ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — They look like hip leather shoes for work or a casual setting. They cost about $125. They don’t really look like shoes you can run in.
But the BIOM Lite 1.1 shoes are built for outdoor sports, light hiking and running. Made by Danish brand ECCO, a company known for its dressy leather kicks, the BIOM shoe represents one of the weirdest of footwear trends.
Basically, it is built to wear every day, including to work or in other semiformal settings. But hit by the inspiration to run, the hybrid can handle sprints or long distances on a road or trail.
I headed out for an hour-long run in these kicks last week. The shoe fit close and felt light. Its low profile brought to mind minimalist footwear like Vibram FiveFingers.
ECCO indeed touts a “natural foot position, almost as if barefoot” with the BIOM model. I could feel that, good and bad, as I ran on a road. There is almost no cushioning. A sloppy stride in the shoe punishes with harsh contact against the ground.
Heel striking is not comfortable. Instead, this touted “natural running shoe” is made to encourage a mid-foot landing (like you run if barefoot). After years as a runner it makes sense to me. Though for many people raised on highly-cushioned running shoes, these will feel far too minimal.
Beyond a streamlined design, ECCO includes a few subtle performance features. The shoe is flexible and has a leather lining for comfort.
The sole is a thin ply of rubber with small tread that offers adequate grip on pavement or easy trails.
As an everyday shoe, the BIOM excels. It looks great and is comfortable for walking or common tasks. The uppers are made of yak or camel leather, perforated for breathability and tougher than almost any shoe on my shelf.
For running, I see the BIOM attracting an extremely niche audience. But as a go-to shoe for use across several activities and in normal life, I find myself more and more lacing up and heading out in this unique hybrid shoe.
Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of gearjunkie.com. Connect with Regenold at Facebook.com/TheGearJunkie or on Twitter via @TheGearJunkie. GO! GEAR