Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Light, comfortable, good sole, large toe box.
Cons: Poor to middling support, particularly when wet, not durable, large toe box.
Best Uses: Backpacking, hiking.
The La Sportiva Eco 4.0 is a great value for its all-around performance and relatively long lifespan. It is a well-built boot that is worth the price. However, if you are looking for a higher performing boot, perhaps one that can handle the talus approaches and root-choked trails that, when wearing the La Sportiva Eco would make you feel like a baby deer, try a heavy hiker like the Asolo Power Matic 200.
The La Sportiva is a perfectly adequate, middle-of-the-road sort of boot. We liked it on moderately maintained trails during good weather with medium-weight loads. Because of the unusually large toe box it does not do well on talus hops or any sort of balance-oriented type of walking. That same toe box was helpful when crossing ice-crusted snow, though most of the time it was simply a pain.
To handle hot-weather activities at the other end of the spectrum, we recommend our lighter weight offerings like the Keen Targhee or the Moab Ventilator.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
We like the La Sportiva Eco because it is exceptionally light and yet offers support comparable to much heavier boots. While not as comfortable as some others, it still was among the more comfortable of those tested. It has a decent lacing system, although getting a really snug fit is difficult and often uncomfortable. The tread pattern really excelled at gripping wet rock, which made it useful for canoe tripping and snowy approaches.
The La Sportiva Eco has an unusually large toe box that makes it rather awkward to wear at first. You feel like a Labrador puppy, feet too big for the rest of your body. It's a real pain on root-choked trails or talus hops but we discovered that the extra surface area is a boon on ice-crusted snow. At times it can make the difference between post-holing and walking.
The La Sportiva Eco really suffers when it gets wet. The material becomes supple and flaccid. It provides nearly no support. So while it may grip well on wet rock or glide over ice-crusted snow, it doesn't really matter if the boot itself is as limp as a Bizkit.
As for durability, the La Sportiva Eco did well, but not spectacularly. There were no critical failures but the toe rubber delaminated and a rivet was torn out. The boot remained waterproof, however.
The La Sportiva performed well at all basic, mild-weather hiking-type activities. It does not do well at either end of the temperature spectrum, or when wet, or with particularly heavy loads. But as an all-arounder, it does very well for itself. We recommend it for just that the happy place between the extremes, the average, the middle of the bell curve. Keep it on moderate trails in moderate climes. This is an Aristotelian example if we've ever tested one.
At around $150 the Eco is a much cheaper, more durable, and all-around better performing alternative to the Scarpa Kailash. In our Heavy category, it earned our Best Buy award.
— Atherton Phleger
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 1, 2012
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