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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Zamberlan Crest or Rica GT > Test Report by Ken Bigelow
Zamberlan 154 RICA GT Footwear
Test Report Series by Ken Bigelow
Initial Report – November 2, 2008
Field Report - December 23, 2008
Long Term Report - March 3, 2009
Personal Biographical Information:
Name: Ken Bigelow
Height: 5' 8" (1.7 m)
Weight: 175 lbs (79 kg)
Shoe Size: Men’s 10 (US)
Email address: krb84108 (at) yahoo (dot) com
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
My adventures vary in length from a weekend to over two weeks. I am shifting my backpacking style to a lightweight approach. I use hammocks and lightweight tents to reduce weight. From spring through fall I typically backpack in the mountains or desert, while in winter I often go snowshoeing. I typically see a wide variety of climates ranging from -5 F (-20 C) with snow to 90 F (32 C) and sunny with just about everything in between.
Year Manufactured: 2008
Color Tested: Camel/Truffle
MSRP: $125 US
Listed Weight: 18.34 oz (520 g)
Measured Weights: 2 lb 6.8 oz (1.1 kg) per pair – 1 lb 3.4 oz (550 g) per boot
Size Tested: Men’s 10
Product Description & Initial
The 154 RICA GT are
part of Zamberlan’s ascent line. The
shoes arrived in a shoebox with a pamphlet title “Boot care &
guide”. It describes the history of
Zamberlan, a list of technologies and partners used in the production
Zamberlan footwear and a maintenance guide in English, Italian, French
Based on looking at the Zamberlan
website I’d say I received what I expected.
The footwear had two
hangtags attached. One is from Gore-Tex
which is what the lining is composed of and the second describes
patent pending AMS system. The AMS, or
Advanced Motion Structure, consists of a high grip outsole tread,
elements located at the toe, heel and arch and a stability TPU plate
multilayer of compression molded EVA midsole.
The system is supposed to provide shock absorption, support,
and grip on all types of terrain.
lists all the technical features and explains how Zamberlan only
quality components (everything from Hydrobloc leather to RRS rubber)
they integrate these to enhance their footwear’s performance. Whether or not these actually work or not
will be determined in the field.
The pair I received are dark brown and tan which is referred to as camel and truffle by Zamberlan. The rubber toe protection appears to be strong and sturdy with just a little give. The footwear are slightly loose if I wear light socks, but with thicker socks this isn’t an issue. In most other brands a size 10 US does not feel as loose as these do and I can get by fine with wearing light weight socks. The low cut shoes do not rub my ankle and my toes do not feel too tight in the toebox. The laces are rather long and wearing them around my place I have stepped on them if they are tied with a single knot. I almost always double knot my shoes so this isn’t a big issue to me.
For the first portion of the test period I have used the Zamberlan 154 RICA GT boots for three days/two nights camping/hiking trip in Capital Reef National Park, three days/two nights backpacking trip in Zion Canyon National Park, for a total of six days/four nights basecamping and hiking in the San Rafael Swell area, for a day hike in Arches National Park (and an overnighter just outside the park) three dayhikes in the Wasatch Mountains and pretty much everyday in and around Salt Lake City.
Temperatures have ranged from 20 F (-6 C) to 70 F (21 C). I’ve seen sunny, clear and partially clouded skies, some light rain, heavy winds over 40 mph (60 km/hr) and light to moderate snow. Elevations have been between 4,000 ft (1,200 m) and 10,000 ft (3,000 m). The terrain has varied and included thick mud, rocks, sand, snow and ice, dirt, slickrock and washes of almost every kind.
After receiving the Zamberlans I headed out for Arches National Park and a quick overnighter near Moab, Utah. I was a little concerned exposing the RICAs to the slickrock terrain immediately without breaking them in first. I am happy to report that I have not had any blisters so far during the test period. The ability to wear shoes right out of the box without worrying about blisters is a great quality in my experience and I am glad the RICAs fall into this category.
The RICA’s breathability is surely one of the reasons I did not form any blisters while wearing the Zamberlan shoes. Whether heading up steep terrain, switchbacks, scrambling over rocks or chimneying through slot canyons I have not had my feet overheat and they have not been excessively sweaty after a full day of hiking/backpacking. My feet do feel chilled when the temperature drops to freezing and I am only wearing a thin sock but I can always add additional socks, change to thicker socks or even add toe warmers if need be.
The grip on the RICAs has been excellent. I am delighted to report that the Zamberlans have been able to walk on wet slickrock, snow, mud and even canyon walls while chimneying without much slipping at all. I have had some minor slipping on pure ice but this was not a surprise as I did not have any traction aids on and I cannot honestly say that any other footwear I use would not have slipped on the same surface without some sort of traction aid. I also had a minor slip on thick mud that had been completely saturated after three days of rain. Again I was not surprised by this result given the circumstances. In both cases I never fell to the ground so it was not a big issue for me.
