Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $175
Pros: mesh panels on upper, comfortable, grippy traction, water resistance, high ankle shaft height, flexible on forefoot
Cons: May not fit well for wide feet, easily scuffed mesh, stiff at first, lacing is lacking
Best Uses: day hiking, backpacking, three season hiking and backpacking
La Sportiva is a reputable footwear brand name for trail running shoes, climbing shoes, hiking and mountaineering boots. The FC ECO 3.0 GTX uphold the reputable craftsmanship and technical design features that La Sportiva is known for. They rated consistently well across all of our scoring metrics. Although they don't weigh in as a lightweight boot, they feel similar to the Keen Targhee II Mid on trail. The FC ECO 3.0 are comfortable, supportive hiking boots with a very flexible forefoot.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The FC ECO 3.0 GTX hiking boots are the ideal choice for the well-rounded hiker. Whether you intend to hike in the spring, summer, or fall, set goals for ridgeline traverses or mellow meandering meadow trails, or like to switch between day hikes and long backpacking trips, the mid-weight FC ECO 3.0 boots are well suited for the adventures!
By the scale, these are one of the two heaviest women's hiking boots at 3.25 pounds. Luckily, by actual feel they are comparable to boots weighing 2-2.5 pounds. It's important to note that this weight, although heaviest, is still pounds less than traditional heavy weight hiking boots and only ounces more than many top hiking shoes. If actual weight is holding you back, consider the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid - Women's, which offer many of the same features while weighing nearly a pound less. And if counting ounces is your style, the Ahnu Montara - Women's and Keen Targhee II Mid - Women's weigh under 2 pounds per pair.
A sturdy, stiff Vibram rubber sole layered with a dual density ECO trailon, 2mm LaSpEVA misole and TPU shank equates to remarkable support. Underfoot, the boots are stiff and supportive, protecting feet from rocks and roots. The FC ECO have a unique forefoot design that allows the foot to bend with each step without any hindrance. The high ankle shaft- 5"- is the most supportive of any of the women's hiking boots. Before we even tightened the laces, our heels were embraced and our ankles were comfortably supported. After a handful of outings on the trail, the boots began to flex and soften slightly. If prolonged stiffness is desireable, the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid WS hiking boots retain their stiffness longer.
Vibram rubber soles are one of the most common construction details in hiking footwear. They are sturdy and durable while offering slight softness and flexibility. The FC ECO 3.0 GTX also have an Impact Brake System with deep lugs facing opposing directions for increased traction. The tread is aggressive and capable of retaining stability in mud, snow, and on steep slopes. We felt secure while hiking across slick granite slabs and across slippery wet creek beds.
Initially stiff, the FC ECO 3.0 became more comfortable with each hike. They required a short break-in period of 2 or more outings before softening to a comfortable state. The lacing system is one of the best we reviewed. The toe box is roomy and the heel is well padded and supportive. These boots have a narrow foot bed and may be uncomfortable for women with wider feet. The Lowa Renegade, Keen Targhee II Mid, and Salomon Comet 3D GTX - Women's all come in wide versions and/or have inherently wider foot beds. We love how comfortable and versatile these boots are; from day hikes to backpacking trips, the FC ECO 3.0 are suitable.
Water Resistance and Breathability
The La Sportiva FC ECO 3.0 is lined with a Gore-Tex waterproof/breathable membrane for keeping feet dry in creek water and well-ventilated from sweat. We hiked through 4-5" of moving water to test the water resistant capacity. Despite our doubts about the mesh looking outer, they kept our feet entirely dry.
The FC ECO 3.0 women's boots are one of few that we would consider breathable enough for mid-summer high temperatures. The Ahnu Montara and the Salomon Comet 3D both also have lightweight uppers and mesh paneling for keeping feet well-ventilated in temperatures over 90 degrees.
Leather hiking boots are the most durable and typically end up lasting two or more years before needing replacement. While we haven't been reviewing this pair of FC ECO 3.0 boots for two years yet, we did experience weaknesses in the recycled nylon mesh panels on the top of the foot. Abrasion led to noticeable scuffs in the material. No doubt the Nubuck leather is capable of lasting many seasons on the trail, and the sturdy rubber soles showed little sign of trail use after miles and miles of hiking, but the whole shoe might not make it as long.
The La Sportiva FC ECO 3.0 are well-rounded for day hiking or backpacking during spring, summer, or fall. Mesh panels add breathability to the leather uppers for comfortable summer hiking. The Vibram rubber soles can handle snow crossings, river crossings, and dirt trails where slick rock surfaces are likely. In the fall, the ankle padding adds extra insulation and in spring conditions, the water resistance repels water to keep our feet dry. Although these boots would provide some traction on snowy trails, the integration of mesh on the upper would not be ideal in winter conditions. For a four-season hiking boot, the Lowa Renegades have a less penetrable upper with an aggressive treaded sole.
The FC ECO 3.0 gave the Lowa Renegades a run for their money. It was a challenge to choose between the two for the Editors' Choice award since they both have similar strengths. The less durable aspect of the FC ECOs is a downside, but otherwise they both rated well across the board in our metrics. At $50 less than the Renegades, the FC ECO 3.0 hiking boots are a great value.
La Sportiva continues to manufacture sturdy hiking boots that perform well in rugged terrain. While day hiking and backpacking, the FC ECO 3.0 remain comfortable and supportive. The water resistant qualities kept our feet dry and the forefoot design kept us moving onward with no restriction to stride. This pair of boots is well-rounded and excels in a diverse range of hiking applications.
Mens versions are available in both La Sportiva FC ECO 3.0 and La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0.
— Briana Valorosi
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Most recent review: May 5, 2015
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