User Review: Zamberlan Men's 308 Trekker RR
Price Paid: $175 on sale at REI
This is my first attempt to write a full review of Zamberlan's Trekker 308. I have been doing very serious hiking now for 2 years. The problem that I have encountered is which boot to use. I will not name other brands, but it has come down for me that leather boots are the best. But which one?
This review will be from a dayhiker point of view, which may not be the same as a multi-day hiker. The main reason I bought these boots is for leather, one year warranty, and no Gore-tex material. I was also influenced by it not being made in China, and reviews from different sites on the Internet.
I was looking for a boot that would not require much break-in time. I would estimate approximately 20 miles was required, and I can also say the boot got more and more comfortable after each hike.
I read the reviews and decided to get the 308, because I day hike and carry approximately a 15 to 25 pound backpack, use a walking stick, and wear only wool socks. I used them on a 3-mile hike the first time to make sure I didn't have any problems. I used liner socks and light wool socks and tied the shoes normal.
They performed well but I had some problems with small rocks — the soles will not give like my other boots and I found that the boot would roll over the rocks, whereas the other boots that I use would bend around the rocks. The heel section feels great, very solid and the laces work perfectly.
I used the boots for 5 more 3-mile hikes and didn't find any hot spots or major problems. The boots are forest green and I did see the dye bleed on the inside from the boot tongue.
Then I went on a 6-mile hike and encountered a small problem with my liner and socks: the socks were pulling my toes and I had to adjust them at the end of the hike because of discomfort. This could have been caused by me not pulling up my liner and socks correctly or by how I tied my laces.
I went on a second 6-miler and this time used medium wool sock only, no liner. I also changed my lacing to allow better heel lock and found that my toes were in great shape after the hike. I did 2 more 6-milers with no problems and did some bushwhacking at the end of the hikes, which didn't affect the boots at all.
The next hike was 2,000-foot ascent, 15 miles with lots of rocks, and the boots performed great. After the hike I found the outer sole had some covering material that came off, but the lugs were not damaged. I also noticed that the paint on the D-ring for the laces had started coming off and exposed the brass or bronze metal. (I'm not sure of the type.)
I did one more hike on the same trail with no effect on the boots. The sole didn't get worse and the D-ring paint seems to be a manufacturing problem. I contacted Zamberlan USA, which is in San Diego, and they told me that they have seen this problem which doesn't affect the boot at all.
I bought the boots in May, and I estimate I have around 350 to 400 miles on them. I use other boots to hike also because of my work around San Diego county allows me to hike after my job is completed. The Zamberlans are used on the weekends and some weekdays.
Polypropylene midsoles, which I feel is way better than metal or nylon.
Rubber toe rands, which I feel saves the leather in the front of the boot, and is very strong.
Cambrelle nylon lining, not Gore-tex. My feet are cooler and sweat less.
One-year manufacturer's warranty.
Padded ankle, which for a day hiker allows more comfort and longer hikes, but is still strong.
I have been in the mud, and was surprised to see mud coming off the sole in forward and backward motion.
Made in Italy.
- D-ring paint came off.
Outer sole skin came off, which looks like paint. I know its not, and it didn't affect the sole in any way. One last note, to be fair: this was just a very small section of the sole.
I contacted Zamberlan USA by phone and in person, and found very poor support if you have question about their product performance. But if you want to buy something they're on it. This is the reason I got the boots from REI: they will back up what they sell.
The insoles belong in the trash, and I replaced them with Superfeet Green.
This is now a comment about Vibram rubber soles, which performed great except for the coating problem. I went to Zamberlan's web site which had a link for Vibram; if you go to this site it tells you that it has a China plant now. Zamberlan gets the outer soles from Vibram but I'm not sure if they are made in Italy or China.
Care of the boots: I wash the boots every Sunday after my hike. I remove the insoles to allow the boots to dry. I use a vegetable brush to clean the outside leather with cold water. I also look at the leather to determine if it needs to be treated. The leather will bead the water; if it starts to get wet or soak that's when I use Zamberlan Hydrobloc cream.
