TEST SERIES BY JUSTIN POTTS
October 13, 2012
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT
Sapulpa, Oklahoma, USA
5' 8" (1.73 m)
180 lb (81.60 kg)
When introduced to the backpacking community I immediately fell in love with it, and I fell hard! Not a weekend goes by that I am not out in the wilderness somewhere. I have roughly 2,000 mi (3220 km) of hiking/backpacking experience mostly in Oklahoma's Wichita Wildlife Refuge. I like to pack light, with a base weight of 15 lbs (6.8 kg) but I also like to be comfortable. I hike hard and fast to reach a destination, and explore after I make camp. I shall see what this turns into as I keep backpacking.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.garmont.com
MSRP: 159.95 USD
Size: US 10 (euro 43)
Listed Weight (each): 20.04 oz (568 g)
Measured Weight: 21.23 oz (602 g)
Color: Anthracite, also available in Brown
The Garmont Zenith Mid GTX (hereafter referred to as the Zeniths or the boots) were delivered to me in their retail box. They came in excellent condition, and smell like new boots which is a smell I love. They are what I expected after viewing the boots on the Garmont website listed above, and just recently retiring a previous model of Garmont boots. The Zeniths are part of Garmont's Trail Sport line, and for the style of hiking I do and the loads I carry, they will have their work cut out for them.
The Zeniths are a mid cut design hiking boot. They stand 6 in (15 cm) at the highest point. The outside is made of grey, water-repellent nubuk leather, and has cut outs of what Garmont refers to as "highly breathable abrasion resistant mesh." All of the major seams on the boot are double stitched and seem super solid with no edges appearing loose.
The ankle cuff is an asymmetrical cut, taller on the inside of the ankle, which is supposed to provide comfort and protection while scrambling. It is also cut lower at the back and is thinly padded, but it still feels comfortable. The padding is made of a very dense foam and feels very nice. At the back of the ankle cuff is a nylon pull loop that is about one half inch (1.3 cm) in diameter.
The tongue has the same abrasion resistant mesh under the laces, and is quite thin in the padding department compared to other boots I have owned. The tongue is gusseted to within 1 in (2.54 cm) of the top which hopefully means nothing coming inside the boots as long as they are not submerged.
Typically I avoid stepping in streams, creeks, or deep puddles but this boot is lined with the "Gore-Tex XCR" lining, which provides waterproofness and breatheability. This is my first pair of boots with this liner and I am excited to see how it performs.
Inside the boots are a pair of insoles that are stamped with "CCS (Comfort Climate System)". They are a part of Garmont's footbed design which is supposed to help with breatheability and moisture management. I shall see about this, because my feet sweat quite a bit.
The toe of the Zenith is covered with a rubber toe rand to help protect the toe tips and add durability to the boots. It looks to be glued on and I could not find any loose spots around the edges of either boot. The rubber from the sole also comes up onto the very front of the toe to form a bumper to protect the toes.
The tubular nylon laces run through a combination of eyes, nylon loops, and two sets of lace hooks at the top. The laces run across the forefoot at a bit of an angle which Garmont calls the "Asymmetrical Closure System (ACS)". The lacing crosses the foot at an angle that is supposed to be similar to the toe joints which is supposed to help the boot flex in conjunction with the toes creating less stress on the toes. This is an interesting feature, and I am excited to see if it does create a notable difference.
The soles, oh the soles... They nearly speak for themselves. The outsoles are constructed out of Vibram Q768 rubber. I am very partial to Vibram rubber which is the outsole on my running shoes, camp shoes, climbing shoes. Vibram rubber is known for traction and I will expect nothing less on these boots. Aside from the rubber, the soles have very deep treading almost like cleats. I am excited to see how they perform on muddy trails and slick, wet rock at my local crag. On the inside, Garmont claims that the "PU (polyurethane) perimeter midsole" provides stability and resists compression set and that the "EVA comfort core" reduces swing weight and provides shock attenuation. That being said: resisting compression set, is resisting the ability for soft materials to permanently deform; reducing swing weight is to keep the boots from causing 'over-stepping', and shock attenuation is to decrease the intensity of a shock. I will be keeping a close watch on these claimed features throughout the test series to see if they are in fact true.
The quality of these Garmont boots seems to be very good. The stitching is all straight and uniform. There are no loose threads or blemishes. They appear to be a very solid 3 season hiking boot. Comfort around the apartment is one thing, but now it is time to take them into the trenches, through the muddy washes and down the trail.
