at home in... w| Gerald Zhang-Schmidt

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Tag: trail running shoes

Icebug Acceleritas5 Side View, Slightly Used ;)

Accelerating in Icebug’s Acceleritas5 RB9X. Running Shoe Review

Shoes are at least as exciting for the runner as they are for the stereotypical shoe-obsessed woman – if they are exciting.

Icebug’s Acceleritas5 are.

Where the Nike LunarEpic have an obviously different design and near-extreme sole, and where Icebug’s own Mist have their extreme-mesh upper, the Acceleritas do not immediately look special.

Icebug Acceleritas5 Side View, Slightly Used ;)

Icebug Acceleritas5 Side View, Slightly Used ;)

Lift them up, however, and you’ll notice what makes them special at once:
They are extremely lightweight, but their sole has lugs like hardly any other.

Icebug Acceleritas5 Front Lugs

Icebug Acceleritas5 Front Lugs

Step in, and it becomes clear that they do not only feel lightweight, they are also made to be like racing flats.

Flexible and minimalist, the Acceleritas5 fit like a glove (to the point where they do not even have an insole) and work very much like a “barefoot running” shoe.

Icebug Acceleritas5 Inside

Icebug Acceleritas5 Inside

So, yes, for both better and worse, you will feel every rock and stone and root on the track you take.

Taking these shoes for the first part of the Traunsee mountain marathon, thus, was quite a gamble.

There are very many sharp stones there, the “run” is often more of a climb – except when it isn’t – and this was hard on my feet.

Icebug Acceleritas5 during the Bergmarathon

Icebug Acceleritas5 during the Bergmarathon


At the same time, the feel for the ground was tremendously good, and that combined with the low weight of the shoes also provided benefits, making me more mindful and nimble, and thus faster.

Fast is also the key word.

With the “tractor tread” lugs on the sole, all made in Icebug’s highly durable and grippy RB9X rubber, the racing flat profile/cut of the Acceleritas5 isn’t the only thing that accelerates, there is also the “safe grip, free mind” of the sole profile and material.

Sure, I stumbled a bit on the loose gravel we have, had to be careful to try not to hit any sharp stones too directly and powerfully, but I felt and indeed was safe and fast. And it was fun.

It’s definitely not the fun of rolling roughshod over anything on your path, the way “maximalist” shoes allow you to.
For working on speed and agility, conscious of technique, however, these are easily the most special and promising shoes I’ve yet had the fun to use.

For tracks and trails, off the roads, not necessarily going the longer distances but dancing nimbly through forest, across meadows and over mountains, the Acceleritas5 are shoes to try.

I have used them a lot this year, have to thank Icebug very much for having provided me with them to try and review, and can’t wait to speed along in the Alps in them again.

In fact, out to present the Ambit3 Peak’s new route altitude profile and GPS comparison tracks between Ambit3 Peak and Spartan Ultra, even though there was some snow already, I still used the Acceleritas5…

In Acceleritas5 in Snow Under the Grosser Sonnstein

In Acceleritas5 in Snow Under the Grosser Sonnstein

When the weather turns yet “worse”, I might finally get a chance to finish trying out and then reviewing the Acceleritas’ BuGrip-spikes-enabled brethren, the Anima3…

Icebug Mist running shoes

A Summer In the Icebug Mist. Running Shoe Review

Kein Mist! – For a German speaker, the name “Mist” is a bit unfortunate; it doesn’t make us think of light fog, it just translates as “junk.”

Icebug’s Mist are as far from junk as you can get…

I had noticed those shoes already at the ISPO last winter.

They are so lightly built, with a mesh upper that could almost rival a negligee when you see it lit-up like at such a fair, they are noticeable.

Icebug Mist running shoes

Icebug Mist running shoes (“tune” not included ;) )

They also looked rather less interesting, with that mesh and the comparatively thick sole (for a pair of Icebugs, not compared to the Nike LunarEpic of my recent review) making them look odd on top and ordinary below.

