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Zamberlan Zarathustra Review

Zamberlan Zarathustra review
Overall
4.2
  • Comfort
    (2.5)
  • Protection and support
    (5)
  • Traction and grip
    (4)
  • Performance on rock
    (4.5)
  • Performance on snow/ice
    (5)
  • Thermal comfort
    (4)
Comments Rating 0 (0 reviews)

Summary

The Zamberlan Zarathustra is a modern boot with a beautiful design and excellent construction quality. The wraparound shape gives great precision on even the most demanding climbs. The externally mounted Boa allows quick adjustment of the boot closure. Improvements can be made to the inner tongue of the upper, which can be annoying when walking, and the Boa wire exit hole, which is a potential point of water infiltration inside the upper.

Pros

  • Very wraparound inner boot shape
  • Construction quality
  • Climbing precision
  • Boa System

Cons

  • Inner tongue annoying in walking
  • Hole in outer fabric for passage of Boa thread

Zamberlan Zarathustra boots represent the Vicenza-based company’s offering for high-altitude mountaineering and ice climbing.

The name Zarathustra in assonance with the company name recalls the epic prophet who came to save men from evil. Likewise, this boot is intended to be the ultimate solution for the mountaineer looking for an innovative boot that can elevate his or her performance on ice and snow.

Zamberlan Zarathustra

Technical features of the Zamberlan Zarathustra

  • Weight: 883 g (43.5)
  • Gore-Tex membrane (bootie assembly)
  • BOA system for closure. Outer ferrule
  • Velcro closure above the malleolus
  • Synthetic materials for the upper
  • Carbon footbed
  • Recco reflector
  • Manufacturer link

As soon as we take these boots in hand we immediately appreciate the beautiful design with the Zamberlan lettering running around the boot making it very recognizable in the field.

The BOA bezel is definitely the second distinguishing point.

The third point is an absence: unlike other products on the market this boot does not have the classic zipper that opens the upper in two. We will talk more about this in the on-site test.

Weight

Let’s go to the weight: 883 g. It is a fairly light boot, although lighter are either Scarpa Phantom Tech HD (780 g in size 42) or the new Laspo G-Tech (620 g in size 42). Lightness means: less fatigue on approach and more precision when climbing.

weight of zamberlan boot

Construction of the Zamberlan Zarathustra

The construction of these boots is classic: full upper mounted on a carbon mounting insole. On this insole are then glued the inserts for the automatic crampons and the sole.

The difference of these boots from others on the market also from Zamberlan, for example the Eiger, is the absence of the longitudinal zipper that divides the upper at the front into two halves. Instead, the boot is closed by an elastic and water-repellent wrap-around gaiter. This gaiter is made of two different materials: the low side part is elastic cordura, while the middle and upper part is a softer elastic sock that wraps around the ankle.

Zamberlan Zarathustra on snow

On the inner side, the boot is protected from abrasion up to the ankle by a high profile of rubber. The front side, on the other hand, sees the rubber run around the toe and close around the entire upper above the sole. This increases the moisture protection of the most delicate part of the foot.

ankle protection
detail of the upper

Inner lining

The inner lining is made of Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort. A combination of four layers that combine thermal insulation, breathability and waterproofing.

detail of the toe

The Boa System

The real novelty is the application of the BOA: the BOA fastening wire starts from the adjustment ferrule, makes a loop around the instep under the gaiter, and exits the gaiter through a hole. Turning around the outer metal tie-rods, it comes up to the toe of the foot attaching itself on a flap. The outer wire loop is easy to maintain, in case it needs to be replaced.

the inner wire
Note the inner wire coming from the ferrule
the velcro closure
The Velcro above the ankle and the exit point of the BOA wire from the outer gaiter
boa fixing wire
Lower fixing point of the BOA wire

On the other hand, I am not convinced by the hole in the outer sock from which the thread comes out: it is a weak element in the weave of this fabric and a point from which water can seep between the outer sock and upper.

The foot closure is then also made by a Velcro placed over the malleolus that closes the top of the boot.

detail of the closure

Sole

The sole is Vibram Penia with a dual-density Eva midsole for improved walking comfort.

To be positively noted is the Recco reflector at the toe of the boots.

