By Kimberlee Frederick
A shoe that offers continual comfort, versatility of wear and a technologically innovative design seems almost too good to be true—but La Sportiva’s Flex Control Eco 2.0 shoe for women does all of that and boasts eco friendliness to boot.
These shoes might not take you cross-country, but for day hikes, trails and everyday walking, it’s a top-of-the-line choice that definitely beats out using regular running or tennis shoes to trek the trails. The most standout aspect of this shoe is its unbelievable comfort. It required very little breaking in and conformed wonderfully to my foot right out of the box. Even with a little stiffness from being new, the boots slipped on easily with no pinching or pressure.
Its GORE-TEX lining takes the functionality of the shoe further by keeping out water while maintaining breathability. While torrential rain isn’t a huge concern during a southern California summer, spending time near rivers, lakes and creeks is a must, which means effectively protective footwear is necessary. The GORE-TEX extended comfort lining does what it promises and keeps every drop of water out but also lets moisture inside the shoe escape. The result is a breathable and comfortable shoe that doesn’t beg to be removed after a couple of hours of activity.
Employing La Sportiva’s innovative Impact Brake System, the FC Eco 2.0 has all the benefits the specially designed sole intends.
The idea behind this technology is to lessen the negative impact created when feet hit the ground hard. The result is more comfort for the feet, legs and back while hiking or walking intensively. La Sportiva accomplishes this through a very particular, river design of the lugs on the soles, which face opposite, slanting directions from each other.
This design also allows for increased efficiency in downhill breaking efficiency and an excellent grip on steep terrain. The latter is a feature that this writer can certainly attest to—the trek up a steep and gravelly hill was unquestionably aided by the outstanding ability of these shoes to grip the terrain.
Part of the Flex Control Eco series, this shoe has flex control patterns that are unique to La Sportiva in the soles as well as along the tops of the shoes to create a flex during use. The Flex Control system is based on the design of the uppers, which are made with 100 percent recycled nylon and nubuck—rawhide leather that is highly resistant to wear. They are designed to allow the most freedom of movement possible at the foot’s flex points, without sacrificing the shoes’ ability to provide support. The flex at the sole and the ankle allows smooth forward movement and lets the foot follow naturally to maximize its power while maintaining all of its protection and support.
The removable Fit-Thotic insole is designed to coincide the flex system of the upper with that of the sole. The extension of the insert all the way to the heel gives the shoe anti-shock properties. The insole’s TPU shank offers added balance while walking or hiking. What is more, like the sole, this soft EVA insole is composed of recycled materials so that production waste is essentially nothing.
Eco 2’s lace-up system is traditional, with sturdy eyelets that won’t tear apart the laces. And the laces are composed of 100 percent recycled polyester. They can be pulled pretty hard for a snug fit, and the metal eyelets seem to handle that just fine so far. The padded tongue stretches across the upper inner part of the shoe, a design decision that very effectively keeps dirt, dust and other debris out.
These shoes perform wonderfully on gravelly trails and provide outstanding traction on varied terrain. Though low cut, the notch at the back of shoe and the snug but moveable fit help to ensure that the foot stays in place without sliding uncomfortably.
The muted colors (a subtle combination of ‘mocha’ and ‘mint,’ in this case), low cut structure and cohesive design of the boot ensure that its uses don’t have to be relegated to the trails. Day-to-day errands and activities that require quick and efficient feet will be benefited by this shoe’s ability to jive with everyday wear.
To make sure that the shoes stay in top condition, it’s advisable to rinse them after each use. The materials that comprise the shoe make that easy—a few wipes and an air dry (La Sportiva is quick to warn that sun drying or drying near heat sources can damage the shoes) and they’re good to go.
Running around $145, the FC Eco 2.0 is a great, surprisingly all-purpose shoe. Backed by the GORE-TEX ‘Guaranteed to keep you dry’ promise and La Sportiva’s promise that it’s the ‘ecological choice,’ this shoe has it all for day hiking and everyday needs.
Upper materials: Nubuck and 100 percent recycled Nylon; S3 protection coating
Lining: GORE-TEX Extended Comfort
Sole: Vibram River Eco-step compound with Impact Brake System
Weight: 13.05 oz
Recommended uses: Hiking, light backpacking, walking