ECCO TAHOE TRAIL SHOES
TEST SERIES BY MARK THOMPSON
September 30, 2011
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT
markthompson 242 at gmail dot com
6' 0" (2.10 m)
190 lb (86.20 kg)
SHOE SIZE (US/EUR):
Outdoor adventures started for me at an early age, my passions have grown to include backpacking, rock climbing, hiking, hunting, fishing, canoeing, cycling, skiing and snowshoeing. Most of my adventures presently take place in Colorado's amazing Rocky Mountains. For trail hikes, my pack typically weighs 15 lbs/6.8 kg (summer/fall), 25 lbs/11.3 kg (winter/spring) and trail speed usually ranges from 2.5 - 3.8 mph (4.0 - 6.1 kph) depending on elevation gain. For multi-night backpack trips, my pack weighs 40 - 45 lbs (18 - 20 kg) and my trail speed drops to 1.5 - 3.0 mph (2.4 - 4.8 kph).
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.eccousa.com
Listed Weight: not available
Measured Weight: L: 1 lb, 3.8 oz (558 g) R: 1 lb, 3.3 oz (544 g)
Size: US 11/11.5 (EUR 45)
|Photo courtesy of ECCO USA|
The ECCO Tahoe arrived in what I would consider better than average packaging, with a unique cardboard insert to keep the toe box in proper shape. The packaging supported their arrival in fine condition.
Starting from the sole and moving up, the shoes are made with ECCO's performance rubber using their receptor technology. The soul has an aggressive grip design for superior traction and wraps around the foot bed, providing solid support and strength. Wrapping the soul around the foot shows that the designers aimed to prevent premature wear-out due to scrapes and rubs that happen on the trail.
The foot bed is anatomically-shaped and provides a comfortable feel. My foot is narrow at the heel, yet wide at the toes requiring a wide toe box. This shoe hits both right on the mark. I admit, prior to submitting the size requirement for this test, I went to a local ECCO vendor and tried on some similar shoes to ensure I requested the proper size (I hate ordering anything that has to fit just right without having tried it on first). The shoe, like many others in this category, is fitted with a removable insert which facilitates customizing.
The interior of the shoe is made of a "textile" lining and the exterior is a combination of Yak leather and textiles with a rubber toe and heel cap. Yak leather is reported to be 3 times stronger than other common leather materials, but I have not been able to find any research to confirm the claim.
The laces wind through loops made with webbing material and a loop in the Yak leather with the final anchor point being through the upper with a reinforcing plastic grommet.
TRYING IT OUT
I came home late the night the shoes arrived and placed the package in the back of my car. I arrived to work early the next morning and opened the box. I just had to try them on! The shoes fit very well and felt solid. I did notice that the ankle cutouts were a little high for my foot and the shoe did not seem to provide much shock absorption (although, I was walking on concrete floors).
The shoes appear to be of solid construction and have all the markings of a great trail shoe that should provide years of great service.
I am quite excited to test these shoes and thank ECCO and backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I was able to use the ECCO Tahoe Trail Shoes in a variety of locations and conditions, including Minnesota's Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness (a beautifully rugged area that is only accessible by foot or canoe), the Badlands of South Dakota and the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
The Minnesota wilderness is an outdoorsman's paradise, offering some unique challenges for outdoor gear, with the elevation rather low at 1,000' (305 m) the trails can be dry and soft to wet and muddy. The Badlands are typically very hot and dry but in June this year, we found the conditions much more favorable with mild temperatures and uncommonly green grasslands. The Rockies have kept their winter coats on quite late this year with significant snow fields still present until late July, especially at high elevations. The frequency of these snow fields has required the use of gaiters and thus, has kept me in hiking and mountaineering boots longer than anticipated.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Despite the limited amount of time and field use I have been able to garner from these shoes, I have grown quite fond of them. They have proven to have superior traction, regardless of the weather or the trail conditions.
From the soles up, ECCO's receptor technology and performance rubber consistently provided superior wet and dry traction regardless of surface material. Having recently been exposed to a variety of elastomers through work, I was really quite impressed with their selection of material properties, especially durometer, which seems nearly perfect for hiking.
