Historic Range: $81.99-$84.98
Historic Range: $149.95
Lightweight trail running shoe that also works well as a hiking shoe. Excellent traction, especially in wet conditions.
- Light weight
- Aggressive tread
- Sturdy midsole
- Work well on wet trails
- Not waterproof
The Zeal RB9X trail running shoe by Swedish company Icebug continues their tradition of offering shoes with some of the best traction around. While I am not a trail runner I do prefer that style of shoe for both my hiking and backpacking footwear. I was lucky enough to be offered a pair of the Zeal runners in May for extensive testing.
The Zeals come in one color, grey with orange soles and lacing, and have a large Icebug printed on the side. Sizing for the size 9 shoe was spot on and they fit like a glove when worn with a pair of thin running socks. The Zeal RB9X is very lightweight, coming in at just under 9 ounces for a size 9.
The shoe features a molded midsole that I felt did a really nice job of cradling my foot and also protects the inside of the foot over rocky terrain. A seven-hole lacing system allowed the shoe to become one with my foot. The uppers are said to be non-absorbing, but I actually felt they were almost waterproof when splashing through puddles and during stream crossings.
The non-removable insoles are fairly thin and along with the fairly soft material in the front and rear of the sole transferred the nuances of the trail directly to my feet. The soles have very aggressive widely spaced lugs at the front and rear while the mid-sole is fitted with little nubs for traction.
Hiking with the Zeals in the early part of the summer on our dry California trails showed me how much ground feel these shoes transmit. Because of the heavy lugging and fairly thin insoles, I could feel every change in the surface of the trail. While still comfortable, they seemed just a little too aggressive on a hard packed surface, though they worked well whenever I ventured off the trail. During an early season backpacking trip out near the coast on softer trails, the aggressiveness proved its mettle by digging in and really providing excellent traction.
As summer moved to fall and the rains started to fall these trail runners really started to come into their own. On wet and softer terrain they were very comfortable and stable. On long hikes, the lightweight of the shoe was appreciated. While the shoes don't possess uppers with ventilation they are lined with a moisture absorbing material that did a good job of keeping my feet dry during hours of use.
The shoes held up really well over the summer and used as hiking shoes should last quite a long time. All in all, I feel the Icebug Zeal RB9X performed really well when kept on trails that aren't rock hard.
Disclosure: I received a sample of this product for purposes of this review, but the opinions expressed are my own.
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (I kept the product after testing.)