The Zamberlans are very comfortable to wear. I’ve worn them while hiking over slickrock and they do an excellent job as my feet do not feel completely beat up at the end of the day. In Zion National Park and in the San Rafael Swell I was on a trail made of rocks for a significant stretch and it did not kill the bottom of my feet like it does in other shoes I’ve used. I’ve had to scramble over boulders and in narrow slot canyons where I had to use my feet to chimney through some sections and my feet never felt unusually fatigued after using either technique. I even had the opportunity to test the RICAs without wearing any socks.
While exploring a slot canyon in the San Rafael Swell I ran into a number of deep potholes filled with water from the previous day’s storm. The sides were too wide for my short legs to chimney across in some sections and after testing the depth with my trekking poles I saw that the water was well above my knees. I had to either take my shoes off and wade through the potholes or hike in soaked shoes and socks the rest of the day. Given that it had been below freezing the night before and it was still cool I took off my shoes and socks and crossed the potholes barefoot. After wadding through six potholes my toes were frigid and the bottoms of my feet were covered in mud. I wanted to get moving right away to warm my feet up but I was not sure if there were any more holes that required wadding plus my frozen feet were very uncooperative in properly flexing to allow me to put my tight fitting socks on while still shivering. I threw my shoes on minus the socks and continued on. I did have to stop to empty the mud (and small rocks suspended in it) as my feet dried but the shoes were still comfortable to hike in until I could put my socks back on.
One of the many deep potholes (left) that lead to wearing no socks (right) with the Zamberlan RICA GT Boots
In Zion Canyon National Park I was exploring Hop Valley not long after a storm and had to hop over the creek countless times. I occasionally missed the dry spot I was aiming for and ended up splashing water on my lower legs, upper sock or even into the RICAs from above (as I was not wearing gaiters on this trip) which would wet my feet slightly. This appears to be the only method water or snow can penetrate the RICA’s Gore-Tex lining after two months of testing (I should note that every shoe I‘ve ever worn is susceptible to this method as well).
Zamberlan RICA Boots in Zion National Park
So far over the course of the test period the Zamberlan RICA boots have been exceptionally comfortable, waterproof and breathable. I was able to wear them right out of the box with little to no break in time. I am happy with their performance on all kinds of terrain and look forward to testing them over the next few months. I would like them to be lighter but I can say that for almost all my gear and for rougher terrain I am willing to take the tradeoff.
Things I like:
Things I am not thrilled about so far:
Long Term Testing Conditions:
Over the final two months of testing I have used the Zamberlan RICA in the Wasatch Mountains, the Uinta Mountains, Laurel Highlands State Park in Pennsylvania, just outside Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Great Falls State Park in Virginia in and around Salt Lake City, Utah and Washington DC. Elevations have been between 100 ft (30 m) and 9,000 ft (2,700 m). Temperatures have ranged from -5 F (-20 C) to 60 F (15 C). I have used them hiking/snowshoeing on snow, ice, sand, rock, dirt and mud. I have experienced rain, snow, sleet and sunny days while wearing the RICAs.
Long Term Report:
After four months of testing I am still able to grip the terrain like I was when the footwear first arrived. In fact on a trip to Laurel Highlands State Park the trail cut across a very icy ski slope. I was the one of the only ones that did not slip and fall on the slick ground and I did not have the advantage of traction aids. I was impressed with the RICA’s ability to help me keep my balance while avoiding skiers flying down the slope. I was also able to maintain my footing on very muddy trails on multiple occasions after rain and snow storms. I love the stability I have while wearing the Zamberlan shoes.
Snowshoeing and postholing in the Zamberlan RICAs has required gaiters and rain pants to keep snow from getting inside my footwear. I suspect I could get by with just the rain pants if the RICA were a mid or high top but as I have the low cuts I need additional protection in this area. If I were purchasing boots specifically for winter use I would consider buying this model only in a mid or high top for this reason. For desert hiking the cut has not been an issue at all and in fact I prefer the lower cut for this terrain.
Gaiter and Rain Pants Are Required To Keep Snow Out With the Low Cut ShoesWhile backpacking in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands State Park I decided to see how the Zamberlan shoes performed with a larger load. For the last few miles of hiking I carried two people’s packs in addition to my own. I estimate that the packs weighed in around a combined 75-85 lbs (34-39 kg). While carrying the heavier load the Zamberlans did well. I was still able to negotiate slick, albeit relatively flat, terrain en route to our shelter for the night. My feet were not sore nor did I experience any rubbing which kind of surprised me.
Carrying Extra Weight in the RICA Shoes
The Zamberlan RICA GT shoes are a comfortable, waterproof, durable trail shoe and make a good addition to my footwear collection. I would definitely considering purchasing them when in the market for this type of shoe. I have enjoyed testing them and expect to use them for some time.
Things I like:
Things I didn’t like:
This concludes my Report. Thanks to Zamberlan and BackpackGearTest for allowing me the opportunity to test the 154 RICA GT boots.
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Read more gear reviews by Ken Bigelow
Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Zamberlan Crest or Rica GT > Test Report by Ken Bigelow
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