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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Zamberlan Crest or Rica GT > Test Report by Larry Kirschner

Zamberlan Crest GT Hiking Shoes

TEST SERIES BY LARRY KIRSCHNER
Zamberlan Crest



INITIAL REPORT - September 23, 2008
FIELD REPORT - December 8, 2008
LONG TERM REPORT - February 1, 2008



TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Larry Kirschner
EMAIL: asklarry98 at hotmail dot com
AGE: 43
LOCATION: Columbus, Ohio
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I've been an intermittent camper/paddler since my teens, but now that my kids are avid Boy Scouts, I've caught the backpacking bug. I typically do 8-10 weekend hikes per year, and have spent time over the past 2 years backpacking at the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico and canoeing the Atikaki wilderness in Manitoba. I like to travel "in comfort", so I used to pack heavy, but I've progressed down to medium weight, and continue to work toward going lighter and longer. With all of my investment into these ventures, I expect my wife and I will continue to trek long after the kids are gone…


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Zamberlan
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Country of Manufacture: China
Manufacturer's Website: www.zamberlan.com
Model: 144 Crest GT
Size: Men's US 10.5, Eur 45
MSRP: USD $125.00
Listed Weight: 500 g (17.6 oz) (half pair, size 8)
Measured Weight: 585 g (20.6 oz) (half pair, size 10.5)
Available Sizes: Men's US 8-12, 13
Available Colors: Grey/Pumpkin (an orange color) and Charcoal/Yellow

ITEM DESCRIPTION

The Zamberlan Crest GT is a low-rise light hiking shoe designed for trail running or as an "approach shoe". The manufacturer also suggests it is suitable for everyday use or adventure travel. It is constructed like a heavy duty sneaker with a Hydro-bloc™ split-leather and Cordura nylon upper surface and a firm rubber polyurethane toe cap. The toe cap is actually separate from the heavy rubber tread, which wraps up around the back of the shoe on the heel. The tread has a grip-rubber multi-directional outsole to provide "traction on those muddy, smooth and slippery surfaces." The sole has Zamberlan's "Advanced Motion Structure", which is stated to provide shock absorption and uses a nylon shank to provide support and stability. The inside of the shoe is made of Gore-Tex nylon to provide a waterproof layer.

top of Crest GTs side of Crest GTs

The shoe is constructed with a removable footbed (shown below) made out of activated carbon to provide odor absorption and moisture wicking. The tongue is gusseted to provide a nearly water-tight seal in the front. The shoe has rounded laces with eyelets at the bottom and fabric loops at the top to allow faster tightening of the laces. The shoes arrived laced, including a loop in the middle of the tongue to keep the laces and tongue in place. There is also a loop at the top of the tongue to allow the tongue to be pulled up easily, and another loop at the heel to allow the shoe to be pulled on easily.

zamberlan with footbed

CARE INSTRUCTIONS

The Crests came with two small tags attached, one from Gore-Tex and a second tag describing the AMS (Advanced Motion Structure) sole system. The box also contained a boot care and reference guide, printed in English, Italian, German, and French. The brochure contained a little history about the Zamberlan company, and provided somewhat generic instructions for care of these shoes. Relevant to the Crests, the instructions describe general cleaning procedures (clean with mild soap-not detergent-and allow to air dry fully in a cool well-ventilated area.) There are instructions for cleaning the different types of uppers, including the split leather/fabric found in these shoes. For this type of shoe, the instructions recommend applying Zamberlan Hydrobloc conditioning spray to the boots when they are clean and dry. The instructions also indicate that the linings and soles do not require any special care, but that they should be inspected periodically for damage and kept clean and dry. The instructions also note that the laces should be monitored for damage or wear, and suggest that carrying an extra pair of laces on the trail is a good idea. The footbeds are also recommended for periodic cleaning, with a recommendation to replace the footbeds every 6-12 months under regular use conditions.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

My first impressions of the Zamberlan Crest GTs (called "the Crests", or "the shoes") is that they are very snappy looking pair of trail runners. I received them in the grey/red color combination, which has apparently been supplanted by a more orange color. Other early impressions that struck me when I took the shoes out of the box included the observations that the shoes appear to be very sturdy, but that they were rather narrow.



TRYING IT OUT

For the first test, I put the Crests on over a single pair of cotton athletic socks. At first blush, I found the shoes to be a little tight across my toes. Although I don't wear wide shoes, I have had trouble with my feet in the past, and generally wear shoes or sneakers that tend to be roomier in the toe area. Despite tying the laces, I also felt that my feet were sliding somewhat front-to-back. As can be seen from the photos below, although the Zamberlan shoes are size US 10.5, they are somewhat longer and narrower (approximately .375 in/ 9.5 mm narrower across the toe) than my size US 11 sneakers (which happen to be New Balance cross-trainers at the moment).

zamberlan length zamberlan width

For the second go, I wore the Crests over a pair of cotton athletic socks and a medium-weight wool blend sock. When I first put my feet into the shoes, it seemed rather crowded in the toe area, although this loosened up somewhat as I wore the shoes around the house. Using the two-sock plan (which is what I normally wear while hiking), I felt that my feet were much more secure in the shoes. I wore the shoes around the house most of the day, as well as for a short 1 mile (1.6 km) walk on the sidewalk to and from dinner. After wearing them for a while, I didn't feel they were as tight as I had initially feared, although they eventually grew a little uncomfortable across the top of my toes as the day wore on. The boots felt very solid on my feet, and have a significant heft to them. The tread has a nice curve to it, and the Crests are quite comfortable for walking on flat surfaces, although I noticed the extra weight compared to my usual sneakers.


