King Vioz

So… I’ve decided to do my first ever gear review about a product that I’m very passionate about. This is about a product that I’ve been abusing for the past four years.

Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX

I’m not getting paid and have not been asked to do it… I don’t have any glossy photos of a new product and I’m by no means a fitness freak.

The renowned logo of Zamberlan, the Italian flag colours… it denotes purity!

Generally gear reviews are done by those who are at the top of their game, You don’t get reviews from the man on the street, the one who gets the most from his equipment. The one that abuses it the most.

I don’t get given free products and I can’t afford to have a wardrobe full of boots that suit every occasion. So, when it comes to footwear I have to buy what I can afford and hope it’s a good all-rounder… So who am I and what do I do?…

I’m the end user and I’m currently training to become a summer mountain leader. I run my own small guiding company here on the Jurassic Coast and work as an ambassador promoting the World Heritage Site. Other than when I’m away on mountain training days I don’t get to climb mountains locally, my time is spent on the coast… This area can be very challenging and I still need reliable boots that work and last for me.

This photo shows the condition of the stitching after two years worth of abuse… not one stitch has failed!

When it comes to boots I want a pair that can do everything. They have to be good in the mountains, they have to be able to cope with the coastal path and I need to be able to wear them all year round. I’m a keen fossil hunter here on the Jurassic Coast so my boots need to cope with the algae on the rocks, the thick sticky clays and the salty sea water that they are exposed to on a regular basis when I’m out hunting.

Some corrosion on the lace D rings, this is where the boot has been submerged in the sea when I’ve been out fossil hunting.

My perfect boot would also need to take crampons and keep me warm while doing my winter walking, give me good grip while scrambling rocky ridges on mountains, cope with long distance walking along the coastal path and have good breathability when tackling the Jurassic Coast in the heat of the summer.

The coastal path here on the Jurassic Coast gets extremely muddy during the winter months so I need a boot that supports my ankles well and is water tight.

Over the past few years my personal choice has been Zamberlan boots. They have always fitted my feet perfectly and never caused any foot problems when in use. With my current level of outdoor activities, I’ve been burning a pair of boots out in two years. Over the past four years I’ve been wearing Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX boots. I’m just about to finish using my second pair and now wondering what I should get next and if it should be another pair of Vioz.

So, what do I like about them…?

I always buy boots that have Vibram soles and Gore-tex linings. Vibram make the best soles and you can be guaranteed you’ll get the grip you’ll need when out on the hill or mountain. Next the linings… as I mentioned before the Jurassic Coast can get extremely hot in the summer months. I’ve often been stuck out on the South West Coastal Path in the soaring heat and Gore-Tex has proven itself to be the best in these conditions for breathability.

You can see the wear on the Vibram 3D soles here… still going strong after two years.

I also like a boot that fits tight to my ankles… I like to feel as if someone is holding my ankle with two hands. Only then do I feel comfortable pushing myself during certain activities… especially scrambling! The Zamberlan Flex System allows movement with ease while fully supporting my ankle.

Zamberlan boots seem to mould around my feet and ankles perfectly. The leather tongue goes right to the top of the boot creating a perfect water seal which means you can tackle any bog knowing your feet will stay dry to that point. When walking on the coastal path you come across worn paths with a v formed in them. In this v you’ll find the usual thick mud and water. The sides of this v are very dangerous and slippy… you need to tackle them by walking straight through and you need a waterproof boot capable of doing so. Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX are perfect for this task.

Vioz boots are NOT crampon rated… once a year I go away with friends to the Lake District for winter walking. I need crampons for this but can’t afford to waste silly money on crampon rated boots and crampons that cost the earth as I would only use them for this one trip. The only option I have is to wear flexible crampons on my Vioz. I use Grivel Monta Rosa crampons that are actually C1 rated. They fit well and I’ve had nearly 10 trouble free days winter walking using them. It works for me but I know Zamberlan would NOT recommend the use of such crampons on the 996 Vioz GTX boots. I would recommend talking to them first to see what they would advise you to wear.

This year while scrambling down the Fiacaill ridge in the Cairngorms, I got into a sticky situation. I was trying to descend down over a large quartz boulder… I couldn’t see the bottom so I had to lower myself feet first. It was like tip toeing in the dark while holding on for dear life. It was at this point that I realized I was completely reliant on my boots as I frantically fought for grip. This was the deciding point where I knew buying the same pair again was the right option. I got off that ridge safely because of my boots!

The sole has finally cracked on one of my boots, this is due to the amount of work the boots have done.. they have walked miles! As you can see from the photo the leather has NOT failed above.

After four years worth of good use I can’t fault these boots in anyway. They have performed constantly throughout my activities. The comfort has been phenomenal and the grip has been astounding! I really can’t endorse them enough. I always recommend Zamberlan when asked which boot is best and I will continue to do so. These boots are still made by the original family in Italy. The boot is the same as it has always been and so is the quality.

You’ll feel like a king while wearing these out on the hill and mountain and that’s why they should be called ‘KING VIOZ’

Until my next adventure on the Jurassic Coast….

Websites of interest…

Martin Curtis, Jurassic Coast Guide

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