LA SPORTIVA FC ECO 2.0 GTX SHOES
TEST SERIES BY ISTVAN HERNADI
September 18, 2010
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ih42ca AT yahoo(dot)com
Kimberley, British Columbia, Canada
5' 8" (1.73 m)
160 lb (72.60 kg)
I am a long time outdoor activities enthusiast. I started hiking in the hills of Hungary at an early age. When I moved to Canada, I became fascinated by the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. Soon I joined the Alpine Club and became an avid climber, skier and backpacker.
My activities also included marathon running, biking, camping and alpine climbing. Now I live in Kimberley in the Purcell Mountains, with great places for bike riding, trail running and back-country skiing. My summers are spent in the Yukon where I pursue multi-day trips to the mountains and rivers.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: www.sportiva.com
Listed Weight: 16.47 oz (467 g) per shoe
Measured Weight: 16.3 oz (462 g) per shoe
Size tested: Men's 42.5 (9.5 US)
LAST: Trango 2
CONSTRUCTION: Board Lasted
UPPER: Nubuck Leather/ 100% recycled Nylon Mesh/ Uretech
LINING: Gore-Tex®/Dri-Lex® Bristol 40% Recycled Nylon
MIDSOLE: Dual-density ECO Trailon/ 2mm LaSpEVA/ TPU shank
SOLE: Vibram® River with Impact Brake System™ Eco-Step
COLORS: Grey/Orange (Men's) Mocha/Mint (Women's)
SIZES Men's: EU 38-47.5 (half sizes) , Women's: EU 36 - 43 (half sizes)
Packaging: The shoes arrived well packed in a sturdy box, with paper stuffing inside to protect the shape of the uppers and the toebox.
Initial Impressions: I admired the grey/orange shoes and their stylish design, while putting them on the scale to get the exact weight. These were not meant to be super light racing shoes, yet they felt light enough to be worn comfortably on long outings with durable protection for the feet. They seemed to be sturdier and less flexible than light running shoes, just as I expected. As I checked out the shoes, the inside was found to have a soft waterproof lining with a well-padded tongue to prevent rubbing against the skin. The laces are thick and round with oval-shaped eyelets to allow easy tightening.
Materials: The upper is made of Nubuck leather and recycled nylon mesh with a design of mountain peaks and company logo. Small holes dot the upper Nubuck, probably to increase the ventilation and moisture removal. The toes are covered with stiff black rubber for protection from rocks. A Uretech compound is also used for protecting the heel. The lining feels soft around the foot, consisting of Gore-Tex® for waterproofing and breathability. The insole is a well-cushioned foot-pad with 2mm thick material for foot comfort, called "Fit-thotic stability and cushioning" by La Sportiva. It contains a series of small holes in the front half to improve air circulation under the forefoot.
The sole consists of black sticky Vibram® alternating with a hard rubber and plastic "Impact Brake System". The heavy-duty Vibram® forms a thick layer that wraps around to the toes and heel with diagonal lugs for traction and control. The design of the sole incorporates curved and slanted directional bars of sticky rubber. This innovative design impressed me the most, as it is likely to offer superior grip on a variety of trail surfaces.
Construction: Removing the insole reveals the Gore-Tex® lining stitched securely to the material covering the TPU shank, used for torsional rigidity to limit midfoot twisting. Board lasted construction results in more stability, but less flexibility. This construction is generally better for flatter feet.
Features: Double stitching reinforces all seams, and the shoes tie with a five-hole lace system. There is also a loop on the heel to help pull on the shoes. Recycled nylon materials are featured and heavy-duty rubber is used for protection and traction. The shoes are designed to be sturdy, durable with good stability and a fairly stiff sole to help protect the feet on rugged trails.
Sizing and Comfort: I found the men's size 9.5 (42.5) to be well-sized for my feet, with a comfortable fit soon as I started wearing them.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The supplied instruction booklet explains the care, maintenance and warranty of the product in several languages. The instructions are general, they apply to a variety of products from the manufacturer, including hiking boots. Important maintenance items applicable to these shoes are:
- Clean the boots after each use, removing mud and dirt with a light water flow
- Take out the removable footbed, and remove gravel and dirt from the inside, that may damage the lining
- Never dry out boots in the sun, very hot place or near heat sources; only in a cool, dry place to air out
- A good fit ensures that a foot cannot move inside, and problems with wear and tear of the lining will be eliminated
- Never use oil-based products to treat the leather, a wax-based waterproofing treatment should be applied to a wet boot to improve penetration. Water and wax based products are also safe to use for the boots with Gore-Tex® lining.
