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Zamberlan Vioz GTX 996

rated 4 of 5 stars
photo: Zamberlan Vioz GTX 996 backpacking boot

Best for backpacking on trails; however, I have used them off trail. If I was limited to one pair of boots or shoes, I would keep these. They are that good.


  • Craftmanship
  • Comfort
  • Resistance to moisture
  • Interior lining is a dream
  • Accepts Superfeet Green w/o changing fit


  • Leather requires care and cleaning.
  • A bit pricey (but the contstruction is first rate)

I wear a size 9 1/2 Lowe boot (Baffin) and this boot is also a size 9 1/2, so they seem true to size. Minimal break in and it accepts aftermarket footbeds. The boot has a slight rocker and it is a dream to walk in.  

I do clean and treat the leather after a muddy or snowy hike. I have used them on a two-night, early winter backpack in snow and mud. My feet were dry and warm. The leather and stitching are top notch. None of the stitches have unraveled. The soles are in great shape and I am very happy with the durability. 

In the three years I have owned them, they have been on 5 or 6 backpacking trips and several demanding day outings. I would buy these again.

Boots are a very personal item so I can not say they would fit every foot or meet the needs of every outdoor adventurer. If they fit and you have a niche for a medium duty boot and don't mind taking care of the leather, by all means get them. When I returned from an Afghanistan deployment, I bought these within an hour of arriving home. Guess I wanted to go hiking.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $290

Beware of the sole on the Vioz GT/GTX series of boots. Though the boot fits great and needs almost no break-in, the sole problem is a trip-stopper.


  • That great Italian fit on my foot
  • Premium upper materials
  • Well-fitting insoles


  • The sole is obviously defective, and...
  • Zamberlan does not respond to warranty requests

I cannot go onto what is good about this boot yet, as the soles are a complete trip-stopper. Within a few miles, the Vibram sole starts coming off in large chunks—whole lugs at a time. I have never witnessed this on any boot. That is particularly surprising for a premium brand with a premium-branded sole manufacturer.

And so far, Zamberlan has ignored all communication from me, through either their official warranty request, or customer service.  

The fit, comfort, support are great. It needed no break-in for me. The downhill grip seemed great, even on loose DG over hard-pack.  

But again, they are done after one 10-mile hike.  

Disclaimer: I bought these at the REI Garage Sale, and I did not think to look at the soles, as they looked brand new at first glance. But I found the first tear in the sole when I got home. It was so unusual, I thought the first owner cut it somehow, then returned it to REI. I am disappointed that REI passed the boot onto a customer instead of returning it to Zamberlan. Looking at reviews, it turns out this is a well-known problem to Zamberlan and REI. They seem to be whistling past the graveyard with this sole.  


I live and have hiked in Colorado for 30+ years, so my boots get a workout. I primarily wear Asolo backpacking boots with great success over the years. This was my first pair of Zamberlans, as they are a premium Italian brand, and Italian lasts tend to fit my feet well.

Source: REI Garage sale

Fantastic fit. Most comfortable full leather boot I have ever had. But alarmingly prone to slipping on wet rocks.


  • Supreme comfort
  • Perfect support for heavier loads


  • Seemingly good grip then will SUDDENLY let go on wet rock!!!

I bought these for winter hiking mostly, and found them to be superb for this. In the spring I wore them on a hike with my wife and noticed that they would slip without warning on smooth rock if even slightly wet.

I do not mean the typical tendency to slip from wet conditions. I mean a solid feeling grip that would suddenly and unexpectedly let go.

I would have figured I was just having a sloppy day. But we later passed someone with the same boots who asked if mine were slippery. He was having the exact same experience. We were not on our rears all day or anything like that, but we both noticed a significant tendency for the boot to just slip on wet rock more easily than other boots.

I sent them to Zamberlan USA who I believe honestly tested them and feel that they are just fine. I strongly disagree. It is too bad.

I tried them twice more with the exact same result — great feel and sudden slips when even slightly wet. Now I will use them on snow/ice only. They work great with Microspikes and small crampons.

These boots have been around for a while, and owners are not apparently dropping like flies. But I would absolutely not recommend these except for snow conditions (where the rubber compound is not critical) or absolutely dry conditions, where they grab quite well.

Source: bought it used

I buy men's boots because I need an 11.5 M in women's and those are unavailable in most brands. My 10.5 size M Zamberlan 996 VIOZ GTX fit like a dream! No break in needed. I do wear with boot socks. Mainly use for hiking purposes. Love the Italian leather and inside cushioning.


  • Perfect comfortable fit
  • Buy at REI—near home


  • Price is high
  • Where can I find additional colored laces?

