Gear – Zamberlan Boots

Over the past couple of years of walking I’ve gone through a fair amount of gear, so I thought I would share some feedback for stuff that’s tried and trusted. Hope it helps.

What are they?: Zamberlan Sequoia GTX hiking boots. I don’t believe this particular model is on the market anymore, at least not in Canada. I bought them at Mountain Equipment Co-op in 2017 and when I checked their site in 2020, there was a similar but updated model available, the Zamberlan Vioz GT Gore-Tex hiking boot.

How much?: About $300 CAD, before tax.

Where, when, and how I use them: The boots in the picture have well over 1000 km on them, in fact I think it’s closer to 1500 km. They are nicely broken in, as they say, and I think they have another 500 km in them at least. The soles and lugs are still solid and grippy, the interior lining is barely worn, and the leather uppers are supple but still supportive.

I’ve worn them on a number of long walks, mostly around Toronto though as it happens, I bought them in 2017 because we were going to Ireland and I wanted a proper pair of boots for bog-hopping and climbing. This pair has climbed hills, splashed through many puddles, streams, and bogs, and trudged through snow, slush, and mud.

In addition to hiking, they’ve become my day to day winter boots as well. I keep them rubbed and conditioned with dubbin, and that keeps the salt from eating the leather. They are GoreTex lined so they keep my feet dry, and they have Vibram soles which give good grip on icy surfaces.

I did think about wearing them on my 200 km TONotL walk, but in the end decided on a different set of footwear. While I think they would have worked really well on the first 3 days covering the Bruce Trail portion of that walk, I was also doing 3 days of walking on paved trails and I thought that heavy running shoes would have more cushioning for that. I couldn’t take 2 pairs of footwear, so I went with the running shoes.

I am planning on doing some more of the Bruce in future, and for that I think I’ll use these. It’s what they’re made for – backpacking and hiking on off road terrain.

Would I buy them again?: I like them and when I wear out this pair I will probably get another set. They look good with a pair of jeans or a pair of hiking shorts. They are indestructible, at least so far, and have worked well for more kms than any other footwear I’ve used.

That said, they are not the lightest things out there, having leather uppers and a lot of structure to them. The Goretex lining also means that they don’t breathe as well as some lighter materials might, so your feet get warm which can lead to excess sweating which can lead to blisters.

That said, they are exactly what you’d think they are just looking at them – tough, hard-wearing, and comfortable once you break them in. I recommend using merino wool socks with these, and if I am doing really long walks I’ll use Vaseline on my feet too.

One caveat is that I wear custom orthotics, which are fairly thick. Finding boots that work well with these has always been a challenge. That means I don’t know how they would feel using the regular supplied insoles.

Disclaimer: This is not a “review”. I don’t go around sampling things, instead this is a summary of my own experience with a product I have used a lot. All opinions contained in this post are my own. I offer no warranties or assurances for your experiences with the same product. I bought the gear with my own money and have not received any form of compensation from the manufacturer. Take my feedback as given – caveat emptor.