ECCO TAHOE SHOES
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M. KIDD
INITIAL REPORT - May 22, 2011
FIELD REPORT - August 04, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT - September 30, 2011
Steven M. Kidd
Franklin, Tennessee, USA
5' 9" (1.75 m)
220 lb (99.80 kg)
Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 25 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lbs (23+ kg). In the last several years I have gained a renewed enthusiasm for the back country. I generally go on one or two night outings and now try to average a 30 lb (14 kg) pack.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Image Courtesy ECCO USA
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.eccousa.com
MSRP: US $150
Available Colors: Espresso-Coffee (tested), and Moon Rock-White Ice
Sizes: EUR 41 - 50, 45 (tested), sizing and availability vary on the Ecco website
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: Left: 1lb 4.2 oz (572 g), Right: 1lb 3.7 oz (559 g); Combined Weight 2 lb 7.9 oz (1131 g)
Materials: Uppers - Yak Leather and Textiles; Soles - ECCO Performance Rubber
The ECCO website states the Tahoe has a Direct Injected PU midsole with an anatomically shaped foot bed. The website claims: Gain a lightweight but strong outsole. Lightweight and flexible direct inject technology provides superior cushioning, stability, and comfort; enjoy the watertight seal but maintain flexibility due to a sole that’s built without glue or stitching to be durable, cushioning, and long-lasting.
The site mentions a sporty outdoor look and Full length Receptor (proprietary) technology. The website states: The Performance collection powered by Receptor® Technology mirrors human motion and the foot's sensory nerve-ending cells, or receptors. Maximize the power of every step in a "body friendly" shoe developed with the guidance of the world's leading biomechanists to amplify strength, apply additional torque, enhance stability, and better "sense" terrain. Receptor supports the way your body moves naturally, acknowledging that for every step you take, your foot takes three. Through heel strike, mid stance, and push off, ECCO can minimize fatigue and maximize performance.
The shoes arrived in a typical cartage shipment box. I opened this to find a black shoe box with the ECCO logo, and I opened it finding the shoes stowed just as I would at any retail shoe store. Each shoe was stuffed with a stiff cardboard shape holder, a nice feature in my opinion. The shoes appear to be very well made with no defects. I was immediately impressed. I believe they are an aesthetically pleasing shoe, and while I primarily intend to use them on the trail, I wouldn't think twice about wearing them out and about with the family.
The Tahoe is made of a combination of natural and man-made materials. The leather is made from Yak, and a tag hanging from one shoe claims this is three times stronger than ordinary leather. The shoes are definitely beefy in my opinion. The pair weighs nearly two and a half pounds (just over a kilogram).
|ECCO Receptor Technology
The lacing is held in place by eyelets made of webbing and a centralized leather eyelet. There is also a webbed eyelet on the shoe's tongue to hold it in place. The tongue is independent, meaning it is only attached to the shoe near the toe and not along the sides as I've seen with some trail boots and shoes. The tongue, upper heal and a strip along the sides of the shoe are made of textile, which should aid in breathability.
The lugs on the sole of the shoe are formidable in my opinion as can be noted in the photograph. The soles are made with ECCO Performance Rubber. I'm assuming it is a proprietary technology, and it certainly feels rugged when I handle it. It leads me to believe they will respond well to trail rocks and stumps.
Both the toe and heel plates appear substantial enough to protect my foot on the trail. There isn't a great deal of padding in the shoes, but I don't believe that will be a concern in how they perform.
The Tahoe is not lined and therefore not water resistant or water proof. This could be a concern in extremely damp situations.
TRYING IT OUT
I have interesting shaped foot. It's very wide in the front and quite narrow in the heel, in fact growing up my brother's often called me 'Duck Foot'. That being said, I always have to wear a wide shoe, and often even must purchase a shoe a size too long so that my wide forefoot will comfortably fit into the toe box without being constricted. Because of my odd foot shape, and after reading about ECCO's design, I was immediately excited to test this shoe as it appeared to mirror that of my foot! ECCO states, "Conventional shoes fit across your feet at the toes, restricting the way your toes spread as you walk. ECCO's "Freedom Fit" fits from heel to instep, allowing toes to spread naturally to better support your weight and foster a more comfortable walking experience." Rest assured; my toes feel great in testing them around the house!
