Serious runners aren't exactly the sharpest tools in the shed. After all, normal people consider roads and trails covered with ice a perfectly acceptable reason to stay inside watching television.
Yet runners will do the darnedest things to get their adrenaline fix when the weather turns ugly, even putting sheet metal screws in the bottom of their shoes for traction. While the screws are better than nothing, on sections of bare pavement and rocky trails, they are downright unpleasant. Detachable ice walkers also make for lousy running because they are insecure and can impede circulation.
The relatively new Icebug Multi Run shoes are unquestionably the best option for winter running yet. Their most notable feature is a set of 17 carbide steel studs that protrude from lugs on an otherwise conventional trail running sole. The metal studs are designed to recess into the lugs when they strike hard ground, yet provide traction on ice.
While wearing Icebugs, you can dash confidently across ice that would have you tiptoeing in any other running shoes; even dogs don't grip as well. The model tested has a waterproof/breathable lining so puddles and slush are no problem either â€” just charge on through. They are fantastic winter shoes, even for walking on sidewalks!
However, Icebugs are also strictly one-season shoes. While the manufacturer claims the shoe is multipurpose and for use on asphalt as well as mud and ice, when running on dry pavement, it feels like you are on kitty litter; there is a constant crunching sensation and noise underfootâ€”not that you should get the idea we spend much time running through kitty litter boxes, mind you. Don't make the mistake of walking indoors on hardwood floors either or you may end up renting a power sander. They do make versions without the metal studs, but these compete with all the normal running shoes on the market and aren't anything special. The uppers and midsoles are rather conventional, offering good support, reasonable cushioning and solid construction.
Our tester owns half a dozen models of XCR and other waterproof running shoes for wet and muddy trails. However, he says these shoes are mostly obsolete now that he's upgraded to Icebugs. At $145 for the Multi Run Dry ($150 for a more supportive model), these are a bit more expensive than the others. But the exceptional traction on ice makes these must-haves for running fanatics who already own a closet full of shoes.
SNEWS Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested retail: $145
For more information:www.garmontusa.com or call 802-658-8322