How does this sole on this compare to that...
How does this sole on this compare to that of a boot with a Vibram sole? Would I be able to notice a difference in terms of stiffness, grip, durability?
Stiffness, grip, and durability vary as much between different Vibram soles as they do between Vibram and other brands. The Sundowner has a long reputation. It will treat you well and can be resoled, just like a Vibram, if you need.
My 2003 Sundowners Have had many miles on rocky trails in New Mexico and Arizona. I won't go up a canyon with anything else. They grip well and give support. These soles grab the rocks and bridge sharp points.
Lots of remarks about China made. Mine are China and I remember them being a long break in but I grew to love them. They were my first pair of leather hiking boots and I am considering getting another pair now to start breaking in rather than resoling. The 9 years of rocky hikes has worn the leather on the toes so rather than resole $60 I'll start wearing a new pair around town untill they loosen up. The ankle bones are the hardest part to breakin.