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Average Score: 4.0 out of 5.0
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The snow has finally given way to rain here in Michigan, and as fickle as the weather tends to be, I try not to let it mess with my running schedule. Unfortunately, my current trainers have been a bit lacking when it comes to dealing with the rainy conditions. That’s why when Icebug asked me to give their new ENLIGHT-L RB9X trail running shoe a try, I jumped at the opportunity.
At first glance, you can tell this is not your average running shoe. As opposed to the usual mix of mesh material with rubber, the ENLIGHT employs a stiffer, nylon blend. The immediate result is a shoe that holds its shape as opposed to the minimalist shoes that mold to your feet. This is not to suggest that you will find your foot slipping around, though. I found the stiff design, including a built-in narrow heel cup, kept my foot in place. A slight lift in the heel, which was included to prevent injury, takes some getting used to, as it also creates a slight rock forward when coming to a stop.
As previously mentioned, the upper is completely waterproof with plastic around the toe and heel. The downside is the materials confine the foot, providing less breathability and the possibility of less movement. For some, this is a positive. But for those who overheat or prefer to feel the trail, this may be a bit of an issue. Personally, I was happy to protect my feet from the cold and wet but found when conditions were hot and humid, my feet felt confined.
The front of the shoe is a bit wider, requiring me to significantly tighten the laces. This was a bit of a process, as the plastic texture of the shoe prevented easy adjustment. But once I was able to get situated, the thin, short tongue laid perfectly flat underneath the straight lace design, preventing loosening through the duration of my run.
The sole features small hexagonal “springs” that are hallmarks of the Icebug franchise, which add a bit of give and bounce when tackling tougher terrain. The sole is also almost sticky, squeaking loudly on indoor floors to show off its great grip. This squeaky sound is also present when running on asphalt.
Despite the noise, this grip combined with the shock-absorbing mid-sole foam are probably the best features of the shoe. When running on trails, the sticky quality offered greater stability on rocky, tough terrain, and even the occasional jump over and around natural obstacles. The foam prevented my body from feeling the impact. As most runners understand, when deciding to run off the beaten path, you increase the possibility of injury. I also tend to have more sore muscles the next day if I choose to venture away from my usual running trails. I was pleased the ENLIGHT provided enough support to avoid this, as I woke up the next day feeling ready to run again.
Image courtesy Lauren Montemurri