I'm testing a EUR 45, which is equivalent to a US 11 - 11.5. I generally wear a US 10.5, but in reviewing European fit shoes in my closet, all were size 45. They fit very well in both the toe box and the heel, an oddity for me in a shoe. I earlier mentioned they didn't appear to have a great deal of padding. I mention this because I recently purchased a pair of trail shoes that had a great deal of padding, so much in fact they appeared more like a running shoe than one for the trail. That pair felt broken in right out of the box, but proved to not hold up so well on backcountry boulders and rocks. These shoes feel comfortable out of the box, but stiff enough that I believe they should require a little break in and hopefully will hold up more respectfully in the woods. A final note on fit; they do fit well and are quite comfortable but I don't believe I can wear too thick a sock or they may become too snug. I don't see this as a concern as I intend to use them primarily in warmer weather.
The Tahoe also has quite a bit of arch support, which I find impressive. I immediately noticed this when I first put them on and I expect to appreciate this several miles into a hike. Finally, I'm impressed at how the lacing system will allow me to either a snug or more moderate fit with minimal adjustment.
The ECCO Tahoe appears to be a well made and rugged trail shoe. It is designed to be comfortable for the hiker, a "body friendly" shoe in fact. It looks nice enough that I'd expect as many wearers in the mall as I would in the backcountry.
In minimal wear I've found it to be comfortable for the entire foot, from heel to toes. I'm excited about the rugged design, expected breathability. I have two concerns about the shoes. They are somewhat heavy, not much lighter than my full grain leather off trail boots. They are also not waterproof and there is nothing more miserable than wet feet on the trail.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I've worn the ECCO Tahoe Trail shoes on two backpacking trips and several day hikes. I've also worn them a few times casually around town.
15 - 18, June, 2011: Big South Fork National River & Recreational Area, Tennessee/Kentucky along the John Muir Trail. Elevations ranging from around 850 ft (259 m) to 1300 ft (396 m). Temperatures ranged from 72 F (22 C) lows in the evening to 94 F (34 C) highs in the day. The weather was dry and hot with no rain.
29 - 31, July 2011: Coalmont, Tennessee. Public and Private Trails. Elevations averaging 1800 - 2000 ft (549 - 610 m) with temperatures ranging from 76 - 103 F (24 - 39 C). Conditions were very dry and hot. The rain fed mountaintop creek beds were completely dry.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I've been quite impressed with the ECCOs to date. I've worn them around town a few times, on several day hikes and two backpacking outings. I've found them to be quite durable, comfortable and supporting throughout the field review phase.
A few things I immediately noticed about the shoes were how quickly they appeared to break in. When they first arrived they felt quite stiff and I was concerned the Yak leather may take some time to break in. In Tennessee we missed spring and jumped straight into extreme summer temperatures, so I rarely took a neighborhood jaunt like I do with new trail boots. Fortunately the shoes were great right out of the box and I was never concerned with blisters. In fact the only time I even felt concern with a potential hotspot was on my last backpacking outing when temperatures were over 100 F (38 C). This was on my left inner heel area and I'm not sure whether to attribute this to the shoe, a pair of wool socks I'm also testing or the extreme heat. I stopped hiking, checked the area, readjusted my laces and continued hiking for the remainder of the day without any concerns or abrasions. I was concerned for a moment, but it was on the first leg of a multiday hike and never again did the spot bother me.
The grip of the shoe was excellent and the arch support gave me a spring to my step. I initially was excited about the shoes because of the ECCO technology of a wide toe box and narrow heel which truly matches my aforementioned "duck foot". My feet were never once tight in the toe box even after a full day of hiking. This was great. The arch support was odd at first, but soon appreciated.
The Receptor Technology was comfortable and the Performance Rubber gripped well, but I can only report on arid conditions. I'm quite impressed with the toe plate on this shoe. I can quickly tear up the front end of a pair of trail boots or shoes even on an initial hike, but these shoes continue to look great. This is not to say I've been gentle on them, as I haven't. They've been in some pretty rocky terrain and I kick a lot of stuff with my feet unknowingly. These Tahoe's are quite durable.
I often wear off-trail boots all season to protect my ankles from rolling after a few college rugby injuries, and this concerned me with the ECCOs. Not only do they cut below the ankle, but they also are fairly thin with no padding in the ankle area.
I couldn't have been more surprised and elated with the ankle support I have received with these shoes. This goes back to the fit of the shoe. It just appears to naturally glove the foot.
There is really only one minor concern and one question that I have with these shoes. They are quite heavy, weighing in nearly as much as my off trail boots. In wearing them the weight hasn't been too problematic because they are so comfortable, however, I haven't put them to the test in wet conditions. First I've only used them in quite dry conditions, but when I have had the opportunity for creek crossings or wet conditions I've stayed clear because they are not waterproof. I have planned at some point to see how the shoes would react to going through water, but on my last trip when I knew there would be a chance within a few miles of the trailhead I found out the creek bed was completely dry. Earlier in the season I had plenty of opportunity in hiking next to a river, but was weary of the thought of slogging all day in wet and uncomfortable footwear.
