At the Outdoor Retailer Winter Show in January, I met with the team at Icebug, a Swedish company that produces footwear for a very specific audience of winter trail runners. Their footwear is designed to feature maximum grip on icy or winter-condition surfaces by using integrated stud systems (cool right?).
Since much of the gear testing on this website is done on snow-covered single track during winters in Park City, Icebug’s products immediately got my attention. They were kind enough to send a review copy of their DTS2 BUGrip to get very familiar with those winter trails in Park City. After two months and around 60 miles of running, here are the main takeaways:
- Grip- The DTS2’s obvious major advantage is having carbide studs built into tread rather than relying on an external platform like a crampon. Icebug has gone to great lengths to engineer BUGrip, a system that allows the studs to flex in and out of the tread when different amounts of pressure are placed on the shoe. This technology not only makes for a very dynamic grip system on slippery surfaces, but also makes running on asphalt or concrete bearable, especially compared to crampons. The major takeaway is that the DTS2 does not lack for grip at all in virtually every scenario. That should be the first reason you buy this shoe and what you should expect it to do best, and it does not fail to deliver.Notice the carbide studs built directly into the tread. The efficiency improvement between these shoes and crampons is hard to believe. Photo courtesy of Icebug.
- Versatile- The most surprising takeaway from the DTS2 was just how good it worked in a variety of less-than-perfect running conditions. Ice? Of course, it’s going to work great. But the staggering amount of grip carried over in lose snow, hardpacked snow, and even the wet sludge that happens in shoulder seasons. No matter what winter was throwing at our test trails, our pair of Icebugs handled it all exceedingly well.Yes, the DTS2 does great on icy surfaces, but it also excels in conditions with any type of snowfall, including a huge blanket of fresh powder.
- Fit- One thing I loved about the DTS2 was a wide toebox, ala Altra style. There’s plenty of room for toe splay and it’s especially noticeable when you’re running on uneven snowpack and having to push off at odd angels. The shoes upper fits very well and cinches up comfortably around the full foot, allowing you to dig in with the carbide studs for max traction while avoiding foot shift.Notice the black carbide steel studs in the DTS2 tread.
- Comfort of Run: There is a considerable 14mm drop, which is quite a bit more than I prefer typically running in, but it’s hardly an issue given the inherent unevenness of the snow and ice the shoes were built to run on. Those conditions do make it hard to effectively judge cushioning, but I have no complaints so far. Icebug does a fantastic job insulating the shoe. Despite often being deep in fresh powder, the insulation kept my feet and toes warm. No frostbite this winter.
- Waterproofing: Icebug offers two versions of the DTS2. One is made with their water resistant materials and the other is with Goretex. The GTX version carries a $20 premium over the standard DTS2, but I would imagine it is well worth it. Icebug’s standard waterproofing offer is acceptable, but for a shoe that has been built around running in frozen water, the more waterproofing, the better. And the Goretex version is what will undoubtedly provide that.The Goretex version is recommended over Icebug’s standard material.
I love this shoe. I genuinely do. It’s a product of engineering brilliance applied to the most focused of niches. I cannot stress enough just how amazing the grip is in all conditions, and for those few of us who do like to run snow covered single track in the winter, this is an absolute must-have for making those runs better. How much better? That depends on the person, but for me I will go as far as saying that Icebug’s DTS2 BUGrip takes my top spot for my favorite product I have ever reviewed on this blog. A running shoe for the ages- my hat is off to you Icebug.