EXPECTATIONS FOR THE ZAMBERLAN CREST GT HIKING SHOES

I expected a sturdy but flexible pair of shoes, and I think that the Crests have met my expectations. The only thing that I am concerned about is the fact that these shoes seem to be rather narrow (unlike my feet). The Crests appear to be well made and I think they will do well if they don't end up squishing my feet in the wrong places.


TEST PLAN

For the Field test, I will wear the Crests for all of my hiking/backpacking activities over the next few months. I will also wear them to work and around town for a while, to get a sense if I would replace my usual cross-trainers with the sturdier Crest GTs. I will also likely wear them biking on occasion to see if I notice any issues with my feet overheating.


This concludes my Initial Report on the Zamberlan Crest GT Hiking Shoes. Please check back in 2 months for my Field Report on this item.

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FIELD REPORT

December 8, 2008

FIELD CONDITIONS

Over the past 2 months, I have worn the Crests during 3 outings.. For the first of these, I wore the Crests over liners and hiking socks to a Friday night football game at our local high school. This involved a 0.6 mile (1 km) walk each way, sitting for about 2 hours, and then walking home. It was quite cool (45 F/6 C) and it rained for the entire three hours I was outside. The next time I wore the Crests was during a weekend trip to Yellow Springs, Ohio. I wore the shoes most of the weekend, including about a 1 mile (1.6 km) hike in to the campsite, an 8 mile hike around the Clifton Gorge trail the next day, and a 1 mile hike out on the third day. The weather during the trip was in the 40's F (4-6 C) during the day. The temperatures fell to around 30 F (-1 C) overnight, but I wasn't hiking when it was that cold. The third trip on which I wore the Crests was an overnight trip to Dayton, Ohio, where I spent most of the weekend indoors relaxing while wearing the Crests. It snowed about 2 inches (5 cm) during the afternoon, so I went out with the fabulous Mrs. K for about a 3 mile (5 km) jaunt just to enjoy the snow.

snowing at dayton close up in the snow

FIELD EXPERIENCE

In thinking about my experiences with the crests to date, there are a couple of features that stand out. First of all, these shoes appear to be built as solid as rocks. I could definitely feel the extra weight they carry when I was wearing them, but they feel extremely sturdy. When I was on the Clifton Gorge hike, the trail was filled with broken up rocks, which I barely felt on my feet.

zamberlans at clifton gorge

Second, these shoes shed water extremely well. Even when I wore them sitting three hours in the rain, my feet stayed dry, and even the socks were only slightly damp. On the last trip, even though the snow stuck easily to the outside of the Crests, my feet stayed dry and warm. It is difficult for me to tell if the shoes are warm, or they just feel this way because they do an excellent job of keeping my feet dry.

In terms of the issues with fit noted in my IR, I still feel that the narrow and long shape of the shoes is not a great match for my foot. The shoes are narrow across the toes, so I feel cramped whenever I put the Crests on for the first time in the morning. They don't seem to bother me much when I am actually hiking, but once I stop, they start to get somewhat uncomfortable across my toes. Part of this is also due to the fact that the soles of these shoes are somewhat stiff, meaning they don't have a lot of bend in them. I know from other hiking boots I have tried that rigidity in the sole tends to bother my feet, although I have friends who are not bothered by this shoe characteristic. One feature that makes these shoes seem to fit better is the fact that there is no strap which goes across the toe box. The tightness in this area is controlled mostly by the lacing, which may explain why they don't bother me when I am actively hiking. However, in order to make the shoes not slide, I do tend to lace them reasonably tightly. I have not seen much "give" in the shoe leather so far, and the shoes don't seem to show much sign of molding to my feet.


WEAR AND TEAR

The Crests have needed almost no maintenance to date. Because they don't really get wet, they don't need long to dry completely. The tread is not significantly worn with the amount of hiking I have done so far, (18-20 miles/28-32 km) and the uppers remain in pristine condition.


FIELD IMPRESSIONS

To date, the Zamberlan Crests have functioned very well. I am especially impressed with their ability to keep my feet dry even in very wet conditions. They seem to be very sturdy, but this ruggedness comes at a weight cost. Although I have gotten better at adjusting the lacing to fit my feet better, there are still occasional issues with comfort.

This concludes my Field Report on the Zamberlan Crest GTs. Please check in back in about 2 months for my final report on this item.

