Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX Review

Zamberlan’s Vioz 996 is a solid and extremely durable hiking boot that’s well suited to more demanding trails whilst still being plenty comfortable for a full day of walking.

Zamberlan Women's 996 Vioz GT Hiking Boot,Dark Brown,37 M EU/6 M US

Great news: These boots are also available in a men’s version.

Pros / Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent build quality
  • Can be resoled

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

  • Expensive
  • The design may be too utilitarian for some

The Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX is a traditionally-styled boot, packed with modern technology and built for serious hiking. These boots are tough – exceptionally tough – and also offer fantastic foot and ankle support and dependable water-proofing all whilst still being comfortable enough for a full day of hiking.

They are not cheap, but if you are serious about hiking in all conditions and on more demanding terrain and can justify the cost (which is made slightly more palatable by the fact that these boots can be resoled – potentially giving them a very long life indeed), these boots are well worth a look.

Editor’s note: This article is part of our guide to the best hiking boots, be sure to check out the rest of this guide for our top buying tips:

Compare to Similar Products: 

Danner Mountain 600 Leaf GTX
Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof
Salomon Quest 4 Gore Tex
Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped
Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX 
Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX
Hoka Kaha 2 GTX
Vasque Breeze Waterproof Hiking Boots
Danner Mountain 600 Hiking Boots for Women - Waterproof, Durable Suede Upper, Breathable Lining, Triple-Density Footbed & Vibram Traction Outsole, Chocolate Chip/Golden Oak - 5 M
Merrell Women's Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot, Altitude, 5
Salomon Quest 4 Gore-TEX Hiking Boots for Women, Slate/Trooper/Opal Blue, 8
Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped, Elk/Mountain Red, 9
Zamberlan Women's 996 Vioz GT Hiking Boot,Dark Brown,37 M EU/6 M US
Salomon X Ultra 4 MID Gore-TEX Hiking Boots for Women, Ebony/Mocha Mousse/Almond Cream, 5
Lowa Women's Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot,Stone,10 W US
La Sportiva Womens Nucleo High II GTX Hiking Boots, Oak/Topaz, 7
HOKA ONE ONE Womens Kaha 2 GTX Nubuck Black Black Trainers 5.5 US
Vasque Women’s Breeze Hiking Boot, Cappuccino, 6 Medium
Buying Options
Our Ratings
Best Overall Women's
Most Comfortable
Best for Mountain Walking
Best Budget
Best Waterproof
Best for Summer/Hot Weather
Best Leather
Best for Day Hikes
Pros
Extremely comfortable. Wears in quickly. Excellent fit for wider feet
Excellent comfort. Excellent durability
Sturdy and ready to take on anything. Good toe placement and great ankle positioning
Very comfortable, pretty much straight out the box. Great price point
Excellent build quality. Can be resoled
Low weight. Good build quality
Available in three widths and a variety of sizes. Extremely comfortable
Cutting edge materials, good breathability to waterproofing ratio
Extremely supportive and comfortable. Stylish.
Excellent durability. Rigid build
Cons
Not great for narrower feet. Sizing for buyers outside the United States can be limited
Slightly confusing product range. The design looks dated.
Break in takes a little while. Rigid.
Isn't as breathable. Could do with a more robust sole
Expensive. The design may be too utilitarian for some
Ankle cuff not as supportive as some others. Wider toe box may not suit those with very narrow feet. New
Expensive. Isn't visually that striking
Expensive for what they are. We don't find them suitable for longer treks
Expensive. Leather feels cold after walking through significant water.
Dated design. Stiff upper may not be to everybody's taste.
Traction
Excellent
Very good
Medium/deep thread pattern
Good - but not as good on technical terrain
Excellent
Excellent
Vibram outsole - excellent
Excellent
Excellent - uses Vibram Megagrip
Very good
Breathability
Good
Very good
Gore-Tex upper and well insulated
OK
Low
Good
Good
Excellent
OK
Very good
Ankle Support
Good
Very good
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Excellent
Arch support
Regular to good
Good
Average
OK
Average
Good
Average
Regular
Average
Average
Fit
Fits a little large, size down a half size if in-between, available in a single width
Fits true to size. comes in standard and wide widths
Suits normal to wider feet
Standard fit, runs small - best to go up a half size
Standard fit - runs small
Fits true to size. Comes in standard and wide widths
Comes in standard, narrow and wide fit options and wide range of sizes
Runs narrow
Standard fit
Runs a little small. Available in standard and wide fit
Materials
Grain leather upper, metal lacing hardware and synthetic/rubber soles
Synthetic and pig suede upper.
Leather and synthetic
Upper leather and suede and synthetic
Mostly leather with synthetic lining and rubber sole
Fully synthetic
Leather and synthetic
Leather and synthetic
Leather and synthetic
Nubuck leather and synthetics
Appearance
Modern hiking boot
Slightly dated design
Modern
Modern hiking boot with traditional feel
Traditional hiking boot
Modern hiking boot
Modern hiking boot
Modern hiking boot
Modern hiking boot/trail hybrid
Slightly dated design
Durability
Excellent
Very good
Excellent
Sole feels quite lightweight
Excellent
Excellent
Good
Average
Good
Excellent
Water Resistance
Gore-Tex membrane
In-house waterproof, breathable membrane
Gore-Tex membrane
Waterproof (Omni-Tech)
Gore Tex lining and water resistant coating
Gore Tex membrane
Gore-Tex membrane
Gore-Tex Surround membrane
Gore-Tex lining
In-house waterproof, breathable membrane
Weight (pair)
900g/2lb per pair
800g/1lb 12oz
1070g/2lb 6oz
791g/1.8lbs per pair
1.28kg/2lb 13oz
740g/1lb 10oz
950g/2lb
900g/2 lb. 1 oz
1015g/2.5 lbs
990g/2lb 2oz
Insoles
Standard insole
Padded insole
Padded insole
Standard insole
Padded insole
Padded. shaped insole
Standard insole
Standard insole
Standard insole
Padded insole
Break-in Period
Minimal
Minimal
Some break in needed
Very minimal
Some break-in required
Minimal
Minimal
Slightly longer than average
Minimal
Medium
Lacing system
Regular laces with metal lacing hardwear for durability
Standard laces
Standard laces
Standard/regular laces
Standard/regular laces
Standard laces
Standard lacing system
Standard/regular laces
Standard - eyelet with grip lacing around the ankle
Standard laces
Toe Protection
Rubberized toe rand
Rubber rand around toe and small toe cap
Rubberized toe rand
Rubberized toe rand
Substantially reinforced toe offers excellent protection
Rubber rand on toe and small toe cap.
Substantial rubber toe rand
Rubberized toe rand
Rubberized toe rand with reinforced stitching
Rubber rand around toe and small toe cap

