Zamberlan SH Crosser Plus GTX RR Vegan Hiking Boot Review

Zamberlan SH Crosser Plus GTX RR Vegan Hiking Boot Review

A guest post by Jim Van Alstine

 

>> Overview <<

Photo by Jim Van Alstine

Photo by Jim Van Alstine

The Zamberlan SH Crosser Plus GTX RR is a light-weight, mid-height boot offering great ankle support and a broad, stable sole. Within the category of light, mid-hikers, this Zamberlan boot excels in support and stability, feeling much like a heavy weight hiker, without the burden of the extra weight, weighing in at just two pounds, six ounces. Compared to other offerings in this category, this vegan boot from Zamberlan punches above its weight. Ankle padding is higher than most, if not all other mid-hikers out there. The mid-profile outsole is firm, and rigid, providing the type of solid base found in heavy weight boots. The midsole combines light weight with firm support.

The combination of heavy, backpacking style construction with light-weight materials results in a versatile boot that can carry you through quick day hikes as well as longer multiple day backpack treks. The Zamberlan SH Crosser Plus GTX RR was a 2013 Backpacker magazine Editor’s Choice award winner.

 

>> Fit <<

The fit of the Zamberlan Crosser Plus is much more like that of a backpacking boot, rather than that of other mid-hikers that tend to feel more like trail runners that are built up a bit. You feel the solid supportive base of the sole in every step. This firmer footing does sacrifice some of the softer foot feel that other, lighter mid-hikers offer.

Sizing runs true to size, but if you know your European shoe size, you will find that a more accurate guide than the translation into U.S. sizing.

 

>> Sole <<

Photo by Jim Van Alstine

Photo by Jim Van Alstine

The outsole of the Zamberlan is provided by Vibram: a trusted and reliable maker of hiking and work boot outsoles since the dawn of time. The outsole of this boot consists mostly of Vibram’s Speed Hiking rubber compound. Expect it to wear very well, be resistant to cuts or gouges from rocks and be pretty sticky on a variety of surfaces.

The sole has a series of breaking lugs at both the toe and heel. These work well. I found the breaking lugs at the heel to be very effective, resulting in sure footed descents. The heel portion of the sole is wider than that on other boots of similar weight. I found the wide heel provides exceptional stability, again most noticeable on descents. My wife, Jen, also has a pair of these Zamberlans. When she first switched to these boots, the heels got in the way a bit, as they are wider than most. After a couple hikes, she was used to them and is now a fan of their supportive platform.

 

>> Lacing <<

Photo by Jim Van Alstine

Photo by Jim Van Alstine

The laces of the Zamberlans have a traditional hiking boot look and feel. Yet, when paired with a very robust heel cup and the flexible Goretex fabric of the last, the result is a comfortable, secure feeling. A most notable feature of the lacing is the eyelets.

The eyelets are anchored back down to the footbed through a series of TPU reinforcements. This should prove a durable feature in the long haul. On the performance level this helps add to the secure feel of the boots. The TPU, along with the lacing, secure the foot to the foot bed.

 

>> Last <<

The last is made primarily of the highly regarded Gore-Tex fabric. This give the boot breathability and great water resistance in a forgiving, comfortable upper. Again harkening to this boot’s connection to heavier backpacking boots, the last of the Zamberlans offers a lot of robust protective additions. The entire outer edge of the last, from the sole extending up about an inch, is reinforced with a layer of Cordura nylon. This protects both the feet and the boots from rock scuffs. The toe and heel are well armored. Both ends of the boot feature multiple layers of resilient protection from synthetic materials including TPU and Kevlar.

 

Photo by Jim Van Alstine

Photo by Jim Van Alstine

>> Conclusion <<

This is a light-weight mid-hiker that performs and protects much like a much heavier boot. It is comfortable and light enough for day hikes, while offering the security, support and firm foundation needed for long backpack treks. The day I knew I was to fulfill a volunteer commitment to haul about a gazillion gallons of water up a mountain to aid the runners of the Manitou’s Revenge Ultramarathon, I opted for these boots. If you need just one boot to cover the broadest possible range of hiking adventures, the Zamberlan SH Crosser Plus GTX RR is an excellent choice.


Find the Zamberlan SH Crosser Plus GTX in women’s and men’s.


 

Jim and Pasha on the trail

Jim and Pasha on the trail

Jim Van Alstine lives and hikes primarily in the Catskill Mountains and calls the Devil’s Path his back yard. He, along with his wife, Jen and rescued dogs Pasha and Vincent, hike every weekend through three season and usually manage a couple backpacking trips to the Adirondacks High Peaks region each year. Jim also lived in Colorado for many years and summited a number of Fourteeners. Jim’s adventures have been fueled by a plant-based diet since 1988, vegan since 2002. When not out on the trails, Jim is master compounder for Woodstock Herbal Products, which manufactures a certified-vegan line of traditionally handcrafted herbal tinctures.