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LONG-TERM REPORT
February 1, 2009

FIELD CONDITIONS

Over the course of the Long-Term Report, I had the chance to travel to Half Moon Bay, California, and broke away from my scheduled business for an afternoon to hike up the beach and back, covering about 7 miles (11+ km) all together. I took my mini tripod and my camera to capture the moment.
Zamberlans - Half Moon Bay

It was sunny and just a little cool, with temperatures that day near 60 F (15 C). I also wore them on a cold weather trip to Ray, Ohio, which involved cabin camping and about 3-4 miles (5-6 km) of tramping through the woods. The temperatures on the trip were as low as 1 F (-17 C) and as high as 18 F (-8 C) during the times I was outside, and most of the hiking was when the temperatures were on the higher side of the range.

In addition to these outdoor experiences, I also wore the Crests to a football game (American football) I attended in Cincinnati, Ohio. This was a cool day with temperatures in the low 50's F (10-12 C) during the day. I spend about 4 -5 hours outdoor that day, including walking a total of about 2.5 miles (4 km) getting back and forth to the stadium. I have also worn the Crests to work about 5 times, on days when there has been between 3-6 inches (7.5-15 cm) of snow on the ground. I have also worn them while shoveling a like amount of snow in my driveway, an exercise which typically takes an hour or two, in temperatures in the 20's F (-6 to -1 C).


FIELD EXPERIENCE

On the day I walked along the beach, I wore the Crests over a pair of hiking liners and mid-heavyweight oversocks (Bridgedale Endurance Trekkers). After going the first few miles, my feet began to become uncomfortable, particularly my left foot, which is the one that is widest across the toes. I stopped a few times to try to adjust my socks and relace the shoes. If I tied them very tightly, my toes were sore, but if I made them looser, my foot was sliding in the shoe. Eventually, I was able to find a compromise and continued my hike. By the time I returned, my steps were quite uncomfortable, particularly on the outer edge of my left foot. When I got back and took off my socks, I could see the reason why-a nasty blister (Ouch!). Although the shoes got sandy, a quick shake and they were clean.
Ouch!!

After that experience, I took the advice of my monitor (Carol C) and changed the lacing style to one that is supposed to prevent heel slippage. As can be seen in the photo, the top of the lacing is changed so that the laces are threaded through the same side for the top two eyelets, and then are crossed back over themselves before tying. I found that I less problems with slippage, but the fit still wasn't perfect.
Alternative lacing

When I wore the Crests on the trip in January, I again wore them over liners and the Endurance Trekkers. I did not do nearly as much hiking on this trip, but the ground was very cold and there was snow. Although I had no problems with snow getting into the shoe or with the shoe getting wet, I had a big problem with my feet getting very cold fairly quickly. Although I cannot be sure, I felt this was due to the fact that I had the shoes laced tightly, which was restricting blood flow to my toes. I was out for about an hour and had come to come in because I was concerned about developing frostbite. I sat inside and used my hands to warm up my feet for about an hour. Eventually I went back outside into the snow but did not stay out for more than an hour.

When I have worn the shoes to work, I wear them over cotton athletic socks. I do feel that my feet slide around a little, but not enough to cause any rubbing or blisters. I am on my feet quite a bit during the day, and they are almost as comfortable to wear as a pair of sneakers. Because of this, I like to wear them when I know I will be walking in the rain and/or snow, since I don't have to worry about arriving with wet feet.

In terms of durability, I have to give the Crests high marks. Although I have not put a lot of backcountry miles on them, the tread and construction still remains solid. As you can see from the photo compared to the photo at the top of the report, there is plenty of dirt, but very little sign of wear.
End of Test

Loose thread There is only one loose thread I could see, and it is located on the Gore-Tex label, and has nothing to do with the structural integrity of the Crests. After all the days I have worn them, the shoes may be loosening up, but it is only a small amount-the soles and uppers are still quite stiff.


SUMMARY

Overall, I am quite conflicted about these shoes. I think they are well made and durable, and they have done a fantastic job of keeping my feet dry in rain and snow. However, I have never been able to fully resolve the fit problem I have with the shoes. When I wear them with two pairs of socks, which is typical hiking gear for me, I find that they are just too narrow at the top. In addition to being somewhat uncomfortable, I have gotten blisters or had my foot get cold on me. I cannot ascribe this to a fault with the shoes, but it underscores the necessity that I TRY ON ANY HIKING SHOES BEFORE BUYING THEM. For these shoes in particular, I would recommend them to people with long and/or narrow feet, a group to which I (unfortunately) do not belong. Because of this, I do not foresee using the Crests much in the future, although I will try to find them a good home with someone who fits them better than I.

Things I liked about the Crest GTs:
  • Sturdy and well-constructed
  • Excellent waterproofing
  • Having removable insole a plus
Things I disliked about the Crest GTs:
  • Bad fit for me--best suited for hikers with long, narrow feet
  • Soles are rather stiff

This concludes my report on the Zamberlan Crest GT Hiking Shoes. My thanks once again to Zamberlan for providing this equipment for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in the evaluation process.

-larry kirschner

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