As I indicated I am a lady who needs to buy men's boots because of the sizing. In a shoe I buy 11.5. M. The 996 VIOZ GTX fit me like a tee sizing down to a 10.5 (EURO 45). I wear cotton boot socks and the boots fit like they are custom made for me.

In the past I wore Vasque boots, but they are not the same once China started making them.

Currently I hike and walk a 95 pound German Shepherd. The Vibram sole gives me great traction on all surfaces. I just hope in the future I can find the fancy red/gray laces again :)

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $300

Best boots I've ever owned. These boots are comfortable, strong, and definitely waterproof. Great for hiking and backpacking.


  • Waterproof
  • Strong


  • Heavy

The first time you wear these boots it's like learning to walk again. The soles are shaped differently in a way that rolls your foot and uses your ankle less. After wearing them a few times you don't even notice it anymore. This makes them great for people with ankle problems (my dad has a bad ankle from a motorbike accident and he has a pair and it's the only way he can walk long distances).

They fit nice on my wide foot and are extremely comfortable. I wore mine for a week around town before my first hike in them and have never had any blisters. My dad used his first hike to break them in and his feet were covered in blisters, but he has never got another one since.

They are extremely waterproof with both leather and Gortex. I recently hiked in constant drizzly rain for three days. Most people had Gortex boots on and by the end of the hike I was the only one with dry feet.

Overall a great boot.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $350 AUS

Vibram sole disintegrating is Vibram's fault.


  • Fits me (might not fit you)
  • Good looking in black
  • Interesting rocker on soles (sort of like some Hoka shoes)


  • Vibram sole can disintegrate
  • Heavy
  • Soil gets in all the little crevices in the sole and needs a toothbrush to get out.
  • Slippery on wet rocks

Zamberlan has proprietary Vibram soles on these boots. They brag about it. But...they are hard to clean and disintegrate. The disintegration is probably Vibram's error but still...thinking you know more about soles than Vibram seems pretty egotistical to me. Zamberlan obviously needs to dump the proprietary soles, if for nothing else, because one can only resole them with their own proprietary soles.

The rocker on the soles is awesome when walking, but I wonder if it contributes to the slippery feeling on wet rocks. Those are the negatives.

On the positives, they do everything else right (they are heavy but no heavier than any other full grain leather shoe). BTW Zamberlan sells an innersole that is insulated for eighteen dollars on their website, along with the Hydroblock cream they want you to use so you do not mess with the Goretex using oil-based leather conditioners. 


51 years of hiking in the Sierras. Asolo, Limmer, Alico, Scarpa, Lowa, Merrill, some others.

Source: bought it used
Price Paid: 100

Extremely durable and reliable boot. Have worn for three years and have had few problems.


  • Dry
  • Comfortable
  • Extremely durable


  • The lace hooks do tend to bend but have never broken off the boot.

I would definitely recommend this boot. I've used it tree planting in thick brush and landscaping and they've lasted extremely well. They've been through mud, puddles, and many overnight hikes and my feet have stayed dry and completely comfortable.

The boot fits perfectly and has not rubbed in any places. It did take a bit of getting used to and wearing in though. They grip incredibly well. I've climbed rocky mountains and worked in rocky, wet surfaces and have never slipped and they've always been warm.

The only problem I have had with them is the lace hooks have bent a little and made it hard to fit the lace in to be tied up properly, but that was easily fixable. 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 300 Canadian

This boot felt great initially, sort of launches your stride forward like a spring. I am disappointed after two years with the soft sole having worn down and the leather is cracking at the break where there is a crease. I found the toe box too narrow.

For the money these boots should have held up much better.


  • Little or no break-in
  • Good looking
  • Flexible
  • Soles have bounce


  • Small/narrow toe box
  • Soles wear out quickly
  • Leather prone to cracking

First, to put my experience into context, I am 6'3" and 240 LBS (not obese!) and walk or hike in the Massachusetts woods and White Mountains, usually six to eight miles per day (now that I am Older).

I used these boots for daily hikes in the woods and not much on pavement, cleaned and treated them regularly.

After two winter seasons the treads are wearing thin. This is very disappointing since my Scarpas went through much more strenuous heavy duty use and lasted twenty years!

Now I could accept that the trade-off for the more nimble and springy Zamberlans' soles would need to be resoled often if it weren't for the fact that the leather of the uppers is failing. There are creases where the boot breaks and these have now opened up into cracks. 

While this is a comfortable boot and waterproof, I would rather see Zamberlan use better leather and hold the Gore-tex.

Source: bought it new

Very nice looking and extremely well made boot. As Julien mentioned in his review, there is ZERO break-in period for these boots. Made in Italy.


