Footwear is a topic that can keep gamekeepers, stalkers and shooters talking about for hours all with different views and opinions in what make is the best and how long a walking boot should last. I suppose it all depends greatly on what you do when you are wearing them and how much use they get, but for me I need the best of both worlds. I need a robust leather boot that supports my ankles, is totally waterproof, easy to clean and comfortable. Then I am happy. Now over the years I have tried so many varying brands and price brackets it is astounding that I had never come across one that did everything.
At the British Shooting Show in February 2020 I was working on the NGO stand and I had a look around on the last day, I was specifically looking for a stalking boot that I could buy to replace the last pair that did well but were now well on their way out with broken laces and leaky soles. On the GMK stand I came across an Italian made boot that looked like the sort of thing I wanted. It was sturdy and the leather wasn’t too soft, it looked like it had been made for work by someone who knew what was needed in a proper country high boot. I found out where I could buy a pair of these excellent looking boots and splashed out the £280, which for the right boot that will last is not a huge sum but enough to be noticed you no longer have it.
The boot was a Zamberlan GTX Hunter Pro – The Zamberlan family have been making footwear for 85 years and have a tradition of producing boots that are suited to the mountain environments of Northern Italy. Now if you think about hill stalking or moorland keepering this is the perfect combination when a manufacture has this background.
I have worn these boots pretty much every day, on the small shoot I look after and on countless deer stalks. I have done hundreds of miles in them now walking, fishing, stalking and general work and they are as good now as they were when I took them out of the box. The leather is more robust then many of the boots I have tried with is a good thing. They haven’t cracked and started to look tired, I can wear them loading and shooting and look smart without gaiters on but also wear them to mow the lawn at home. The fit itself is also very pleasing, the boot is wide so you can wear thicker socks and the tong gives you a good opening to get your foot into the boot. No squeezing and forcing required which I find a pain. The laces undo quite a way down which is also helpful and the fixings dont cut the laces or wear them like my last pair did. I am still on the original laces which is rare for a pair of often worn boots. In fact this pair has worn so well I havent bothered with the good (new) pair of boots and the everyday (old) pair anymore. I just have the one set.
If I have to find any negatives to the Zamberlan GTX Hunter Pro it would be that the sole is quite hard making stalking quietly on hard ground more difficult and they are relatively heavy in comparison to some. However that is a a trade off when you need a sturdy pair of boots that will not let you down.
Would I buy another pair of these boots, undoubtedly yes. I think unfortunately for Zamberlan at the moment they seem so well made that I wont be putting my hand in my pocket for quite a few years to come yet!