TRYING IT OUT
Initial experience: After wearing these comfortably indoors for several hours, I was ready to go for a short walk/run on the streets and trails nearby. After more than an hour of usage I felt the shoes were providing stability and sturdiness similar to heavier hiking boots, but without the fatigue of carrying heavy backpacking boots on the feet.
I enjoyed the traction of the well designed soles, as I walked around on a rocky trail and then ran down some steep dirt pathways. I kicked a few rocks and found the toebox protection adequate with no injury to my toes. The shoes were also tested in several puddles, creeks and mud, finding no issues so far with the waterproof qualities.
My feeling is that I will enjoy some challenging trails and scrambles with these shoes, without worries of slipping or hurting my toes. I am impressed with the secure fit and support and will definitely use these shoes on light overnight trips this summer.
Sturdy footwear with good support for serious day hiking and trail running
Comfortable on the feet, for all-day usage on the trails or around the city
Good protection for the feet, especially the toes
Slightly on the heavy side compared to everyday footwear
Less flexibility than running shoes, possibly more tiring to wear on long trail runs
This concludes my Initial Report.
My thanks to La Sportiva and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test these hiking shoes.
FIELD REPORT due in July 2010.
LONG TERM REPORT due in September 2010.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Kimberley area Nature Park trails
Purcell Mountains of British Columbia
Southern Rockies trails in the East Kootenay region
Temperatures from 40 - 80 F (5 - 26 C)
Elevation range: 2500 ft (760 m) to 8400 ft (2560 m)
The terrain has been a variety of dirt roads, rough and steep trails, scree, rocky slopes, mud, snow and some thick bush.
Weather conditions varied from dry sunny days to rainy wet conditions with mud and puddles on the trails, creek crossings and dense, wet undergrowth.
Trail running (15 days): 80 miles (130 km)
Day hikes (4 days): 45 miles (72 km)
Paved paths and streets (5 days): 14 miles (22 km)
Mountain ascents (2 days): 16 miles (26 km)
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
On the trails
I started running in the Kimberley Nature Park with these shoes and was really enjoying them on a variety of trails. This popular Park has a well-maintained trail system of over 30 miles (50 km) of routes winding through hills and forests, while gaining up to 1000 ft (300 m) in elevation near the ski area. A variety of running surfaces and steepness create challenging conditions for hikers and runners.
The shoes fit me well and kept my feet comfortable on numerous outings to the Nature Park trails. The soles of the shoes did an excellent job protecting my feet when walking on rocky terrain. With the stiff Vibram soles, it was easy to scramble over rocks, roots, and rough ground. Sharp rocks and scree did not cause any discomfort and my toes were well protected even as I managed to kick quite a few rocks accidentally. The shoes excelled at gripping whatever obstacles I had to cross. They worked well while hiking through mud, rocky and grassy slopes, and through shallow streams. Smooth slimy rocks were a concern, as they were rather slippery, just like with any other shoes.
I spent many hours on the trails in rather wet conditions, hoping that the waterproof lining would keep my feet dry. I found the lining to be water resistant, but only up to a point. After several hours of soaking in the rain, mud or snowy terrain, the shoes became saturated with water and eventually my socks were starting to get wet. I was wearing gaiters to help keep out the rain from above, but the shoes themselves just soaked up the wetness and could not dry out, unless I was heading into drier terrain and the sun came out. In spite of getting wet inside, the shoes still kept out a great deal of water, keeping my feet fairly comfortable, much better than shoes without Gore-Tex.
The lacing system kept my feet secure for long outings and the stability on rough terrain was excellent. The shoes encountered everything from steep slippery slopes to rough rocky trails and they performed well, with no resulting injuries, blisters or discomfort for my feet. My ankles fared well, without turning over while stepping on numerous rocks, and the soles of my feet were always in good shape with no bruises, in spite of fast descents over sharp rocks.
The material seem to stand up well so far, in over 100 hours of wear, indoors and outdoors. Walking and running among abrasive rocks, roots and snags scratched the uppers and soles but did not produce significant wear or any rips in the materials. The shoes continue to function well, withstanding the many hours of use in rugged conditions.
The shoes are very easy to maintain. After muddy trails, all it takes to clean them off is a brief rinse in a stream or pond and light wiping. It is recommended to apply a Nikwax cream to the wet shoes, to help protect the shoes and help with water repellency. I did that several times and then tested the shoes again on a rainy day. I found that the water repellency generally wore off after a few hours and the shoes were getting soaked again.
The shoes are made of heavy-duty materials that stand up quite well to daily use. No problems were seen so far with durability or excessive wear.
I enjoyed using them on rugged trails and mountain slopes where they provided excellent stability and
good protection for my toes and soles. I wore them for long days outdoors, and they were still comfortable after many hours.
