill country of Texas, this boot keeps me moving. Ample ankle support and tough soles keep the rocks at bay.
The curved bottom sole is a delight and allows the foot to move through the stride with minimal bend in the toes. Without that, this stiff shoe would be too difficult to bend. Again, this was just perfect!
To top off the 10 out of a 10 on the comfort scale, this boot looks cool too! I get a lot of compliments from men and women when I wear these. Just added bonus, as I care more about function than looks!
**This boot is the Bomb!!**
I asked one of the professionals at REI about this and a pair of Asolos. He recomended the Zamberlans because they are a wider fit for my wide feet and less break in time. Since they where used they had already been broken in, I didn't even need to. I took them up for a quick hike in the Colorado Rockies in the snow and ice. they where flawless. They kept my feet warm and dry. I used medium thickness smart wool socks and I had no issues at all. I used my custom orthidics in the bottom instead of the stock inserts since I have low arch issues. They are a more heavy duty than my new Columbia Bugastumps though, but the Bugatumps do have 200 gram insulation. I even tried them out with my Black Diamond crampons, and snowshoes to see how they would feel. I loved them. I am very happy so far with the quality and comfort of these shoes. I look forward to using them in the warmer weather on weekend backpacking trips. I normally wear size 13 running shoes and these are 14's which are perfect with wool socks. You need that small space between the toes and the ends of your shoes. I would absolutely recomend these shoes. Even at full price they are awesome. FYI. I believe I would have given 5 stars but have not had enough time in them to do that. I only had them on for about 5 miles in the snow. Also, not sure why some other reviews are talking about issues with bad lacing, or poor quality. I have been hiking in Colorado and buying outdoor gear for over 25 years and these are the most durable, comfortable boots yet.