With the recent purchase of mountaineering boots and other footwear, I had anticipated needing to purchase new insoles in order to obtain the proper fit with these trail shoes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not the case. I must admit though, the interior of the shoe isn't as plush as other footwear I have owned, but ECCO certainly seemed to have found the right fit. The arch was well located, of sufficient size and the fitting for the balls of my feet kept everything in the right place, even going down hill. The toe box is wonderful with plenty of room while the heel cup remained snug and comfortable.
The unique lacing style and complementary tongue ensure a snug fit in all the right places. I was pleased to find that the lacing remained secure throughout each day of hiking, thus requiring no adjustments, with one exception. When the shoes became soaked in the rain, they did seem to loosen. I am not sure if this was due to changes in my socks, merely a change in sensation or if the leather uppers actually grew a little bit as leather frequently does.
I was also quite pleased to see how well the molded rubber performed on the sides of the shoes. I know that I rubbed and scraped the sides throughout the climb on Mt Democrat. Yet, at the end of the day, there was no indication that these shoes had been beaten up and down the mountainside.
The colorful state of Colorado experienced a rather odd winter this year, with much of the snow fall occurring in late winter. My skiing friends certainly enjoyed this oddity as some of the slopes remained open well into June. Although the weather in my home state of Colorado hasn't exactly cooperated with the testing of these shoes, I have managed to get some miles on them and have done so in a rather diverse set of environmental conditions. The attribute that has pleased me most has been the phenomenal traction regardless of the trail surface. Slick wet rocks seem to be no problem for these shoes, and yet, no significant tread wear. To sum it all up, here are the pros and cons from my perspective:
- Superb all-weather traction
- Snug yet comfortable fit
- Solid foot protection
- Excessive drying time
I am disappointed that I have not been able to put more miles on these shoes due to weather but I look forward to future hikes and treks in the weeks to come.
Addendum: Test Event Notes and Details
The following provides specific details regarding each test event.
Date: 30 May 2011
Elevation: 6,200 to 7,100' (1,890 to 2,164 m)
Terrain: Rolling terrain to steep class 5.4 climbing
Distance Traveled: 4 miles (6.4 km)
Time inclusive: 10 hours (appx 3 hours wearing the trail shoes)
Other gear: 18 lb (8.2 kg) pack
Weather: warm and humid with temps ranging from 60 to 75 deg F (15 to 24 deg C)
Shoe Performance: I was quite pleased with the performance of these shoes! The terrain varied from wide, smooth rolling trail to steep mountaineer's trail. The Tahoes proved to be quite comfortable and sure-footed, regardless of the terrain or trail condition. Especially noteworthy was how well the foot bed kept my foot from sliding forward during steep descents.
Date: 18 - 22 June 2011
Elevation: appx 1,000' (305 m)
Terrain: Flat and muddy to short but steep trails
Distance Traveled: 3 miles (4.83 km)
Time inclusive: 8 hours
Other gear: I would take two trips on each portage, one with a 67 lb pack and the next carrying the canoe
Weather: cool and rainy (40 - 60 deg F/4 - 15 deg C) with humidity remaining close to 100% for the entire trip.
Shoe Performance: The shoes performed very well in the rather arduous conditions (rain, mud, short trail hikes with heavy loads) I faced in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The shoes did an excellent job of smoothing out the trail and protecting my feet from rocks and uneven surfaces. I also noticed that I had much better traction on wet surfaces than anyone else in my party. On several occasions, I was climbing up and down steep and rocky trails that were very wet while carrying a very heavy pack or a canoe. The ECCO Tahoe Trail Shoes provided superb traction making the portages from lake to lake significantly easier. ECCO does not claim that these shoes are light or waterproof and this point was well proven. The shoes become vastly heavier when wet and take an excessively long time to dry. My wife's full grain leather hiking boots were dry long before the Tahoe.
The Badlands of South Dakota
Date: 22 - 23 June 2011
Elevation: appx 5,000 to 6,000' (1,524 to 1,829 m)
Terrain: Dry rolling trails
Distance Traveled: 6 miles (4.83 km)
Time inclusive: 6 hours
Other gear: n/a
Weather: Warm and dry (75 - 90 deg F/24 - 32 deg C) with low humidity
Shoe Performance: The rolling hills and gentler trails found in the badlands and around Mt Rushmore were a perfect fit for these shoes. The shoes were comfortable throughout all of our hiking treks and offered superior comfort and traction.
