Ecco BIOM Trail Leather 1.1 Shoes

Manufacturer Description

Biomechanical flexible midsole construction allows a natural running motion and perfect ground adaption. Construction offers a perfect balance of flexibility and support

Features

  • Direct-injected PU midsole
  • Excellent grip and traction on loose and muddy surfaces for the everyday adventurer
  • Offers the support the foot needs combined with superb sock-like fit
  • Rugged rubber outsole with specially designed traction pattern
  • Stable for tough terrain without compromising on flexibility
  • Yak leather uppers with a reinforced midfoot
  • Biomechanical flexible midsole construction
  • Measured size 43
    • Weight – 386 g (13.6 oz)
    • Forefoot Width – 103.0 mm
    • Stack height – 32.6 mm (heel), 22.2 (toe), 10.4 (drop) w/insole
  • Retail – $200

YMMV Review

Ecco started making shoes over 40 years ago in a small town in Denmark. Their shoes follow the idea that form follows function. This comes through in their design sensibility, smart choices, and clean lines. They have broadened their footwear lines to cover dress, casual, golf, running, and the outdoors. Several years ago Ecco came out with their BIOM Collection of shoes. These shoes are made to keep your feet in tune with nature. I had never tried them and was intrigued to get to test the new Trail model.

Top View, Standard Lacing

Testing

I tested the Ecco BIOM Trail Shoes by getting out and running. I ran a little road (10%), some gravel paths (25%), and some singletrack trails here in Bend (65%). Even though it is mainly dry here in Bend, I was able to get these out in some mud, snow, and wetter trails as my testing was during the late winter and spring. I also did some day hiking in the Ecco BIOM Trails to test their versatility.

Design ★★★☆☆

Appearance (20%) ★★½☆☆

Construction (35%) ★★★★½

Lacing (10%) ★★★☆☆

Sustainability (10%) ★★★★☆

Weight (25%) ★☆☆☆☆

Ecco is deeply focused on building a better shoe. They work to use fusions of advanced materials, new design methodologies, and a solid foundation to make lighter, more flexible shoes. The BIOM collection works with the body’s design and capabilities. BIOM is short for Biomechanical Optimization. What Ecco has been able to do is work with their own factories to make lightweight, flexible, and anatomically precise shoes. There are five primary technologies found in the BIOM shoes.

Direct Injected Layer Covers much of the Heel

  1. BIOM Fit: Direct-Injection with anatomical lasts
  2. BIOM Flex & Torsion: Strengthens the feet and lower legs by activating muscles and joints
  3. Durable PU: Midsole cushioning retains shock-absorbency longer than EVA foam
  4. Glove Like Fit: Soft and supple upper gently holds the foot
  5. Low to the Ground: Lets your foot move as nature intended

The BIOM principle can best be explained by Ecco in this summary: “By guiding the foot to follow its natural paths. BIOM shoes encourage the feet and lower legs to get stronger, thereby increasing performance, enhancing comfort, and reducing risk of injury. Proven to create smoother more efficient movement, the effectiveness of BIOM to improve runner’s form was proven by independent research.”

The BIOM collection started with road running shoes and stayed that way for years. Just recently Ecco came out with their first trail running shoes. I was able to put the leather version to the test. The trail shoes are similar in construction methods and technologies to their road cousins with some updates to make them better on rugged trails. The Trail 1.1 is created like other BIOM shoes with a direct-injected PU midsole. This means Ecco has a mold in which they can inject the PU into to create a one-piece unit with very specific shaping. The PU comes up around the foot on several of the side adding extra support and protection for the foot. Polyurethane is a very dense cushioning compound when compared to EVA foam. This allows it to last much longer, which still maintaining consistent support.

Shoe Interior without the Insole

The Ecco BIOM Trail 1.1 has a Yak leather upper. This upper is soft and supple, which allows it to fit the foot comfortably. On the inside there is a mesh material for comfort next to the skin and better moisture management. The midfoot of the upper has been reinforced with extra stitching for better support of the foot on varied terrain. The lower sections of the upper are reinforced with a tough synthetic overlay for rock protection and durability on the trails. The tongue which is also made of Yak leather is gusseted to keep rocks and debris out. The insole can be removed and replaced if you so wish.

The lacing system is fairly standard on the BIOM Trail Shoes. There are extra eyelets at the top if you prefer to wear them with a lace lock tying method. For easier on and off there is a loop on the heel. The outsole is made of a rugged rubber. It has a specific design to allow increased grip along all surfaces while maintaining protection and flexibility.

Since Ecco can follow the process of their shoes from design to finished product they have a lot of control. This has allowed them to grow while maintaining good business practices in regard to sustainability and environmental stewardship. Ecco has developed technologies that reduce the use of materials and energy resources, minimize waste, prevent excess pollution, and recycle waste from production units. These shoes are also made of Yak leather, which is a renewable resource. I was impressed by their commitment and hope they can continue to grow in this area.