Was I wrong.

When I started talking (with their PR person) about Icebugs I should perhaps test this summer (full disclosure: they provided me with them), we finally decided on the Mist and the Acceleritas5, and I have hardly ever been happier…

Not only did those shoes end up being the ones I brought with me to China this summer, where their road running-appropriate sole and sheer upper was excellent for everything from walks to Beijing’s Buddhist Temples to running and strolls in Hunan, on the beaches of Haikou, and in Hong Kong.

Icebug Mist on Haikou Beach

Sandy Beach? Shoes in hand in the surf, wiped-off feet right back in them, all good – just shake out the sand that doesn’t just fall out :)

These were also the shoes I decided to take for the second half of the mountain marathon (Bergmarathon) around the Traunsee lake this year, with its mixture of gnarly trails and simple roads.

The Icebug Mist was even the pair of shoes, which I forgot to mention in the video, which I decided to use on the Hochkönigman marathon trail run, when they were still rather new and untested for me – and they worked out excellently.

A little bit like with the Icebug Zeal before, the only “issue,” e.g. on steep alpine meadow descents through wet grass, was that braking was not a good idea. Letting it run, though, the grip was amazing, and so was the comfort.

Best of all, the downside of feet getting dirtier than in more-closed shoes is quite the plus when they also dry out faster:

You lose the fear of simply jumping through the next puddles and sloshing through trails that are turning into muddy creeks.

It won’t matter, anyways: Your foot soles will be protectively cushioned just the right amount (even for road running sections), and your feet will be dry and warm enough again fast enough – and you’ll get back home to your shower faster, safer, and with more fun than if you’d tried to remain dry.

Icebug Mist and 'starry' CW-X tights, out road running

Icebug Mist and ‘starry’ CW-X tights, out road running

Too bad the summer’s definitely gone now, but I’ll get another season out of those shoes.

And until then, it’s getting time to switch to spikes – and maybe this winter turns out “bad” enough I can finally, honestly review the. Anima3 with BUGrip spikes.

I started that last winter, but it just didn’t have enough snow and ice. What a complaint :-p

at home in… Trail Running, Cradled by Icebug’s Zeal

Time for another (preliminary) shoe review, this time of the Zeal RB9X (“Rubber 9 Extreme”) from Icebug.

Icebug Zeal

Icebug Zeal as presented at the ISPO Munich 2015

The small Swedish brand has been on my radar for a long time; they are pretty much *the* experts when it comes to shoes for running on snow and ice, especially thanks to their different sole designs incorporating carbide spikes (“studs,” as they say, in the OLX and BUGrip technologies, see ).

Getting into the snow was not really the intention behind (this version of*) these shoes, even if the GearJunkie tested them on a skiing slope, but they have been handling it quite alright. Feet got wet but not uncomfortably so – and I’ve finally begun running out of the snow, over the rocks and roots and through the mud of spring weather that these shoes were made for.

Rather than spikes, these Zeal “only” use Icebug’s RB9X (rubber 9 extreme) compound which promises very high friction levels and therefore good grip while being as abrasion-resistant as road running shoes.

Furthermore, there is the “Holy Grail Midsole Soft AND Stable – technology” (HGMS²), meant to make these *the* shoes for trail running in tough terrain with high stability and comfort as well as softness and flexibility, well-protected and low to the ground.

So many promises, it made for problems – and then the realization that, oh yes, these shoes are made for running, and that’s just what they’ll do…

*There is also an OLX version of the Zeal with fixed carbide spikes – see

Go and try them out; these are the shoes for racing those trails!

Me, I’ll be out there, too – and then coming back when I can tell you how the Zeal hold up ;)

La Sportiva Crossover 2.0

at home in… the snow w| the La Sportiva Crossover 2.0 GTX

Let’s celebrate spring with a look back at snow – and a (somewhat preliminary*) review of a shoe for snow, the La Sportiva Crossover 2.0 GTX.

