A few years ago at Winter OR I stumbled across a boot company called Zamberlan. Honestly I can't remember if I had heard of them prior. May be in Europe some time but I simply don't remember now. Friend Jonathon Miller and fellow guides at the show really liked their Zamberlan boots and tried in vain to get me hooked up with Zamberlan that winter,
As much as I really wanted to try the Zamberlan boots I simply couldn't get hold of a pair. Any pair that I wanted to climb in anyway. Hiking boots that hold no interest for me were easy. Alpine boots? Not happening back then.
Which was really too bad from my perspective. A quick inspection made me think they would be GREAT climbing boots. May be better than what I was in at the time. Since my original efforts trying to get the boots (any of the 3 models I wanted) the La Sportiva Batura has gone through three distinct models of the same boot!
Late last spring about in the middle of the traditional Alaska Range climbing season I got my hands on all three of the Zamberlans I had been lusting over for years now. Technical boots all, the models listed her by warmth (warm to warmest) are The Paine GTX 3000, The Eiger 4000 and their full on double boot, the Denali 6000. (yes, detailed reviews on the Paine and Denali will follow shortly)
It was worth the wait.
Giuseppe Zamberlan, the grandfather, started the activity right after the end of 1st World War From simple shoe 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.
Now it is the turn of the third generation. Marco and Maria now manage the family company.
Like their forefathers, they too inherited the enduring love and enjoyment of the mountains and for their work, so closely related to that enjoyment, which takes them through all stages of designing, manufacturing, testing and distributing the most comfortable footwear for this purpose.
Zamberlan is still managed and run by the family."
My take on all that? It is important or I wouldn't be writing about it. The Europeans don't take their own heritage lightly. The guys (and gals) building crampons, axes or boots now for generations (and I don''t mean time) but new generations of their own families actually care about the products with their names on them and the people that will eventually use them. When your Grandfather was an alpinist 50+ years ago and put his name on the Company, you take your responsibilities to the current community seriously.
At least that is my perspective for a limited experience.
What does all that mean to some hard charger in Canmore, Boulder, Chamonix or Seattle who is looking to buy a new boot to up his alpine game?
For me? That means the company is likely to be a little conservative. But when they do bring a new product to market it is likely well tested and well worn prior. Chances are you can bet on it delivering as promised.
So lets get on the the Zamberlan Eiger 4000.
As you might imagine the Eiger 4000 is pointed directly at the alpinist wanting to do technical routes on the 4000M peaks of Europe. The North Face of the Eiger as a perfect example of those goals.
First up? Might as well look at weight.
Batura 2.0 2# 2oz (current version)
Scarpa Phantom Ultra 2# 3.5oz (35.5oz) / 1006g
La Sportiva Batura 1st gen. 2# 7oz / 1106g
Zamberlan Paine 2# 7oz
Mammutt Extreme Nordwand 2# 7oz
Scarpa Phantom Guide 2# 7.5oz / 1120g
Salewa Pro Gaiter 2# 8oz
Zamberlan Eiger 4000 2# 8oz
La Sportiva Batura 2nd gen. 2# 9oz / 1170g
Yep, it is within an ounce of the heaviest single fully gaitered boot I have used. And I climbed some the hardest mixed I have done recently in a heavier boot, the 1st gen Batura. The Eiger 4000 fits my feet much, much better today than any version of the Batura including the Batura 2.0. I'm happy to give up the 12oz per pair and the high tech advantages of the 2.0 for a better fit in the Eiger 4000. That is a decision only you can make. And only then if it makes any sense to you.
As I mentioned in the previous Mammut review weight is not the end all of picking out a boot. Fit is. I repeat it over and over again. Fit is what rules here and out shines anything within reason for weight. If a extra pound on your feet kills your ambitions in the mountains it is time to train harder.
Knowing all too well just how important weight on your feet really means. If you start comparing the level of support and warmth all these boots they are very similar yet distinct for how they fit my feet. Your fit will most likely vary from mine. It bears repeating...
The Eiger (Zamberlan in general I think) runs a narrow heel and a medium tight mid foot with a nice open box toe. Even on the Paine 3000, which is a low profile cold weather boot, uses the same last from what I can tell. It is a great last for my feet. Some where between the La Sportiva and a Scarpa last is my take on it. Both of which I think are on the narrow side.
But like anything as complicated as a boot there are other reasons why these boots fit me well. The lacing and ankle joint articulation here is exceptional imo. And they are simple.
Classic example of how to do a set of laces poorly is the Batura. Any Batura. What should have gotten better over time has gotten worse IMO. Seems like who ever the designer is on that project has nothing similar to my feet in his test studies and focus groups. I have to simply skip the lock lace on the 2.0 to use it. Sad as I would climb in them more if they had a better (more simple) lace system.
Love the Batura, really dislike the lacing system. "Boots"..that design for me. Pun intended of course :)
My favorite boots like the Phantom Series have a simple lace system. And they fit. The Eiger does as well. Even better I like the 3 sets of lock lace in series on the upper cuff of the Eiger. The Phantom Series mimics the same lace design. I understand why but I don't like the nasty, sharp and narrow laces you need to use those same lock laces.