Analysis and Test Results

Zamberlan have an excellent reputation for making quality, hard-wearing hiking boots. The Vioz 996 embodies this well. These boots are not inexpensive, but they are beautifully made from premium materials and are clearly a very well thought out product. These boots should last a very long time indeed – especially given that they can be resoled.

Whilst they are certainly overkill for those who hike on more developed trails, they offer a great balance of rigidity, support and excellent water resistance for those who regularly head into the mountains in all weather conditions, plus they are still plenty comfortable enough to wear on long walks too. If you hike in mixed weather conditions and on mixed terrain, then these boots are an excellent all-rounder and we think they could be the only pair of boots that many hikers need.

Performance Comparison

zamberlan hiking boot

Traction

These boots are supplied with a Vibram sole with a deep, aggressive thread pattern. They do well on a wide variety of surfaces and, coupled with the stiffness of the boot give you a great sense of confidence. However, this can also work against you. Our reviewer was so confident in the traction of these boots that on their first major outing, they misjudged just how slippery a slope would be and wound up flat on their face in the mud! This isn’t a criticism of these boots but does go to show that there are some surfaces – mud, ice and wet, smooth rock that can beat the traction on even the grippiest of soles.

zamberlan traction

Breathability

These boots feature an upper made largely from unventilated solid leather. There is some ventilated material around the heel cuff, but that’s it – even the tongue, an area that usually features ventilated fabric is padded leather on these. The boots do feature a Gore Tex membrane which helps wick moisture away from the skin and hiking socks made from a material like Merino Wool can help here too.

