Hands-on Gear Review

La Sportiva FC Eco 3.0 Review

By: Brandon Lampley ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 22, 2015
Price:  $175 List
Pros:  Light, comfortable, good sole, large toe box
Cons:  Basic lacing system, forefoot mesh chilly in cold weather
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva

Our Verdict

The La Sportiva FC Eco 3.0 is an outstanding lightweight hiking boot. It provides the most ankle stability of the lightweight models we tested, and is more durable than most as well. This is a Gore-Tex lined product that performs much more like the heavier midweights when wearing a pack, without the additional ounces. We find it a great choice both for day hiking and backpacking with light to moderate loads.

This boot tends to fit average to narrow feet well, so folks with wider feet may find the similar Keen Targhee II Mid a better fit. We found the Targhee more comfortable, and it's a little lighter. Folks willing to add some weight for better ankle stability should check out the Vasque St. Elias and Salomon Quest 4D, our two award-winning midweight models.


Our Analysis and Test Results

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The FC Eco 3.0 is the highest overall scoring product that didn't receive an award. While it didn't earn the top score in any one of our evaluation metrics, it did score near the top in all. We found it comfortable, supportive, and surprisingly durable, all with one of the lightest weights on the scale.

Performance Comparison


This model provides great grip on smooth rock and provides great foot support relative to its light weight.
This model provides great grip on smooth rock and provides great foot support relative to its light weight.

Comfort


Overall, we found this a very comfortable product both for day hiking and carrying a backpack. Ample padding in the ankle collar feels great, and the forefoot flexes comfortably at the mesh portion of the upper. After a few hikes, the upper and footbed seem to mold to the shape of the foot. Every tiny piece counts when building a boot this light, and the lacing system is very simple. Rather than traditional eyelets on the forefoot, the laces pass through four webbing loops, and then a single hook eyelet up on the ankle collar. This is the simplest lacing system of the products we tested, and doesn't provide much flexibility in adjusting the fit. Notable also is how well the Eco 3.0 breathes. The mesh portion of the forefoot and a mesh tongue let the boot breathe better than other mostly leather boots. If breathability is your most important criteria in choosing a lightweight boot, the Vasque Breeze 2.0 GTX is awesome.

Very comfortable for day hiking  and supportive enough for light backpacking  the Eco 3.0 was one of our go-to boots.
Very comfortable for day hiking, and supportive enough for light backpacking, the Eco 3.0 was one of our go-to boots.

Stability


While the La Sportiva FC Eco 3.0 does not provide the ankle stability that most of the mid and heavyweight hikers do, it does a better job than the other lightweights. Your foot is a little closer to the ground in this model than some others, the ankle collar provides some lateral stiffness. Firm midfoot support paired up with a relative flexible forefoot is a good combo for day hiking and backpacking with light loads.

Traction


Traction on wet granite is not one of the strong points of the Vibram River sole, but otherwise we were pleased with the Eco 3.0's grip. As we've come to expect from La Sportiva, the sole sticks really well on dry rock, and also does pretty well in the mud. Deeper lugs on the sole would improve the muddy performance, but would also add weight. The other La Sportiva product we tested in this review, the La Sportiva Hyper Mid GTX, has a sticky rubber sole and earned our Top Pick for Technical Scrambling.


Weight


Our size 46 test model weighed in at 2.60 lbs, making it the sixth lightest of the 14 products we tested. We're impressed with the Eco's performance-to-weight ratio.

Water Resistance


Heavier boots with a full leather upper like the Asolo Power Matic 200 are most resistant to water over time, but the Eco 3.0 kept our feet dry wherever we took them. With a flood height of a bit more than five inches, splashing through puddles on the trail is not big deal. While the leather uppers beaded water well initially, both they and the mesh portions will benefit from a treatment product once they begin to lose their initial water beading ability. When it's cool and wet out, we could feel the chill on our forefoot as the mesh portion of the upper soaked up water. We do not recommend this product for cold weather use.

The mesh portion of the upper at the forefoot flex point can soak up water. In cold weather  this is noticeable and uncomfortable.
The mesh portion of the upper at the forefoot flex point can soak up water. In cold weather, this is noticeable and uncomfortable.

Durability


We found this boot to be surprisingly durable. Not only is it light in weight, but our first assumption based on looking at the construction proved to be flat wrong. While most of the upper is nubuck leather, La Sportiva uses a synthetic mesh to form the forefoot flex point, and we thought it would wear fast. After months of testing, this mesh showed no signs of wear in this high abrasion area, nor did the nubuck leather, save one spot that got poked with a sharp stick.

Best Applications


We recommend this model for day hiking and backpacking with light loads. This boot is also comfortable, light, and breathable enough to make it a fine choice for casual wear around town during the rainy season.


Value


We like this boot a lot, and it's a big bonus that the top notch performance comes at a relatively low price. At $175 retail, this boot cost less than the other high overall scorers, save our Best Buy winner Keen Targhee II Mid.

Conclusion


The highest overall scoring model we reviewed outside of our award winners, The FC Eco 3.0 is very supportive and durable relative to its weight. We think it is a great choice for carrying moderate loads backpacking while not weighing down the foot. With a short break-in period, the ECO 3.0 is light and comfortable on the foot.

Brandon Lampley

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