For winter walking (and other great shoes)

At the beginning of every year, I analyze my spending and nominate my Stars and Dogs. But I'm not going to wait to tell you about my hands (feet?)-down #1 pick for this year.

If you live in a climate with snow or even freezing rain, buy Icebug boots. Once we move into ice, other products, even those with gripper soles, are fair to useless. Some Monréalers wear crampons that attach over boots, but I much prefer built-in studs.

Here's the Swedish (parent) site; the U.S. shop, and the Canadian distributor.  (The company was founded by a Swedish designer and outdoorswoman, Eliza Törnkvist, and her son, David Ekelund.)

Icebug's winter boots (and some models of running shoes) have small, integrated, "dynamic" studs that respond to foot flexion and are built for traction on dry and wet ice.

These boots removed 95% of the fear of slipping on slick sidewalks; I say 95% because I still want to be aware of where I'm walking.

Canadians like to brush off winter by saying, "You just have to be dressed for it", yet nearly all snow boots that stores offer failed the Canadian Occupational Safety Association tests for traction on ice, except the Icebug BUGrip models and L.L. Bean boots and snow sneakers with Vibram Arctic Grip soles. (Note: Under product specs for Arctic Grip boots, Bean say they « will not prevent slips on all surfaces » which sounds like a legal disclaimer... has anyone tried these?)

Here's a good description of why the Icebug boots earned that rating.

- What about non-icy surfaces?
You can wear your boots in the subway, malls and other industrially-surfaced areas. Do not wear them on residential flooring (hardwood, parquet, carpet, non-industrial stone or tile). On dry, hard surfaces, you can hear a little click, like walking across a parking lot in golf shoes.

- How do they hold up?
I brush and spray the uppers. Icebug say don't worry about losing a few of the spikes; they will still be effective.

- Are they true to size?
On my B-width foot, the Metro model is slightly wide but that's fine. The boot is unlined and I like the soft padding of felted-wool insoles. I do not wear orthotics; if you do, check with the manufacturer. My friend Dr. A. slips sheepskin insoles into hers, secured by double-sided tape.

- Which models should I consider?
Look for models that have the BUGrip soleon the site menu, go to "Shoes" and select "studded".  Price is $200-$250 per pair.

There re several levels of studiness, and some boots are noted as especially good for ice. One is mine, the Metro:

If you prefer a higher boot, there's the Ivalo, a best-seller:

Not everyone walks on ice for over four months each year! If you live in a clement climate and enjoy outdoor walking or running, check out Icebug's shoes, built for safety and support. (Shown, the Acceleritas6):

Two ways to navigate winter ice: buy a pair of studded Icebug or Bean Arctic Grip boots, or get on a plane headed South.


Unknown said…
Yes, yes, and yes, to Icebugs! I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and we get snow, alot of snow, and ice, so last year I asked for and received a pair of Icebugs for Christmas. I love them, they are by far the best boots for icy, snowy climates!!
Duchesse said…
Ubknown: Born and raised in Petoskey! Must be in our genes to appreciate stellar winter gear.
Gretchen said…
Those are far more attractive than my LLBean boots with their traction system. Yes, they perform well, but they are super clunky. The Icebergs, however (especially that first pair!) are lovely.
Jen Lawrence said…
As a fellow Canadian, I think I need these!
VeraL said…
I wear Yaktrax over normal boots and haven't fallen, even on pretty slick black ice. Quebec also makes some really nice boots, which unfortunately are not marketed properly so people outside of Quebec don't know about them. Anfibio has beautiful "sturdy modern" boots and has some with the ice gripper soles. I would just get them without the ice gripper and wear my Yaktrax as needed though. They make a few models in wide widths as well.
Laura J said…
On the to buy list!
Duchesse said…
Vera L: Compare Anfibio soles and to the Icebug: far fewer of the gripper studs though they ARE gorgeous-looking!. You may not fall with Yaktrax but some women do not like the chore of putting crampons on and off, or the mountaineering look.

I know some other gripper brands (Pajar, Olang) that require a tool to raise and lower them. I don't like these others may be willing to fiddle with the tiny tool. I did a lot of research before buying and trying Icebugs.

For this post, I focused only on the two •boots• that passed those safety ratings, buti have no firsthand experience with Bean; see Gretchen's comment, and thanks, Gretchen. No doubt as the need is evident there will be new entries in the gripper-sole boot world each winter.
LauraH said…
Thanks for the detailed review and all the links. Nice to have all the info gathered together.
SS said…
Thanks for this information. I’m in New Hampshire. The built-in studs of Icebugs are appealing. Has anyone tried the Korkers boots with interchangeable soles, including one for ice? I wonder if the added versatility would be good for those of us who have limited ice. I’m curious how they compare to Icebugs.
Duchesse said…
LauraH: If you found others you like, please tell us what they are.

SS: I like those too! Here, when there is enough snow to have snow, there is ice! When it is only chilly, I wear Blundstones.But this being Montreal, I have seen women picking their way over ice in over the knee leather boots with stiletto heels.
Bunny said…
Oh, I wish I had known this while living up on the border near Cornwall. I used Bog boots, a pair inherited from my rapidly growing grandson. They were his winter boots for ski trips with the family and he had a ski accident and never wore them again that season. Being a perfect fit and really gender neutral, they became mine.I wore them with crampons many times and they saved my bumbum from more than a few falls! These look great and I will investigate. Thanks, Duchesse.
Duchesse said…
Bunny: I wear Bogs too, for rain. Realize it sounds like I wear many pairs of boots, but as a non- car-owner, they are important.
My problem with Yaktrax is that I find them very difficult to put on and remove outside the home, and they are very slippery on buses and some other surfaces. I'll look into these.
nani said…
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