Good comparison I think with the Phantom Guide and the Ultra (one of my all time favorites) here with the Eiger 6000. Think of the Eiger as a very warm (more insulated gaiter) and more supportive fabric in the boot proper. (which is very obvious when comparing the Guide or Batura)
As a far as support it goes like this...stiff to soft. The Eiger is built like others in this group using SuperFabric for the boot itself and a combination of SuperFabric and a fully breathable neoprene like material for the gaiter. The Eiger 4000 offers the most ankle support. The Phantom guide is in the middle and the Batura the least amount of ankle support. If you are doing a lot of really gymnastic mixed moved. may be the Batura... if they fit. Guide is in between. I've used them or their slightly lighter little brother the Phantom Ultra everywhere I climb. Get the Eiger if you can use the extra support around the ankle.
The Eiger's extra support in the ankle is the boot I want to climb water fall and alpine ice with given a choice. It fits me well. I think it is a bump in warmth on the other boots just by the quality of the gaiter. But I wouldn't buy the Eiger just for that observation.
Nice rounded toe box with a closely cropped sole withthe huge RiRi zipper and velcro closure shown.
Detail for a additioanl gaiter hold down loop if it is ever required.
Draw cord close on the top of the longer than usual insulated integral gaiter.
Speaking of the gaiter...the big teeth in the zipper doesn't inspire confidence to anyone who climbed in the original Batura. That huge RiRi Aqua zipper of similar style that lost teeth on a regular basis from YKK and the Batura. But this one may be different. I frankly don't know either way. But no worries. Zamberlan figured out the rest and the best answer a while ago to solve a broken zipper. We (my climbing partners and I) figured it out in '75, Zippers are OK...just back them up with some thick sticky Velcro! La Sportiva finally caught on....but none too soon with the 2.0.
I suspect much of the 6oz between the Batura 2.0 and the Eiger 6000 can be traced directly to the differences in gaiter. Eiger 6000 has a heavier zipper, heavier gaiter fabric, and the gaiter is insulated not just Goretex. More durable, and easier to use zipper flap no question and almost a full inch taller. All good things IMO.
The Batura 2.0 advantages include a good size wear patch on the inside of the boot's gaiter. I wouldn't kick it to the curb it it fits you. It is also a nice boot. Just an easy one to make comparisons with here.
Seriously it all boils down to fit. How the boot fits you.
Zamberlan also decided on a full depth lug sole. Same Vibram the Mammut Eiger boot uses. No complaints on how this sole is closely trimmed however. It is tight all the way around. Which only underlines for me how a boot's details can make it just that much better and easier to climb in.
How stiff is it?
If you look at the mid sole material I suspect it is the same as La Sportiva used in the original Nepal and Batura and still uses in the Trango Extreme. So it is stiff. That mid sole would eventually brake down iin the La Sportiva versions. Which is why you see the move to a carbon mid sole these days by many of the boot makes. Remember I mentioned conservative? The Eiger has a solid synthetic mid sole and a proprietary toe and heel crampon fixture. Which are well thought out. Some other brands are not IMO. Between the Vibram sole and the stiff mid sole is a EVA foam layer for cushion. Nice combo and a stiff (rigid) sole that is exceptional on steep ice and technical rock. As one would expect from this type of boot and the intended use.
Along those lines the crampon attachment is solid and easy to use. Lots of detailing here by Zamberlan that no one else has copied. Seems like a no brainier but also seems everyone has there own idea on how the toe and heel should be built to take a crampon. One wonders at times if the boot makes have actually ever seen crampons. Obviously Zamberlan's boot makers have.
The boots come in Euro full sizes only. Which caused me some early issues in sizing. I typically wear a size 45 in everything. But ordering an unknown boot I tend to be conservative myself and go bigger since I am so close between a 45 and a 46. Generally either will work. I just wanted to see and review the boots. No clue if I would want to climb in a pair past that no matter how cool I thought they looked.
So the 46s show up in all three boots. All fit well enough but all were just a little bigger than I would have preferred. So I sent two pair of the 46s back and a new set of 45s arrived shortly after. Then prior to the follow up, life got in the way for several months. Back at it now with a new ice season just around the corner.
Checking boot fit again this week for the review, it's just as I had originally thought. The 46 is pretty big on me. Usable but bigger than I really like. The 45s are a tight 45 for my typically 45 foot. Brad at ProLite gear in Bozeman suggested a 46 for my 11.5/12 foot. And I suspect he is correct in that thinking. Most won't want to climb ice in a thin sock and such a tight fit as I have with my pair of Eigers in a 45. But I like it. Enough so that I have been climbing in them simply because it is one of the better fitting boots I own.
My point here is that the Zamberlan is a viable option to the typical Scarpa/La Spotive fit. And worth a try if they have a boot style you think appropriate for you. They have three alpine boots I really like :)
Unsual for me to list retailers but the only two online retail/brick and mortor stores that have an inventory of the Zamberland boots are below. I know the guys there and both helped me sourcing the Zamberland boots. So your are in good hands. Ask for Brad in Bozeman or Eric and Jonathon in Telluride. I'll have reviews of the Zamberlan Paineup soon and worth a look as well.