They did not arrive in time for the TGOC, and anyway, I was not sure at the time that the soles were aggressive enough for a 14 day hike across all manner of terrain carrying a BIG pack.
Also, these were NOT the GTX pair I had planned to take on the Challenge.
Then of course on my return, I had to have the 2nd cartilage operation on the left knee, which set me back a few weeks (8 to be precise)
Yes it is slowly recovering and all is better in my World.
Thanks for asking :-)
So it was time to take the ECCO BIOM QUEST ULTRA Trail shoes
out for a proper spin. Currently available at £69 rather than the normal £115, which is excellent value.
I had been expecting these to be the GTX versions, but as it happens it was the NON GTX ones that arrived, which for summer is actually a good thing.
I am hoping I will get a chance to review the GTX version in the near future
I must also point out that since receiving these, there appear to have been some slight design changes in the Ultras, so I think some of my very minor reservations may have been answered
I wore these straight out of the box.
Although a 46 EU,
(and I take a 45.5 EU which is a proper UK 11, a size that they do not do), with slightly thicker socks, these were very comfortable.
Using the ECCO website size chart, it suggests I need the 45 Uk 10.5/11 and I would definitely try that next time around.
Heel to Toe
I have used these now quite a lot on local flat trails and also on hilly and wet and steep varied terrain.
Despite my initial reservations, I found them stable on all conditions.
I used them a lot on local walks and have now taken them out for a proper 3 day test in all manner of conditions and terrain in the Lake District.
SO ANYWAY HOW DID THEY DO?
This is a subjective thing, but I think that they look good.
Especially the latest incarnation
They do have a low cut at the back, and some may prefer a slightly higher cut.
COMFORT & SIZE
I got mine in an EU 46.
With hindsight, the 45 would probably have been better.
I am a UK 11, but the ECCO Site suggests I need the 45 looking at their size chart.
These are a comfortable fit and usable out of the box.
Definitely no need to wear them in.
They do do a pair in YAK leather and maybe these would be different, although I did NOT find that in the Terrain II Mid Boots
They are quite flexible for a Trail shoe, and with the inners feel quite soft underfoot, but for flat trails and NOT long distance they inners are fine.
(See later for multi-terrain)
These come up quite BROAD.
At least they did in the 46.
I have broad feet, and so my choice of shoes and boots is limited, which is one of the reasons I bought the ECCO TERRAIN 2 boots.
So, for me these were perfect.
Even so, with the 46 I had to use thicker socks than the X-Socks Trekking I normally use, and so 45's for the next pair for sure.
WEAR & TEAR & USAGE
As well as walking, the main usage for me, I also tried running in them (pre knee op) and although OK, I prefer a running shoe with a bit more stability control. These to me appeared very neutral, but running is a very personal thing and so in my opinion they are better suited to walking.
When I used them on a 3 day session in the Lake District recently on which I did quite a few hills, and the Terrain was vary varied, from rocky to shale, to wet and grassy, with some steep ups and downs, I found them GOOD.
They did leak like a sieve on wet ground, but they are NOT Gortex and all trail shoes do. It would have been great to try the GTX version on this trip.
On day 1 which was permanently wet and waterlogged, they did not dry out all day, and so my feet where wet and cold much of the time.
On days 2 and 3 where the weather was varied, although they did get easily wet, I found that they dried out quickly, and really did not need drying out at the end of the days walking.
I have mentioned the soft inner earlier, and for my 3 day Lakes hike, I swapped this for SuperFeet Blue inners.
I have used these before in other shoes.
They give a better underfoot feel on harder rocky ground, where I find the built in ones don't give my feet enough shock protection. Especially on hard rocky ground.
The superfeet also don't hold the water as much, the built in ones being a bit too spongy for me.
If the ground is also quite gritty, you probably want to use them with some debris gaiters, because the low cut means that they will pick up grit.
It also means that the water will get over the top easily.
This having been said, if the water is over the top, they will be wet, and why would you expect non Gortex trail shoes to remain dry?
I think maybe the toe protection could be a bit higher too.
If you use these on rocky uneven ground it may be useful to have a bit more protection round the toes as in for example inov8's, which I also like, apart from the dreadful longevity.
|You can see how low cut they are at the back.|
I liked this, but some may prefer a higher back
I will come back to the longevity of these later in the Autumn after a few more miles of hammering.
One of my HUGE whinges about the inov8's apart from the fact that the soles wear out, is also the fact that by 200 miles, the inside of the heel cup stictching is completely worn through and torn, which is asking for rubbing and a blister.
To date, there is very little sign of wear on the Ultra's, and I have taken the inners out quite a lot to dry them
|No visible sign of wear in the heel stitching|
Despite the low cut I found these absolutely fine on all terrains, from steep and dry to steep and wet, both up and down, on grass and also on rock and scree as mentioned before.
I am used to trail shoes, and they performed well.
I do tend to use walking poles with a bigger pack, and I was using poles this time.
But I noticed no difference between these
and the more aggressive inov8 Roclites I used on the TGOC
The real test would of course be
a descent in wet down to Kinbreak Bothy.
I was unsure of these when I first got them regarding grip.
I did not think that the grip was aggressive enough.
However, they were absolutely fine, and as yet have very little sign of wear and tear.
This is an ECCO design and as far as I can see it is well thought out, just as with the Boots
|The sole is still in excellent condition in all areas, sides, front and back.|
I was at first hesitant that these would have enough grip, but they have proven to be very good in all conditions
|These have done quite a few miles now, and there is really no sign of any wear on the soles.|
We shall see how they do over the rest of the summer, assuming it is not raining.
Ascending and Descending on all terrain, these were good.
I found a bit of lateral movement when on a traverse.
This was mostly corrected by tightening the laces to stop the foot moving sideways.
I think also that had a taken the 45 rather than the 46, there would have been less foot movement, because these were ½ a EU size too big for me.
This was OK, but I did have to keep tightening.
The laces are quite slippy, and I think I would prefer to see proper metal rather than material hoops in the middle, and at the bottom.
I suspect that over time, the webbing hoops will fray, but I am willing to be proven wrong.
At the top I think a hook or hoop system rather than holes to give better adjustment.
They do come with a spare pair of laces which is a nice touch, and unlike the boots, I think they are a perfect length.
The laces on the boots seem to go on and on for miles.
See Alan Sloman's report on the BIOM HIKES
Because I am a complete SKINFLINT, I would probably wait for a Sale price to buy a pair
But I tend to do this with all my shoes and boots.
However, the answer is YES.
I would certainly (at this point in time) buy a pair.
If they turn out to have longevity then even more so.
I have used inov8's for the last few years, and as much as I like them, the durability has been poor relative to the cost, so I would love to give these a go.
I am particularly keen to give the GTX version a proper test.
So, that is it for now.
I will do a long term test later in the Autumn to see how they have held up over time.
What would I change?
Very little as it stands.
Maybe the laces, and also change the webbing on the laces for something a bit less likely to fray.
Having said that, it is unlikely that lace tension on these will be like that needed on boots.
May the inners could be a bit harder.
But then again, it was nice to be able to use the ones with the shoes on softer terrain, and put the superfeet in for longer walks.
SO, all in all, A VERY GOOD WALKING SHOE.
Especially if you have broader feet.
Quite expensive, but my final opinion on that will depend upon longevity.
If they outlast the inov8's by a factor of 2 minimum, then they look good value.
Certainly well worth a look in my opinion.
BUT... Shoes are very personal things.