The Trail Running Shoe with the Most Traction

 Courtesy Icebug

Sweden-based footwear company Icebug set the standard for winter traction in running shoes, with its spiked winter treads that let runners train without slipping, even on glare ice. Now, it’s making spikeless trail shoes, including the Enlight RB9X for the non-snowy and icy months, that grip as well on rock and roots as its cleated footwear does on snow and ice.

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The Enlight RB9X uses Icebug’s new proprietary sticky rubber, which the company says has “89 percent better friction on wet surfaces” than other running shoes, according to an independent lab. Equally impressive is the sole’s durability. The sticky rubber on shoes we’ve previously run in has worn out fast, but the RB9X wears comparably to other standard running shoe soles, which makes it good for training and not just racing.

On a 45-mile adventure run in Ramsvik, Sweden, in Icebug’s backyard, we scrambled granite faces, hopped through a maze of sometimes slick coastal rocks, and negotiated mats of slippery roots on forest trails, and we always felt surprisingly sure-footed.

The Enlight doesn’t have a membrane — it’s made from hydrophobic materials — but it kept our feet quite dry. When we ran through a meadow of wet grass, water finally seeped through, but the Enlight dried quickly. The shoe feels light, and it keeps your foot close to the ground for stability and sensitivity. The wide toebox let our feet spread naturally with each step, while the stable heel counter held them in place and offered good ankle stability. Even in the most technical stretches, we never rolled an ankle. And, the rubber toe bumper gave us some protection on downhills with loose rocks. [$125;]