If you read the instructions they tell you to apply it each season, they also say put it on in light coats. I found in San Diego it has to be used about every 4 to 6 weeks, but varies were you are located. I use the Hydrobloc cream because of the instructions and warranty. I contacted REI, but they don't sell it. Zamberlan's website had it, but when you order it, you get a popup saying "out of stock." I found it at CC Outdoor Store and ordered it in June time frame, but I got a email a few days after the order from Zamberlan telling me it's in stock now.
They also list a shoe repairman on the Zamberlan and REI websites; I don't feel like giving his name out, all I can tell you is read the comments before you ever send your boots out. The only other thing is I use a dentist pick for removing small rocks that got stuck on the soles, not many but if you remove them it will make you soles last longer. The size is approximately 1 to 2 mm.
The final comment is, will I buy them again? Yes. I plan to buy a second pair. They meet everything I wanted out of a boot. I did have a problem at the beginning on looks of the boot — GREEN and the paint and outer sole problem — but on the trail the sign I used for myself is this: I don't think about the boots at all. They are part of me and my main goal is to get on the trail as fast as I can and stay on it, enjoy what is around me and not worry about equipment failure.
After you treat the boots, the green will start going away:
In the field:
This is an update of Zamberlan Trekker, I still have the boots with a 2nd pair, which I alternate to allow boots to last longer and dry if needed. These boots have been a joy in the 2 years of having them. I did go to the dark side and tried other boots but without a doubt these meet about 95% of needs while hiking. I will break down in section of what I feel make these boots so good for long hiking trips.
- The outer sole was a concern at first, I didn’t think it would last, the lugs were not large enough and traction was a concern. I feel now that the strongest part of this boot is the outer sole, and will out last the leather itself.
I have put many miles on these boots and if you take care of removing rocks and dirt you’ll never have a problem, very few rocks get stuck on the sole, good traction on wet surfaces, gaiters are no problem to put on or crampons. You don’t have to worry about thorns going through your boot or damaging lugs I bushwhack a lot and haven’t had any problems.
- The leather is very good, but you must be careful of what you use to take care of them. I still use their Zamberlan cream, but remember that these boots are not waterproof, they’ll keep most water out but not 100%. Your feet will get damp but if you have a waterproof boot your feet will get wet from your sweat also.
I feel that this is the weak link of the boot, where the D-rings for your shoe laces are, the boot has one attachment point and after time the rings will move a little without you noticing. The rivet that attaches the D-ring is getting larger and after time will elongate and fail at the lower part of your shoe lace system. This probably could be fix by making the lower D-ring 2 rivet attachment point instead of one.
The leather tongue is outstanding, it will not fold when you lase up your boots, even after time it will not fail, very thick leather which when hiking you’ll never have problem with tongue folding up, at the same time you must align the tongue to prevent it from going side to side, it isn’t full gusted so alignment is critical when you first buy these boots, if keep align during the break in period you’ll will not have a problem later on, and when I broke them in (x2) I used a surgical knot first then a double knot and you’ll be happy after because it will stay in place.
- The inner sole is great, but like before, use Superfeet, your feet will thank you for it. If your used to EVA type sole you maybe shock when putting these boots on for the first time, they don’t give. If you're a day hiker this may be unacceptable to you if you don’t go off trail or distances greater than 10 miles. For myself they feel bullet proof and give me confidence down the trail that these boots aren’t going to fail.
I still use only wool socks (medium) but have used light socks also with no effect inside the boot with my foot moving around. I didn’t get blisters, but at the beginning I did have a little heal pain. This problem is long gone.
- Padded ankle supports made me wonder at first, but after a while of ascending and descending it gave me enough lateral movement to allow the leather not to dig into my upper foot and gave me flexibility to go around rocks or objects with better control, this was an added bonus which I never thought about until wearing these boots for a few hundred miles. I feel I have enough ankle support without the sacrifice of having a full grain leather support.
- This is my last comment about the boots; these boots were made for walking, and with care they’ll serve you for years. The disadvantage is they can’t be resole. I use them almost everyday and the 5% time I have a waterproof boot that I’ll review at a later date.