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Hands-on Gear Review
La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 Review
Cons: Heavy and stiff
The La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 is a good-looking and robust shoe. The stiff leather uppers and burly shank and midsole inspire a feeling of confidence on rough terrain and with a pack. It delivers great traction and we gave it the highest score for foot support. These characteristics helped the shoe out-perform many of its competitors when we were carrying moderate loads, and as a result we've awarded it a Top Pick for Backpacking. We also loved its casual unassuming appearance, which let our testers keep them on from landscaping the yard to office meetings.
This shoe fits narrow to average feet and captures a narrow heel well. The Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo is very similar in support and feel and comes in narrow, regular and wide sizes.
RELATED: Our complete review of hiking shoes - men's
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
The La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 earned top scores for support and durability, both of which earned it our Top Pick for Backpacking. One of the heavier shoes we tested, it is surprisingly cool and breathable for a mostly leather model. La Sportiva makes the extra ounces in this shoe count, and the performance is great for rough terrain and moderate loads.
In terms of comfort, the La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 feels pretty firm and uninviting at first. The sole is quite stiff, the leather uppers are substantial, and the footbed is solid. As this shoe started to break-in though, we grew fonder of its supportive nature and strong backbone. After molding to our lead tester's foot for a month, this shoe was form-fitting and comfy.
The lacing system of this shoe is basic, but worked well for our lead tester. After first passing through a webbing loop on the mesh forefoot, the laces continue through five traditional round metal eyelets. This gets the job done, but doesn't provide the adjustability of more modern lacing systems. Once the shoe is well broken-in to your foot, the simplicity of the laces makes for quick on, off, and snugging up.
The mesh portion of the upper, which forms the forefoot flex point, provides just enough room for this shoe to breathe better than we anticipated. With a mesh tongue as well, this product is cooler on the foot than other models with mostly leather uppers.
This model weighed in at 2.51 lbs, the third heaviest of the bunch. The dense sole, extremely protective toe-cap (which is reminiscent of approach shoes), and the thick leather uppers contribute to its weight, but also contribute to the benefits of this shoe, namely support and durability. If you seek a supportive shoe that is several ounces lighter, the Keen Targhee 2 and The North Face Hedgehog Hike GTX have good support relative to their lighter designs.
This product's design prioritizes support, and it received the highest score we awarded. This shoe excels during long days out in rough terrain and on backpacking trips. For folks that choose a hiking shoe to carry light or moderate backpacking loads, the ECO provides firm mid foot support in flexion and great torsional stability. The result less tired feet at the end of the day! This stiffness also makes the shoe a top performer for scrambling rocky ridges and playing in the talus. The Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo also earned a top score for support. It is heavier and much less breathable, but also a great shoe for backpacking with moderate loads. Additionally, the Renegade's full leather makes it perhaps a better choice for cold or muddy trips.
The La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 surprisingly let us down a bit in the traction category, but that's largely due to our high expectations for La Sportiva footwear. While the sole design provides great grip on dry rock and holds better than most in the mud, wet granite slabs are not its forte. It handled mixed loose terrain well, but uniform grape-sized gravel had us sliding a bit. That said though, we were happy with its all-around performance. The Vibram River sole seems to be one of the harder soles we tested and we expect it to last a long time.
This shoe is a bit heavy and stiff for smooth trails and short dayhikes, but is a favorite for backpacking and longer hikes in rough terrain. It takes well to moving fast in rough terrain, but running is not comfortable. The North Face Ultra 109 GTX is a more versatile shoe if you don't need the ECO's support and want to crank up the pace sometimes.
Our Top Pick winner is a good-looking shoe and the only one we tested with just one color available. Good thing this light tan makes for a great casual shoe. At work or out to a low-key dinner, these look great. Even though the light leather stains easily, we like this shoe for yard and gardening tasks. Its support and burly toe are nice, but the flexible, breathable mesh is more comfortable than full leather construction.
This model is another standout in the waterproofing category. This shoe kept our feet dry as a bone and the leather resists absorbing water very well. After some use and scuffing up, the leather does soak up water and get heavy – using a leather conditioner periodically to revamp water resistance is a good idea and will increase the life expectancy of the leather.
We quite like the mesh forefoot flex point of the ECO, on both this low cut and its big brother the mid cut 3.0, but there's one interesting consequence. While our feet stayed dry standing in shallow and cold mountain stream water, we really felt the chill through the mesh.
Our first assumption about this shoe's durability turned out to be flat wrong. The only place where La Sportiva integrates mesh in the upper is right at the forefoot flex point. We figured it would wear quickly, especially since this is a common wear spot from abrasion. However, La Sportiva's 100 percent recycled mesh shows no signs of wear after lots of scrambling and rough hiking. Add the quality leather and relatively hard sole, and this boot was a top scorer.
The La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 feels most at home on rougher trails and carrying a pack. We found it a great shoe for trips up and down our favorite ridges on Colorado 14'ers. In addition, its low-key appearance makes it a fine casual or work shoe with fatigue saving foot support.
At $150 list price, this model comes in the middle of the shoes. Folks with narrow feet that want a very supportive, durable shoe think it's a great deal.
Coined as a "low top, waterproof, versatile shoe" by La Sportiva, we feel like they achieved what they set out to accomplish. This model is stiff and requires some breaking in, but is perfect for rough terrain and backpacking. Our narrow-footed lead tester loves them for ridge traverses and light backpacking.
FC ECO 2.0 - Women's
La Sportiva FC Eco 3.0
— Brandon Lampley
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: May 9, 2016
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