Footwear for the New Outdoors: Icebug Leads in Traction Control

Photos courtesy of Icebug

Outdoors & Sports

Footwear for the New Outdoors: Icebug Leads in Traction Control

A Swedish shoe company is breaking ground in traction footwear.

Icebug, the “unofficial champion of traction,” makes running and hiking easy even in the most slippery conditions. But don’t be fooled by the name – while winter ice may be a hiker’s greatest challenge, Icebug has you covered year-round.

For founders Eliza Törnkvist and her son David Ekelund, their focus was on safety so their customers could focus on the trail. In 2001, they launched a line of footwear that can stand up to tough terrains like hiking on ice, running through mud and gripping slick rocks (while still being fashionable).

“The more pressure you put on it, the more reliable it gets,” Ekelund said, remembering his first time wearing the samples when they arrived in 1999. “You realize you’ve been slipping around for no good reason. You start looking at the icy spots not as an obstacle but as something to go for.”

“That change in perspective is what we built the brand on, and what we continue to see in people trying them for the first time.”

Icebug introduced itself two years later at the ISPO sports equipment trade show in Munich, where they won the Outdoor
Award for Best Footwear Innovation. Since then, the team has been at work developing new soles to cover every terrain and running operations in six countries.

“The Outdoor Award got us off to a flying start,” Ekelund said. “It’s not too often that innovation comes around in footwear, and this is something that’s new and unique that really solves a problem for people. No brands were taking care of the problem of slipping, so that’s what we decided to take on.”

The technology that makes Icebug’s trailblazing grip possible starts with their engineered rubber.

For the iciest conditions, its soles are equipped with a combination of rubber and carbide steel studs. At more than six times stronger than regular steel, the studs perform like cleats on sheer ice. Each stud works independently of the others, allowing them to recede into the rubber on terrain changes – so when you step off the ice and onto the sidewalk, you won’t feel a difference.

While its shoes continue to out-grip every competitor on the market, the team stays committed to safety before sales. They’ve launched the Icebug Challenge on Facebook to invite competitors to join them.

“We’re calling people outside and welcoming our challengers to show us what they’ve got, in the interest of the public,” Ekelund said. “Our mission is to inspire and empower people to be active outdoors, all year round and every day. We want to find the best technology to keep folks safe.”

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