Icebugs: Gear you want but don't need

It's black-ice season on the trails (not to mention the Denver sidewalks) for the foreseeable future, and there are plenty of uphills that will put you flat on your ass if you try to climb them in your Chuck Taylors.

Since 2001, Sweden's Icebug has been solving that problem with sneakers and boots featuring a special rubber sole impregnated with 15 or 16 steel studs. The studs not only afford the wearer traction, but -- unlike most studs -- they're also intelligent.

According to the Icebug website, they're "Smart Studs":

The dynamic function makes the studs adapt to the surface and provide the best possible traction. That's why we call them "Smart Studs":

  • On slippery surfaces (for example ice, snow, mud, wet wood and grass) the studs remain protruding and "grip" the ground.
  • On hard and solid surfaces (like asphalt or concrete) the studs are pushed in toward the sole's surface.
  • On hard and uneven surfaces (for example stones and rocks) some of the studs are pushed in, while other remain protruding. The effect being that a combination of rubber and steel studs make contact with the ground.
Icebug also makes more rugged shoes and boots with new-and-improved studs mounted inside a  crown for even more traction, and all models feature a breathable waterproof lining. The catalog includes both men's and women's models in four categories (trail, off-trail, active, and subzero) as well as gaiters and "crawlers" for additional traction.

But don't wear them inside: They'll wreak havoc on the hardwoods.

www.icebug.se, about $60 to $200 retail. A dealer locator is on the website.

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Eric Peterson