ZAMBERLAN 980 OUTFITTER GTX RR BOOT REVIEW
Editor: RANDY JOHNSON
iReview Gear Lead Field Editor
HIGH DESERT WILD SHEEP GUIDES
Alti2ude Outdoors Pro Staff
Zamberlan’s new 980 Outfitter GTX RR is the most advanced backcountry hunting boot to date! That’s saying a lot as Zamberlan is famous for their quality boots. Featuring a cutting edge technical backpacking last designed for a more precise fit Zamberlan has also redesigned their ¾ RRS (Rubber Rand System) by utilizing an improved rubber compound for better elasticity. A newly designed beveled edge on this boots prevents catching and peeling. A tall boot, the Outfitter GTX RR provides critical ankle support for carrying heavy loads when backpacking, hiking or mountain hunting in rugged terrain.
The Outfitter GTX RR is ideal for carrying heavier loads and hiking through rough, steep backcountry and mountain terrain. Extremely comfortable, Zamberlan’s newest boot is highlighted by its Vibram StarTrek outsole that features dual-density PU construction (one for comfort, one for support), a TPU stabilizer, and a tread with outstanding downhill braking and toe climbing zone. The wide, yet “terrain hugging” lugs are easy to clean and the heel strike zone provides great support.
JUST THE FACTS:
Zamberlan has taken their quality boot manufacturing to another pinnacle with their production of the 980 Outfitter GTX RR. The 2.8mm Hydrobloc Tuscan Nubuck leather uppers ensure that you have great protection from water and snow while the Zamberlan RRS (rubber rand system) guards the foot and ankle as well as prevents the leather from deterioration caused by cracking, cuts and scratches. The Gore-Tex membrane offers maximum water protection and breathability.
A high quality, very comfortable, tall, non insulated hunting, hiking or backpacking boot the Outfitter GTX RR was specifically designed to provide the comfort and support demanded for challenging mountain hunting or backpacking adventures. Ruggedly tough and well suited for any obstacle or weather condition that Mother Nature has in mind Zamberlan’s advanced GTX RR is well prepared for the challenge. The high performance Vibram StarTrek design is rigid enough to command excellent stability and torsional stiffness for any of the nasty, rough terrain that you encounter while maintaining appropriate flexibility. Combine these qualities with the high traction lugs, spider gripping soles and a very comfortable cushioning system and you have a new game changing boot!
Hiking with a heavily laden backpack and bushwacking through rugged, “boot eating” off-trail terrain is precisely why the craftsmen at Zamberlan designed the Outfitter GTX RR. Weighing in at a remarkable 2.18 lbs these boots feel light on your feet yet they command incredible toughness.
Please note the following specifications to get a comprehensive feel for how well the GTX RR is constructed:
Uppers: Hydrobloc Nubuck Leather
Leather Thickness: 2,6/2, 8 mm
Lining: Gore Tex® Performance Comfort
Sole: Zamberlan Vibram StarTrek
Toe and Heel: Thermoplastic
Weight: 2.18 lbs
Footbed: Zamberlan Comfort Fit Memory Foam
Construction: GTX Bootee
Upper Protection: R.R.S. “Rubber Reinforcement”
Padding: Z.A.S. Air System
Midsole/Shank: Zamberlan Modular Flex GT
Care: Hydrobloc Proofing Conditioner
Historically, boot aficionados should note that Giuseppe Zamberlan, the grandfather, began to make boots soon after after World War I ended. From simple repair he moved on to footwear production, driven both by necessity and by his big passion for his local mountain range, the Piccole Dolomiti. He understood the poor performance of the early existing soles – made of leather with iron studs – and he both shared and supported the revolutionary ideas of Vitale Bramani, founder of Vibram, who was studying and developing rubber soles at the time.
These soles became accepted worldwide in world of boot making as Giuseppe purchased the first machinery and began building positive relationships with suppliers of raw materials, employing a few co-workers and starting a small workshop.
Boot making became a family affair as his wife Maria and son Emilio developed the same passion for making boots that would test the mountains. Now, more than 85 years later the Zamberlan Family is distributing to many European and world wide markets and today more than 90% of its production is destined for export to countries like the United States behind the savvy management of Marco and Maria Zamberlan and their valued team members dedicated to quality, comfort and performance.
As an avid big game hunter, outfitter/guide for 25 years I’ve had the opportunity to test a lot of boots. I’ve suffered through more than my share of blisters and hot spots while wearing out more boots than I can remember. Through time worn experience I demand boots that are not only comfortable but will hold up in most difficult, rugged terrain. When I make a decision to lace a pair of boots onto my feet it is with great confidence that I know they will get the job done for me. If your choice of footwear is not at the top of your “high priority list” then it should be because your footwear must be capable of getting you on and off the mountain safely without worrying about wearing painful blisters or having your boot come apart. Afterall, the boots I wear must endure sharp rocks, mud, cactus spines, water, abrasive sand/sandstone and other obstacles that nature may choose to test the human foot. My success and even my life at times depends upon the boots I wear. I simply can’t afford to have bloody toenails, bone bruises or painful blisters with a poor performing boot. I was told at the Western Hunting Expo by the Zamberlan reps that they would be coming out with their new Outfitter 980 GTX RR and that they would like to see me field test this high performing boot. I didn’t hesitate to say “yes” as I’ve been extremely please with the boots I’ve worn that have been manufactured by Zamberlan.
