ECCO WOMENS BIOM ULTRA QUEST TRAIL SHOES
BY KATHLEEN WATERS
June 9, 2014
kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
Canon City, Colorado, USA
5' 4" (1.60 m)
125 lb (56.70 kg)
Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado.
Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley.
My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.eccousa.com
MSRP: US $160.00
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 1 lb 6 oz (0.62 kg)
Colors Available: Dark Shadow/Fushsia/Buttercup, Dark Shadow/Concrete/Turquoise
Color Reviewed: Dark Shadow/Fushsia/Buttercup
Sizes Available: 5 - 11.5 US Women's / 36 - 42 EUR Women's
Size Reviewed: 8 US Women's
Other details: (from Manufacturer's website)
* Uppers made of open mesh
* Multifunctional rubber outsole with engineered sole pattern
* Direct-injected, two component Rubber/PU sole
* Biomechanical flexible midsole construction
* Reinforced running cage
|Picture Courtesy of Manufacturer
FIELD USE AND PERFORMANCE
|Maiden Hike in Wasatch Mts., Utah
|The first time I wore my ECCO Biom Ultra Quest Trail Shoes was on a short, but mildly strenuous, 3 mile ( 5 km) guided hike to a pretty little lake in Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Mountain range near Salt Lake City, Utah. The hike was scheduled for early evening after a whole day of on-my-feet activities in a nearby State Park. My feet were tired and I had great misgivings about the advisability of trying out new shoes at that point.
I could have saved myself the self-imposed grief - the shoes fit and performed wonderfully, literally, straight out of the box!
The hike started out immediately with an uphill scramble over rocks and then plunged into a forested area where the trail was not much more than my hips' width wide through vegetation which was often up to my hips. There were lots of rocks, some minor water crossings and many places to stub my toes.
Until we hit the turn-around point at the lake, it was all uphill.
From the very first step, I felt comfortable in the Bioms. I felt great cushioning, good support and stability. I was tired and I'm blessed with natural clumsiness, so I stumbled on the rocky trail several times. The shoes protected my toes from the stumbles and the structure of the shoes kept me from undue strain and twisting of my foot joints. After this first outing, I was pleased with these shoes.
After 10 months, I'm still pleased with them!
Over these past 10 months, most all of my hiking experiences with the Bioms were day hikes which took place in south central Colorado. These day trips were 4 to 8 hour jaunts into the approximately 100,000 acres (40,468 hectares) of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land encompassing the Cooper Mountain range/Royal Gorge area near Canon City or the Wet Mountains south of the Arkansas River Valley.
The Cooper Mountain range is mostly piņon pine and juniper-covered high desert with rough primitive game and mining trails (for the most part) and is easily accessed just outside of my property fence line.
The Wet Mountains rise up from the Arkansas River Valley and are dense ponderosa pine and sage forests.
Elevations I wore the Bioms in ranged from 5000' up to almost 14000' (1524 m to 4267 m) and temperatures while hiking varied from 17 F to well over 100 F (-8 C to 38 C).
Most recently, I wore the Bioms in early May on a 5-day trip to the Superstition Mountains in Arizona (east of Phoenix). It was again, over 100 F (38 C).
Of course, I also wore the Bioms often as casual wear while in town, walking the dog, biking, etc. I can't even begin to estimate the number of miles/kilometers these shoes have seen!
And speaking of wearing the Bioms casually, these shoes look very sporty but not overly "technical", so when I wear them in town, they don't scream "HIKER"! As can be seen in the pictures, my shoes are almost pretty. I love the contrasting colors - no boring brown or grey boots for me! The shoes are bright without being obnoxious. I like that!
More importantly though, the Bioms fit me well. As I stated above, from the very first moment, I liked the way the shoes hugged my feet without being too tight. The ECCO size chart is perfectly true to size.
I almost always wear a women's size 8 boot. I'm lucky in that respect, I don't generally even try on boots/shoes. However, there are times, I'm not happy with the feel of the boots, even though they fit - for instance if the toe box is overly narrow or wide. Like Goldilocks, I like it "just right".
My heels are cupped nicely by the Bioms and ankle cuff is supportive without being too stiff - again, that "just right" thing. I found the arch support good but because my left arch is non-conforming to the industry standards, after a month or so of wearing, I replaced the ECCO stock insoles with my own favorite brand. As with all my other trail footwear, after the stock insoles were broken-in, I began to have arch discomfort. Not a problem with my own insoles though.
I did find the lacing system to be a bit weird. All looks normal until the top/last eyelet. I don't know why ECCO chose to insert the laces into the eyelets from over the top rather than from under it (closer to the tongue) but I just couldn't get the hang of tightening the laces that way. I ended up, pulling out the top loops and re-doing them my way. I love the bright color of the laces, by the way and even after months of wear, the laces have not degraded in any way, they are still bright!
