Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Roomy toe box, protective, better for heavier pack weights.
Cons: Stiff, break-in period, lack of traction on wet terrain.
Best Uses: Backpacking, hiking.
This is a solid and robust shoe right off the bat. It is our Top Pick winner as the best burly hiking shoe. The stiff leather uppers and powerful frame gives a feeling of confidence in the shoe on technical terrain. However, the FC ECO 2.0 fell short in comfort with a very firm sole and foot bed, which seemed a bit harsh while our testers were rock hopping around summits. These characteristics did help the shoe out-perform many of its competitors when we were carrying heavier packs for long distances. We loved the casual unassuming appearance of the shoe, which enabled our testers to keep them on from landscaping the yard to office meetings.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The FC ECO 2.0 hit right around the middle of the pack for weight, and we expected it to be a bit higher in the weight category, but came in at a pretty average two pounds a pair. The dense sole, extremely protective toe-cap reminiscent of approach shoes, and thick leather uppers contribute to its weight, but also contribute to the benefits of this shoe, namely support.
In terms of comfort, The FC ECO 2.0 feels pretty firm and uninviting at first. The sole is rigid, the leather uppers are stiff, and the footbed is solid. Jumping from rocks with hard landings left our teeth hurting some, due to the unforgiving nature of the footbed. The shoe seemed to break in an odd spot on our feet, and the toe box would remain uninterrupted while the shoe’s flex was transferred to less comfortable regions. However, as this shoe started to break in, we grew fonder of its supportive nature and strong backbone unlike some of the weaker shoes in the category. We found this shoe to be on one end of the spectrum, as a strong back-boned, less comfortable shoe for technical approaches and more intense applications. On the other end of the spectrum were cloud-like shoes with little support, such as the Keen Ambler or the Moab Merrell Ventilator.
The FC ECO 2.0 stepped up the game in the support category, with a strong backbone, a supportive sole, and a firm footbed. This shoe did not make any sacrifices for support, and the results showed. We threw a lot at this shoe: steep ascents, rocky terrain, roots, and heavy backpacks. All the while, the shoe was unaffected.
The FC ECO 2.0 surprisingly let us down a bit in the traction category. While the sole seemed to hold onto dry rocks, the design lacked what it needs to be successful in slippery situations such as wet rocks, mud, roots, or loose dry dirt. The rubber compound used by the manufacturer seems to be stiffer and more dense than its competitors, and this lead to the shoe being questionable on sketchy terrain.
We loved the casual appearance of the shoe as we didn’t have to leave our outdoor roots when we were forced into situations that required a bit more class, such as business meetings or dinner out. The FC ECO 2.0 did a good job at throwing on this other hat. Otherwise, The FC ECO 2.0 was a bit heavy, stiff, and bulky for lighter applications such as running around on rocks or playfully hopping like a bunny across creeks and up rock gardens.
The FC ECO 2.0 is another standout in the waterproofing category. While doing our soak test we ended up wanting a lawn chair to put in the creek while standing around waiting for the shoe to get wet. The dense leather exterior sheds water very well, and the interior of the shoe stays very dry. However, when the leather wets the shoe holds substantially more water weight.
Despite or initial reactions to the shoe’s suave, clean look, we were surprised by how unscathed these shoes appear after our series of shoe-torture. While you will get the typical leather scuffs, the shoe’s burly toe piece protects it from rogue rocks that get in your way.
The FC ECO 2.0 feels most at home on tougher trails or heavier pack weights, in addition to being a fine casual shoe. It is a bit of a tough sell for people in wet, rocky, and rooty environments due to the questionable traction.
At $150 list price, The FC ECO 2.0 comes in right around the rest of the shoes. The build and durability of this shoe is worth the price.
Coined as a “low top, waterproof, versatile shoe” by La Sporitiva, we feel like they got what they set out to accomplish. Despite some issues with the shoe being a bit stiff, requiring break-in, and lacking traction in wetter situations, we found ourselves reaching for this shoe for a multitude of uses—, from day hikes to weekenders and landscaping to wood working.
Other Versions and Accessories
La Sportiva also makes a full-cut version of the shoe. Check out our review on Hiking Boots.
— Tommy Penick
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 28, 2013
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