La Sportiva Crossover 2.0

Somehow there’s no good time for talking about this shoe, at least the way I want to.

Right now, it’s a bit too early for it as I haven’t had all that many opportunities to try it out this winter.
At the same time, it’s a bit late for it as winter is pretty much over (although, we did get a cold front dumping quite a bit of snow on us just around Easter, so there’s still snow in the Alps).

Next season would just present the same problems, though.

Why all this back-and-forth?
Well, La Sportiva’s Crossover 2.0 GTX is – or at least looks like – a dedicated winter running shoe.
With a Gore-Tex membrane and an in-built gaiter, it is all about runs in wet and/or snowy conditions; the only other shoe like it would be the Salomon Snowcross CS.

There are two main differences:
The Salomon is a mid-height shoe while the La Sportiva (similar though it looks) is actually more of a normal La Sportiva running shoe, just with the gaiter added; and Salomon’s Snowcross uses a Climashield membrane (hence, the CS in its name) while La Sportiva’s Crossover uses a Gore-Tex one (hence, GTX).

The Snowcross also has metal cleats in the sole while the Crossover does not.

It was a tad difficult getting my hands on – or should that be, my feet into? – the Crossover; only few shops here in Central Europe carry them (strange for a brand that is from Northern Italy) and even those had some issues getting them. La Sportiva customer service also wasn’t exactly helpful.

I managed in the end, though, and I got lucky because the size I ended up getting it in proved just right: a US 12.5 (UK 11.5, EUR 46).

Why I went to the trouble anyways is that I wanted a shoe for my winter running, and I wanted a Gore-Tex membrane but no cleats.

Sure, cleats could be an advantage on ice, but they are also a problem when running on roads – and since I start out running at my door, not necessarily at a trailhead, I need shoes that can handle both on-road and off-road running decently well.

Advantage, La Sportiva.

Here goes:

And, I have been finding that I really like the combination of materials and properties.

It is not my absolute favorite of a shoe (but then, since no single shoe is good for everything, such a thing does not exist for me) because of its somewhat weighty feel, but I’ll probably be using it on wet mountain trails even in the summer (when or where it’s not hot), when the gaiter may collect burrs (yes, it does that) but still helps keep out scree while the membrane keeps the feet dry.

If you are looking for a shoe that provides a good, yep, crossover of features, especially but not just for winter running, I’d recommend giving La Sportiva’s Crossover 2.0 a try.


*I’m calling this a preliminary review because it’s “only” based on some 100km of running in these shoes. Ultimately, I’m more interested in how gear works out after 2-3 seasons…

inov8 TrailRoc 255

inov-8 TrailRoc Review, TerraClaw Preview…

If you’re looking to do more exploratory living, get out more (and faster and longer), and perhaps work on your running form as well, the question of shoes will become a big one.

Having switched over to a more barefoot-like running form with a few different types of Merrell’s “Glove” models, I have become quite a fan of more minimalistic kinds of shoes, albeit with a bit more than the minimal amount of cushioning (at least for longer distances).

One line, two pairs, of shoes that fit that bill very well and which I have had in use now since soon after they came out have been inov-8’s TrailRoc 255 and 245.

They are easily my favorite two pairs of shoes… except when I hate them.

inov8 TrailRoc 255

inov8 TrailRoc 255… definitely got a lot of use out of them

The problem is that their upper has turned out to be highly efficient at wicking moisture not just away from the foot in dry conditions, but also into the shoe and onto the foot when it’s wet outside.

With the 255, I went onto the Hong Kong Trail one summer day, and the wetness in the shoe built up because of the humidity all around to such an extent that it became quite uncomfortable. Later still it took so long to get the shoes dry again, I spent the rest of that summer’s time in China in a completely different, newly-bought, pair of shoes.

