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Zamberlan El Cap RR Review

zamberlan el cap
Overall
4
  • Comfort and fit
    (3)
  • Waterproofing
    (4)
  • Breathability
    (4.5)
  • Sole
    (5)
  • Protection
    (5)
  • Weight
    (2.5)
Comments Rating 0 (0 reviews)

Summary

A shoe with a classic, “no frills” philosophy, designed for technical use on ferratas, equipped trails and approaches with heavy loads. Made of fine leather and with quality assembly, it is a solid shoe that always offers protection and support, even if that means making some compromises on the comfort front.

Pros

  • Robustness and protection
  • Support and precision on via ferrata and rock routes
  • Good compromise between waterproofness and breathability
  • Resolable

Cons

  • Weight
  • Limited comfort for long distance

The Zamberlan El Cap RR shoe completes the historic Vicenza-based company’s offer in the area of low shoes. In fact, it is designed specifically for via ferrata, climbing and approach, with the introduction of the new anatomical Zamberlan® Via Ferrata Fit last and the new Vibram® Ferrata sole.

testing zamberlan el cap on via ferrata

Technical features of the Zamberlan El Cap RR

  • Sole: Vibram® Ferrata, MegaGrip compound, climbing zone in front
  • Resolable
  • Upper: 1.6-1.8mm thick suede leather with Hydrobloc® treatment
  • Lining: Mesh
  • Midsole: dual density EVA
  • Footbed: 2.0mm nylon
  • Last: Zamberlan® Via Ferrata Fit
  • Protective band on entire shoe
  • Weight: 850 gr per pair No. 42 verified (declared 900 gr)
  • Country of manufacture: Italy
  • Manufacturer link
zamberlan shoe

Test mode

I used Zamberlan El Cap RR for about 30 days. I did crag and mid-mountain approaches to go climbing, 2 via ferratas (the Peredrette ferrata, Donnas, Aosta Valley, and the Guido Rossa ferrata at the Rocca Bianca in Caprie, Susa Valley), a few single pitch climbs at the crag up to 6a and an easy route in the mountains. In addition, I have done a couple of hikes with elevation gain of about 1,000 meters.

climbing with the zamberlan el cap

Zamberlan El Cap RR on-site test

How they look like

The main feature of the Zamberlan El Cap RR is its height, referred to as the “mid-cut,” which makes it slightly taller than the low shoes but still lower than the mid. This results in greater protection on the ankle without compromising mobility.

The shape of the El Cap RR is symmetrical and tapered, with a traditional lacing system that extends to the toe.

The sole, the new Vibram Ferrata made of Vibram MegaGrip compound, features large opposing triangular lugs, as well as a wide climbing zone; very nice!

vibram ferrata sole
The new Vibram Ferrata sole

The toe of the El Cap RR is round, with a slight asymmetry toward the big toe. Its coupling to the sole is such that it looks practically like a climbing shoe; in fact, the sole is glued directly to the toe, creating a unique solution with the toe itself.

the toe of the zamberlan el cap shoe

The Zamberlan El Cap RR is protected by two wide bands that run from the middle of the shoe; the first protects at 180° the toe, and is made of strong, grippy rubber; the second protects at 180° the heel, and is made of a stiffer, rougher, less grippy rubber.

Inside the El Cap RR, the quality of stitching and detailing is appreciated. The tongue is made of leather, with an insert of soft, breathable material on its underside. Well shaped is the inner footbed made of 2 mm nylon.

the inner footbed
Inner footbed

The Zamberlan El Cap RR has an understated and interesting aesthetic, prominently featuring the Zamberlan logo on the heel; however, it lacks an external reference to the model.

zamberlan logo
The back of the El Cap RRs with the large and sturdy buttonhole

Overall, this is a traditional shoe, very sturdy and therefore a bit heavy, assembled perfectly; it is also resolable, an important detail.

Comfort and stability

Fitting of the El Cap RR is easy, thanks in part to the convenient rear buttonhole. I would have preferred slightly thicker and rougher laces for their better maneuverability.

fitting the zamberlan el cap rr

The eyelets of the El Cap RR are made directly in the upper, except for the last 3, which are made of metal. This clever solution allows the laces to slide slower in the upper ones, and faster in the metal ones, all to the benefit of precision in adjusting volumes and speed in fitting.

The El Cap RR, once worn, immediately returns an austere feeling: sturdiness, solidity and mountaineering!

The roll of the El Cap RR is good. The classic via ferrata and climbing soul emerges more than the walking soul, thanks to a general unbalance toward sole and midsole rigidity. The leather upper wraps the foot well without leaving gaps, although the important thickness of it does not immediately give a feeling of great comfort and a break-in period is necessary to “smooth” it out a little.

The length of the tongue is such that its final part is in line with the collar of the ankle; perhaps for greater comfort I would have preferred it to be longer, or of a completely synthetic material to avoid conflicts between the neck of the ankle and the final part of the tongue itself.

The wide protective band was very convincing to me in its beneficial effects both while climbing and in approaches.

In approach use I especially liked the precision and stability even with heavy backpacks, while sensitivity seemed less in evidence.

Overall, the El Cap RR is not one of those shoes with which to do a lot of trail miles and long walks, but a technical tool for via ferrata or long mountain routes with approaches.

testing the zamberlan el cap with heavy load
Heavy load approach

Breathability and water resistance

The Zamberlan El Cap RR does not have the Gore Tex membrane but a specific Hydrobloc treatment to make the leather less sensitive to water. I really appreciated this solution given the intended use of the shoe, via ferrata and climbing, which benefits breathability and overall foot comfort. Breathability that I found excellent, with the feet always in the comfort zone.

In any case, I was pleased to note that the quality of the leather and the Hydrobloc treatment of the El Cap RR result in much more than sufficient waterproofing and thermal comfort for its range of use.

water resitance test

Traction

The sole of the El Cap RR provides flawless traction in all conditions, from mud to slimy stones, but its best performance is on rock.

zamberlan el cap rr on rock
Great performance on rock

The completely smooth climbing zone and the toe-sole coupling, which is identical to that of climbing shoes, allow the El Cap RR to excel on via ferrata where it is perfect, and on long classic and nondifficult rock routes where putting the toe on the supports is easy and without calf fatigue, and it is also possible to “shovel” without too much trouble.

on rock test

Fit

I tested the Zamberlan El Cap RR with my usual size, 42, and had no problems. Having the shoe a traditional last, my “Greek” foot had no problem adjusting quickly to the structure of the shoe.

The internal volume is not particularly large, but I who have wide footbeds have always been able to adjust the volumes to my liking.

test on via ferrata

Recommended for

I recommend the Zamberlan El Cap RR to those who want a shoe for via ferrata and for mountain climbing on classic routes, a shoe that can give support and precision and that also helps in full-load approaches and on technical terrain. It is a shoe designed with the goal of having a technical, very sturdy, no-frills tool on your feet.

The technicality and stiffness of the shoe do not make it advisable for hiking or routes with very long approaches.

Price: € 260

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