Review: Zamberlan Zarka boots
This review was first published at www.jagged-globe.co.uk
I had several concerns about taking these boots straight to the Himalaya fresh out of the box but first look allayed most of my fears, these boots looked good and chunky. Any sort of Himalayan mountaineering should be in double boots. My quintessential La Sportiva Spantiks are looking battered but have proved reliable to over 7000m. How would these boots compare?
My two key features were comfort and warmth. Jagged Globe asked me to test these on a Mera and Island trip in Spring 2018 in Nepal. Having previously summited Mera whilst working for them, I knew the peak was cold and warm boots were essential.
I briefly wore these boots in the UK to check fit and was immediately impressed with the fit although the collars felt stiff. With some relacing, adjustment of my socks/thermals and a few days of wear, this stiffness has eased and they have become relatively comfortable.
My first proper wear was to cross some icy patches of trail; my trusty semi automatic Petzl Sarkens locked comfortably into place (a long with Grivel G12; but C1 crampons seem to not sit as well) allowing me to stomp along with confidence and at a lowly altitude of 4400m I had extremely warm fit despite being in trekking, not summit socks.
My second wear was a bouldery ascent onto a glacier. Here again they proved confidence inspiring because despite their chunky nature, I was still nimble enough to boulder hop.
Once up high, I was wearing thick summit socks, occassionally in colder conditions I use a liner but this proved unneccessary. The inner boots have several silver sections, which I assume aid with insulation.
On summit day temperatures were not overly cold but my feet were warm throughout our ascent, brief stay on the summit and subsequent descent.
As ever with double boots I will often wear the inners as slippers in my tent or the outers on their own to go to the toilet and these proved capable for this task.
Another important function of high altitude boots is their ability to dry following wear as damp boots equal cold feet. Overnight I put the inners inside my sleeping bag and they felt dry the next day.
As ever with any form of test, I ask myself would I pay full price to purchase a pair, in this case it's an unequivocal yes. From first wear they have been comfortable and warm. High altitude boots aren't cheap and the roughness of most big mountains is tough (oh how I love moraine!) on kit, in this case after 6 or 7 days of wear they are barely scratched, leading me to believe they will be durable to boot (!).