In the past Ecco used to be my favourite shoe brand. I owned several pairs of Ecco shoes for daily wear and when I switched to lighter weight hiking shoes the first pair I bought was a pair of waterproof, ankle high Eccos. When I started to switch to minimal shoes I realized that I had to let go of my Eccos, except for one pair that was close to a minimal shoe: lightweight, flexible and a low drop. When Ecco announced that they would start making minimal shoes too I was excited and now I have had the opportunity to test a pair.
Ecco started with the BIOM series a few years ago, when the minimal shoe industry started their expansion. But the BIOM’s were not the minimal shoes that Toe Salad focuses on. The Ecco BIOM Lite however is a totally different shoe and worth a further look.
Ecco has e few different models in their BIOM Lite range for men, women and kids. Availability depends on the country you live in. You can check this on Ecco’s website www.ecco.com.
The mens BIOM Lite has a 6mm drop. The womens version has a 4mm drop. All the drop is in the removable insole. The outsole and midsole are flat. You can replace the original insole with your own zero-drop insole to get a zero-drop shoe. I started wearing them with the original 6mm drop insoles but I found walking in the shoes better with a pair of zero drop insoles.
The outsole is flexible at the forefoot and midfoot (where the foot is also flexible) but stiff under the heel (where the foot is also less flexible). The reason for this is a cage that encloses the heel and gives a lot of structure to the back of the shoe.
I think it was a good idea for Ecco to put the heel rise in the insole instead of the outsole, as people can decide for themselves how much drop they want. It would be an improvement to deliver more than one pair of insoles with the shoes, with different heel rises.
The toebox is not as roomy as I would like for a minimal shoe. I think there is especially not enough room for the big toe.
The outsole is made of TPU instead of rubber due to its abrasion resistance, flexibility, and light weight. The soles felt very smooth out of the box but they gave more grip than I had expected. After some hiking the surface became a little bit more rough-textured.
The uppers are the big selling point of this shoe. Ecco uses a thin and lightweight but also very strong Yak leather together with a synthetic mudguard that covers and protects the front, sides and heel of the shoe. The leather and synthetics are glued together strongly and the surfaces of both almost don’t have any exposed stitching. This makes the outside of the shoe very protective against abrasion. I think these shoes are designed to last a very long time, and I would not be surprised if it would be possible to finish a complete thru-hike with one pair.
The shoes are quite warm despite the many air-flow holes in the leather. I think for summer use they are too warm.
The shoes have a good resistance to moisture for most day hikes. Initially they darken quickly from the moisture, but it takes some time before moisture really gets into the shoe. They dry fast for a leather shoe. I used the BIOM Lite for a multi-day hike were I had to walk through wet grass every morning. In these conditions the shoes were wet all day both on the outside and the inside, and did not dry out until I was back home.
According to Ecco, any water repellent coating suitable for a leather shoe can be used on Yak leather. I would recommend treating them before you start wearing them.
The surface of the leather has suffered from intense hiking and cleaning with a brush. Mud tends to stick to the mudguard and is not easy to remove. The shoes now have a worn look which is much lighter coloured than when they were new. The leather is not damaged though.
The BIOM Lite fit my feet well out of the box, though they are a bit roomy. My feet tend to move a little in the shoes. This is most likely because my feet don’t have much volume, and also because I replaced the insoles. The fit has became even better as the leather uppers have moulded to my feet.
Minimal shoes are often purchased from specialized web stores which means you cannot fit them before your purchase. All around Europe and the US there are shoe stores selling Ecco and many of them are Ecco branded stores. Ecco may not be the most well-known brand for minimal shoes but their minimal shoes are certainly one of the most widely available in shoe stores world-wide.
For Ecco, minimal shoes are primarily meant to strengthen the feet and lower legs. Continuing with their development of more minimalist shoes, Ecco has now released a men’s Ecco BIOM Zero too with no elevated heel.
Th Ecco BIOM Lite weighs approximately 278g per shoe.