  • Made in Italy
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Waterproof GoreTex
  • Excellent softer rubber sole

These boots are so comfortable and so good looking that I wear them day-to-day quite a bit. The soles are some of the softer Vibrams I have ever worn. The softer soles mean very good shock absorption and excellent grip especially on slick smooth rocks.

There are so many brown boots out there, but I love that these are black. The only thing I didn't care for were the drab gray boot laces, so I replaced them with bright red and they look great! These are NOT summer boots! They are very very warm.

I paid $280 for these at REI (worth every penny) and then I scored a second pair at an REI garage sale a few months later for only $100.

The materials and the construction are INCREDIBLE!! Made in Italy!!!! Totally worth what I paid for them.

Highly recommended.


Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $280

Very comfy and waterproof, but poor sole construction.


  • Comfortable
  • Waterproof
  • Excellent upper leather durability


  • Soles

Like many others, I too have problems with chunks of sole falling off. When I put them on, most comfy boot ever had on. Very durable uppers, great looking, waterproof.

Took them on hard trips, noticed chunks missing out of soles, and nose of boot nearly broken off as well. Vibram is supposed to be extremely long lasting and durable. So I can only assume this is a QC issue.

I love these boots, but now need to get another pair. I want Zamberlan, but if they don't fix this issue (it seems it is common amongst many other customers too), I will have to switch to another boot.


Extensive experience with most all brands (Vasque, Scarpa, etc.)

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $350

While these boots look and feel great, they have proven useless in my case. After only four walks, I looked at the soles only to see that great chunks of the sole on both boots had broken off. I cannot understand how a boot of this price can have such poorly constructed soles that they fall apart like this after less than a month.


  • Look good


  • Completely useless soles that fall apart within a month of purchase

These are boots that are clearly well made in terms of the upper. One piece of hand made Italian leather. They look and feel great.

However, there is clearly a problem with quality control with the Vibram soles. They are very chunky and thus seem to be prone to have pieces snapping off. After only my fourth time in the boots, I looked at the soles only to see that there was a huge piece of the sole gouged out of one boot, and several smaller pieces missing on the other boot. I also noticed that there was already considerable wear to the soles despite them being less than a month old.

The hikes I have completed are by no means lengthy or particularly demanding on boots, so it is very disappointing that a product this expensive should start falling apart in this way. The last hike I did was across rocky terrain, but the boots of my companions held up perfectly well while mine did not, despite being significantly more expensive.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 225 AUD

Very good boot in dry weather.


  • Comfortable
  • Good support in sole and ankle


  • Slippery when wet
  • Needs a toe cap
  • Sole chunks off

Recently used these doing the Old Rag Loop in the Shenandoah National Forest. Very nice boot until the top of the hike. Boots lacked grip during the Rock Scramble and slippery (you think you're good and then nope!) on any rock that is wet.

Very good support carrying heavy loads. Toe of boot gets pretty gouged because of a lack of toe cap. I have noticed the Vibram sole chunking off, but I don't think it is affecting performance yet..


I'm comparing these boots to Arc'teryx, Alico, Meindl, Dunham, and Vasque.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $295

Great boots that have great durability, water protection, and support.


  • Good support
  • Good protection
  • Good waterproofness
  • Thick leather


  • No rands
  • A little heavy

This boot fits me very well. After a little break-in time it has virtually no heel slip. It is a tight fit all the way around with pressure that was evenly distributed and no pressure points. I user this boot both on a daily basis and for big trips.

I carried a 45 pound pack 8-13 miles a day in Montana and was very pleased with the support. I also use these for some warmer snowshoe trips and even early and late backpacking trips in the winter with gaiters. They kept my feet both warm and dry in the 15-45 degree temps.

I use Zamberlan Proofing cream on these boots at least monthly. The watershed finish that this creates helps keeps the boot from freezing in the morning. This also keeps the leather in really good condition so the boots will last a long time.

So far the durability has proven really well with these. The leather is thick enough that the few cuts I have in the unprotected toes of the boots have not even come close to going through. That is my only big disappointment about these is that they do not have rands. This is the only thing that I think will significantly reduce the life of these boots.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $260 (20% REI coupon)

I was able to put this boot on and walk out the door without break in. No hot spots or blisters. I was looking for a new boot and did a lot of research. I won't go to another boot.


  • Comfortable
  • No break-in
  • Solid construction
  • Dry feet


  • A bit heavy

Although these boots are a bit heavy, I don't find it an issue. They are very comfortable on my feet, they provide good ankle support, good solid construction. I wear these boots all the time working or hiking, I've had them 3 years now and they show very little wear.

