Over the last decade, there has been a real shift in the style of footwear used by most golfers year-round. Gone are the days where you'd hear the crunch of metal spikes across the golf club car park, or arrive at the green to tap in your 3 foot birdie putt, only to find that there were spike marks all around the hole ready to knock your ball off line.
The main reason for this is because of the improvements in soft spike and spikeless golf shoe technology, meaning that you can get all of the traction and stability that you need in a golf shoe, but with the comfort and practicality of a normal trainer.
You could argue that Ecco themselves were the main trailblazers for this movement with the launch of their Hybrid shoe range back in 2010, and their latest release marks the fourth generation of this shoe line which they say is their most advanced and modern design to date.
What's It All About?
The Biom H4 is built around a new Biom 2.0 last - which is effectively the mould used to shape the look of the shoe - which has been updated to showcase a modern aesthetic along with plenty of stability and a glove-like fit.
On the bottom of the shoe, Ecco are introducing a new MTN Grip outsole which is split into three different sections so that you don't suffer any compromise from using a spikeless shoe even in adverse weather conditions.
The heel section is specifically designed to provide extra traction to stop you from slipping, the middle section is designed for both traction and ground penetration due to the specially-designed lugs, whilst the final section stretches around the front section of the shoe and provides rotational support during the motion of the swing.
The most obvious addition for this edition of the Biom Hybrid, however, are the new TPU midfoot elements, which on this model are blue and red in colour. Not only do these look great and provide a stand-out feature on the course, they also wrap the foot from the outsole to the midsole and enhance stability.
The shoe's upper still has all the hallmarks of a typical Ecco shoe, thanks to a performance leather made in Ecco's own tanneries which provides the 100% waterproof Gore-Tex protection you expect to get from a high performance golf shoe in 2021.
Below the upper is X-Tensa Invisible technology, said to link to the TPU blocks in the sole to the lacing system in an inverted-V shape to provide added stability as the foot moves and twists.
The Ortholite insole has been a mainstay in Ecco shoes for the last few years and provides both cushioning and breathability, but can also be removed if you have wide feet and need the extra room.
The Biom H4 shoes are available in four colourways for men: Black, White, Silver/Grey and Grey/Concrete and four for women: White, Limestone, Hibiscus, White/Silver Grey.
I put the new Ecco Biom H4 shoes to the test on the golf course for 18 holes, playing from a variety of different lies in classic English spring conditions to find out whether a Hybrid shoe can be suitable for your rounds of golf all year round.
Ecco Biom H4 Golf Shoe Review
First things first, I think that the H4 is much better looking than the previous Biom Hybrid 3 - so much so that I'd say that this is probably Ecco's best looking shoe to date. I was also a big fan of the S-Three, and it has been one of my go-to shoes for casual rounds over the last 12 months or so, but I think the look of this may just pip it.
As soon as I saw these shoes back at the start of 2021, my eye was immediately drawn to the midfoot posts and this was exactly the same again as soon as I took the shoes out of the box.
It's a great way to add something a little more interesting to the shoe without completely disregarding the classical Ecco styling. You don't just want to alienate current customers in the search for a wider target market.
In order to achieve this balance, Ecco have kept a few of their usual design elements that you may recognise if you have used their shoes in the past, including the fabric section around the top of the shoe, distinctive toe shape and wide heel construction.
They do deliver a slightly firmer, sturdier feel than previous Ecco shoes or perhaps than I was expecting having tried the Biom Cool Pro and S-Three models in recent years.
I wouldn't say they were 'clunky' by any means, but they were certainly a little more like a reliable spiked shoe rather than a lightweight, spikeless summer shoe with added traction. Considering I had set out wondering whether these would be a suitable shoe for year-round use, I found this to be a positive.
Throughout the test, whether I was on tees, mats, fairways, rough or even in the bunker, the traction offered was consistently impressive - and again carried real similarities with a spiked shoe. That sole design isn't just there to look good!
You can also tell just by looking at it and feeling the sole that Ecco have put some real effort into the different sections to ensure that you get the best possible performance.
A word of warning though, these lugs are pretty big so you may find you get a little bit of debris caught in the sole particularly when the course is wet or soft, this may frustrate some golfers.
One of the things that has impressed me most about testing Ecco shoes over the last few years has been their durability, which is perhaps testament to the fact that they use their own high-quality materials to produce them.
They may be slightly more expensive than an average shoe, but for that you can probably be assured of the fact that you won't have to consider a change of footwear at the end of each season.
Ecco Biom H4 BOA Golf Shoe Review
Ecco have also given golfers the option of their BIOM H4 shoe with BOA fastening system, providing another benefit to those golfers who are looking for comfort and ease of use with their footwear.
If you aren't familiar with BOA, it replaces the need for conventional laces by using a dial at the top of the tongue which tightens the wire laces to your preference. You then simply pop the dial out of it's clip and it releases the lacing so that you can easily slip your foot out of the shoe.
This isn't really new technology - it was first introduced into snowboarding boots a couple of decades ago - but it is becoming more and more popular in the golf market as it saves you faffing around quite so much at the boot of your car following a round.
Adding BOA to the Biom H4 makes it much easier to put the shoes on, in my opinion, as the shoe is able to open much wider than with normal laces.
Whilst you're out on the course, the feeling of having no proper knot tied at the top of your foot may take a bit of getting used to, but if you've got them tightened properly you should feel a more balanced fit around your whole foot, rather than it being much tighter at the top.
If you find that they do become a little loose during the course of your round, it's really simple to readjust the tightness on the move and of course there's the added bonus that your laces will never come undone.
BOA lacing might not be for everyone but I think Ecco has done a good job of including it on these shoes without it looking garish or standing out too much.
I'd certainly recommend giving it a go next time you're browsing for golf shoes in your Pro Shop - it's only a small features but it could make a big difference to your comfort levels on the golf course.
Ecco Biom H4 Golf Shoe Verdict
As I have said in previous Ecco reviews, there is no doubting their shoes' quality so the real challenge for the brand is to get more golfers trying them on, as that's where they I think they will win. There's certainly where they won me over.
Ecco are also looking at ways to widen their target market by appealing to younger golfers, and whilst having an exciting list of growing ambassadors which includes Henrik Stenson, Lydia Ko and Erik van Rooyen will help, the main focus will surely be in producing modern and appealing designs - the BIOM H4 is a great start in that respect.
At £170, the H4 shoe is actually £20 cheaper than the Hybrid 3 and for me the performance has improved so in context although £170 is a lot of money this shoe is certainly worthy of serious consideration the next time you are in the market for a new pair.
- Big jump in aesthetic between H3 and H4
- Excellent levels of traction
- Out of the box comfort
- Decent range of colourways
- Sturdier build quality than expected
- £170 is still pricey for a spikeless shoe
- Not as lightweight as I'd expected
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