This concludes my Initial Report. Tune in during June for the Field Test results.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
First, a two-night hiking/climbing trip to the Wichita Wildlife Refuge. The distance traveled per day was undetermined.
My second outing was a three-night backpacking trip in the Wichita Wildlife Refuge in late spring. We covered 15-20 mi (24-32 km) per day. It was fairly warm, so packs were light. The terrain was relatively flat in the backpacking area compared to other parts of the Wildlife Refuge.
Finally, a five-day, four-night trip in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains in late summer. Elevation ~13,000 ft (4,000 m) with somewhere around 5,300 ft (1,600 m) gain from the base. Covering somewhere between 10-12 mi (16-19 km) a day. Here it also rained every day at 4-6 PM like clockwork.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
There are several key topics that caught my attention while testing these boots. They are as follows:
These boots are almost sub-par in the comfort department. The boots are very comfortable on short trips. However, on longer trips, the widened toe box presented some issues. The toe box is widened as mentioned in the Initial Report, and this feature makes it impossible to get a snug fit around the toes allowing them to move around and create blisters. I have never had a blister before, and actually experienced my first blister in the Refuge on a 20 mi (32 km) hike.
As far as support goes these boots are solid. I have been through some very loose terrain in them and have not rolled an ankle yet. The soles are also thick and hard enough that I did not feel sharp points on rocks that I had stepped on, while other hikers kept complaining of pain through their boots.
The grip on these boots are amazing. The Vibram rubber soles provide sure footing through various surfaces.
These boots are incredibly waterproof, from wet and rainy days and through creek crossings. At one point I had them almost completely submerged for several minutes and had no leaks. This benefit does however come with a price. While the GORE-TEX lining boasts that it is breathable, these boots are not. On longer hikes I was constantly swapping my socks trying to keep my feet as dry as possible.
And finally, Construction:
Overall the construction is pretty good. The soles are holding up well, and the uppers have a few scratches but no tears or holes. The rubber around the toe has started to fray just a little bit, but considering the rocky, and loose terrain they have been through, I blame it on use, not the construction or material used.
All in all I do enjoy wearing these boots. They may not be the most comfortable, or most breathable. But they are a good all around boot for day hikes, to moderate distance backpacking trips.
I would like to thank Garmont and BackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product. Please tune in for my Long Term Report in about two months!
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Since my field report section, I have only been able to wear these boots on two different trips:
First, was a three-night backpacking trip in the Wichita Wildlife Refuge in September. We covered roughly 5 mi (8 km) per day. The terrain was relatively flat, and it rained hard all four days/three nights. It would probably be best described as a swamp trudge vs. a backpacking trip...
The second trip was a two-night hiking/climbing trip to the Wichita Wildlife Refuge. The distance traveled was probably around 20 mi (32 km) total for the three days we were there.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
On these two trips I really focused on my footwear as well as the key topics covered above in the Field Report. These are my findings:
I have broken these boots in well, and the fit is correct. However the widened toe box still causes some rubbing from not being able to get a snug fit around the toes. These boots, overall, are comfortable, but best for shorter jaunts in the rough.
As far as support goes I maintain that these boots are solid. Even through the roughest and loosest terrains I encountered while wearing these boots, there was no stress or strain on my ankles. Also I felt no pressure from objects underneath through the thick soles.
Even through continued use, the tread is aggressive and as sticky as it was out of the box. The grip on these boots is just outstanding.
I cannot say enough about the waterproofness of these boots, on my swamp trudge in the Refuge I literally stood in puddles up to my ankles at times for several minutes. But at the end of the day I was able to take off my boots and still have dry feet. (Note: my feet were one of the only dry spots at the end of these days.)
And finally, Construction:
So, overall construction is very good with these boots, having no rips, tears, or holes anywhere on the boot. However, in the Field Report I mentioned that rubber near the toe was starting to fray. Well... It has gotten progressively worse. (Pictured below) As you can see the "gray" rubber is the culprit, and looks to be of no major concern to the functionality, just to the cosmetics of the boot.
All in all, I do like these boots. They are cosmetically appealing, relatively comfortable, and an all around great Gore-Tex hiker. I plan on wearing these boots until they can be worn no more.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
This concludes my Garmont Zenith GTX boot Test Series. I would like to thank Garmont and BackpackGearTest for providing me with this testing opportunity.
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