One of the first things you learn as a mountain hunter is that if your feet aren’t happy, you aren’t happy. Your boots can literally make or break your whole hunt (or scouting trip, shed hunt, etc). A quality, durable, well-fitting and broken-in boot is an overlooked necessity that should be one of the most sought after items in your gear list. I refuse to let something like poor choice of footwear keep me out of the mountains!
There has been a huge increase in the popularity and use of leg gaiters in the last few years in the hunting community. I personally had never used a gaiter until 4 years ago. However once I bought my first pair and started using them in wet and snowy conditions, I instantly realized their value. High gaiters will help prevent the bottoms of your pants from getting soaked by wet vegetation or snow while also keeping your boot uppers protected from the elements. They can also help keep out water in brief and shallow (below the top of the gaiter) stream crossings. They are not waders so don't expect them to keep your feet dry while crossing a raging river!
I had the opportunity to personally go through and try out several of the most popular and newest hunting gaiters on the market and give my 2 cents about each of them. Below you'll find the features of each according to the manufacturer and then my own personal experiences using them. Some of my opinions may differ from others but they are based on my experience using gaiters while chasing everything from high country Mule Deer in the heat of August and September, to late season elk hunting in the bitter cold of January.
The First Lite Brambler Gaiters are built to take a beating with their coated Nylon straps, Cordura constructed insteps, and insanely tough seams. They will keep you dry and comfortable no matter the conditions or terrain. They utilize the same 37.5 by Cocona Technology which breathes like no other but is also extremely waterproof. They are currently only available in the Fusion camo pattern but I would like to see them in a solid color in the future. They are available in a S/M or L/XL. I have 16.5" calves and the S/M fits me perfectly.
For the past 85 years the Zamberlan family has been making boots that are designed for rugged mountain use, including their dedicated hunting boots. Yes, I said family. You see, Zamberlan boots is now under the direction of Marco and Maria Zamberlan, third generation family to run their grandfather’s Italian boot company. That they are now emerging in the North American hunting market should come as no surprise.
One of the cool things I recently read about Zamberlan came from their catalog. Sure, company catalogs can be full of a lot of fluff and sometimes meaningless stuff, but I felt this was unique to see coming from an Italian boot maker. Have a read:
“We at Zamberlan® believe that hunting is a great and extremely valuable privilege. We believe that only through responsible hunting can this privilege endure. We also believe that every hunter has a role and duty towards responsible hunting and we aim to promote the principles of this concept.
Our reasons to support responsible hunting are based not only on tradition, but also ethical and practical foundations. The shortcomings of the modern industrial food complex are extreme (animal welfare, poor nutrition, environmental neglect, etc), while the benefits of organic and free-range wild game are undeniable (animal welfare, high nutrition, free-range/organic, etc). Likewise, pressure to exploit wild lands is incessant, while hunting conservation efforts work tirelessly to maintain our precious resources, including the game we hunt.
Today’s responsible hunter understands that hunting and sustainability go hand-in-hand. We understand that hunting is part of the solution, not the problem, to issues in our food supply and our environment. “
The reasons they cite for their support of hunting are due to 6 foundation core values that they as well as we here at BlackOvis.com believe are requisite to hunters:
SAFETY. LAWFUL PRACTICE. FAIR CHASE. CLEAN KILLS. FULL UTILIZATION. CONSERVATION.
As most of us hunters know, one of the best rewards for a successful hunt is a freezer full of the best mountain grown protein available. Zamberlan feels the same:
“Our reasons to support responsible hunting are based not only on tradition, but also ethical and practical foundations. The shortcomings of the modern industrial food complex are extreme (animal welfare, poor nutrition, environmental neglect, etc), while the benefits of organic and free-range wild game are undeniable (animal welfare, high nutrition, free-range/organic, etc). Likewise, pressure to exploit wild lands is incessant, while hunting conservation efforts work tirelessly to maintain our precious resources, including the game we hunt.”
So the next time you’re checking into hunting boots, check out Zamberlan as a worthy option for years to come.
Features in Zamberlan Boots
Zamberlan boots offer good support and torsional rigidity for secure use on uneven terrain like traversing steep mountain slopes, scrambling over rocks or maneuvering through downed timber in pursuit of game. Their hunting boots are generally higher than standard boots in order to give the ankle and part of the calf better protection. The Hydrobloc® leathers that Zamberlan uses are thicker than ordinary boots to ensure the greatest protection from water and snow. Vibram® soles adorn each hunting boot to offer great grip and durability. Finally, the R.R.S. protects the upper and prevents the leather from deterioration caused by cracking, cuts and scratches.
As far as fit, they run true to size but some hunters with wide feet have mentioned that they fit a bit narrow. Thankfully Zamberlan is building a wide option in a few of their hunting boots.
New for 2015, Zamberlan has four specific hunting boot models that they are introducing this fall that you should watch for in your future boot selection:
548 Sherpa Pro
Add to these boots the other hunt specific boots, the 980 Outfitter GTX and the 1012 Insulated Vioz, and that rounds out the hunting boots for Zamberlan. Hunters often find the 960 Guide and the Vioz GTX RR as worthy boots for all types of hunting conditions.