Tag Archives: Biom

Ecco Biom Hike Mid boots update

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I thought it would be a good idea to give a quick update on these boots as they have elicited quite a bit of interest. I’ve been wearing them every day for the last three months for dog walks. Arguably, they are overkill for walking the dog but they are just so comfortable that it’s difficult to motivate myself to use anything else.

The key to their comfort is their flexibility. While you couldn’t mistake wearing them for trainers, the sole unit is remarkably pliable. This is slightly surprising given that both the rubber tread and cushioning mid sole are quite thick. Nevertheless, they are very flexible, making walking very natural and effortless.

Despite this flexibility, they are also very stable. Some boots with thick midsoles are like walking on platforms, but not the Bioms. The deep tread has proved excellent on muddy paths. The rubber seems to be grippy on slippery hard surfaces (like our front path!), yet there is hardly any evidence of wear.

The Yak leather is lovely. It’s very soft and supple, yet there are hardly any marks on it. The colour has washed out a bit, giving a nice “distressed” patina. I’ve treated it once with Ecco leather conditioner and waterproofer. The leather still gets soaked quickly, but as I remarked on my Dartmoor trip, they seem to be quite waterproof. This will be tested on my next trip!

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The rubber toe caps are a bit scuffed now, but I really like the toe caps and rand. While the toe box is quite stiff, the rand is very flexible, unlike those on many other boots. I know a lot of people claim that Goretex lined boots are very sweaty, but this has not been my experience with the Bioms.

The overall fit tends towards high volume, whereas my feet are rather dainty(!). By adding a volume reducer sole insert (Brasher 3mm), the fit is now nearly perfect. I’m also using some Sidas Comformable heat moulded insoles, which were originally for my ski boots. Despite being slightly short, they are fabulous and I’m thinking of getting another pair made.

The other tweak I’ve made is to change the laces. The ones supplied are too stretchy and I’ve swapped them for some more robust Scarpa laces. These are much better and allow for a firmer and more precise fit.

In conclusion, I really like these boots. My only hesitation is whether there will be a reoccurrence of the slight Achilles’ tendon bruising on my left foot that I suffered on Dartmoor last time. I will only know when I use them for a long walk. Hopefully I will have a definitive answer by February.

Footbeds and volume reducers

L to r: Ecco, Superfeet Green, Superfeet Blue, Montrail Enduro, Sidas Conformable

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with different footbeds in my Ecco Biom Hike boots to get the right fit. Overall, I’m really pleased with the Bioms and I’ve not had the problem with tenderness on my left Achilles tendon, which was an issue recently on Dartmoor. I’ve been using them three times a day for dog walks and I think they are nicely broken in. Here’s a summary of my findings so far:

Ecco OEM footbed: These have no structure, but are heavily padded. I was right to be sceptical about this footbed. It provides no support. While not uncomfortable, it definitely doesn’t feel right compared with more structured footbeds. I suspect on long walks it would lead to aching feet, so that’s a miss from me.

Superfeet Green: I’ve used these footbeds a lot over the past few years, mainly in my Salomon Fastpackers. Initially they feel slightly odd with a high arch, but after a while they are very comfortable and the arch is less noticeable. However, they don’t feel quite right in the Bioms, but I’m not sure why.

Superfeet Blue: These have a slightly less pronounced arch. I bought them principally for my La Sportiva Raptors, where they have been very good. While the arch support is less noticeable than the green footbeds, they still didn’t feel quite right. Perhaps the internal shape of the Bioms is not entirely compatible with Superfeet.

Montrail Enduro: These are slightly thicker than Superfeet and heat mouldable. After heating them, you stand on them for about ten minutes and they mould to the shape of your feet. This is not as pronounced as the Sidas footbeds, but is still noticeable. The problem with the Enduros is the arch support feels like you are treading on a tennis ball. Again, not quite right.

Sidas Conformable: These footbeds are from my ski boots which are 25 years old! I thought I’d give them a try out of curiosity. They are a size smaller, because ski boots need to be tight fitting. The footbeds are heated on a special machine and the wearer stands on them for about 10-15 minutes while they mould to the shape of your foot. As you can see from the picture, they have the most pronounced shape. The base of the footbed is quite rigid and there’s a thin, non-slip, perforated foam covering. Amazingly, after 25 years, these are by far the most comfortable! They have just the right amount of arch support and the dip under the ball of my foot is bliss. Even though they are slightly short, they don’t slip in the boot and work well. I looked at a newer version online and they’ve changed the design a bit. They are also quite expensive at about £55. On the other hand, if they last more than 25 years, that’s not too bad, especially as you can tranfer them between boots.

L to r: Brasher volume reducer (3mm), B&Q foam laminate underlay, heel pads (top to bottom: sorbothane, evazote foam, Inov8)

At the same time as experimenting with footbeds, I’ve been trying volume adjusters and heel pads. The Bioms are quite high volume boots compared with, for instance, Salomon. To get round this, I thought using a volume adjuster would be a good idea. My first attempt was using some B&Q foam laminate underlay. This works OK but it soon compresses. Next I used the Brasher 3mm volume reducer. This is much better as it doesn’t compress and I recommend using these if you need a volume reducer.

