Ecco have been making so-called ’Brown Shoes’ since the 1960s out of its Denmark base with great success. The company, huge in Europe, are known for the comfort and careful consideration of the biomechanics of walking. Rightly, Ecco have spied an opportunity in the outdoor boot market and this is its first serious foray. The Biom Terrain has been out in Europe for a couple of years and now it is starting to sell these shoes in the UK market.
We first featured the Ecco Biom range in 2012 after Chris Townsend returned from being a judge at the Scandinavian Outdoor Group awards. The Biom Hike won an award. Six months later I was a judge at the SOG winter awards and yes, a Biom outdoor shoe won an award again. Only samples sizes were provided, but enough of the other judges from European outdoor magazines rhapsodised about them and they got through. Needless to say, I was looking forward to trying them.
The Biom Terrain are a mid, while the Biom Hike have a higher ankle support and the Ultra a shoe. On paper they look impressive: supple and very strong Yak leather uppers, Gore-Tex lining, a reinforced toecap and hardwearing Kevlar rand, plus all the stuff about biomechanics (‘Biom’ is a contraction of biomechanical optimization). The idea is that the boot reflects the movement of the bare foot. Ecco scanned 2,500 feet before making the last that is ‘never straight or flat on the bottom’. The main principal is that they use natural motion for stability, rather than overdoing the usual stability features.
It’s also important to be clear where they sit in the market. These would be up against the likes of Keen’s excellent Gypsum shoes and Merrell’s Chameleon Mids. That’s to say ’out-of-the-box’ comfortable, with bouncy midsoles, wide toe boxes and flexible soles for 3-season walking.
So how do the Ecco Biom hiking boots perform in reality? They were immediately comfortable out of the box, but I found after a short while they needed some wearing in. The heel box was perhaps a little large and I felt some rubbing at the top of my heel, but the width was good for me. They are supportive around the ankle and very comfortable around the Achilles. There’s a medium flex, and the forefoot flex is in the right position, but I felt a couple of pressure points that became uncomfortable for a while – although went once I’d worn them in. I’d have a good walk around the shop to make sure they fit perfectly.
It has a reinforced toecap and a Kevlar rand that should last for ages. I’d have preferred a deeper set lacing hook nearer the ankle – I think it would have eliminated some rubbing. The step is rounded and comfortable, which is what they are aiming for and the lug pattern and grip confident.
For the first outdoor boot, Ecco have done a superb job, but I think there will be improvements on the next iteration to iron out some of the niggles. I’m also looking forward to trying the Ultra shoes.
Daniel Neilson