 

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  • I’ve been doing a little internet research on shoe manufacturing and I’ve found out a few things that seem to be from reputable sources, supported by other reputable sources. I think some of them apply to this Zamberlan review. One thing is that according to what I can figure out the shoe “last” is not part of the shoe, rather, it is the from over which leather or fabrics are stretched, to make the shoe. It is a model of an average foot. Another thing that seems to come up frequently is that Goretex waterproofing is a semi-permeable Membrane, not a fabric. To make a shoe waterproof, the membrane is placed, sandwiched, between 2 layers of material – fabric, leather, whatever. It may be Bonded to fabric. The kind of fabric and bonding process can be important. But the actual qualities of allowing perspiration to escape and keeping water from going in, are due to the microscopic holes in the membrane. I have taken apart old clothing and seen the membrane. It is very thin. Looked even thinner than a latex glove or condom. Though surprisingly strong, it isn’t as stretchy. It is said to be made of PTFE – Teflon – a tough, strong, plastic resin. However because it is very thin, and does not have as much elasticity as one might like, it can crack, break, at a flex point, after months of flexing. Some reviewers of goretex shoes have said that the shoe was waterproof when they bought it, but the waterproofness ended way before the rest of the shoe became unusable. Just something to keep an eye out for. Perhaps we should think about wearing new goretex shoes in rainy or muddy conditions, and wearing older goretex shoes when things are dry. I also wanted to add that NOTHING is 100% vegan. Many commercial products have proprietary ingredients. For many years I was unaware that tires have stearic acid added to affect the properties of the synthetic rubber. For awhile I was unaware that some sugar is filtered with bone char and some is not. And when the sugar comes in paper bags I still wonder about the glue used to glue the bag together. Doe some of the glue get into the sugar? In regard to the adhesives used in shoemaking, there have been stories that workers in shoe factories are being harmed by breathing the solvents used in shoe adhesives. It is the basicly non-animal rubber-based adhesives that have harmful petroleum solvents. Animal-based adhesives tend to use water as a solvent. However the rubber-based adhesives could have small amounts of animal material in them – to tweak their properties. Manufacturers aren’t eager to reveal the trade secrets that make their product competitive – flow better, set faster, or slower, or whatever When they look at my office shoes, they see leather – even though the shoes are actually a composite of urethane resin and polyester fibers. My employment contract requires I wear leather office shoes to customers’ offices. I actually don’t like wearing the office shoes, because what I wear isn’t just about me, it is also about the example I set. So if someone compliments my fashion sense regarding my office shoes, I tell them guess what, they are made out of a urethane-polyester composite! My employer does not care, as long as the LOOK like leather. When people compliment my hiking shoes, I don’t need to say anything; they can SEE that the shoes are not leather. My Salewa Firetails appear to be all fabric, with no visible bits of either the real or artificial leather that is used to add rigidity to Most fabric hiking shoes. I have been asked “what kind of fabric is that” but as yet no-one has asked what kind of glue was used. Glob only knows what is in the nylon fibers of my shoes, besides nylon. Or in the aramid fibers besides aramid. For months I thought the aramid fabric was made out of aramid fibers. Then I find out it is may really be a blend of aramid and nylon. Or in the goretex membrane to tweak the properties of the pTFE, help it flex without cracking, or keep sunlight from making it brittle. Good look finding out from Gore. They don’t want to help anyone make a competing product.

  • These look very nice, and very reminiscent of Salewa’s Firetail GTX Mid. Both shoes have a Kevlar rand, and tpu reinforcement to add rigidity to the nylon uppers. In both shoes the eyelets for the lace are surrounded by the tpu reinforcements. Zamberlan’s web site claims that the fabric rand extending up about an inch from the sole, is Kevlar (aramid), as opposed to being Cordura as stated in the review. While it could actually be an aramid-nylon (Kevlar-Cordura) blend, I think it is worth noting that Kevlar has the property of being not only more abrasion-resistant than nylon and most other synthetic fibers, but also being more heat resistant. They do not ignite at normal levels of oxygen. They do not melt but instead rapidly “decompose” at temperatures well above the ignition temperature of wood. Zamberlan’s web site does not claim any heat-resistant properties for the rand. Both the SH Crosser line and Salewa’s Firetail line are reported to have midsoles that support carrying more weight than the typical fabric hiker or speed hiker, and may be more suitable for light to moderate backpacking than most light-weight hikers. I would like to see someone do a direct comparison between these 2 shoes.

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