When I found out I was reviewing spikes for ice and snow, I figured they would be like my micro spikes that attach to my shoe. Imagine my confusion when a shoe box showed up at my door.
“Oh, shoes with spikes! Ok, I can do that!”
The shoes are Aurora BuGRIPs ($180) by Swedish brand IceBug. While not widely known or distributed here, they’ve got a big following in Europe.
First thing is first, these are not shoes you get excited about and put on right out of the box..on your hardwood floor…in front of your husband…oops! When they say spikes, they mean spikes. They are little ones, but still carbide on the hardwood floor is a no, no!
Once I got them outside and walked around a bit I was pleasantly surprised at how flexible they are, and if any of you have ever played a field sport and have worn cleats around you know how knobby and uncomfortable they can be on harder surfaces, these are not. They are cushioned enough, without being too soft, firm enough that you don’t feel the spikes under your feet, but flexible enough that you still get trail feel. The ride was quite smooth and I felt quick and agile on my feet over the sloppiest mud and around the sharpest turns.
Their ability to do all this is because of their BUGrip technology; “The studs work independently from each other and are not completely fixed. When weight is applied the studs push in toward the surface of the sole. How far they are pushed in depends on the pressure exerted by the user and the resistance from the ground. This dynamic function makes the studs adapt to the surface and provide the best possible traction on anything from dry asphalt to pure ice.”
I took these out on the wet, muddy trails at first. There are several bridges in the forest here that are as slippery as snot, and usually I am so cautious going over each one of them. With the Icebug shoes on my feet I quickly realized that the little metal spikes bit and gripped right into the slippery wood. I have never felt so sure-footed on those mossy, frozen bridges. This sure-footed feeling carried over to all the other terrain I ran over. Wet leaf covered single track, wide gravel trail, iced over roots, and fallen trees.
As much as I love the treads on these shoes, the uppers were a disappointment. First the ankle collar was very thick and stiff. It made securing the shoes to my feet difficult. I wasn’t exactly slipping out of the shoe, but it just didn’t quite feel secure even trying several different ankle securing shoelace methods. Had I stepped into deep shoe-sucking-mud I definitely would have lost a shoe, or two. No matter how many different ways I tried to tie the shoe, it just didn’t feel snug.
The next problem I encountered with the upper was that during a 7 mile run, 4 miles into it I started to feel a hot spot on the top of my second toe, which quickly turned into a blister before I could get home and get the shoe off. This, unfortunately was a deal breaker for me with the shoes. I had to pre-tape my toes before runs to wear them, and it still seemed to irritate the tops of my toes.
With that said, I really didn’t wear them more than 10 miles because of this. [ed note: I experienced the same problem with my Icebug Acceleritas last year, but after a few dozen tough miles they softened up on me.] The ride was super sweet and really comfortable, but the upper really did not work for me at all. It’s constructed of nylon with a water resistant treatment–potentially the reason that the material had a harsher feel and less flexibility, and likely the reason my toes were rubbed raw. I suppose water resistance is good for regular walking shoes, but for a trail running shoe it seems obsolete for the most part. If there are puddles we aren’t tip-toeing around them and something water resistant will eventually get wet anyway.
I also found that my fore foot was wider than the toe box. You can imagine, from the picture of my foot on the sock liner, that eventually my toes would feel more than cramped in there.
I tried the women’s Aurora-L BUGrip in Ink and Amethyst. The upper is made of their Ripstop nylon and they say to keep them water resistant the user should wash them with a damp cloth and reapply a waterproofing spray from time to time. The midsole is injected molded lightweight EVA, and the outsole has their BUGrip which consists of 19 carbide tip studs in rubber. The shoe has an 8mm drop and weighs 7.5 oz, making it feel light and quick.
I really wanted to like these shoes, I mean how many of us get frustrated in the snow, mud and ice wishing we had built in metal spikes so we wouldn’t waste so much energy sliding around on trails? From the moment I put them on and got out on the trails I loved how sure footed I felt, but the comfort and fitting of the upper was a deal breaker for me. I would rather slide a bit than be doctoring my feet daily. I would recommend them to people who either have very narrow feet, or run really short races in sloppy conditions. I could see them used as a sprinter would use track spikes, you wouldn’t necessarily train in them all the time, but could be part of your trail racing shoe collection…if you are lucky enough to be able to afford special racing shoes. I would never recommend them for an ultra, ouch!
|Upper||Ripstop nylon / Protective PU / TPU / Weather Shield|
|Lining||Quickdry mesh / TPU ‘weather shield’|
|Midsole||Injection molded lightweight EVA|
|Outsole||Rubber with BUGrip 19 carbide tip studs|
These shoes were worn and reviewed by Rachel Kelley a lover of all running surfaces, but mostly of mountain trail running. She is currently running about 90 miles a week getting back to training, in preparation for the Thomas Jefferson 100k in March, and Cruel Jewel 50 in May. In her free time she can usually be found painting, blogging, or running with her whippet-mix, Emmitt. The shoes were provided to Rachel by URP and IceBug for review purposes. All thoughts and words are her own.