On the Lavaredo Ultra Trail, they held up well but showed a similar problem as water that got into the shoes could not, ‘thanks’ to the bumper around the lower part of the shoe (which is meant to protect the toes) drain quite as efficiently as would be good.

inov8 TrailRoc 245

inov8 TrailRoc 245

Drainage is not such a problem with the more minimalistic 245, but trail runs over grass wet with morning dew start off cold and wet as the upper moves the dew to the foot, at least until one gets warm and sweaty enough for everything to start evaporating.

Given dry/drier conditions, however, these are among my favorite shoes.

They hug the foot nicely while giving the toes room to splay;
they have a nicely minimalist, low- to zero-drop build with just the right amount of cushioning providing a good balance between cushioning and feel for the ground;
their grip on most surfaces has been among the best I’ve had so far;
and they have held up pretty well except for some small quibbles.

(On the 245, one side of the overlay at the toes came unglued pretty soon – on the Alpannonia, as it were;
on the 255, the toe ‘bumper’ in front has started to come off a little and collect small rocks, but that still hasn’t become an issue and has only come about after the third ultramarathon in/with this pair of shoes and several more miles in between).

Especially in the shift between the two models – and there would also have been the truly minimalist/race-flat 235 – it has been great running.

When I want a bit more protection while having some ground feel and not too high a shoe, I take the 255.

When I want to go more minimalistic, feel more of the ground and be more nimble but also (have to) pay more attention to my running form, I take the 245.

Shifting back and forth between these two, even given the ‘moisture issues’ that make me dislike them when conditions are wetter than is good with them, has made for lots of enjoyable running and, with the fore-/mid-foot-running-friendly build, I think it may have even made me a slightly better runner.

Details (from inov-8’s website):

TrailRoc 255
Weight: 255G / 9OZ
Lining: MESH
Footbed: 6MM
Drop: 6MM
Compound: TRI-C™

TrailRoc 245
Weight: 245G / 8.6OZ
Lining: MESH
Footbed: 6MM
Drop: 3MM
Compound: TRI-C™

(TrailRoc 235 info is here)

2015 Preview – From TrailRoc to TerraClaw

inov8 TerraClaw 220 and 250

inov8 TerraClaw 220 and 250

Coming in 2015/16 will be the TerraClaw 250 and TerraClaw 220 which essentially build on the TrailRoc – and indeed, replace all but the TrailRoc 255 – to deliver (in my opinion) simplified designs with (according to inov-8) improved performance:
The weight will be similar to the TrailRoc shoes’, the protective bumper will still be there but a little reduced (on the 250 model – or so it looks to me, and that should help with moisture issues) and an “X-LOCK welded overlay” on the upper is designed to keep the foot in place even better, even as the toe box remains wider than on many other (and as on most inov-8) shoes.

The sole design is, again, all about trail running function.

This time, there will be two different compounds used in different areas to give good durability and protection, and a good grip. Grip is further enhanced by “multi-directional cleats” designed to grip the ground at just the angles at which the foot strikes while being spaced far enough apart for any debris to be released well.

Stack and drop heights look to be quite similar to the two TrailRoc models I reviewed above, with the TerraClaw 250 having a drop of 8mm and the more racing flat-like TerraClaw 220 having a drop height of 4 mm.

Again, the numbers of the shoes correspond to their weights in grams: 250 grams on the 250, 220g on the 220.

They look and sound like interesting additions to / replacements of the TrailRoc, even before one can see if they will turn out quite as versatile as inov-8 says that they will be… and the TerraClaw 250 were one of the four products from inov-8 that won awards at the ISPO 2015/16.

inov8 Ultra 290 GTX

inov8 Ultra 290 GTX

Also coming will be a Gore-Tex lined version of the Ultra 290, which is good news for wet running conditions. Personally, though, I must say that I find the Ultra line a bit too much of a standard type of shoe to tempt me all that much (though I wouldn’t mind trying it out, by any means).

The trail running / ultramarathon racing gear is also going strong, with a new shell and a new merino wool baselayer coming out, and with different kinds of race vest/packs that are very much worth a look…

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