Tall hiking boots. Comfortable out of the box and…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: £124 sterling
Tall hiking boots. Comfortable out of the box and need little or no breaking in.
- Lacing system
- Grippy outsole
- No protective toe rand
- Outsole might be prone to wear
Danish footwear manufacturer Ecco makes its Biom Hike boots in two shaft lengths. It uses the same brand name for both, which can be confusing. Amazon UK adds to the confusion by describing the tall variant as “low trekking and walking shoes”. In the US the picture is clearer because the mid and tall variants are known as the Biom Hike 1.6 and 1.7 respectively. I am using US terminology in this review.
As I explained in my review of the Lowa Uplander GTX boots, I’ve come to prefer tall boots for hiking in wet conditions because the extra height offers more protection against water getting in over the top. The Uplanders are my go-to boots for wet conditions, but I’ve had my eye on the Biom Hike 1.7 as their eventual replacement. The Biom Hikes have a better lacing system than the Uplanders, with proper locking eyelets at the ankle and open hooks on the shaft. The Hikes have bigger, more widely spaced lugs on their outsoles, promising better grip on soft ground.
The one factor that put me off the Biom Hike 1.7 was the price—an eye-watering £240 (currently US $326). But prices on Amazon can change suddenly, and one day I discovered that the boots in my preferred size and colour were available at £124 ($169)—virtually half-price. Just hours later they were back to full price, but not before I had given in to the temptation and ordered a pair.
I have tried the Biom Hikes on my feet and I have tested the waterproofing. But I will only start using them regularly when my Lowa Uplanders wear out, and those have plenty of life left in them. So in this review I can only present my first impressions of the Biom Hikes. I am doing the review anyway because information about the Biom Hike 1.7 is thin on the ground, and a preliminary review is better than no review at all.
The forefoot on the Biom Hike tapers inwards, meaning that the big toe has the most space ahead of it. Most other boots taper towards the middle, meaning that the second toe has the most room. My second toe protrudes ahead of my big toe, so I worried that the shape of the Biom Hike might cause me blisters. I therefore gambled by going a size up. Normally I wear hiking boots in size 45 (US size 11.5), but I ordered my Biom Hike 1.7s in size 46 (US size 12/12.5).
The gamble has worked. Ecco boots tend to be shallower in the forefoot than other makes. This, coupled with a well-contoured heel cup, means that my size 46 Biom Hikes hold my feet more securely than my size 45 Uplanders. Before comparing the two I inserted thin volume reducers under the insoles of my Biom Hikes. But I have a pair of high-volume Superfeet Orange insoles in my Uplanders, so if anything the comparison was skewed in favour of the Uplanders.
The leather uppers of the Biom Hike 1.7 feel supple and flex easily with the foot. This includes both the forefoot and the shaft—the two places where boots usually need breaking in. To really test the shaft for flexibility I would need to walk on a slope, which I have not done in these boots. But I'm sure any stiffness that might be felt on a slope would quickly work itself off.
The sole offers enough rigidity to protect your foot when you step on pebbles and pointed rocks, yet it flexes readily at the forefoot. At the same time the midsole is soft and springy, providing plenty of shock absorption.
All this results in an excellent level of comfort. The Biom Hike 1.7s feel like the Rolls-Royces of hiking boots. They aren’t lightweights—each boot in size 46 weighs 823g or 1lb 13oz, compared to 775g (1lb 11oz) for a size 45 Uplander—but thanks to their comfort they don’t feel heavy on the feet.
The lugs on the outsole are a little more pliable than one would expect. As I said I haven’t tried these boots out on rough ground, but my feeling is that they will offer plenty of bite on soft or wet ground. The downside of the lug softness is that the outsole might wear out quicker than average.
To test the waterproofing I stood the boots in some four inches of water for at least five minutes with the insoles removed. The boots remained bone dry inside.
In most waterproof boots the tongue is joined to the shaft by means of a bellows extension and the Gore-tex or other waterproof lining goes all the way round. In the Biom Hikes the tongue is connected to the shaft only by means of a separate piece of waterproof material that is stitched to the Gore-tex lining. This stitching looks like a potential weak point in the waterproofing. On the other hand, my wife and I have owned several pairs of Ecco footwear between us and they have all been reliably waterproof, so hopefully Ecco knows what it’s doing.
The other point of concern I have about these boots concerns the lack of a toe rand. Hiking boots tend to take a beating in the toe area and a rand would offer valuable protection, particularly since the leather on these boots appears to be a little thinner than usual. On the other hand these boots are made of yak leather, which is supposed to be stronger and more abrasion-resistant than cow leather.
All in all I'm very happy with these boots. When the time comes to retire my Uplanders I will do so with regret, but at the same time with eagerness to start using the Biom Hikes.