Tuesday, 6 May 2014

TGO Challenge 2014: New boots, or ‘Have I gone mad?’



Just a couple of years ago I remember falling about laughing when, with less than a week to the Challenge, my mate WeeWillyWilky went out and bought himself some brand new boots for the TGO Challenge. I put it down to inexperience and suggested that he take lots of blister plasters and pain killers.

As it happened it wasn’t his feet that brought about Wilky’s demise, but his cotton shreddies, which did exactly what they said on the tin to his groin. The sight of your mate’s badly damaged undercarriage is not an image that is easily forgotten and indeed, Mr Walker has never fully recovered from the horror. He still wakes at night, screaming.

So, last Thursday my new boots arrived.

And I’m leaving for the Challenge tomorrow, on Wednesday.

Have I taken leave of my senses? Perhaps. But you see, I really quite like them.

Here they are, taken tonight under incandescent light, so the colour rendition isn’t great and the camera was hand-held:













You will see from the photographs that these boots seem remarkably clean. Quite so. So far I have walked a giddy seven miles in the beauties. Yes, just seven miles. Into town, twice, on pavements. One of the trips was particularly arduous as I got soaked on the way back by one of those horrid Spring Showers that are so inconvenient at this time of year.

I expect you’re wondering why a bloke who seems to be fairly experienced in this backpacking lark has suddenly taken leave of his senses and is risking his two week holiday with a brand new pair of leather boots. I’ll have a bash at answering that, if only to convince myself that I’ve not lost the plot completely.

I blame Robin Evans. I walked with Robin for three days in the Monadh Liath a few weeks back. He was wearing his Biom Hikes. I quietly noted that Ecco Biom Hikes are made from Yaks that roam majestically across the Scandinavian* Plains. And, like Robin it is fortunate that these beasts are blessed with an incredibly tough hide: Three times the strength of cow hide, I hear. And Robin and his friend the Yak also share the same quality of suppleness too. So hard and yet so soft, if you see what I mean…

However, here the similarities between Robin’s Bioms and my new little beauties end.

I have been fortunate in timing this just right, as these babies don’t have the horridly unnecessary-and-utterly-useless-for-long-distance-backpacking Gore-Tex membrane built into them. No Sir! These babes come with a sumptuous padded leather lining that seems to mould itself around my ankles and there’s no sign of a horrid-soon-to-fail-sweaty lining.

This will mean that should the boots get horribly saturated in the inevitable deep river crossings and miles & miles of relentless bogs and midge infested swamps, they should dry out much more quickly. It also means that in warmer weather my delicate girly tootsies are not going to be steamed to a pulpy mess. I heartily approve of this new design.

But Lo! There is more! Ecco have also changed the lacing fittings, so that the laces now run in ‘tunnel’ fittings in the lower section of the boot to give a more positive fit.

What can I say about the sole unit?

It feels like you could run a marathon in these boots. Don’t laugh! Honestly! There’s a wonderful squidgy bounce to the heel strike that seems to propel you forward. You can see that the tread pattern means business. It should provide loads of grip in my favourite boggy places. It seems to be made from a rubber compound that is almost like ‘sticky rubber.’ I can vouch that it grips well on shiny wet pavements! But, let’s be totally honest; that’s all they’ve encountered thus far!


The Danes are a bright, vibrant nation and wonderfully, are not afraid to play with colour. I adore the bright orange external heel stabiliser. And, did you notice the rather sexy colour-matched brass lace ends and top lacing fixings? Nice touch, Ecco; Other manufacturers – take note! Style Gurus enjoy accent colours!

I wear my trusty ‘Superfeet’ insoles inside them (not photographed) as I have come to love and trust these chaps since 1997 and would never, ever take the risk of being without them.

Today I am off for another ‘mini-adventure’ to the Post Office in town, to send my two parcels to Scotland. This will mean that before setting off, these little beauties will have done over TEN MILES under my very strict supervision. I think that’s quite enough, don’t you?

What do you think?

And for those in the congregation missing their dose of Borgen, here’s another picture of Danish loveliness:


* Look. It has been pointed out to me dozens of times that Yak are not habitués of the Scandinavian Plains and that they’re from the Himalaya. Perhaps these particular Yak were navigationally challenged? Perhaps they had walked off the edge of their print-outs? Leave it!