Lugged Rubber Sole

Fit ★★★☆☆

Comfort Next to Skin (15%) ★★★★☆

Foot Length (15%) ★★☆☆☆

Foot Volume (20%) ★★★☆☆

Heel Width (15%) ★★★☆☆

Midfoot Width (15%) ★★★☆☆

Toe Box Width (20%) ★★★½☆

The Ecco BIOM collection is made on an anatomical last. Made to fit to the shape of your foot and be comfortable right out of the box. Since they are a Danish company they are made on the European sizing system and whole sizes at that. This means that between sizes, there will be a bigger gap than is traditionally found in half sizes in the US. I am normally a size 9 in US sizing and on occasion a 9.5, so I decided to review a size 43. Putting the 43 on, I could tell the shoes are made in the shape of the foot. The shoes snug around your foot evenly on all sides. My drawback was they seem to run large. I definitely had extra room at the end of the foot and feel like a 42 would have been better for me. Not that the 43 was a bad fit, just slightly looser than I like. It still fit really well around the back 2/3 of my foot.

The lacing worked well and kept the shoes snug. I tried it both with conventional lacing and with the heel lock and found that the conventional lacing felt better for me. I do not normally use any different techniques but was afraid at first it would not be snug enough to hold my heel down. That ended up not being an issue, so I went back to my normal lacing. The interior of the shoes is very comfortable. I never wore these without socks and do not think I ever would as with trail running it is nice to have a barrier between the foot and the shoe with all the dirt and dust.

Basic Insole

Performance ★★★½☆

Breathability (10%) ★★★☆☆

Cushioning/Ground Feel (20%) ★★½☆☆

Durability (15%) ★★★★★

Flexibility (15%) ★★☆☆☆

Support (10%) ★★★☆☆

Traction (20%) ★★★★☆

Versatility (10%) ★★★½☆

The Ecco BIOM Trail shoes were a mixed bag. The Yak leather upper is nice and supple, this allows it to fit well and breathe surprisingly well. I also did not have any issues running in the wet mud and snow. My feet stayed dry even though these are not waterproof. There is a quite a bit of cushioning in these to protect you from the ground. It is polyurethane, which definitely felt firmer than the EVA Foam used in most other running shoes. This PU, on the other hand, takes longer to break down so the cushioning should last up to 1000 miles or more before needing to be replaced.  The PU cushioning does inhibit most ground feel. There always seems to be a trade-off between ground feel and cushioning.

One of the disappointing aspects of the shoe was how stiff they felt to me. I expected them to be much more flexible then they are. I did notice when running that the shoes would loosen up a bit when running but when twisted with your hand, there is a lot of resistance. Much more than I expected from a shoe that is supposed to allow your foot to act naturally. I am sure there is some research and planning that went into these but most shoes aimed at this market are much more flexible. The sole of the shoes has big lugs, which provided good traction on all surfaces. I even had to run on some short pavement sections, and the shoes felt good.

Click for Larger

Overall ★★★☆☆

Overall, I must say that I am a bit disappointed with my first experience with the Ecco BIOM Shoes. I had high expectations, and the Trail 1.1 did not live up to them. I have several things that I think is missing:

  1. The weight is more than I expected. At 13.6 oz they are over 3 oz heavier than my other running shoes and the heaviest I have tested.
  2. These are considered a BIOM B model. I think the way they direct you towards shoes is off. Ecco uses your average pace to determine what shoe you need. While that is often an indicator of your foot strike pattern, it is not always true. I might not run most of my miles fast, but I like a lower drop shoe like the BIOM A’s even though Ecco suggests the B.
  3. I expected them to be more flexible.
  4. Sizing was off by at least a size for me. I am surprised Ecco does not do half sizes. They are big on the shoe being ultimately comfortable, having half sizing would allow someone to find their optimum fit.

While it may seem like I am picking on these shoes, they do a bunch right. The shoes are comfortable right out of the box even though they might have been a bit big on me. The construction is top notch, and the shoes will last a long time. I did like using these as a hiking shoe as the weight was more what I am used to when hiking. The shoes even look more like a hiker than runner, in my opinion. The Ecco BIOM Trail Shoes retail for $200, which is steep, but they will last twice as long as other running shoes, which will help the value. Let me know what you think, as always your mileage may vary.

Pros [field name=iFrame]

  • Durable
  • Well made
  • Supple fit right out of the box
  • Good traction

Cons

  • Expensive upfront costs
  • Heavier than most running shoes
  • Not as flexible as I hoped
  • One size big

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About the author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

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