On the negative side, I find the shoes a bit heavy for fast trail running, they slowed me down somewhat. The soles pick up clumps of mud on certain trails and it is hard to keep the mud out of the tread until getting to drier ground.
The Gore-Tex liner is water resistant up to a point. Once the shoes get soaked after some hours in rain and wet trails, then moisture seeps into the shoes and my socks get wet, although the liner still helps to keep out most of the water or snow. As the shoes get wet and pick up mud, they also get heavier, slowing down progress in these conditions.
Finally, after the shoes got really soaked outside, drying time can be more than 24 hours.
I will continue to test the La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 GTX shoes during the next several months and submit my Long-Term Report in September.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Northern British Columbia, west coast areas near Prince Rupert, Babine mountains and Grizzly Den Park.
Temperatures from 38 - 78 F (4 - 25 C)
Elevation range: sea level to 8700 ft (2650 m)
The shoes were worn on a variety of scree, rocky slopes, muddy dense coastal forest and some nice easy trails and forestry roads. Long walks were taken along rocky shorelines and hikes through soft muskeg to access peaks near the west coast.
Weather conditions ranged from nice summer weather to misty, cool autumn days and wet coastal conditions, as well as cool windy conditions on the peaks of the Babine range.
Trail running (7 days): 45 miles (72 km)
Day hikes (6 days): 42 miles (68 km)
Backpacking and mountain scrambles (5 days): 66 miles (106 km)
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I spent most of my summer traveling in northern British Columbia through the interior ranges all the way to the west coast in the Kitimat and Prince Rupert area. The variety of terrain and abundance of trails offered me many opportunities to hike and camp by spectacular mountains, lakes and ocean shorelines.
These shoes were used regularly on day hikes, trail running and on several multi-day trips to backcountry cabins while carrying light backpacks of around 20 lb (9 kg). I experienced no major problems during these outings as the shoes continued to be comfortable and supportive under diverse conditions. My feet felt well protected from the rocks even on steep scree slopes and large boulder fields.
The shoes got soaked a number of times under rainy, wet conditions, but frequent waterproofing treatment using the recommended product (Nikwax cream) helped keep out most of the moisture and kept my feet generally dry. Muddy shoes were rinsed with water, wiped lightly, and some Nikwax was applied to the wet shoes. The boots are showing some wear now after 4 months of usage, but no major cuts or tears are seen yet. There are small cuts on the sidewalls and compression lines due to shock absorption. Wear is seen on the top as crease lines where my toes bend. The toebox itself is still largely intact with only minor scratches showing in spite of rubbing against abrasive rocks.
The Vibram soles are showing an average amount of wear, about what I expected after over 300 miles (480 km) of usage. Most of the wear is seen near the toes and under the heel, showing an even rounded wear with the rubber getting smooth in these places. Overall the tread has worn down and with continued use the traction is not quite as good as 2 months ago, with the worn sticky rubber providing less grip on rocks and packed trails. This is to be expected, but I will continue to wear these shoes as long as there is sufficient tread to hike safely.
With 4 months of use the shoes have been well broken in, and are flexible enough to be comfortable for all types of usage. Regular care, cleaning and waterproof treatment helps keep the materials from deteriorating. Wearing gaiters as needed generally kept abrasive gravel and sand from getting inside, thus keeping the shoes and my feet in good shape.
I am impressed with the durability and construction of these shoes, as they stand up very well to a lot of abuse in the field. The toebox material seems to be very sturdy showing minimal wear after several months of testing.
I still like the comfort and stability of these with good protection under diverse conditions. No blisters or other injuries were experienced so far on my hikes and trail runs, thus I have no major complaints. The shoes are a bit heavy and they behave more like light hiking boots, just as they were designed to do. The Gore-Tex lining keeps out a great deal of water, increasing the comfort level for my feet under most conditions except under extreme rain and muskeg traverses. The lining does not show any signs of breaking down so far, thus with continued care I hope it will stand up to more cool and wet days in the fall.
I plan to wear these shoes as long as the integrity of the materials stand up to hiking and running, and will probably use them casually for walks on paved trails and in town until the soles wear down too much.
I plan to continue using these shoes in the future, especially during my upcoming trip to India and Bhutan where I will be walking and trekking extensively in the Himalayas for the rest of this year. As this will be the dry season in Asia the trails and roads should be in good condition and not much rain will be expected. These shoes should perform well over the next few months, and will be worn on most days until the sole starts to wear down significantly.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
I would like to thank La Sportiva and BackpackGearTest.org for letting me test these and to be able to enjoy these for many more days of outdoor pursuits.
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