NOTE: These little minxes were provided free of charge to me by Ecco, in Denmark, for testing. I stipulated that I was going to be totally honest in the appraisal and Ecco were happy with this.


  1. you really have taken leave of your senses or these new boots which i agree do look very nice are either going to rip your feet to pieces in which shall we start bets now to how many blisters your get by say day five or they are so good that you will positivly float across scotland . anyhow have a good trip and i look forward to reading both yours and mr walkers reports and deciding how the hell is telling the truth . and please no pictures or phil hanging out of windows in his undies.

  2. I have given up on Goretex membranes. Tired of having the membrane worn out way before the sole. I was going for these, but I spied a very good price for the Scarpa Deltas and so will give them a go. It is like going back twenty years without a lining in my boots. I hope that your boots (and mine ) live up to our expectations! Have a good one Alan!

    1. Thank you Mark
      I'm no fan of Gore-Tex in shoes - it always fails.
      For the last seven years I've been wearing my beautiful Scarpa Nepals - which are in leather with wonderful leather lining.
      I just do not see the point of sticking a sweat-inducing lining in an already waterproof boot!

  3. Just do it.
    My Terrain's were excellent
    Robin Loves his, and on a plus note.

    Either they will be awesome.
    Or Phil and I can laugh at your blisters.

    Of course, I could end up with blisters in my new innov8 roclites. The shoes with gortex linings.

    That's another dilemma to go with my tent indecisiveness :-(

    1. Take Treeza Trailstar.
      You know it makes sense.
      Roclites, with Gore-Tex? Where's the sense in that, Man???
      Take your Biom Terrains - You know they work for you and are comfy too!

    2. Roclites have done me across no issues for 3 Challenges.
      Terrain's have ONLY done 3 days in Monas.
      Gonna go Roclites ..

      Now I will have to go and weigh that Fucking Tent again. :-(

    3. Where's your sense of adventure, man?
      Three days in the mountains? Plenty!
      Wear the boots.

    4. Roclites, Treeza, Whisky, Sloe Gin, and the fine company of yourself and Mr Lambert.
      What more could a man want eh..

      OK...Birgitte Hjort Sorensen

      To be honest, anything female with a pulse would be fine! :-)

  4. I went for these exact boots a few weeks ago but they just don't suit me. Attracted by the leather linings and good reports over the 'net, they hurt me on a 3 day TGO warmup in April. Sore heels and my (admittedly substantial) calf muscles took a beating from the high cuffs. Back to trail shoes for TGOC14 for me.

    I might revisit the Bioms or they might just get eBayed (size 42, 2 days use…..)


    1. I always push ankle cuffs around a lot before I wear the boots for the first time. Bitter experience teaches you that if you don't you'll have tendon problems.
      I use a really stiff antler shoe horn to work the inside of the rear of the cuff, as it's almost designed for the job. It does all the work that your tendon/calf muscle would otherwise have to do.
      Since doing this (twenty years ago) I've never had a problem with high ankle cuffs.
      Try it Sir!

    2. Interesting, will give it a go, thanks for the tip.

    3. Andy, if you get shut, bear me in mind, I'm a 42 but I am not narrow footed. How are they width wise?

  5. Who's a lucky boy then! Mind you I think the ankle needs to be about 2ft higher from what we have experienced so far. They look terrific.

    1. They *do* do a very tall Biom boot Al....

    2. I quite like the Terrain II Mid's that they do.
      I just need to wear boots a bit more than shoes to feel confident, and I KNOW that Roclites work for me, as do Terrocs.
      Sadly, the build quality is so SHITE that they only last foe about 220 miles.
      But since they replaced mine for free last year (Because they fell to bits) I am going with them again

  6. We've heard good things about these new ECCO Biom's and see they apparently made it through your rigorous testing. I see you wear Superfeet Insoles -have you tried the new lightweight Superfeet Carbon Insoles? -perhaps we could let you test out a pair?

    1. That's very kind of you, Tyler.
      Are you aware that I live in the UK?


Because of spammers, I moderate all comments, so don't worry if your comment seems to have disappeared; It has been sent to me for approval. As soon as I see it, I'll deal with it straight away.
Thank you!