Date: 15 - 16 July 2011
Elevation: appx 10,000' (3,048 m)
Distance Traveled: less than a mile
Time inclusive: 14 hours
Other gear: n/a
Weather: sunny and mild (45 - 75 deg F/7 - 24 deg C) with low humidity
Shoe Performance: I wore the shoes around camp (before and after climbing LaPlatta Peak). I had really wanted to test these out on LaPlatta but in the end I opted for high top hiking boots as there was still too much snow on the peak to risk going without gaiters.
Colorado Rocky Mountains
Date: 23 July 2011
Elevation: appx 12,000 to 14,286' (3,658 to 4,354 m)
Terrain: Various, including steep (portions with scree) and rocky, some snow and a couple stream crossings
Distance Traveled: 7.5 miles (12 km)
Time inclusive: 4.5 hours
Other gear: 30 lb (13.6 kg) day pack
Weather: cool and sunny (45 - 65 deg F/7 - 18 deg C) with low humidity
Shoe Performance: Today's test, in my opinion presented conditions above and beyond what I expect the manufacturer intended. Rather than use an above the ankle boot, I opted to test the Tahoe's while climbing 4 of Colorado's 14er's: Mt Bross, Mt Lincoln, Mt Cameron and Mt Democrat. The first mountain (Mt Bross) presented a steep scree field for most of the ascent. Other hikers had shared their difficulty with the scree while descending this mountain (hence my decision to travel in the opposite direction). Hiking on scree isn't my favorite, but the Tahoe's did quite well. I was pleased with the traction afforded by the tread design and materials. The hike over to Mt Lincoln was quite easy and presented a trail like condition that would be more in keeping with the intended use of the shoes. After gaining Mt Lincoln's summit, I traversed over to Mt Cameron and then descended the steep ridgeline to the Cameron/Democrat saddle at 13,000' (3,962 m). It was at this point that I had wished for much more ankle support as the trail diminished into a faint line that merely went over rocks of all different sizes and shapes. The Tahoe Trail Shoes did an excellent job of absorbing the sharp edges and protecting my feet, but, being a low cut shoe, afforded no ankle support. It was also at this point that I noted the limited shock absorption capability. I continued on my trek and gained the summit of Mt Democrat, and since I was testing these shoes, I found it interesting to see what others were wearing - anything from sneakers to combat boots. I can't imagine that anything on the extremes would have been comfortable and suspect that the correct foot wear for this trek would have been a high top hiking boot or even up to a backpacking boot. My descent was uneventful. At the end, my feet were tired but not painful and I experienced no hot spots or blisters. The shoes performed quite well, despite the harsh treatment and rough conditions.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
My adventures have kept me within the confines of the Colorado Rocky Mountains during this portion of the testing period. Fortunately, Colorado has much to offer and this summer has been nothing short of beautiful with fantastic weather nearly everyday (a welcome relief to the extended winter)! My travels have included the Sawatch Mountains, Colorado Trail, Kenosha Mountains and the Front Range. All of the hikes have been in nice weather without precipitation, and typical with most hiking in Colorado, a fair amount of elevation gain.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
These shoes have proven to be wonderful on established trails and comfortable for the long haul. Based upon my experience during the Field Report period of this test, I opted not to take these shoes on any hike rated above Class I. I suspect that this is much more of a personal preference as I have seen people wearing sneakers on hikes that I absolutely wanted the ankle support and stiffness of a full boot. I'll refrain from speculation, but I must say that these shoes have served me well on many hikes. The shoes provided the best performance in dry conditions on well used trails with limited scrambling or bushwacking.
Ecco has produced a wonderful trail shoe that provides all day comfort with superior traction and durability. I have been thoroughly impressed with the comfort, traction and durability of these shoes. Other than the expected wear on the soles, there are no other signs of wear, inside or out! My "pros and cons" remain the same from my Field Report:
- Superb all-weather traction
- Snug yet comfortable fit
- Solid foot protection
- Excessive drying time
I certainly plan to continue using the Ecco Tahoe Trail Shoes for day hikes and those advertures that don't involve rated climbs.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.
A sincere thank you to Ecco and BackpackGearTester.org for allowing me the opportunity to test these wonder trail shoes.
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Read more gear reviews by Mark Thompson