Icebug Arcus RB9X GTX Review

Not discovered Icebug running shoes yet? Then this Icebug Arcus GTX review is a great start. Winter is traditionally the time of year for building up your fitness, ready for summer adventures. The nights draw in and the weather gets colder and wetter, just as you are upping your milage! When the weather turns nasty, it helps to have a pair of shoes designed to keep you warm and dry. The Icebug Arcus GTX is such a shoe.

Icebug_Arcus_GTX_ReviewAs many Northern Runner customers will know, we have a preference towards shoes that have a rounded and more naturally foot shaped toe box and offer a straight big-toe line. This is because shoes with a toe box of this shape allow more foot function inside. This allows your feet to get stronger the more you run and helps prevent bunions, Morton’s neuroma, planta fasciitis and other foot issues. As well as allowing you to run with a more natural posture, which reduces the breaking and therefore stress on knees, hips etc… Icebug running shoes all have a straight toe line and a rounded toe box. Not all are specifically broad fitting but, the Arcus GTX is a wide fitting shoe in their range.

The Arcus is designed for hard-packed trails and is the most cushioned of Icebug’s range of trail shoes. The drop is 6mm and your foot sits inside the midsole as it would in other shoes with a higher stack height. The midsole feels cushioned but not soft and ‘mushy’. This coupled with the roomy toe box stimulates your feet to function inside the shoes. If you aren’t used to your toes having freedom inside your running shoes, it will feel a bit strange at first. You could always rotate with your older shoes initially. If you are used to Altra or Topo running shoes, then the slipper-like feel that you get from shoes like these will feel similar. The midsole is made of a lightweight EVA mixed with 20% ‘Bloom’, which is an environmentally friendly addition using a clever algae material. The Arcus GTX is more flexible than it looks. I wasn’t particularly surprised, as all the Icebug shoes I have run in so far have been very flexible.

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The midsole has a slight curve to it, giving it a similar ‘rocker’ feel like other well cushioned running shoes of this type in the market. This rocker helps increase cadence while keeping an upright posture. It also makes the shoe feel smoother from heel to forefoot. The midsole is firmer under the forefoot than the heel, which gives a positive energetic feel at toe off.

The outsole is RB9X, which is a very sticky rubber. Unlike a lot of sticky rubbers, RB9X seems to be as durable as most road shoe outsoles. The grip on wet surfaces is exceptional, period. RB9X is perfect for a shoe like the Arcus GTX, as this trail shoe is cushioned enough to be used as your daily training shoe on a mixture of road and hard packed trails, and you can’t have quick-to-wear-out studs on such terrain.

The studs are about 4mm in length, so obviously not designed for deep mud, but you are getting a versatile shoe that is incredibly effective over part road/part trail journeys that may have difficult terrain in places, which is the running that a lot of our trail customers do, in our experience. The shoe isn’t designed to be flexible or nimble enough to ride extreme broken ground, but we have many shoes that do if you need some advice.

The upper is 100% recycled and protects your feet from the foul weather thanks to a waterproof ‘Gore-Tex Invisible Fit’ membrane. The membrane is integrated into the upper fabric. This makes the upper as flexible and thin as a mesh upper shoe. The upper is also as soft as a mesh upper shoe and will have a similar fit. Quite often a Gore-Tex bootie is put inside the mesh upper to make it waterproof, which can take up some room inside the shoe causing it to feel somewhat smaller and narrower than the regular version of the same shoe. In our experience the Arcus GTX fits just the same as the mesh version of the Arcus, which means that it has the same roomy toe box and broad fit.

I found the Arcus and ideal shoe for mixed runs of all distances. They are designed for simply putting in the winter miles in comfort, whatever the weather. Like a lot of shoes with this more rounded shaped toe box I do find that they become the shoe of choice as they are so comfortable. They have served me well during rainy family walks as well as runs. As a winter shoe designed to keep out the cold and wet, they’ll not breathe enough in warm summer weather, but when that temperature drops and the rain starts, they’ll make your dark evening runs more comfortable.

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Other Considerations

Altra Lone Peak All Weather: Broad rounded toe box but a bootie construction so the upper isn’t as light and soft. Similar amount of room. Lone Peak is Zero Drop. The outsole isn’t as durable or sticky. The Lone Peak feels more flexible and nimble. The All-Wthr is based on the Lone Peak 5, which we reviewed:

Scarpa Ribelle Run GTX: Made with the same Gore-Tex Invisible Fit upper as the Arcus, these fit just like the mesh version of the Ribelle Run. 6mm heel to forefoot. A much faster feeling shoe with a more pointed toe box.

Hoka Challenger GTX.. the most similar shoe to the Arcus in my view but a narrower fit with a more pointed toe box (they are available in wide). Hoka Speedgoat GTX, similar to the Ribelle Run these are a faster feeling shoe and with slightly longer lugs offer a little bit more traction on softer ground.

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