One of the shoes I was least sure about turned out an absolute favorite: Icebug’s Oribi 2 GTX with their RB9X rubber compound sole.
My hesitation was due to this shoe not having quite the aggressive tread often found on Icebug shoes (or, in this variant, the BUGrip spikes – though there is a variant like that), and a comparatively thicker sole / cushioning.
This made it look rather normal and less grippy, but it turned out to be good that way.
The usual full disclosure: I got those shoes from Icebug for free, without obligations, free to test them for longer and speak my mind.
I have had the Oribi since November of 2017, more than a year ago.
Since then, I used those shoes for literally hundreds of kilometers:
On relaxed runs and adventurings all my own.
In the 24 Hours Burgenland Extreme covering more than 100 km around the Neusieder See lake, on roads and trails, in winter.
Good and Bad of That Testing
This testing approach is a bit problematic when I nearly forget that I haven’t actually reviewed the shoes yet. And when I didn’t take photos of them when they still looked – because they were – new…
It is great, though, to be able to truly write a review based on long experience.
The sole now shows its long use, the upper is starting to fray in a spot where I often scratch along rocks – and I still don’t want to retire those shoes. And I can still use them and, often enough, still do.
The Oribi’s Construction
The Oribi was originally meant for beginners, which mainly shows in the comfort with which it wears. Not like beginners, it is rather light and certainly fast.
The upper, in the GTX version, is a polyester mesh with GoreTex lining. Mainly the outer/lower parts of it have a bit of a TPU coating for further reinforcement (or, as the official info states, as mudguard).
The lacing is a conventional one, but with laces that have a thinner-thicker segmentation. The biologist in me doesn’t know better than to describe it as somewhat worm-like.
These are laces I’d like to have everywhere; they have not only held up nicely through long use, the structuring they have keeps them closed with just a single knot in them.
(I have too many shoe laces which are durable, but so slippery that they just slide open over time if not closed with a double knot.)
The Oribi 2 GTX RB9X use Icebug’s “Rubber 9 Extreme,” which is pretty durable even on roads and gravel running, yet – at least, supposed to be – grippy on most surfaces.
Of course the BUGrip version (which is available) would be better for really slippery winter conditions (but it would be annoying on roads). And the carbonate rocks I often end up in the Alps let any shoe slip when they are polished and wet.
Still, combined with the lug pattern that did not appear aggressive enough to me at first (compared to the deep tread on the Acceleritas), the grip has been excellent.
The lugs are wide and levered so that they work together with each other and with the motion of the foot to grip the ground – and I have been on anything from snowy roads to muddy summer trails and boulders and gravel with those shoes.
Cushioning / Protection
The cushioning is medium and the drop 7 mm, which is less than many standard running shoes, but more than some Icebug shoes I really like – and great for a variety of uses.
Combined with the rock shield in the midsole, the Oribi have an excellent combination of protection and feel.
Why I ended up loving the Oribi to death – almost literally, looking at them now: The same things that made me hesitant about them at first – their comparatively normal build – proved a boon.
The sole is grippy enough, but not so extreme that it doesn’t work well on roads and flat hiking or bike trails.
The cushioning and drop are not so low that one feels the ground as much as in the Acceleritas (which are basically barefoot shoes with extreme tread), and the rock shield adds to that protection.
All together keeps the shoes light and responsive enough to feel rocks and roots securely when climbing, but protective enough not to suffer from sharp stones or be unable to run longer distances even on asphalt roads.
Exactly my kinds of little adventures and races, going over roads and easy trails to end up in serious mountain terrain, work perfectly with the Oribi – and I can just as well wear them on a train going to my trails and back. There, they don’t have the clack of BUGrip spikes, and they wear just like some comfortable sneakers.
Why I had decided that I would want to give these shoes a try was because I wanted to see about shoes for snowy winter runs and similar conditions in which a waterproof lining is needed.
Of course, as the fast and light – and low – shoes they are, the Oribi 2 GTX do protect from wet terrain much better than shoes with merely hydrophobic uppers. However, for runs in deeper snow, one needs gaiters… and they may not stay low enough at the ankle to prevent snow from being pushed in.
The GoreTex has been breathable enough that I have not had issues feeling wet or even just sweaty in those shoes (at least, for too long). They are not ideal for the most extreme of situations I have sometimes gone into, though.
If you are into racing down slopes with knee-deep powdery snow, you will need other shoes (and I tried the Pace 2 from Icebug for that; review following soon). But then, you will also know that no shoe is truly ideal for that.
For anything other than floating through fresh powder that I have thrown myself into – snow and mud, winter and summer, flat roads and mountain ultras – the Oribi 2 GTX RB9X have been only too good.
If I sound a bit rueful, it’s only because I am having a hard time parting with these shoes – even as the ISPO 2019 is coming up and Icebug will present a new shoe model I am excited about…