I’ve said before that great trail shoes are all about confidence, and these shoes from Ecco – a large Scandinavian company – have them in bucket loads. It’s all the more remarkable considering that these are among the first trail shoes they have launched. Ecco won plenty of plaudits for one of its first forays in to the outdoor market with the Biom Terrain mid boot thanks to its ‘Natural Motion’ technology that uses a last that was developed after scanning more than a thousand feet. Ecco say it makes it stable and very comfortable. The Biom Trail takes this through to a trail shoe. Also notable, and do stick with me through the next couple of sentences, it uses a direct-injected PU midsole. Boots and shoes tend to fall into two categories when it comes to insoles: EVA or PU. EVA tends to be softer and spongier but can wear down quicker, while PU is generally a bit stiffer. Advocates of PU, among them Keen and Lowa, say that it will last longer. Another advantage is that the direct-inject means it can be shaped for the foot. The disadvantages are they tend to be a little heavier and it tends to feel harder underfoot (although that’s far from the case with Keen shoes). All very good, but what does it mean for the wearer?
Well, first on your feet, it certainly feels harder underfoot. If I compare them to a pair of Salomon or, an extreme example, the Hoka One One that has a maxisole, then they are harder. But over off-road distances of 13 miles or so, they felt great. An advantage of the PU sole, and the low-to-the-ground construction (there’s a 7mm drop in men’s and 6mm for women) means they are very stable and you feel really attached to the ground. They naturally encourage a mid- or fore-foot strike. The shape of the sole also allows for the toes to spread and move – and it’s the toes that play a large part in keeping us balanced. They are very positive and stable even on rough terrain. The rubber sole doesn’t have a particularly aggressive pattern, but was surprisingly grippy on woodland trails on all but the muddiest terrain – they’d be great on rock. On rock and reasonably dry ground they are exceptional. The uppers are not waterproof – a good thing in my opinion – so they are breathable but also don’t keep in the water that goes through those big hold at the top! (Gore-Tex ones are planned for winter 2015) The ones I’ve been wearing for the last six months partly use Kevlar and are going to be really durable. You can always tell the good ones as they are the ones you pick up without evening thinking about it. For my everyday runs off-road and any less than around a half marathon length these are my go-to shoes.
Weight: 660g pair (7)
Reviewed by Daniel Neilson