The best part about these boots is that I was able to take them out of the box and go hiking without break in. I'm yet to have a blister or hot spot. Feet stay dry, I've taken them through shallow creeks and hiked in the rain. I find the traction to be adequate on wet surfaces, like with any boot wet surfaces are going to be an issue, I don't go out of my way to experiment on a wet log.

I've logged a few miles with these boots, on trails and cross country and can honestly say that they exceed my expectations.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $245 USD

Great boot, super tough and very comfortable.


  • Extremely durable
  • Very comfortable
  • Adapts to a wide foot.


  • Long break-in period

I bought these boots before a trip to Papua New Guinea to walk the Kokoda track. Having wide, short feet finding comfortable boots was a nightmare. After trying on at least 20 different types I bought the Zamberlans and haven't looked back since.

It took about 30km of hiking to break the full leather in (and stretch them around my wide feet) but after that initial period they have been super comfortable with even the heaviest of loads. The ankle support is excellent without being restrictive and the aggressive soles make excellent use of whatever grip they can find.

Over the last few years these boots have made it through Kokoda, to the base camp of Everest and the summit of Kilimanjaro as well as numerous local hikes and are still in fantastic condition. The only sign of wear is some slight scuffing of the leather on the toes (Mainly from kicking mud steps on the Kokoda track and scree running down Kili.).

One downside to these boots is that being full leather they don't breathe as well in the hot humid places of the world as a fabric/hybrid boot would. If you're not travelling to warm locales or don't mind a sweaty foot at the end of the day then you would be hard pressed to find a more comfortable, better made boot.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $270 on Sale

Very good backpacking boot.


  • No break-in period
  • Good ankle support


  • More heavy than synthetics but....
  • Leather maintenance
  • No break-in period for me. 
  • With a liner and good wool sock, it is like wearing slipper.
  • Stong lacing.
  • Nice overall grip.
  • I use them in warm/cold condition (5°C to 12°C) and I was very comfortable and dry. Late I will add a winter review.
  • Nice support with a 70 pounds backpack. 20 km hike and no blisters.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 300 $ CAN

I tried these boots at an REI retail store, then purchased them online a few weeks later. I have long, narrow, fairly flat feet, that have been widening slightly as I age and run. So the boot fitting is always interesting to say the least.

I was replacing a 10-year-old set of La Sportive M-hikes that just didn't fit any more. I liked what I felt in the store, but you never know. The Zamberlans arrived on a Friday afternoon, and I left for a backpacking trip on Monday morning. I only got to try them around the house for a couple of hours, so this was pretty much right out of the box and onto the trail.

For three days, I put them through hiking with a loaded pack, on trail, off trail, snow, slush, stream crossings, mud, scree, steep ups and downs, boulders, scrambling, you name it. I had not one hot spot or blister. This is by far the most comfortable and dry pair of boots I have ever owned. But, this is still only a 20 mile +- report, so time will tell. The Zamberlans stayed 100% dry, never felt too hot, and were so comfortable that I didn't feel the need to change out of them at the end of the day.

I think that there are lots of good boots out there, and basically it comes down to whether the boot fits your foot or not. These fit mine perfectly. The heel is snug but not tight, the instep is perfect, the arch supportive, the toe box roomy. I love 'em.

Price Paid: $265

A great boot for hiking in the Whites of NH with a 30 pound pack on. Rugged, durable, and grippy.


  • Waterproof, very good full grain leather, very supportive, works with my orthotics, and a super sole.


  • Just a little hot in the summer

I’ve been hiking with these for a year in the whites, they are good in all types of terrain and weather, and handle my weight well.


40 years

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 350 Dollars

I bought at REI. I hike in the mountains with approximately 20 miles per week. I would not purchase because they do not seal well at the top of the boot.


  • Comfortable


  • No matter how hard you try to lace them at the top of the boot, debris still comes in

Source: bought it new

Great boot. I have owned them for about two years and use them for tramping and hunting in New Zealand on a regular basis.

Very comfortable and warm (I use them mostly in winter so there is a lot of water and some snow use) and like all good leather boots a little TLC will keep them looking like new for ever.

Price Paid: 149 NZD (a Bargin!!!)

Minimal break-in, maximum stability and comfort. Best pair of boots I've everowned.


  • Everything


  • None

Well worth the price. Total comfort right out of the box!

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $270

Best hiking boot I've owned. Didn't have much break in time before a 10-day 75-mile hunting trip up and down a mountain side. No blisters or hot spots. Feet stayed warm and dry.

Price Paid: $249

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Price Current Retail: $259.96-$350.49
Historic Range: $151.67-$350.49
Reviewers Paid: $245.00-$350.00
Weight 710 g
Price Current Retail: $177.53-$350.49
Historic Range: $177.53-$350.49
Weight 640 g
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