I played about with heel pads as well. In general, I’d avoid them as they lead to a slightly unbalanced feel. This was particularly noticeable with the sorbothane pads. Evazote is OK, but compresses after a few uses. The Inov8 pads (left over from some running shoes) were the best, but still had a slightly unstable feel.

If the fit of your boots or shoes is not quite right, it’s worth playing about with a few footbeds and volume reducers to get the fit just right. I’m bowled over by how good the Sidas Conformable footbeds are, even after all these years. I might get an updated pair to see whether there has been any improvement.

Ecco Biom Hike – trying and buying

The Ecco Biom Hike boots seem to have caused a bit of a stir. I bought mine, untried, over the Internet, which is always a bit of a risk. Fortunately, they do seem to fit. What I should have done was get to an Ecco store. Yesterday, I was in Oxford Street, so I thought I’d have a look in one of their stores. There on the shelf were both the Biom Hike mids and the taller full version. The mids were in black, smooth leather, which looked rather nice, although not as attractive as the grey/green “nubuck” version that I have. So, if you are interested in the Bioms, it’s worth tracking down a store to try a pair. Unfortunately, they didn’t stock the recommended leather conditioner, so I’ll have to order that online.

Ecco Biom Hike mid boots

Footwear is an area of gear where it’s not easy to get right. Over the past few years, I’ve tried several different boots and shoes. Mainly I’ve use Salomon Fastpacker Mid boots. For me, they’ve been the most comfortable footwear and a good compromise between trail shoes and more traditional boots. I’ve tried trail shoes a few times, but they just don’t work for me in the hills. I find they are awkward on slopes, particularly for contouring. I’m also not a huge fan of wet feet. On the other hand I find traditional walking boots clumsy and tiring. Hence, mid boots are a good compromise.

Although the Fastpackers are waterproof, they do wet out quite quickly, which then impairs the breathability of the Gore-Tex membrane. The result is that over the course of a wet day my feet get quite damp. They are not sopping, like they would be in an unlined trail shoe, but they still get quite wet.

My interest in the Ecco Bioms was piqued by Chris Townsend’s experience of them at the Scandinavian Outdoors Awards. I was immediately struck by the substantial rubber toe bumper, which should stop the saturation of the leather at the toe, which is the downfall of many leather boots. He also reckoned they felt a bit like trail shoes and seemed to be very water resistant. After a bit of consideration I decided to take the plunge and buy a pair. Unlike Chris’s test pair, I chose the lower mid style of boot.

At £160, they are certainly not cheap, but they do appear to be very well made. The uppers are made from yak leather, which is supposed to be more robust than cow hide. The roomy toe box is well protected by a rubber rand, which extends around the junction of the sole and the upper and then curves up to protect the ankle. Unlike most rubber rands, it is very flexible. The heel cup is supported by a rubber frame as well.

The yak leather outer is quite soft and feels like a very fine suede or nubuck. There is some exposed stitching which I might have to proof. The upper side of the tongue has a suede feel to it and is quite soft and well padded. The lacing system ensures a snug fit with substantial metal eyelets and hooks. In particular there is a proper heel lock hook (HiTec please take note!). The laces are a little bit stretchy and may have to be replaced. There is a loop to thread the laces through on the tongue but I found this made it awkward to secure the laces on the heel lock hooks so I unthreaded it.

The lining is a soft wicking synthetic material with a Gore-Tex lining. The footbeds are made from a soft fibrous material and give little support, so I’ve replaced them with Superfeet green footbeds. The sole is a substantial but flexible rubber unit. The tread pattern is chunky and deep and I imagine should give a good grip as well as lasting for a long time.

Out of the box, they made a very good impression, but what are they like to wear? On the evidence of a few dog walks and a couple of longer walks in the forest, I really like them. While they are definitely boots, they are very flexible and the low cut gives good ankle mobility. The think sole means that they do feel more like boots than trail shoes, but they are not clumsy like more rigid boots. While there is cushioning, it is not excessive. I couldn’t describe them as dainty but they are not clod hoppers.

They are definitely warmer than the Fastpackers (and trail shoes) but not excessively so. I think the mid construction allows more airflow. The toe box is quite roomy. I’m hoping that this might solve the problem of bruised toes that I’ve suffered from over the past two years. Being leather, the boot grips the top of my foot more firmly and so should be more solid on descents.

One thing I don’t know is how waterproof the outers will be. Being leather they shouldn’t wet out as quickly and water shouldn’t wick across the surface. The downside may be that they will dry out more slowly once wet and might be somewhat stiffer. I’m tempted to take them to Dartmoor at the end of the month to test them thoroughly. Overall, so far, they’ve proved to be very comfortable.

The Brasher Fellmaster GTX looks a good comparator and a bit cheaper, although the sole unit might be stiffer. It feels like a bit of a retrograde step going back to more traditional boots, but if it cures the toe bruising problem and keeps my feet dry, it will be worth it.

Disclaimer: these boots were bought with my own money