The Gear Junkie Scoop: Icebug SPIRIT OLX Shoe

Aug 26, 2010
Outside Magazine

By Stephen Regenold

They come from Sweden. They are set with gridpatterns of carbide-tip studs. Their job is to conquer the gnarliest terrain arunner may ever see.

The Icebug SPIRIT OLX, an aggressive yet fabulouslynimble sports car of a shoe, is among the coolest footwear introductions I'veseen this year. The company, a small brand that launched in 2001, unveiled theSPIRIT OLX this summer along with a new push on the North Americantrail-running market.


Icebug photo front 

With its design roots in sports like orienteering andfell running, the SPIRIT OLX may strike as an extremely niche product. But theshoe, which has the feel of a trail-oriented racing flat, is adaptable andspeedy. Serious trail runners looking to gain significant speed -- whilesacrificing some comfort and foot-protection features -- could easily fall inlove with the OLX.

I sure did. On the shoes' maiden trail run last week, Itackled a leafy singletrack that angled uphill for 200 feet. The Icebug studs-- 14 fixed carbide tips per shoe -- ate into the dirt, piercing leaves andgripping so well that my feet never slipped.

In addition to great grip, the OLX is made to strike abalance between support and low-to-the-ground control. It has a "foot-shaped"anatomical last. Its sole is flexible, accommodating metatarsal movement andallowing your anatomy -- not engineered components in a bulky midsole -- toabsorb, react, and rebound in fast cadence to the terrain underfoot.

It is a lightweight shoe, too. A men's size 9 weighs justless than 10 ounces. My test shoe, a size 12, measures 11.7 ounces on my scale.This is a couple ounces lighter than an average trail-running shoe, and on thefeet the difference is noticeable.

The shoes were developed in coordination with PeterOberg, a rock star of the Swedish orienteering world. Materials used on the OLXare smart and thought through. The company ( employsnon-absorbing materials throughout, meaning the OLX shoes will not retain muchwater, even if you stomp through a stream.

The uppers are rip-stop nylon reinforced byhigh-frequency welded straps. The midsole is a lightweight EVA foam with justenough support.

Icebug photo sole 

Overall, in my trail tests so far, the OLX shoes get a bigthumbs up. The shoe successfully combines great fit, light weight, exceptionalgrip, and a nimble design that engages a natural running gait. For what it'sworth, they look cool, too.

But, alas, a sports car of a shoe must come with asports-car-type price tag. The OLX shoes retail for $159, making them among thepricier products in their class.

If you can afford them -- and if you need maximum gripfrom a nimble trail shoe -- Icebug's fully-studded runners might be the shoefor you.

--Stephen Regenold is founder and editor

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