To date I've been thoroughly impressed with the ECCO Tahoe shoes and I'm excited to continue testing them through what I hope will prove to be more seasonal temperatures. I'm impressed with the fit from toe to ankle, the arch and ankle support and the fact they haven't caused me any blistering even without a break-in period.
I hope and promise to test how water affects them as they do not have any waterproofing capabilities. This and the overall weight are my only concerns with the shoes. I'd have probably already tested the shoes in wet conditions if they were lighter, but I haven't had any backup footwear on longer hikes to date.
I'd like to thank BackpackGearTest and ECCO for the opportunity to test this product. Please check back in approximately two months for my final report.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
22 -25 August 2001: Charlotte, North Carolina. I took the shoes as my primary casual evening shoe on a 4-day and 3-night business trip, but they unexpectedly became the only footwear I could use on a last minute excursion to the U.S National Whitewater Center. I wore the shoes around town on the evening of the 22nd, rafting on the 23rd and not again for the remainder of the trip. Temperatures averaged in around 80 F (27 C) and research affirms local elevation is between 600 and 700 ft (183 - 213 m).
1 - 5, September 2011: Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, Tennessee/Kentucky. This was a 4-day and 3-night trip covering 16 mi (26 km) with approximate elevations of 350 - 450 ft (107 - 137 m) and temperatures ranging from 70 - 89 F (21 - 32 C). I backpacked and slept in a hammock. Conditions were dry and warm, but breaks in the humidity made backpacking much more pleasant for me than what I've hiked in the better part of this summer.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I suggested I would put the ECCOs though a thorough water trial before this test series was over, and I surely did so! Initially, I must admit this isn't a suggested method to assess the typical way a pair of shoes repels water, but I can assure the reader I learned a bit about the Tahoe's on this adventure.
As mentioned in my Field Report, I have used the shoes around town on occasion. I decided they would be excellent for casual/evening attire for a business trip I made to Charlotte, North Carolina. Little did I know that I would be coerced into a trip down the man-made US National Whitewater Center? Nor did I realize my water shoes, or even sneakers would be hundreds of miles (kilometers) away! A tee-shirt, pair of gym shorts and the ECCOs became my uniform for this unplanned jaunt!
Omitting the bumps, bruises and other minor contusions I can attest the Tahoes were soon soaked! In my opinion there is no way a sane human being can complain about a pair of shoes getting wet under these conditions, however, I will suggest that they remained so for longer than I expected. In fact they remained too soaked to wear for the remainder of the trip. Again, I must remind the reader this was for casual use and not on the trail where I would have worn wet shoes if it were a necessity. Yet, they were moist enough to concern me about a planned backcountry Labor Day adventure that was fast approaching.
The shoes were still wet when I returned from Charlotte, and I set out to dry them safely as I would any leather item. Fortunately they were ready to go and as comfortable as the day I received them as I headed north toward the Kentucky state line.
I covered 16 miles (26 km) in a handful of days surrounding the US Labor Day weekend. Temperatures were pleasant and dry for the entire trip. I often made my way to Lake Barkley or Kentucky Lake for refreshment during this adventure. Due to the circumstances the previous week I made sure to remove the Tahoes and not get them severely wet while hydrating and cooling myself.
On the trail the shoes were great! They never initiated a blister, hotspot or any discomfort. Elevation changes weren't at all drastic. I've mentioned the shoes are a little heavier than I expected and I still reaffirm this, however, I can assure the reader that I feel they wear very well...almost sneaker-like. I never realized I was trekking in a heavy shoe until I would remove it and hold it in my hand!
The weight of the Tahoes may potentially deter some ultra-lightweight outdoorsman, but I can report that they are the closest thing to a bedroom slipper I've ever worn on the trail.
The ECCO Tahoe Trail shoes have been an excellent asset on the unusually dry and arid trails of Tennessee and Kentucky this summer. They also held up admirably in non-standard conditions as primary foot protection.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.
I find them excellent for both comfortable trail use and as casual footwear. The wide toe box and tapering heal is ideal for my foot.
My only suggestion for improvement would be find some way to lighten them up and add water resistance for the enthusiastic outdoorsman. Once again, they feel lighter on my foot than they weigh in. I certainly see myself wearing these shoes during dry summers, and even in casual evenings around town.
I'd like to thank BackpackGearTest and ECCO for the opportunity to test this product. This concludes my test report on the ECCO Tahoe Trail Shoes.
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