by CanyonlandsfromBetter than anything in this price rangeI've been hiking and backpacking around the world for many years. I started out with the original Vasque Sundowner which had a cult-like following back when they were made in Italy. That boot went downhill after production moved to Asia. From there, I found an equally great fitting choice in both the Asolo Power Matic 200 GV and TPS 520 GV. I owned both of these and stopped using them after one pair (actually returned the 520s shortly after finding they suffered the same issue as the 200 GV, which I had for many years) because in certain wet and damp conditions, you simply can't stay upright wearing them. You can actually feel the slick property of the sole material when evaluating them in the store. I landed on my tail more than once and that's completely unacceptable as I'm always carrying a couple of pro camera setups when I'm hiking in such boots. In 98% of my hiking these Asolos were simply wonderful but the areas where I had traction issues, no one else with me was having trouble aside from me and anyone wearing the Asolo GVs. Onto Zamberlan…
I really like the Zamberlan Voiz line of hiking/backpacking boots. Same comfort and build quality of the original Vasques and Asolos but with great all-weather traction. I've almost bought the Voiz a couple of times but since leaving Asolo behind one brand has won me over repeatedly… Scarpa.
The Scarpa Zanskar GTX is Gore-Tex lined, made by this legendary company in Italy and has an awesome Vibram sole which has great downhill braking and excellent wet weather performance where the Asolos I had failed on many occasions. One of the things I like most outside of the Zanskar just being a fantastic hiking and backpacking boot is one feature of the lacing system which I will now forever be addicted to: The Zanskar and many other Scarpa hiking boots feature a lace brake for the lacing that rests atop your foot. This is in the form of what looks like normal lacing hooks but these last two atop your foot lock the tightness you set when you pull the laces into them. You could have a beer or rest your hand, do whatever and then come back to lacing the cuff without losing your adjustment across the top of your feet. This is best appreciated because most other boots will simply let the bottom lacing loosen if you don't get the top cuff lacing as tight as the bottom; normal lacing systems simply equalize. Simple and highly effective. Bravo.
What didn't work for me right out of the box was the boot volume. I have low volume feet and ended up swapping in Superfeet Coppers to get these dialed in. Before that, with the original insoles, I had a little bit of heel slip but again, my feet are low volume and the Copper insoles are made to take up volume.
Date published: 2013-12-12
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