Zamberlan's UK centric Virtex RR walking boots are impeccably well-made, with a high-quality full grain leather upper which is easy to clean and care for.
These aren’t the lightest walking boots, and they initially feel quite clunky, but that’s common with leather walking boots until they wear in and soften up.
Once the wearing in is complete the leather becomes suppler, especially at the all-important flex zones. As a result, they become a whole lot more comfortable, and the boot can be formed over the foot better using the lacing system.
We found the Virtex GTX had a mid-width fit but it’s difficult to get the ankle opening closed over skinny legs, so this naturally leads to an element of heel slip. They’re clearly optimised for the UK market which tends to have wider, higher volume feet and ankles than the European market.
The rest of the boot is very form fitting (with the right lacing technique) and many miles of walking can be had without blisters or hot spots.
Inside, the cushioning underfoot is decent, marrying a reasonably supportive footbed with an impact absorbing midsole. This offers comfort over long distances as well as when carrying a heavy backpack.
The Vibram sole has very deep and widely spaced lugs, ideal for claggy UK winter’s where you want your boots to shed mud rather than collect it. Having said that we felt the sole lacked overall grip, perhaps due to the widely spaced lugs offering less contact area with the ground.
With a Gore-Tex waterproof lining the Virtex RR can fend off the worst of the weather that gets beyond the Hydrobloc leather. Always remember to wash and re-proof your boots after walking to maintain durability and waterproofing long term though.
These are the sort of boots that you wear in and then wear forever. For general countryside use in the UK they work well, I tend towards a sportier walking boot but that’s merely a personal preference, for many people these will be a worthy investment.