Handsome, rugged and dependable – sounds like the hero of a romantic novel, right? But it’s also how we’d sum up these boots, which feel sturdy underfoot, with exceptionally supportive and protective leather uppers.
Stable and supportive
Well-made and durable
Not the lightest
Stiff uppers require breaking in
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Zamberlan 1000 Baltoro: first impressions
The Zamberlan 1000 Baltoro comes from an Italian bootmaker with serious heritage and a stellar reputation for turning out sturdy, handsome footwear that is built to last. That’s why the brand’s traditionally stylish 996 Vioz GTX boots are our current pick as “best waterproof hiking boot” in our best all-round hiking boots selection. But if you’re looking for an even tougher Alpine trekking boot with the ability to fit a crampon, then the Baltoro 1000 is a serious contended as one of the best winter hiking boots.
This model features a stiffened midsole and a heel welt, which means it can be fitted with semi-automatic (C2) crampons for winter use. The uppers are formed from high-quality Perwanger leather with a Gore-Tex waterproof lining. You also get a PU (polyurethane) toe rand and heel counter for added durability. This saves weight compared to a wraparound rubber rand while still fending off scuffs, scrapes and impacts from rocks and debris.
The padded tongue and high ankle cuff are faced with tough Cordura nylon fabric, as is the insert at the top of the foot, which enables some ankle flex.
• RRP: $325 (US) / £230 (UK) / €279 (EU)
• Sizes available: (EU) 38-47, (UK) 5-12
• Materials: Hydrobloc Perwanger leather and Cordura fabric uppers, Gore-Tex Performance Comfort membrane lining, Vibram Mulaz Evo outsole
• Weight (per boot): 800g / 1lb 12oz
• Colors: Royal Blue / Graphite
• Compatibility: Four season, B2
Zamberlan 1000 Baltoro: on the trails
The Baltoro proved itself to be a sturdy, solid and reliable performer wherever we took it. It’s not the lightest or most forgiving boot, but the flipside to this is that it is one of the sturdiest, most supportive and most protective options out there – ideal for hard trekking, winter hillwalking and easier grade mountaineering.
Here’s how the boots performed in each of the key metrics by which we gauge a hiking boot’s performance (find more on these in how to choose a pair of hiking boots):
The Baltoros are very supportive and well-padded around the ankle, tongue and Achilles. However, their all-leather construction inevitably means that they take a little getting used to. This isn’t a boot we’d take out of the box and lace up for the first time before immediately tackling a challenging ridge line or steep scramble. Be sure to break them in on some local walks before you head out into the mountains. Good socks are also a must. Once you’ve done that, though, they soon conform to your feet, so you ought to have a dependable and durable pair of boots for years to come.
Like a lot of footwear from Italian manufacturers, Zamberlan boots have a reputation for being fairly narrow. However, the Baltoros aren’t as narrow as some other Zamberlan models, though unlike others there is no wide fitting available. What this means is that we’d definitely recommend trying before you buy (advice that applies to all outdoor footwear but is particularly important with stiff leather boots).
Although it’s really designed for Alpine trekking, we discovered that the Baltoro also works well for adventures elsewhere, including UK mountain honeypots like the Scottish Highlands, Snowdonia in North Wales or the English Lake District.
That stiffened midsole and high cuff offer plenty of support – ideal when crossing broken ground or traversing steep slopes, even in snow. They feel very stable on rough and uneven terrain.
The Vibram Mulaz outsole is also a proven pattern that offers good traction thanks to well-spaced lugs and a pronounced heel brake, with a front climbing zone designed to help when edging on rock.
They aren’t the lightest boots – if you’re looking for a pair of Zamberlans with a lower overall weight, take a look at the Baltoro Lite – which means they perhaps don’t feel quite as agile as some other B1/B2 boots in this class. On the other hand, they aren’t too clumpy either, with a fairly narrow profile that gives enough precision for more technical scrambling and climbing moves.
Many mountaineers prefer all-leather boots for their warmth and protection, and the Baltoros are a perfect example of a boot that delivers both. The high-quality uppers fend off almost anything you’re likely to accidentally come into contact with out there in the mountains, enabling you to kick snow steps or surf scree slopes without concern.
In addition, the Gore-Tex lining ensures reliable waterproof protection. The heavy leather uppers means we can’t pretend they breathe superbly well, but they certainly feel no warmer than most leather B2s – and in the colder seasons, you’ll appreciate a little added insulating performance anyway.
Zamberlan boots are known for their build quality, and we’ve seen pairs on the feet of seasoned Alpinists in places like the Spanish Pyrenees and Italian Alps that are clearly of a certain vintage, yet still going strong. There’s no reason to think the Baltoros would be any different – it’s a sturdy and well-made boot utilising premium materials and demonstrating the care and attention that only comes from decades of bootmaking expertise. Like all Zamberlan boots, this model is hand-made in Italy.
An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.