Review: Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX

A good pair of hiking boots is like a lucky fishing hat—hard to come by; sad to see go. But the day is inevitable when a pair of leathers kicks the can. It might take months, years, or decades, depending on the amount of use, but eventually the leather wears out, the soles rub off, and the stitching falls apart. And so begins the search for a new pair.

When that happened this spring, I picked up a pair of Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX boots on the recommendation of several adventure buddies. These over-the-ankle, one-piece leather hiking boots have quickly become as cherished as my lucky fishing hat. The first thing that stands out is the clean leather. There are very few stiches, meaning very few wear points: only two seams along the heel, both double stitched, and another where the tongue ties into the boot. But other than those, the boots are a clean slate, ready for whatever rocks or scree you can find. Oh—and water, too. The boots have a Gore-Tex membrane, so your feet will stay bone dry, as long as you don’t overtop them in a creek.

Moving down to the soles, the Vioz feature a Vibram rubber of medium-hardness. That allows for secure grip on wet, slippery rocks and logs, but provides good longevity as well (soft rubber has better purchase than hard rubber does, but it wears out quicker). Finally, a firm lacing system with slim eyelets provides a solid lock on the foot, and creates a sleek profile for wearing under gators. Overall, the boot is supportive enough to sidehill with a heavy pack, but flexible enough to make for comfortable hiking over long distances. On the whole, the 996 Vioz GTX check all the boxes for a good spring and summer hiking & hunting boot. They’re as prized as my lucky fishing hat. $350; available at