These boots are perhaps not a great choice for hiking in the peak of Summer, but during the mixed weather we tested them in – including a few warm days where the temperature climbed over 20C/68F – they did not feel excessively warm.

Ankle Support

These boots offer exceptional ankle support. The ankle cuff is high, well-padded and tension can be adjusted via the laces. Coupled with the generally stiff build of the boots, these give incredible support – even more so than we’ve experienced with some B-rated technical boots! If you’re prone to twisting or rolling your ankle, then these Zamberlan boots are well worth a look.

Arch Support

The Zamberlan Vioz 996 offers gentle arch support out of the box. This will be absolutely fine for most buyers, but if you want to add more, you can always add some third party or custom-made insoles to increase support.

See the Zamberlan Vioz 996 in more detail: 

Fit

The Zamberlan Vioz 996 is available in sizes from US 5.5/UK 3.5/EU 36 US 11/UK 9/EU 43 and in a single width. Larger sizes, and a wide fit option are available in the men’s version of the boot. The sizing for these boots runs small and it’s advised to go half or a full size larger than normal when ordering.

These boots are quite rigid by design. If you’re used to flexible hiking shoes, this might come as quite a shock and they may seem awkward and uncomfortable at first, however, the advantages of the more rigid fit should become clear once you start to encounter the more demanding terrain these boots were intended for.

Materials

The exterior of the upper of these boots is made entirely from leather and Zamberlan use premium full-grain leather for the main panels which is generally the most durable you can get. Synthetics are used inside the boot and the sole is chunky rubber.

zamberlan materials

Appearance

Whilst these boots are thoroughly modern in their construction, their looks are definitely inspired by classic hiking boots. Whilst some will like that, others will surely think they look utilitarian and clunky. The boots are offered in a few generally earthy colorways.

Durability

As you can likely imagine, durability is one area where the Zamberlan Vioz 996 really excels. The boots are made from top quality, durable materials (for example, Zamberlan state that the leather used in the upper is between 2.4mm and 2.6mm thick. Most other manufacturers boots weve assessed here use leather that’s below 2mm thick).

It’s evident that the build quality is very high too. There’s double stitching on many of the joins and the boots generally look and feel like they are made to last. One thing we do feel these boots would benefit from is a last – a rubber band that covers the leather where it joins the sole either around the toe, heel, or around the full boot. A last will soak up some of the bumps and scrapes you can expect the boots to suffer on the trail prolonging the life of the upper.

After a few hikes on technical terrain, our review boots were showing some cuffs and abrasions to the leather that otherwise would have been on the last. It will be a very long time indeed before these scuffs accumulate to anything more than aesthetic marks, but a last would soak them up. Zamberlan do also offer the Vioz 1996 Lux, which is a variant of the 996 with a rand on the toe (plus a few other design and material tweaks intended to make the boots feel even more premium), if you intend to hike regularly on more technical or rocky terrain, then we think these would be well worth the considering as an alternative to the ‘regular’ Vioz 996.

Beyond this, these boots can also be resoled. This used to be a given with hiking boots, but as the industry has switched towards designs that are inspired by trainers, it’s something we now see less and less frequently.

If you’ve worn out a pair of hiking boots or two in the past, then you’ll know that the soles tend to wear out first – often whilst the upper is still in good condition. Being able to replace the sole can massively extend the life of a pair of boots.

Sustainability

Unlike other manufacturers, Zamberlan do not publish a sustainability statement on their website, but the company does pride itself on being a much smaller operation that uses responsibly sourced materials and their products are designed to have very long lives.

The Vioz 996 is designed to be resoled, for instance, meaning they could potentially have a lifespan of a decade or more.

Water Resistance

Water resistance is one area where these Zamberlan Vioz 996 boots excel. The largely unvented leather upper is backed with a Gore Tex membrane and the tongue also features a gusset that extends as close to the top of the ankle cuff as you can realistically get.