Most important in backpacking/hiking footwear is how they handle the trails I hike on. I want to pound the dirt (rocks, etc.) as many miles/kilometers I need to, get to my destination and think - "Dang! I totally forgot to think about how these new shoes performed!" If I am conscious of my feet, it is most likely not a good thing. And if my feet are hurting, I'm not happy and enjoying my outing. When my feet suffer, so does every other part of me.
There are three areas I look at: my ankles, my arches and my toes.
Since the ECCO Biom shoes are low-cut shoes, there really isn't any ankle support. I generally relegate low-cut shoes to established trails, mainly dirt, where I'm not so concerned about twisting my ankles. I have worn the Bioms on less than ideal trails and haven't had any problems though. The ankle cuff on these shoes is well-padded and does offer a small measure of support to my mind.
After a short period of time, I did experience a bit of rubbing on the inside of my left ankle. I attribute that to the compression/slight breakdown of the stock insoles. As soon as I replace the stock insoles with my favorite after-market insoles, this became moot.
Initially, I was very pleased with the almost plush comfort of the Bioms' insoles and arch support, but, as with many different pairs of shoes/boots, that honeymoon period was over all too soon. I started to have soreness in my left arch after 3 or so miles (5 km). I'm well aware that my left arch does not conform to industry standards. Heck, it doesn't even conform to my right foot! The remedy to this was replacing the stock insole and then all was right with my (hiking) world!
I've hiked with up to 30 lb (14 kg) in the Bioms, though I prefer and recommend a lighter pack weight for long treks. I prefer a mid-height boot with heavier packs.
Lastly, since most of my backpacking treks are in the mountains, I need to concern myself with how well the toe box fits my feet on the downhill portions of the trails. Downhill is where I find ill-fitting trail shoes to cause bad things to happen, like black and blue toes! If the toe box of my shoes is too big, my feet tend to slip and bang around and if the toe box is too tight, well then, my toes suffer being pushed against the toe rand. Both, too tight and too loose -can cause ugly and uncomfortable toes. Thankfully, even on very steep slopes, my toes stayed where they were supposed to stay and the toe rands of the Bioms protected them nicely.
I have had a great time wearing the Bioms on many different surfaces - sandy soils, scree-type fields, dirt, granite and lots of cement (sidewalks). Most of the time these surfaces were dry, a few times, when I got caught unawares, the Bioms suffered our famous expansive soil mud!
I found these shoes to be satisfactory footwear in all dry conditions, not so much on wet surfaces and mud. There just isn't - for me - enough depth in the tread for my comfort level on slick rock. As clumsy as I am though, I never was injured, but I did slip a few times. As for mud, I quickly found the shoes (and almost any shoe) unusable when our mud would pile up and cling to the soles of the shoes. Only boots with deep lugs "squish" out mud semi-adequately. However, since the tread is not deep on the Bioms, they were much easier to clean than my deeper-lugged boot.
|ECCO makes no claim for any water resistance and my trail shoes are definitely porous. Just walking across a wet meadow will soak out the top of the shoes and seep into my socks. But the uppers of the Bioms are wonderfully quick to dry out, so I've never had a problem with being uncomfortable due to moisture. I've even crossed small streams and not gotten unduly soaked. Of course, if the weather is cold, wetness does become not nice, so I haven't used the Bioms if I suspect I will encounter wet conditions in the winter.
Other than a few very minor nicks in the toe rand, the Bioms show little wear. There hasn't been any breakdown in the lining, even at the heel where I have experienced that in some other trail shoes. The ankle cuff continues to be firm and supportive. Shockingly, to me, there is no residual rank odor lingering in my nearly year-old shoes. I don't clear out the tent at the end of the day! And the soles of the Bioms contradict the amount of time they've been on my feet.
I haven't given the Bioms any special treatment or babied them in any way. I've taken a garden hose to them on a couple of occasions to get the mud off them and used a small knife to dig out some particularly stubborn clumps, but that's about it. The shoes still look great, I think and I plan on getting plenty more miles/kilometers out of them before I relegate them to work-wear only!
|Hiking in the Collegiate Mts.
1.) Supportive soles.
2.) Dry super quickly when wet.
3.) Wear well.
4.) Great toe protection.
1.) Weird (for me) lacing system - easily corrected though.
Any one who knows me, knows I like shoes! I like slippers, hiking boots, sandals, trail shoes, water shoes, cowboy boots - heck, any kind of shoe, except for maybe, high heels! I have a pretty extensive gear closet filled with footwear and can pick and choose which ones to wear on which backpacking trip or day hike. I've got a lot of experience with trail shoes and hiking boots and won't hesitate to ditch a pair that doesn't work for me. So, when a pair of trail shoes gets into the "front row" of my closet, it's because I'm comfortable with them and know how they will perform. After 10 months of very frequent wear, I am very comfortable with the ECCO Biom Ultra Quest Trail Shoes and I know I can count on them to get me where I'm going with no effort (except for that heavy breathing stuff climbing up steep terrains!).
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
I hope to keep them in that front row for a long time!
Kathleen (Kathy) Waters
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