Like big-boot protection, don’t like big-boot stiffness? Ecco consulted with podiatrists to help design the Biom Hike, which gets its support from a flexible shank (rather than the rigid nylon or TPU commonly used by other companies) that adapts to the body’s natural shock absorption—otherwise known as pronation. (Most feet naturally pronate, or roll inward after the footstrike, somewhat flattening the arch with every stride to cushion against impact.) To optimize natural pronation and create a serious backpacking boot that would appeal to those who like a more minimalist, flexible feel, Ecco developed the Biom Hike’s last with a “barefoot” feel in mind; a roomy toebox allows toes to splay out and a low-profile sole keeps the hiker close to the ground for added stability.
The nearly full-length shank, made of Polyamid and glass fiber, is hard in the heel but flexible from the arch to the toe. “The midsole flexes farther back on the foot than in most boots to accommodate healthy pronation,” says one veteran boot tester. “Combined with a rockered heel and toe and a wraparound PU heel counter, it gives the Biom Hike a comfortable, running shoe-like stride,” he added after hauling up to 45 pounds on Oregon treks. “The grippy rubber maintained traction on slippery, submerged rocks during a 100-yard river crossing.” The yak-leather upper is relatively thin, light, and supple, yet more durable than cow leather, and the durable PU midsole should hold up well. Best for low- to medium-volume feet and low- to medium arches. $255; 2 lbs. 12 oz.; m’s 40-47; eccousa.com