Together, this gives excellent water resistance and aside from keeping your feet dry in the rain, you can splash through puddles and even cross shallow streams with confidence.

Bear in mind, though, that water can still get into the boot above the ankle cuff, or even soak in through your socks if they get wet (for example, if you get caught in the rain whilst wearing shorts).

Weight

Weighing in at 1.28kg/2lb 13oz, these boots are outwardly very heavy – certainly at the heavier end of boots we’ve assessed in this round up. If you are after the very lightest boots, then there are certainly better options. However, lighter boot simply don’t have the sturdy build and offer the same level of foot and ankle support that these offer and for hiking over demanding terrain, heavier duty boots like these make a lot of sense.

We think that many hikers will gladly exchange some weight for the improved foot support and protection these boots offer.

Those who want a more rigid boot, but would still like something lighter than these Zamberlans may want to consider the Vasque Breeze Waterproof as an alternative.

zamberlan-toe protection

Insoles

The Zamberlan Vioz 996 boots come with a pair of padded insoles. Whilst slightly more padded than usual, these are otherwise fairly unremarkable. That’s not a bad thing as most buyers will be absolutely fine with these. However, if you need extra arch support or want to fine-tune the fit of these boots, then swapping in a new pair of insoles is a trivial task.

Break-in Period

The Zamberlan Vioz 996 are at the more rigid end of the scale in terms of boots we’ve assessed for this round up and, as such, they do need some break-in time. However, these boots are a far cry from the hiking boots of the past that needed long break-in periods.

Our reviewer is used to wearing stiff technical mountaineering boots and found that the 996s were good to go for longer hikes after wearing them around their home for a day. If this is your first experience with a more rigid hiking boot, you’ll likely need a bit longer to get fully used to them, but the break-in period should still be quick. Thick, good quality hiking socks that extend well above the ankle cuff of the boot can be very helpful when breaking in more rigid boots.

Lacing System

The Zamberlan Vioz 996 uses regular laces. Most hikers don’t realize just how versatile laces are in terms of the control they allow for adjusting the fit of your boots. These boots have multiple lacing ‘zones’, allowing you to adjust the fit in different parts of the boots to make subtle – or even quite substantial – changes to the way they fit. For even more control, you can consider using a different lacing pattern.

zamberlan lacing system

Toe Protection

These boots have a substantially reinforced toe section – it’s on par with what you’d expect to find on B-rated mountaineering boots and, whilst this is subjective, we’d say it’s the best in this round up.

Coupled with the general rigid build of these boots, this does a great job of absorbing the kind of impacts you’ll get when crossing tricky, rocky terrain and will certainly save a few stubbed toes and broken toenails. Our reviewer is no stranger to hiking at altitude and remarks that you are often clumsier due to the thinner air on such hikes. If you hike at altitude, your feet and toes will be grateful for the extra protection offered by a more rigid boot like these.

Conclusion

We were very impressed by the Zamberlan Vioz 996. This is a well thought out, premium level product that can handle serious hiking. Their more rigid design may not be to everybody’s taste, but our reviewer saw it as a real advantage and whilst it’s a matter of personal taste, would choose rigid boots like this over more flexible trainer-style boots or shoes for all but the easiest-going walks.

If you only hike or walk on more developed trails, then these boots may be overkill, and if you hike in very warm conditions, you’d probably do better with a more heavily ventilated alternative but if you like to head onto more demanding routes, or off the trial entirely, then their solid build, excellent foot and ankle support and reliable water-resistance are just what you need.

However, these boots are not fully rigid mountaineering boots and are still comfortable enough to wear on multi-day walks. These boots are not cheap, but the fact that they can be resoled means they are likely to last a very long time indeed and for many hikers these could easily be the only pair of boots they need.

Disclaimer: This article contains Affiliate Links. You won’t pay any more for buying through these links, but we may receive a commission from any purchases made through them. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you choose to support us by buying through our links, we thank you as it helps us to continue providing the resources we do to help you enjoy the outdoors more!