Zamberlan Baffin GT
Seriously comfortable hiking boot while providing…
Source: bought via a "pro deal"
Price Paid: $126
Seriously comfortable hiking boot while providing excellent support and traction. Not all Zamberlan styles fit the same way. I chose this boot over the Steep, Skill GT, and Trekker.
- Very durable construction
- Extremely comfortable, no break-in period required
- Nice aesthetics
- Expensive, but then again I think they're worth it.
When buying a hiking boot, there are a number of considerations to ponder. First and foremost, your budget. Next, what kind of hiking do you plan to undertake. Are you an occasional hiker or a tenacious one that will push boots to their extremes?
Since you're looking at the Zamberlan Baffin, I surmise that you're a more serious a hiker than average. The MSRP on these is $295, which casual hikers would balk at. Yet, these are not TOTL (top of the line). The best boots usually have a welt sole construction so that the tread can be easily replaced when worn out. I'd say these boots are ideal for the semi-serious hiker who may put them to use a dozen times or so each year. You'll plan to wear them for the next 5-8 years, then buy another pair when the time comes.
There are a number of other boot brands/models that could suffice for a semi-serious hiker. Zamberlan has a few other models worth considering, like the Skill, Steep, and Vioz. There's also Asolo's TPS line and ECCO's BIOM line just to name a few of comparable quality.
I went to a local store and tried on the Zamberlan Trekker, Skill GT, Steep, and Baffin. I also tested out the ECCO BIOM Hike 1.1 and Asolo TPS 535 (and Fugitive GTX). All of them were excellent, competent boots. I probably would have settled on the Asolo Fugitive GTX, because of the terrific value (as low as $120 shipped from some retailers), if it hadn't been for discovering the Zamberlan Baffin on discount.
One thing that bothered me with several Zamberlan styles (Steep and Skill) was the feeling of a hard heel backing when ascending. You lean forward and the back of your heel presses into the back of the boot. You shouldn't notice anything about your feet when doing this. If you feel your heel pressing against the boot backing, that's not a good sign. I imagine over time that breaking in might take care of this, or a thicker callous might develop. But when I tried on the Asolo Fugitive and Ecco Biom Hike 1.1, I could climb around and feel nothing but comfort in my feet.
But this review is about the Baffin. So naturally, I did buy them. I discounted the Asolo Fugitive because of the outsole sueded materials and busy stitching (even though I know from a friend that they'd hold up well for years). I was only "moments" away from ordering the Ecco Biom Hike 1.1, when I spied a super deal on the Baffin here at Amazon (store sample with minor marks from being trying on). There were several things that I really appreciated about the Baffin when I tried them on:
- VERY comfortable. These were just like the Ecco BIOM, which feel like the boots were custom formed for my feet. There is extra padding that closes around the Achilles tendon that is the crowning touch.
- Durable as all hell. You can just see it first hand. The construction is top notch. Everything is put together so well, from the stitching to the metal hardware.
- They simply look great. The BIOM Hike 1.1 looked more like a bulky snow boot compared to these Italian beauties. While comfort and function are the primary needs, it's just nice to have boots that are attractive. These do not disappoint.
- The front section of the sole is canted upward, so when you step you are "assisted" with forward motion. Not only does it make it easier to walk in these, climbing up rocky terrain is easier as well.
- The prestige and heritage of Italian boot making—these are NOT made in Asia.
So, I have to admit I got these on a steep discount due to being a store return (they weren't worn outdoors but had a few markings from being tried on). $295 is a lot for a pair of hiking boots if you're a casual hiker. But if you're looking at these in comparison to the Zamberlan Skill or Steep, I'd tell you to go for the Baffin.
I do not have a long tale of hiking excursions to comment on as I've only taken these out on one short hiking trip. But I can honestly say that no break-in period was required. These boots performed beautifully. I did walk around in 40 degree weather and felt comfortable, so it remains a question as to whether or not the Gore-tex lining will cause some overheating discomfort as it tends to occur with Gore-tex lined boots.
These are pretty heavy duty and so I wouldn't want to employ them on a trek in the broiling sun anyway.