Many Sierra hikers have moved to using lightweight hiking boots or trail runners. That’s fine in the mild summer months but during cold, snowy winter months a sturdier shoe is necessary. The Ecco Biom Hike 1.6 is a sturdy leather boot with good ankle support and many features that make it an ideal choice in rain, snow, ice and slush.
The Biom Hike boot is made from lightweight, breathable Lhasa yak leather that is three times tougher than cowhide, according to Ecco. The leather is treated with Hydromax, a process that is incorporated into the tanning procedure to create a weather resistant shoe that repels water. The boot is considered a mid-ankle boot that provides good ankle support. The thick rubber outsole has rugged lugs to grip slippery, wet surfaces or snow. The insole features Cambrelle, a three-layer liner used in high-end athletic shoes to wick away moisture to keep feet cool, dry and odor-free. The last is anatomically fitted with forefoot flex.
The Biom hiking boots were tested in chilly conditions, around 35 degrees, in rain and sleet. The Titanium (steel gray) colored boots look luxurious and the leather is smooth and supple to the touch. The interior feels soft and forgiving, especially the padded tongue and collar. A pull-up loop on the back of the collar allows the boot to be slipped on easily. The reviewer normally wears a size 9 street shoe but a 9.5 hiking boot to accommodate foot swelling and the 9-9.5 size Biom boot felt right. The boots feel robust and well-made ensuring a feeling of confidence on wet, slippery rock surfaces. As befits their substantial materials and construction, they feel heavier than a summer-weight mesh hiking boot. Despite the heft, the boots look nice and don’t appear overwhelmingly large. The warmth was appreciated in the chilly temperatures and a thick wool sock was easily accommodated. The moisture control was impressive with no noticeable foot dampness even after a fast five-mile hike up steep hills. At first, the high ankle felt too restrictive but after adjusting the laces it felt better. Heavy-duty metal grommet eyelets hold the laces in place on the forefoot while equally substantial hooks are present to secure the collar. Offset to the sides is a transitional hook located between the forefoot grommets and ankle hooks. This hook is wider and it takes a slight tug to get the round shoelace to catch, then holds it securely. This allows for pinpoint adjustments as the shoelace is held firmly in place. The ankle hooks on the collar allow the lace to slide easily once in place, but the design requires the lace to be slipped between two parts of the hook before it will drop into place. The boots were very comfortable initially but took a little getting used to as it placed the reviewer’s foot in a different position than lighter boots. After a few hikes, all was well and the boots were very effective.
The next test was during a cold snap in Tahoe when the temperatures plummeted to below zero at night, hoving in the teens during the day. The boots were stable and secure in soft snow and wet pavement. On slippery compacted snow and ice the boots paired well with snowshoes and Microspikes, a traction device that looks like tire chains for a boot. The boots kept feet warm even on an extended walk in frigid temperatures.
Ecco, a Scandinavian company based in Denmark, was started in 1963 by Karl Toosby, an entrepreneurial shoemaker with a passion for footwear. He set out to make functional, comfortable shoes that supported both feet and the Scandinavian culture, which values comfort, design and style. Now operating around the world, Ecco is still a medium-sized family company. Its largest market is the U.S. while its biggest concentration of employees is in Indonesia with factories there and in Thailand, Slovakia and China. Ecco Leather has their own tannery facilities in Europe, Southeast Asia and the Far East to secure a reliable supply of high-quality yak and other leather.
The Ecco Biom Hike 1.6 is a well-made boot constructed of top-quality materials that will keep feet warm and dry in tough winter conditions. The boots are ideal in snow and ice, either on their own or with snowshoes or traction devices. The boot grips slippery surfaces and is ideal in winter conditions, even with the El Nino effect that California is expecting this year.
Ecco Biom Hike 1.6
Weight: 1 lb 8 oz for size 9-9.5
Available in Titanium color at Ecco for $279 (regularly $230) and Zappo’s for $230
Disclosure of material connection: A sample was received for testing purposes, but the opinions expressed are solely those of the author.