The Icebug Oribi RB9X fills a void not targeted by many trail running shoes these days. It’s a lightweight, protective, just lugged enough trail shoe with average drop. It’s fun to push the pace in and probably just enough shoe for most folks up to ~30k.
Icebug Oribi RB9X Specs:
- Weight: 200g / 7.1oz (US women’s 7.5); 230g / 8.1oz (US men’s 9.0)
- Drop: 7mm
- Upper: minimal polyester mesh; full wrap-around welded mudguard/overlay
- Cushion: Lightweight EVA
- Rockplate: Yes
- Outsole: minimal, semi-sticky rubber compound
Presenting the Icebug Oribi RB9X. A minimal, go-fast trail shoe.
Now for more details. In this review, we’ll break things down in to four areas:
- What’s good: the new, differentiating, or simply well designed or built features or aspects of the shoe.
- What could be improved: tweaks or improvements that could be made to make the shoe better.
- When to use it: the situations or scenarios where the shoe excels.
- How it compares: my current go-to shoes and how this compares
I’ll try to be as succinct as possible. After all, you’ve probably got more running you can do today!
- The void the shoe fills. Clearly a lot of thought was put in to designing and producing this lightweight, protective trail shoe. As the pendulum has swung back in recent years to mo’ cushion = mo’ better it’s nice to see a shoe that is protective and cushioned enough for most daily runs and paces in a minimal, lightweight package.
It’s refreshing to see a truly lightweight, race-ready trail shoe.
- The ride. The shoe is a little stiff the first couple of runs but softens up a touch and rides well once broken in.
The upper doesn’t require any break-in time but the midsole / outsole stiffness does require a handful of runs to dial in.
- The fit. It’s a pretty straight last without any uncomfortable pressure points. The polyester mesh upper, simple all-around welded TPU mudguard, and minimal heel counter and collar are designed well. I wouldn’t describe the forefoot fit as wide (fans of Altra need not apply) but it’s not narrow. Let’s call it close to a medium midfoot and forefoot fit. Note: I had to go up half a size from my normal US 12 to US 12.5 in this shoe. Folks with narrow feet will probably be true to size in this shoe but average to wider feet will want to go up half a size I think.
Simple, fairly straight last should accommodate most foot types except wider feet who prefer the ‘Altra’ footshape toebox.
- The little details. The shoe is stripped down with attention to detail. You still get a sandwiched rockplate, gusseted tongue, semi-sticky lugs, and awesome tiny ‘sausage-style’ laces with some elasticity to them at this weight.
The fabric of the gussets was noticeable against the foot on the inside of the shoe but once I got used to that feeling it wasn’t bothersome.
These laces are awesome!
- The style. Does this matter? Not really, but I do think it’s a bonus when shoes are functional yet also look cool. While the large…Icebug? on the side of the shoe is not very stylish (my friend asked me if I had a giant orange tick on the side of my shoe the first time he saw it) the simple, two-tone bright color choices in both the men’s and women’s versions look good I think.
What could be improved on the Icebut Oribi RB9X?
- The traction. I struggled with the tractor tire-inspired outsole on this shoe. On one hand, I really appreciated the minimal lugs that are well-spaced to shed mud. They are also deep enough to inspire confidence on most terrain. On the other hand, I’d love to see a slightly different pattern of tread on the heels to inspire more confidence on steep downhills.
The ‘tractor tire’ tread works OK but could be improved for better traction on steep descents.
- The cush. Again, I struggled with whether this shoe had just enough cushion or needs a little more. I landed on believing just a touch more cushion would provide more versatility. Of course, there will be a weight penalty in doing this but I think the shoe could gain a few grams to benefit from just 2-3mm of additional cushioning.
A simple, minimal heal collar is appreciated but 2-3mm of additional midsole foam would make the shoe even better.
- The price. At a MSRP of $149.95 it’s certainly an expensive shoe given the midsole is traditional EVA and will eventually flatten out over time. I’d love to see the price come down a few pennies to make the Icebug Oribi RB9X a better value.
When to use it?
- Fast days on the trail. This is a great trail half-marathon to 30k type of race shoe. Also, a great weekly trail workout kind of shoe for hill repeats, trail tempos, etc.
- Everyday use for lightweight runners with narrow or average feet who like a performance fit in a minimal package.
The Icebug Oribi RB9X is a great option in these scenarios.
Similar shoes to compare with:
The Icebug Oribi RB9X doesn’t have a lot of direct competitors that I have worn (e.g., Inov-8) given its weight and drop so I’ll compare with my go-fast shoes of choice.
- Salomon S-Lab Sense (pick a version #) or S-Lab Sense SG (pick a version #): Very close in weight, similar in price (especially as previous versions of the Sense or Sense SG go on sale) but a more confidence-inspiring fit in the Salomons. Very few shoes can match the fit that the Salomon Endofit and Sensifit combine together. Despite the outrageous MSRP of the Salomons I’m giving them the nod. However, both shoes leave my feet a little beat up if I try to go too long in either.
- Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 3 or 4: You pay a weight penalty in the Terra Kigers but with the weight penalty you get more cushion and a more versatile outsole. You also get an upper that hugs the foot better I believe. The Nikes cost $25 less. The Nike Terra Kiger 3s or 4s win here.
- Hoka Speed Instinct (My review here.) Again, you pay a weight penalty in the Hoka but you get significantly more cushion. It’s also $20 less. The Hokas win here too.
So, the $149.95 question – should you purchase the Icebug Oribi RB9X?
In a word, maybe. If you are looking for a fast, nimble, performance fit with just enough protection and cushioning to handle trail workouts and shorter races the Icebug Oribi RB9X is a fine shoe. I just wish it was about $20 less with a touch more cushion.
Questions, comments, or feedback on this shoe? Please share! And thanks for reading!
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Meet Your Gear Editor: Ben Zuehlsdorf
I am an avid running gear junkie. When I’m not smelling new shoes I’m usually running or racing around the local trails in Marin County, California or talking shop with the San Francisco Running Company community of friends. I was once a road marathoner but now have transitioned almost exclusively to the trails and racing ultras the last few years.
Disclaimer: These shoes was provided to URP for testing purposes. All words and thoughts are ours and no compensation was offered or received.