We’ve praised Ecco shoes many times on this gear site for their good craftsmanship and European looks. This Ulterra Lo model I’ve been wearing a lot the past few months is another winner. These shoes are comfortable and well-made, and unlike many “light hiking” or “fast hiking” shoes I’ve tried out, they’ve got some real cushion and support between the feet and the trail.
These are good all-around travel shoes, which is how I’ve been using them on several trips. You can walk the sidewalks or cobblestones all day, then take on some ancient stairs at some ruins, then the next day walk a few miles on a mountain trail. The Ulterra Lo shoes perform well in all these cases but don’t look totally goofy if you’re wearing them to a downtown pub or through the airport. They’ve got some real tread on the sole, but a dose of the style Ecco is known for as well.
There’s a model with Gore-tex and without. Which one you would pick normally depends on how much your feet are going to get wet. If you walk a lot in cold and wet climates, the price premium will be worth it. If you’re hiking around Tucson and Moab a lot, you could save same cash and go without. It’s not that simple though in this case because the GTX version is newer and looks a lot less clunky than the earlier model if you ask me.
There’s a thick rubber outsole on the bottom and yak leather on much of the top. A toe guard on the front and heel guard on the back mean these will protect you much better than sneakers when you take to the hills. The lacing system makes them feel like a good pair of trail runners when you put them on though, with a snug fit if you want that really cradles your feet. There are a few simple but useful things I like too, like nice cushioning around the ankle and a tab on the back for pulling them on. There’s also a tab on the tongue, plus that essential little loop that keeps the tongue in place under the laces. Everything is double-stitched and the laces actually stay laced.
You can get more details at the Ecco USA site, where the Gore-tex version is $190 and the regular version is $150 or less. You may find the GTX ones for less at Moosejaw (Gore-tex, regular), Planet Shoes, or Zappos. Poke around at any of those and you can also find a women’s version or a mid-size hiker.