Story and Photos by Shane Adams
August 2019 and I’ve come to the conclusion that my current boot set up is smoked. The soles had compressed—killing my back after hiking/standing in them for even a short time. I soon began the exhaustive search for my next pair of boots.
Working for Randall’s Adventure & Training keeps me in the field a lot, and often off trail in very rugged terrain. Whether it is on a search and rescue mission, high angle rope work or just bushwhacking through Pisgah National forest, we need footwear that is both supportive and protects our wheels.
I knew I wanted a boot that was more of a mountaineering boot and crampon compatible, as we have plans to do some climbing and need the support and protection a sturdier boot offers. I did NOT want to have a long break in period, so I was really focused on a split upper—with Cordura/leather construction—to minimize the break in time and have the ability to put them into immediate service.
That was when I stumbled on the Zamberlan 2092 Mountain Trek GTX.
I first saw these boots at the IWA show in Nurnberg Germany, in March of 2019, and they made quite an impression on me. Early September 2019 is when the Zamberlan 2092 Mountain Trek GTX boots showed up on my doorstep.
On paper it appeared to be the Goldilocks of boots I was looking for. Built for high altitude work, it was designed to be a more “hikable” mountaineering boot. Italy is widely regarded as the home to high performance cars and motorcycles, and in the alpine community, is viewed in the same way for high performance mountaineering footwear.
Zamberlan Boots was founded in 1929 and is helmed by 3rd generation Zamberlan family members, garnering a strong reputation for producing high quality mountaineering and hiking boots—for good reason, as I would discover over the next year of heavy use.
The foundation is a Vibram Mulaz Evo platform, that is re-solable, and is backed by a supportive but not overly stiff fiberglass shank. Let’s be clear, this boot is stiff but will flex where you need it to.
We often have to toe in on steep grades and this boot is like stepping on the rung of a ladder; but when hiking, it bends in the direction you need it to comfortably. This greatly reduces fatigue on the foot, in both directions, and is something I immediately noticed out of the box. I also noticed that while jugging up a 227-foot climb out of Valhalla cave, on ascenders, there is zero flex while climbing. This sole/shank combo is a great foundation that works well on mixed surfaces—both wet and dry—and provides a sure step in most situations.
The single piece upper is 2.8mm Hydrobloc Perwanger leather, strategically blended with Cordura, and is both supportive and plush. The double layer tongue provides the ability to control internal volume, to accommodate all the sock combinations you can imagine. A Gore-Tex Performance Comfort membrane guarantees waterproofness and breathability. Simply put, this upper is plush, supportive, and comfortable. Once again, Goldilocks finds her boot here.
I’ve owned a lot of boots and it’s rare that you find an upper that is this supportive and doesn’t pinch or bind in places. When breaking in new boots, I always make sure to have an ample amount of Redneck Moleskin (duct tape) on hand during my initial hikes, as I have a pretty pronounced calcaneus ($3 word for heel bone). While I always have my go to blister fix with me, I never once had to apply duct tape to my unicorn heel and never felt any discomfort.
My monstrously pronounced heel bone means that I always take special care when donning my boots, to ensure that my heel is firmly into the heel cup of the upper. I do this by putting the boots on and kicking in my heel, before cinching the laces. Then I take a ½ wrap of the laces, in between eyelets, pulling them tightly. This process locks my heel into the boot and minimizes any slipping that could take place.
Another design aspect of this boot that I really appreciate, is the thick rubber rand and toe guard, that are incorporated into the joining of the uppers and lower. This has proven to be invaluable in protecting my foot when hiking in rough and rocky terrain.
While it is a common feature on most boots of this caliber, I find the execution of this design to be extremely effective and ensures that my piggies can make it to the market and back, unscathed. This added protection can often affect the flexibility of the boot—but in this case, the 2092 Mountain Trek provides a bit of an exoskeleton around your foot, while remaining agile for a boot of this style.
If you were to follow us into the field you would often find yourself off trail, in rugged terrain.
Our training schedule—and actual SAR missions—often have us in these places, in adverse conditions, and possibly carrying a patient in a Stokes basket or SKED. Situations like these will shine a bright light on inadequate footwear, in hurried fashion. We have seen many rescuers taken out of the mission due to improper footwear. Blisters are common but add an ankle injury to the mix and we’ve added another patient to the scenario, further taxing our resources.
Solid footwear is paramount and should be regarded as a high priority piece of kit, for people that find themselves in these situations. All the folks we work and train with are working out a similar style of boot, for these reasons. With that said, this package does not come cheap.
The Mountain Treks are no exception, retailing at $439—cheaper than a set of x-rays at your local emergency room for sure. I like to use the logic of “Buy once, Cry Once” on gear like this, and view this kind of purchase as an investment into my own heath—and that of my team.
If I sound like I’m a fanboy of these boots, I am. I love these boots, and the company won me over when they could have burned a bridge but didn’t. Here’s how they did it: they backed their product when I had a problem. Yes, I am on my second pair of 2092 Mountain Trek GTX.
Eleven months into my ownership, and after heavy use, I noticed that I had the beginnings of some delamination of the sole on the heel. I contacted Zamberlan’s warranty department, with bated breath, to begin the warranty process—let’s face it, we never really know how this process will go.
Tori, Zamberlan’s warranty rep, was extremely responsive and her comms were top notch; she kept me in the loop on every step of the warranty process. A year after my initial purchase, I’m in a new pair of boots, all because the company stood on their reputation—a novel concept for sure. This is a stance I am grateful for and applaud them for taking, as it seems fewer and fewer companies maintain this commitment to their customers.
This is how you turn a customer into a salesperson for a company!
Those of you looking for a hiking boot for recreational hiking, that keeps you predominantly on trail, I would suggest you look elsewhere, as this boot would likely be overkill.
If you are looking for a bomber boot that you can take to the field, out of the box, and provides outstanding support and protection for harsh terrain, I’d highly recommend you take a look at the Zamberlan 2092 Mountain Trek GTX. K&G
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Height: High Mid – 9Fit/Width: TechnicalUpper Material: Perwanger® Leather with Hydrobloc® Treatment – Cordura® – Superfabric®Gore Tex/Waterproof: YES (Waterproof)Thickness: 2.6mm – 2.8mmLining: GORE-TEX Performance ComfortInsole: Zamberlan Fiberglass Insole 5mmMidsole: Triple Density Wedge + Zamberlan PCSOutsole: Vibram® Teton + Zamberlan PCSResolable: YESSize Range: 8 – 12, 13Half Pair Weight: 920 Gr (Misura / Size 42)Last: ZTEC Technical FitInsulated: No (Not Insulated)Made In Italy: YesMSRP: $439.00
Shane Adams is a native of North Georgia and has spent a lifetime cycling, hiking, paddling, and exploring. He currently works for ESEE Knives / Randall’s Adventure & Training as their Marketing Director/ Utility Player. Along with the rest of the RAT crew he routinely spends more than 100 days in the field teaching, learning, and is an active member of RATSAR. (RAT Search & Rescue).
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