The day my new 980 Outfitters were delivered and I pulled them out of the box to slip onto my feet I knew that Zamberlan had built another high performance boot. In the past my Zamberlan boots have ran about ½ size smaller than what I normally wear but in this case (at least for me) the 980’s had to be ordered in my normal size. After an initial break in of wearing the boots “casually” while scouting for sheep one weekend I quickly decided to test them by fire as I threw on a 85 lb. backpack and went for a 2 hour long hike in some rocky, steep terrain. I was extremely impressed as to how comfortable and light on my feet the boots were. After years of hiking I’ve developed a couple of painful neuroma’s in the metatarsal area on both feet but the Zamberlan 980 GTX RR’s provided my feet with great support and cushioning as I didn’t even feel the “neuroma’s bite.” The mid-sole shank featuring Zamberlan’s Modular Flex GT and memory cushioning foam functioned sycronimously. The fit was perfect as the Vibram StarTrek lived up to its billing. I felt as if I had been wearing the 980 GTX RR’s weeks and appreciated the extra support the 11” high uppers provided to my ankles. I was impressed with how flexible the boot felt on my feet.
I took note of Zamberlan’s redesigned ¾ RRS (Rubber Rand System) that provided outstanding protection from sharp and abrasive objects. The rand’s elasticity was flex worthy. If you observe the 980 GTX RR’s closely you will notice more pronounced beveled edges on these boots that help prevents catching the toe box on objects and it does prevent peeling from excessive wear. As I mentioned earlier in my review the Outfitter is very comfortable as the GTX bootee encapsulates your feet for a perfect fit. Boots that are designed with higher uppers can feel heavy but at 2.8 lbs the 980 felt light on my feet. This quality is always important as every ounce you pack is critical to your performance.
980 OUTFITTER GTX RR ON RECENT HIGH ALPINE HIKE – NOTICE REINFORCED ¾ RUBBER RAND SYSTEM
The soles on any boot I use must provide me with not only great traction but it has to have the ability to “grip and brake” when descending steep surfaces. I’ve been more than satisfied with how the 980’s Star Trek soles have performed. These soles not only felt secure on the steep sandstone formations I do much of my hiking in but the beveled edges and wide lugs provided me with great stabilization while out on the mountain in high Alpine terrain also. Zamberlan’s creative “toe climbing box,” reduced the “jamming affect” you get from some boots and have helped prevent me from developing any sore toenails yet!
Zamberlan’s Vibram Star Trek Soles with Dual Density PU Construction for Support/Stabilization – Notice beveled edges, wide lugs)
The 2.8 mm Hydrobloc Tuscan Nubuck leather uppers have performed extremely well. On a recent weekend backpack trip I was in some deep wet snow that these boots protected my feet from the damp conditions. My feet stayed dry the entire time. In colder conditions I have no doubt that my feet will stay warm. I must have from water and snow and there have been several backpacking trips where I’ve experienced some unusually wet, cold conditions. The Gore-Tex membrane not only provides maximum water protection but it insulates against the cold yet is breathable in warmer weather.
Loose, rugged talus slopes can be very dangerous as sharp rocks can raise havoc with boots and also lead to instability with your ankles. The 2.8 mm uppers on the 980 Outfitters are tough as nails and the support these tall boots provide to your ankles is amazing. Zamberlan’s RRS (rubber rand system) has protected my feet extremely well and are not even showing the wear and tear yet. I can cinch up the padded collars tightly without feeling any discomfort.
I highly recommend the purchase of Zamberlan’s new 980 Outfitter GTX RR advanced backcountry hunting boots. They will perform to your highest expectations and leave you very satisfied with your purchase. Zamberlan’s masterful artists have definitely manufactured another outstanding boot. Each one of the Zamberlan boots I own has provided me with outstanding service.
The 980 Outfitter GTX RR is priced at $375 and comes in an asthetically attractive brown color. The quality and durability you purchase with a Zamberlan boot is well worth the price. Your 980 Outfitters will stand up against any beating Mother Nature can give them with limitless hunting trips to their credit. You can count on your 980’s to get you on and off the mountain and they won’t let you down.
Something that is also very important with any boot that I purchase is whether or not they will stand behind their product. Regarding returns and exchanges Zamberlan guarantee’s satisfaction with every purchase. Returns are subject to normal usage. If their boot does not meet your expectations during its useful life, they promise to repair it, replace it, or provide you with a refund. This is very important to me. The companies that I purchase my hunting or backpacking gear from have always been very willing to take care of a problem when I phone them personally.
What Zamberlan could do better:
Zamberlan is a well recognized boot company noted for excellence and manufacturing outstanding footwear. I have really enjoyed their new 980 Outfitter GTX RR. It is a great boot that I will be wearing extensively. Keep up the incredible work Zamberlan!
Zamberlan 980 Outfitter GTX RR Boot Review