Test mode

I have used these boots to climb some icefalls in the Dolomites, including long approaches on snow and ice.

Conditions have varied from -10°C to +5°C.

testing Zamberlan Zarathustra

Zamberlan Zarathustra on-site test

Wearing these boots is not easy. The absence of the outer zipper forces you to fold down the gaiter, open the inner upper well, and insert the foot. You have to push a little, but then the foot goes in and immediately finds itself tightly closed in the boot. Then just close the Velcro on the ankle, pull the sock back up and tighten the BOA.

The gaiter wraps around the ankle while remaining a bit loose, however. Especially for someone like me, who has thin calves, a small elastic lace to tighten the gaiter on the ankle would be useful.

testing on icefalls the zamberlan boot

Walk

Long approaches are no problem for the Zamberlan Zarathustra. The sole and its shape allow good grip on rocks and snow and good rolling.

Despite this, however, the boot has a problem, at least on my feet. The inner tongue of the upper tends to snag on the instep in a painful way . From what I have seen, an orange synthetic leather insert is applied to the tongue to distribute the pressure of the Velcro pull. But this insert is stiff and during walking it presses against the instep. After a two-day walk, I returned with my instep showing a small abrasion right at the point of contact. However, I reserve the right to see if this material softens a bit over time, reducing the problem.

the orange insert
Orange insert that puts pressure on the instep

Ice climbing with the Zamberlan Zarathustra

I tried the Zamberla Zarathustra boots on challenging icefalls. From the first icefall (the Droc in Vallunga, 5+) had no problem. The boot felt precise, with a great feel on the foot. The automatic crampons close perfectly on the boot remaining very stable.

Zamberlan Zarathustra

By the time February rolled around, the falls were already at their limit due to the heat, often dripping water. The outer gaiter and Gore-tex membrane protected me well. Perhaps on the hottest days, when stopping in the sun, I felt some difficulty with perspiration, but nothing annoying.I must say that the BOA allows for quick adjustment of the boot, but the feel doesn’t change that much if I tighten more, other than feeling my foot tighter. The wraparound shape of the boot does a lot and I honestly never felt the need to tighten more before starting on the shot.

Zamberlan Zarathustra on icefalls

One thing, however, that has puzzled me a bit is the outer buoy wires. These can be damaged by stones in deep scree or by jamming your feet into cracks in a mixed pitch.

I would really feel like advising Zamberlan to bring the BOA wires inside, under the gaiter, just to protect them from bumps and abrasions. This would clearly make it less easy to maintain the boot.

Protection from the cold

The Zamberlan Zarathustra are warm but not really hot. They are perfect for icefalls, fast high altitude mountaineering, but I would not recommend them for the big North. I felt they lacked some protection from the cold at the toe, but nothing really serious.

In contrast, the hole in the gaiter from which the BOA wire exits can be a weak point on a high altitude North face. Water could enter through this hole, which-even if blocked by the Gore-Tex-could create stagnation that could cause the boot to lose thermal comfort.

ice climbing with zamberlan boots

Fit

My feet are about 278 mm long. For the Zamberlan tables this means 43. As recommended I then added half a number, thus taking 43H (Half), or 43 and a half. In hindsight I could still have dared 43. In any case I found the sizing chart proposed by Zamberlan reliable, in the case of buying on the internet there is no risk of getting the wrong number.

Talking with the technicians of our major shoe manufacturers, I understood that today’s technical materials make it possible to choose increasingly right boots to improve precision in the technical use of these shoes. Synthetic materials are softer and better fit our feet without creating unwanted rubbing or pressure points. Some technicians have even advised me to take half a size off the boots if I want even more precision. You almost get to have a shoe even on ice and snow, in terms of precision feel.

In any case, I suggest trying the boot on properly, if store-bought, to check the walking comfort with respect to one’s own feet.

Recommended for

The Zamberlan Zarathustra unlike the mythological prophet will not save men from evil, but they are really a great help in high altitude.

These are precise boots with a great feel on the foot, and thanks to the BOA system, they can be adjusted quickly if needed (although I personally didn’t feel the need).

Recommended for demanding mountaineers who are looking for a warm Gore-tex boot for their high-difficulty ice and mixed climbing in winter and at high altitude.

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