The Gripmistress is the most substantial, water-resistant and cushioned of all the shoes here. Its space-age design and low price hide an impressive set of technical features that make a warm, sturdy and grippy shoe.
Although Icebug says this silver and hot pink shoe is designed for women (and some might add ‘on Mars’), the heel feels wide compared to the other shoes here, which is great for females who do not fit into the ‘women have narrower heels’ category. However, my typically narrow-heeled foot felt in danger of escaping on super-muddy sections, so I had to lace them tightly right up to the top to avoid losing a shoe to the squelch. A canny, mud-busting addition is the BUGweb, a yellow harness that slips over the front to add six carbide tips to the sole for extra traction.
The moment you put it on, it’s clear that the Gripmistress is more substantial than the other shoes here. The thick, less flexible sole unit with purple rubber impact ‘squish zone’, deep, grippy lugs and almost trainer-like cushioning make it ideal for running on steep, hard surfaces like wet, muddy tracks and tarmac. I would be happier to walk for miles in this shoe than in any of the others here. However, if you want a shoe mostly for trail running, this high level of cushioning makes it harder for your feet to feel and react quickly to more rugged, rocky terrain. They are the most water-resistant, the warmest and the heaviest shoe here at 682g (pair, size 5½) so for long distance or summer trail runs you might be better with a lighter, more breathable shoe. However a shoe you can both run and walk in comfortably could sway you.
Upper ProtecPU/sandwich mesh/mesh
Lining quick-dry mesh
Sole midsole: light EVA with TPU stabiliser; outsole: rubber
Sizes 4.5-7.5 (women’s); 7-12 (men’s Gripmaster)
Weight 682g (pair, size 5.5)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 6
Stockist details (01524) 822084; www.icebug.se
Verdict: Buy the Icebug Gripmistress if… you’ll mainly be sticking to steep, wet, hard-packed surfaces like tarmac, rocky and gritty trails, sloshing through puddles and rain in these highly cushioned, water-resistant shoes.
(Optional BUGweb 86g (per pair, to fit size 4-6) provides optional extra grip for £23.)
Review by Claire Maxted
First published in Trail magazine May 2009