Style: Low-cut trail runner/hiking shoe
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
Pros: Incredible stock footbed and arch support, breathable synthetic upper, looks great
Best for: Wet areas/seasons, trail running, day hikes
Retail Price: $170
I like to think that I was into trail runners before it was cool, but the fact that it’s trendy now may say something about their rapid increase in utility over the recent years. It used to be the case that you needed a full boot to get waterproof support for a backpacking trip. However, with recent advances in waterproof barriers, footbeds, and mid/out-sole technology, as well as ever cheaper lightweight gear, trail runners are a good choice for more trips than ever and the Ecco Mens Biom Trail FL GTX is no exception.
These shoes came along with me on a trip to the muddy, puddle-ridden landscape of Washington’s Cascade Mountains after a week of thunderstorms. I took no care to avoid stepping in any standing water in sight and put these to the test on the slippery trails.
Trail FL GTX has stock footbeds that are supportive and lock in the heel of your foot. The direct-injected PU midsole foam was good cushion without feeling disconnected from the trail. Custom footbeds would no-doubt improve this even more, but aren’t strictly necessary. The laces were somewhat difficult to loosen closer to the toe, and I had a pain point on the top of my foot where the shoe was too tight, but I was able to dial that in during the day. It’s a snug fit through the heel and arch of your foot, and then opens up to a roomy toe box. These seem to fit true-to-size, but you may still want to go a half-size up from your street shoes to allow for some swelling. They do breathe better than a leather boot, but they’re not immune to the extra heat that gets trapped in practically every waterproof shoe.
Living in Washington, I still find it novel that not all hiking shoes are waterproof – this place is so consistently damp that the Washington State flag is made of Gore-Tex. As waterproof shoes go, these do not disappoint. They have a gusseted tongue that runs almost all of the way up, and the Gore-Tex barrier was flawless in keeping my feet dry through puddle after puddle. I wasn’t able to test how the barrier will hold up over time, but at least you’ll be off to a good start.
The lug pattern is less aggressive than a boot, but did not leave me wanting for more traction, and helped shed mud more easily during faster movement. They were sufficiently sticky while I was running on wet rocks with a day pack.
These only come in Pagoda Blue with Herbal-colored outsole, but it’s an attractive combination if you like a bit of attention on the trail. The stitching and details are sporty, and include a number of reflective strips. Branding and logos aren’t overly aggressive, but I did find it interesting that even the laces read “Biom,” lest you forget when you tie them up.
These trail runners will serve you well on day trips — or even lightweight backpacking trips — to keep the puddles, creeks, and mud on the outside of the shoe. If you’re used to heavier boots and looking to try out a pair of lighter footwear, these would be a good first step.